Integrated Writing 2

In the first integrated writing practice, you learned that integrated writing is a common task at the college level. Because incorporating ideas from outside sources through summary and synthesis is so important, it is a task included on the TOEFL. This section of the integrated writing practice focuses on the unique differences between a normal integrated writing task and the very controlled version you will encounter on the TOEFL.

It is important to first note that the TOEFL integrated writing task is not a true essay as you have likely learned to create. There is no introduction. There is no conclusion. There is no room for your own personal reactions and opinions on the topic. You do not write a thesis statement. You don't need 5 paragraphs with 5 sentences each. 

The TOEFL integrated writing structure is very prescribed, and the content is provided directly. The integrated writing task requires you to summarize and compare academic information.

Task format

You will have three minutes to read a passage about an academic topic. You should take notes about the main points that the author makes, but you do not need to write a lot because you will be able to see the reading again when it is time to write.

Then you will listen to a piece of an academic lecture that addresses the same topic that you read about. The professor that is speaking may have the same opinion as the author of the article you read, but the professor often has an opposing point of view. You need to take good notes during the listening. You can only listen one time. Make sure you listen for the main points you found in the reading.

You will have 20 minutes to write your response to the question.

Read the question carefully and address all the parts of the question. For example, in this example question, the primary task is to summarize the points made in the lecture. Then you should explain how they relate to points in the reading. Always answer both parts of the question.

Example: TOEFL Integrated Writing Prompt

Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they challenge specific arguments made in the reading passage.

Response format

Your answer will not look like a traditional essay because this task is not an essay. This task is a summary. In order to summarize the information they give you, you will typically need four paragraphs. The first paragraph will state the relationship between the reading and the listening (e.g., do they agree about the topic, or do they disagree?). The other three paragraphs will each focus on a specific point that was addressed in both the reading and the listening. You do not need a conclusion paragraph. An effective response will have approximately 200 words.


Many students find it helpful to organize their notes with a “T-Chart.” On one side of the T chart, write down the main points from the reading. On the other side of the T-Chart, write down the corresponding points found in the listening. Even though the reading passage reappears on your screen while you write, taking notes on the reading is important. It can help you focus during the listening and give you something to listen for. 

This is a sample T-Chart that could be used to show the points made in the example task. 

Reading Passage 








These are two sample responses. The first response is a low-mid response because it has some of the details, but is missing significant points made in the lecture. It is not very developed and seems to focus a lot on the reading. 

The second response is a high response because all of the main points are addressed, and the emphasis is on summarizing the listening and comparing it to the article, rather than summarizing every detail mentioned in both.


In order to receive a high score on this section, you need to answer the question by writing about the important points from the reading and listening in a clear and accurate way.

The sample task on the following pages contains a reading passage, a lecture transcript, and a response that would receive high marks.

1 Exercise: Reading Passage

1. Read the following passage.

      There are different types of universities. Some universities focus almost completely on research. These universities reward professors for doing research. They hire professors that are dedicated to discovering new things and publishing their findings. Other universities focus more on teaching. These universities hire professors that are able to explain concepts to their students clearly. Some universities have tried to blend both approaches and focus on both research and quality teaching, which is problematic.

       First, both doing research and teaching take time, and having a dual focus will distract professors from being adequately prepared for their classes. Doing research can often be a messy, complex process, and they may end up spending so much time doing research that they don't have time to prepare their lectures or exams. When professors are not adequately prepared for classes, students may struggle more to understand the concepts and do well in class. If professors are expected to both teach and research, they will not have time for both.

       Also, there is no real benefit researchers bring to the classroom if they lack teaching skills. Many researchers who teach as professors have had limited teacher training. They have extensive knowledge of their field, but do not know how to manage a classroom, write a reliable assessment, or scaffold student learning. Students are very frustrated by professors who lack these teaching skills. Teaching skills are necessary in order to help students learn; thus, experts without formal teacher training don't have a clear advantage.

       Finally, by choosing one focus, professors can become more skilled in what they choose to do. If they choose to be a researcher, they can make a name for themselves in research because they can devote all of their time to research. If they choose to be a teacher, they can gain the teaching skills they need to be an excellent teacher, rather than trying to make time to research as well.


 2. Listen to the following lecture.

Click here to listen.

3. Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they challenge specific arguments made in the reading passage.


Integrated Writing Tips

Because students take the TOEFL at various points in the semester, here is a list of strategies that are discussed at other points in this textbook. All of these strategies are things to keep in mind as you prepare. You may want to skim through the textbook ahead of the class schedule to learn more about these points in more detail.