In the Test of English as a Foreign Language, you will be expected to demonstrate high proficiency in academic writing. The two tasks in the test's writing section are the Independent Task and the Integrated Task. In the Integrated Task, you are mainly tested on your ability to synthesize two sources in a relatively short response. In the Independent Task, you will be tested on your ability to prepare and write a cohesive, well-organized academic essay.
For your Independent Writing Task, you will be asked to give your opinion or preference on a specific topic. Although you are given 30 minutes to complete this task, proper time management is the key to preparing your essay. A good way to prepare is to use five minutes to outline your response. After this, you can use twenty minutes to write a cohesive essay that includes an introduction, a body and a conclusion. In an ideal situation, you will have a few minutes left at the end to edit your work.
Preparing an Introduction
Your introduction should start with a "hook," or a sentence that draws in the reader. The introductory paragraph should be at least three to five sentences long and include a clear thesis statement as your last sentence. An example of a strong thesis statement is "Computers are useful tools in both professional and personal contexts." This is a specific statement that gives the reader a clear idea as to what your essay content will be about.
Preparing the Body Paragraphs
The body of your essay should consist of at least two paragraphs that support your thesis. For example, using the computer essay topic, your first paragraph could talk about several benefits of using computers in a professional or academic context and the second paragraph could extend those benefits to personal use. Each paragraph requires a topic sentence, a first sentence that clearly states what you will be talking about in that paragraph.
Preparing the Conclusion
The conclusion for your TOEFL essay may consist of a paraphrase of your thesis statement in addition to one or two final remarks. Making time to conclude your essay with a separate paragraph tells the Educational Testing Service raters that you understand the format and organization of an academic essay and that you have a grasp on the scope of the topic, demonstrating your proficiency in time management.
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Megan Ritchie has been a writer for more than 10 years, and has been published in a number of journals and newspapers, including "The Daily Targum" (Rutgers University's daily newspaper) and "The Philadelphia Inquirer." She has a Master's degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.