TOEFL Writing Test: Everything You Need to Know

The tasks in the TOEFL Writing section are designed to assess your English competence, so you do not have to be an expert on any particular subject to do well. The raters understand that each essay is the first draft, and you will not have the chance to correct whatever mistake it is you think you have committed. It is a must that you give it your best shot.

This article is here to guide you with everything you have to know about the TOEFL Writing section to get the score that you are aiming for eventually. Please continue reading. 

What is TOEFL?

Students applying to colleges and universities in English-speaking countries such as the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), a standardized academic English test. 

The TOEFL is primarily a set of tests, the most well-known of which are the TOEFL iBT and TOEFL Essentials. The TOEFL ITP (Institutional Testing Program), TOEFL Junior, and TOEFL Primary exams are part of the TOEFL series. 

Other TOEFL forms are only available at students’ schools. In April 2021, the TOEFL PBT (Paper-Based Test or Paper-Delivered Test) will be phased out.

The TOEFL iBT is a three-hour test that determines whether candidates are ready to enroll in an educational institution in an English-speaking country

Before taking the TOEFL, many students study for 3 to 6 months. In comparison to the other tests, the TOEFL Essentials exam was created to be a less academically oriented, less challenging English test.

The TOEFL consists of four parts: 

What is the TOEFL Writing Section?

The TOEFL Writing is the last section of the TOEFL. It lasts about 50 minutes and includes two tasks: integrated writing and independent writing. Your objective is to write at least 150 – 225 words. 

  • The TOEFL Integrated Writing Task takes about 20 minutes to prepare and write. 
    • You will read a brief piece and listen to a brief lecture before writing a response to what you have read and heard. 
    • The TOEFL Independent Writing Tasks last about 30 minutes to plan and write. 
    • You will be asked about your viewpoint or position on a particular topic. Both essays are typed on a computer. 

Your essays will be graded by numerous (usually four) raters after you finish the exam.

Each essay will be graded on a scale of 0 to 5. 

The total of these two scores will be scaled to a score between 0 and 30, which will be your official TOEFL Writing score. 

The TOEFL Writing section accounts for 25% of your total score (from 0-120). 

The TOEFL Writing section assesses your ability to write a well-structured essay with strong arguments, as well as your command of English syntax and vocabulary. Graders also consider development and language use as the key factors for evaluating your essays.

What are the Purposes of TOEFL Writing?

The TOEFL Writing aims to assess your ability to:

  • Synthesize and summarize what you have read in your textbooks as well as what you have heard in and out of class.
  • Form your own opinion based on the facts you have gathered.
  • Demonstrate a strong primary concept and a well-structured structure with well-developed arguments backed up by solid proof.
  • Show your knowledge on how to use grammar and language effectively.
  • Use appropriate length, tone, and conclusion on your essay .

TOEFL Writing Section Question Types

The TOEFL Integrated Writing and Independent Writing sections contain different types of questions. All of which require different approaches.

Here are the different question types you will encounter in the TOEFL Integrated and Independent Writing sections.

Task 1: Integrated Writing Task

The TOEFL Integrated writing essays include both reading passages and listening portions. 

You read a brief text of at least 230 – 300 words on a general or academic topic before listening to a segment of a lecture on the same subject. 

You are then asked to summarize what was stated in the lecture and how it assists or weakens the concept of the reading passage in an essay prompt. 

Task 1 Questions can be one of the following:

  • Lecture vs. Passage Question
  • Problem Passage Question
  • Three Problems Question

Lecture vs. Passage Question

In this TOEFL Writing question, the lecturer disagrees with the reading passage. A sample writing response provides both sides of the argument (lecture and reading passage), followed by a list of how the lecturer disagrees with the points stated in the order.

You need to determine the main theme, then explain how each point contradicts or refutes the reading text.


Summarize the lecture’s points, and be sure to clarify how they cast doubt on the reading passage’s specific issues.

Problem Passage Question

The paragraph in the TOEFL Writing Problem Passage question gives three solutions to a problem. The lesson, on the other hand, the lesson disproves each of the passage’s conclusions.

You have to look for the major issue and list how the lecturer disagrees with the reading passage. Then you must explain why each of the reading passage’s answers is ineffective.


Summarize the points stated in the lecture and explain how they contradict specific claims/ arguments presented in the reading passage. 

Three Problems Question

The reading passage specifies three difficulties in the TOEFL Writing Three Problems question. The lecture then responds and explains why these are not issues.

You need to concentrate on the points and then structure your essay. Then, throughout the lecture, connect each problem from the reading section to its solution. You have to locate the three problems, then match them with the three solutions. 


Summarize the arguments stated in the lecture, be sure to precisely explain how they answer the concerns raised in the reading passage. 

