Timed Writing 2

This timed writing tip section and practice is focused specifically on the unique aspects of the TOEFL independent writing task (30-minute essay). As previously mentioned, all of the timed writing practice in this book will help you work toward success on the TOEFL writing section. However, there are some specific points that need to be made about the expectations for the writing on the test. 

The TOEFL independent writing task requires you to explain and defend a position. 

Response format

Your answer should look like a balanced essay. You should write a four or five paragraph essay with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Choosing the number of body paragraphs will depend on your ability to write fluently and develop your ideas. Typically, it is easier for students to develop their ideas if they choose to write two body paragraphs. Writing two developed body paragraphs is better than writing three underdeveloped body paragraphs. An effective response is usually around 300 words. Remember that quality is more important that quantity in this instance.

Focus on what is possible for you to do well during the time limit without access to any additional help. 


This is the biggest difference between TOEFL timed writing and the others discussed in the previous section. Because the TOEFL is a language test, the emphasis in the grading will be on your language use. Your actual ideas are a secondary to the language you use to express the ideas. Therefore, while the TOEFL is imitating the type of writing you will do in a college setting, the task itself is different because of the rubric.

 Some of you may wonder how the 0-5 score on the rubric in Exercise 1 becomes the 0-30 score that you receive back from the official TOEFL raters. The 0-5 score is a "raw" score. It has not yet been processed through math, scaling, to become the final score. It is raw like an uncooked vegetable.

We do not know the exact math or methods used by the TOEFL organization to determine your official scores. However, we can estimate what a raw 0-5 score would become. You can check out the TOEFL Writing Score Conversion chart at  https://edtechbooks.org/-TQce . By using the rubrics from Exercise 1 to evaluate your writing and the conversion chart on the collegedunia website, you can estimate or guess about what score you would get on a TOEFL essay. Please keep in mind that the collegedunia website is not an official TOEFL iBT website, so this is just a guess. 

Timed 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.


Exercise 2.12: TOEFL Rubric

Take some time to look over the TOEFL Independent Writing Rubric.

  1. What will the test raters be focusing on as they assign a score to your essay?
  2. How is this rubric similar or different from the rubrics your UP Writing teacher has used this semester?
  3. Imagine a writing rubric for a class in your anticipated major. What similarities or differences would you expect there to be? Why would you see those differences?

Exercise 2.13: Independent Question

Prompt: What is the most important skill for students to develop before they attend college? You have 30 minutes to respond to this prompt. Your answer should be around 300 words long.


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