toefl writingWriting well in English is critical for success at an American college or university — in fact, freshmen take a basic composition course to make sure they are ready for the writing demands of their other courses. In most courses, you will do research papers as well as shorter writing assignments like reflections, summaries, and journals. Essay questions on exams will require you to quickly write short compositions like those on the TOEFL.

If you are studying in an intensive English program, you are probably taking a writing course to improve this important language skill. Here are some specific things you can do to prepare for the writing section of the TOEFL whether you are currently taking a course or not.

  • Practice typing in English. You must type your responses on the TOEFL. If you struggle with typing, there are many free applications to help you improve.
  • Practice writing under a time limit. Have a plan in advance for how to use your time: allow for planning, writing, and revising.
  • Make a brief outline of the major points you plan to include before you begin writing. This will help you stay on track.
  • Always include a thesis statement — a sentence that gives the main ideas of your writing and tells the reader what to expect.
  • Use transitional phrases like first, secondly, finally, on the other hand, in conclusion, etc. to clearly organize your ideas as you write.
  • Write summaries of material that you hear and read. The integrated writing items on the TOEFL will ask you to summarize the main points of listening and reading passages and compare the two.
  • Practice paraphrasing — putting an idea in your own words — when you write summaries.

If you are preparing to take the TOEFL, be sure to check out the other posts in IEI’s TOEFL series!

(Photo credit: ccarlstead)