Task 2: Independent Writing Task 

Students produce an essay in response to a prompt on the TOEFL Independent Writing task, which can cover a wide range of general topics. There are no reading passages or lecture excerpts in this job; it is solely dependent on the essay question. 

The highest-rated independent essays contain mostly at least 300 words long, as suggested by the requirements that come with the essay topic.

Task 2 Questions can be one of the following:

  • Agree or Disagree Question
  • View Both Sides Question
  • Preference Question
  • Multiple Choice Question
  • Describe or Explain Question

Agree/Disagree Question

The TOEFL Writing Agree/Disagree question is straightforward. The question requires you to choose between agreeing and disagreeing.

Using excellent examples to back up your stance is critical for a high-scoring answer in this type of question. Feel free to draw on your own personal experiences or familiar logical arguments.


Do you agree with the following statement or disagree with it? 

Students should prioritize studying history and literature over science and mathematics. 

To support your perspective, give concrete explanations and instances.

View Both Sides Question

This TOEFL Writing task is similar to the ‘agree/disagree’ type of essay topic, but it is a little more challenging for the reason that you have to consider two opposing viewpoints. It is also not as common, which is a good thing.


Your relatives and friends are advising you to purchase a new automobile. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of buying a brand-new car instead of a second-hand car?

Use examples to explain your ideas.

Preference Question

The TOEFL Writing Preference question allows you to choose between two options. The subject could cover a wide range of topics. You have to pick a position and provide examples to explain why you prefer one over the other. 


People can now converse more easily thanks to technological advancements. Some people like to talk on the phone, while others prefer to text. 

Which communication method do you favor, and why?

Multiple Choice Question

You have a lot of choices to pick from in this type of TOEFL Writing question. To back up your answer, give concrete reasoning and instances. Choose the alternative for which you can make a compelling case.

If you have trouble deciding between two options, make a short summary of the advantages and disadvantages of each (2-3 reasons).

Make sure you can make solid decisions so you can spend more time discussing your ideas. You do not want to spend 15 minutes writing only to learn that another option would have been a better fit!


People nowadays prefer spending time away from their work and school duties. Many people take advantage of this time to go to new areas and learn more about them.

What do you believe is the best approach to learn about a location you’ve never been to before?

  • Visiting a museum
  • Taking a tour of popular places with a guide
  • Visiting a well-known shopping district
  • Having a conversation with a local
  • Watching a local TV channel

    To back up your answer, give concrete explanations and instances.

Describe or Explain Question

This is, in some ways, the most challenging form of the TOEFL Independent essay question because it does not provide you with an A or B option.

Instead, you must choose your own topic from a large pool of choices.


What, in your point of view, is the most vital quality that a person can possess in order to be successful in life? 

Explain your answer with concrete explanations and examples from your own experience. 

How are You Graded in TOEFL Writing Section?

Having the knowledge of how the TOEFL Writing is scored is a must. This way, you will be aware of the things that you need to focus more on while preparing for the TOEFL.

TOEFL Integrated Writing TaskScoring or Grading

A score of 5 on the TOEFL Writing Integrated essay shows that the student properly inferred the most significant material from the reading and listening passages and presented their understanding in a well-organized and grammatically sound manner. 

  • The most relevant information from the reading material is carefully selected and recorded.
  • Grammatically correct presentation with no or few grammatical faults is evident.
  • The content from the reading passage is well-chosen and recorded. 
  • Minor inaccuracy and ambiguity or a slight ambiguity exist.
  • The essay is inextricably linked to the passage’s and recording’s subject.
  • There is uncertainty and broad information. 
  • Vital points are missing.
  • There are incomplete sentences or grammatical errors. 
  • Some pertinent information from the reading passage and lecture is used in the essay.
  • There is a misunderstanding of the subject or a misunderstanding of the issue.
  • There are numerous spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • There is very little useful information or extremely low-level lingua franca.
  • There is no essay or report. The sentences are simply transcribed from a paragraph or a recording with grammatical errors.

TOEFL Independent Writing TaskScoring or Grading

A 5 on the TOEFL Writing Independent Writing task indicates that the essay effectively addresses the prompt’s issue with a well-structured essay that makes extensive use of standard written English.

Lower-scoring test takers have failed to meet some or all of these objectives. 

