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TOEFL Writing | 6 tips for TOEFL writing preparation

1. Do TOEFL writing practice as one of your activities every day

Practice taking notes while listening to the news in English either on the radio or TV. Keep a daily journal detailing everything you did – try to practice using new vocabulary to explain your daily activities more precisely.

Using new vocabulary repeatedly will quickly make it part of your normal vocabulary and allow you to remember it more easily. Make TOEFL writing practice a daily habit – even if it’s only for 20 minutes each time!


2. TOEFL note taking strategies

The TOEFL writing section requires you to be able to write notes as you read a text and then listen to a lecture related to the text. Then you will have to write a 150 – 225 word response based on the text you read and the lecture you listened to so you need to have good note taking skills in order to score well in this section.

Practice listening to short news bulletins, presentations and talks. You can find many resources on You Tube and practice taking notes while listening, or listen to English radio programs or TV news broadcasts and practice identifying the main points and important information from these.

It is important you become proficient and comfortable multi-tasking in this way being able to listen and take notes or read and take notes quickly and efficiently.

3. Use a TOEFL essay format

As part of the TOEFL writing test you will need to write an essay of 300 words in only thirty minutes. This means you must be able to organize your thoughts and ideas quickly and write clearly within the time limit. So it helps if you have in your mind a basic format or blueprint for an essay which you can follow as a guide, It will save you valuable time when organizing your ideas and planning your writing. Try using a simple format to start with untiol you become more confident with TOEFL writing:
  • Introduction: one paragraph including the main points.
  • Main body: two or three paragraphs which support the main points mentioned in the introduction and provide examples, evidence or details as required by the essay question.
  • Conclusion: a paragraph which summarizes the essay and restates your opinion or conclusion based on the content of the main body paragraphs.

4. Don’t time your TOEFL essays

In the beginning, concentrate on organizing your ideas, planning your writing and using good sentence structure, grammar and vocabulary as well as transitional phrases and don’t worry about timing yourself or writing against the clock.

Once you have practiced this technique, you can begin to time yourself and practice writing your TOEFL essays until you can confidently and comfortably write a 300-word TOEFL essay in under 30 minutes.

5. Make sure you answer the TOEFL writing question

Part of your TOEFL writing score depends on how relevant your answer is to the essay question and if you have addressed all the points of the questions. Make sure your essay is focused on the topic and covers all the points in the prompt and that you do not write off-topic or irrelevant ideas. This can lose you marks.

If the essay question asks for your opinion, remember there is no right or wrong answer – only your opinion. If the topic is a two-sided one, it is often easier to simply choose one side of the issue or argument and write about that than try and discuss both sides.

6. Time to review TOEFL writing

Always plan to leave some time at the end of each TOEFL writing section to check what you have written for any obvious errors, bad spelling, etc. Avoid trying to use new vocabulary or punctuation you are not sure about – the TOEFL writing test is not the place to experiment – hopefully, you will have done that while practicing before the TOEFL test.


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