  • The essay is Inextricably linked to the prompt.
  • It is well-written, with plenty of examples and details.
  • It is written in a logical order.
  • There are no grammatical faults and the vocabulary is great.
  • The essay is well-connected to the prompt, with room for improvement.
  • It has an abundance of examples.
  • The paragraphs are slightly disjointed.
  • It uses language and vocabulary effectively.
  • There are a few minor grammatical problems. 
  • To some extent, the essay deals with the subject.
  • Examples and specifics are used.
  • Few sentences are not connected.
  • It uses a restricted but accurate vocabulary.
  • The prompt is not well-connected.
  • There is a lack of knowledge about the subject.
  • Examples are either insufficient or improper.
  • Words were chosen incorrectly.
  • There are sentence formulation mistakes.
  • Sentences are too broad. 
  • The essay is unrelated to the prompt.
  • Details are irrelevant or questionable.
  • There are very few details supplied about the issue, and it is poorly arranged with numerous grammatical problems.
  • There are no or insufficient examples.
  • Vocabulary is limited. 
  • No essay is written. OR
  • It is not written in response to the prompt.
  • There is the incorrect use of words or sentences.

Grammar in TOEFL Writing Section: Is it Important?

The only component of the TOEFL where your grammatical knowledge is directly measured in these two essays. It is the area where poor grammar has the greatest impact on the quality of your essay and total score. 

When it comes to TOEFL grammar, the most important thing is correct. You may utilize sophisticated verb tenses and phrases if you are certain that you are utilizing them correctly. It is preferable to employ proper simple grammar rather than wrong sophisticated grammar.

Because arguments and examples can be laid out in Simple Past or Simple Present, there is no need to employ sophisticated language in your essays. You can also utilize gerunds and simple conditional forms, but keep it simple not just in your thesis but also in your grammar. If you are unsure, play it safe and simplify.

Here are some important grammar features to keep in mind and rely on when writing your essays:

  • Verb Tenses

You must master these concepts. Know the proper verb endings, review the irregular verb forms, and practice identifying little but critical errors like “People says” (“people” is plural, thus it should be “people say”).

Understand the difference between present and past perfect: Is “I have been doing” or “I had been doing” correct? Both are correct forms of present perfect and past perfect, but depending on the context, you need to use one over the other. Make it a point that you know how to achieve it.

  • Conditionals and Gerund Tenses 

These will add depth to your essay by demonstrating to the assessor that you can utilize more complex sentences and express yourself in a number of ways.

  • Usage of Passive Voice

This will aid in the presentation of your argument. For example, “British scientists have discovered” sounds stronger and more authoritative than “It has been discovered”.

Vocabulary in TOEFL Writing Section: Is it Important?

The most crucial component of preparing to write successful TOEFL essays is developing a broad vocabulary with a wide range of words and phrases to describe your ideas and views. The more vocabulary you have, the better! You will have more ways to express your ideas if you have a larger vocabulary.

When it comes to grammar forms, playing it safe is a good technique, but not when it comes to vocabulary. Even if your grammar and structure are strong, relying on generic, basic language will result in a flat, dull essay that will not obtain the highest mark of 5 points. 

Studying synonyms is one of the simplest methods to expand your vocabulary. To learn synonyms, compile a list of your most often used words and learn a handful of their synonyms using online dictionaries and other resources. In no time, you will notice progress in your writing.

Another key aspect of vocabulary development is detecting terms that you may be using wrongly. These could be similar-sounding verbs or adjectives. 


  • whet and wet 
  • master and muster
  • complement and compliment
  • gregarious and egregious

Tips and Tricks to Ace TOEFL Writing Section

To improve your knowledge and skills for the TOEFL Writing Test, you must use a variety of tactics and techniques that will help you prepare for this section of the exam. Here are a few of them:

  • Understand the TOEFL Writing test format. 

You will be required to prove your ability to write in English in the TOEFL Writing part. To ace this part, you must first understand the test format before studying and utilizing various TOEFL tips and tactics. 

The TOEFL Writing test is divided into two tasks: the TOEFL Integrated and TOEFL Independent Writing tasks, both of which require different approaches. 

  • Learn how to paraphrase effectively.

The TOEFL Writing Integrated Writing task requires you to summarize someone else’s ideas without using the same terms. 

Learning to extract the most significant concepts and rephrasing them in your own words is a vital skill for this assignment.

  • Study the two forms of essays.

The format for the TOEFL Writing portion is always the same: first, the integrated writing job, then the independent writing task. It is critical to prepare for both aspects equally.

You will always be asked to summarize and highlight content from a text and a recording in Task 1 of the TOEFL Writing portion. Take the time to practice these skills by using any English-language materials available. 

Although Task 2 is more general, you can prepare vocabulary and writing structures to reply to the primary question types described above.

  • Practice putting together a written summary of what you have heard and read.

Before listening to a discussion on the same topic, read a text. Make a list of how the material offered is similar and different. Read a topic-related editorial. 

Then talk to someone about it and pay attention to what they have to say about it. Then create a summary of the various points of view.

  • Make use of reading materials that include follow-up questions.

Look for college textbooks, language books, or online reading resources with follow-up questions after each tale or chapter to learn how to construct sentences, brief paragraphs, and short answers. 

You can always ask a teacher or a friend to write you some questions if your favorite book does not include any.

  • Make use of practice papers.

One of the finest strategies to prepare is to make sure that the TOEFL Writing test is not your first time taking it. 

Utilize the materials available online to practice answering questions about writing. If you do not have time to complete a full practice paper every time, organize your responses to the activities to get into the habit of tackling TOEFL Writing-style questions.

  • Set a timer for yourself.

One of the secrets to TOEFL Writing success is effective time management. The Writing component necessitates a clear distinction between Task 1 and Task 2, and it is critical that you do not spend too much time on one task and wind up rushing through the other. 

Before you take the exam, figure out how much time you have to devote to planning, writing, and checking.

  • Prepare ahead of time by reviewing sophisticated vocabulary.

You cannot predict which topics or questions you will be asked, but you can prepare some vocabulary ahead of time. Make a list of terms that will help you arrange your comments, explain your thoughts, and provide justifications.

TOEFL Writing Tips for Acing the Section on Test Day

All the effort and hard work you have put in while preparing for the TOEFL Writing Test will be wasted if you do not keep in mind the different tips and tricks listed below. 

Ensure that you keep them in mind on the actual day of the test and you will be good to go. 

  • Take careful notes.

Take notes as you read and listen to the TOEFL Writing Task 1 (Integrated Task) preparation material. This will act as a blueprint for your response. As you go, jot down the important points and highlight the similarities and differences between the two sources.

  • Focus on the lecture for the TOEFL Integrated Writing.

Remember that the major goal of TOEFL Integrated Writing is to ‘summarize the points made in the lecture’. So, if you are going to take notes throughout the reading, keep them simple and brief. Then pay close attention to the points in the reading that the lecturer chooses to discuss. And pay attention to how the instructor responds to these points.

  • Carefully read each question.

Make sure to read the question completely in both Tasks 1 and 2. It may have two sections or a statement to interact with. Highlight the prompt words like ‘summarize’, ‘agree or disagree’, and ‘explain’. 

  • Answer everything in the question.

The TOEFL Integrated Writing Task entails summarizing the recording’s thoughts in relation to the extract’s ideas. While concentrating on the listening content, make sure to answer both questions. 

Similar to Task 1, Task 2 may require you to answer a question, respond to a statement, and back up your answer with precise details. Make sure to respond to every question raised. 

  • Before you write, think about what you are going to write.

It is critical to prepare your responses ahead of time. As you read and listen to the prepared materials, you need to plan your response first. Make sure you plan out your response in detail for the TOEFL Independent Writing Task as well, including organization and examples.

  • Structure your essay well.

A well-structured TOEFL Writing response will earn you a good score. Each response should have an introduction and conclusion, as well as numerous brief body paragraphs, each with a key topic and supporting detail. Paragraphs should be linked in a rational way.

  • DO NOT ‘quote’.

For the TOEFL Integrated Writing Task, you must clarify the author’s and professor’s perspectives in your own words. As a result, it is critical to paraphrase everything. This is particularly true when it comes to the reading passage. 

Remember that the reading portion will be directly in front of you as you write your essay. If you explicitly quote the author, the TOEFL system will detect this, and your score will be low.

  • Manage your time well. 

You just have 20 minutes to create your essay for the TOEFL Integrated Writing task and 30 minutes for the TOEFL Independent Writing task. As a result, time management is critical. Have enough time to outline, write and revise your essay. 

Additional FAQs – TOEFL Writing Section

What’s a Good Score on TOEFL Writing?

For this section, a good writing score range might be 18–30.

A score of 17-23 on the TOEFL Writing section would be considered fair, whereas a score of 24-30 would be considered excellent.

However, any score that meets all of your school’s TOEFL score standards is a good TOEFL Writing score for you.

Is TOEFL Writing Hard?

No, the TOEFL Writing Test is not difficult, assuming you have a strong command of the English language. 

However, if you consider yourself weak in English, it will be quite challenging. The good news is there are lots of ways on how you can prepare and study for it to eventually get the score that you desire. Just like the other things in life, practice is the key. 

How Do I Start Writing for TOEFL?

Before you start writing your essay for the TOEFL Writing Tasks, it is a must that you allot at least 2 minutes writing an outline. This serves as your blueprint so you will not waste any time thinking of what to write on your TOEFL Writing essays. 

You do not want to write an essay only to realize that what you have written is unorganized and not properly structured. 

How Do I Ace TOEFL Writing?

Getting an excellent score in the TOEFL Writing is not difficult. The key is to practice. 

Give yourself enough time and preparation before taking the TOEFL. Utilize the available resources and read as many English materials there are.
Work on refining your grammar and vocabulary as well. Review the basics in essential writing. These are the key factors that will help you achieve the TOEFL Writing with flying colors.