The purpose of writing section in TOEFL is to test the ability of a student to write Standard English in an academic environment. The tasks in TOEFL writing test structure is elaborated in this page.

TOEFL Writing Test Structure

A well known fact about TOEFL is, it’s a trip to pursue one’s studies in an English speaking country. If a student wants to take this trip, he/she must follow the key steps in TOEFL, after a good preparation. Those key steps are nothing but the test structure for each section in TOEFL. Like the other sections in TOEFL, writing test section also aims in testing the proficiency of a person to write in English in an academic environment. But it also uses some of the specific skills that are used in reading and listening sections. Read on more to know how does the TOEFL writing test structure, makes use of those specific skills.

 Complete TOEFL Writing Test Structure

Writing section in TOEFL is offered in two formats viz internet based (iBT) and paper based TOEFL (PBT) writing test. The skills for both the test formats are same and the only difference is timing.

1. Internet Based TOEFL Writing Test (iBT)

Internet based TOEFL writing test consists of two parts namely one integrated task and one independent task. Both the task measures the ability of students to write essays in Standard English format. This is a common purpose of integrated and independent task in writing section. The total timing given for writing test in TOEFL is 50 minutes. This 50 minutes is divided in such a way that 20 minutes is allotted for integrated task and 30 minutes for independent task.

The time allotted for integrated task is planned according to the tasks, which a student should perform in the test. Detailed information on integrated task is given below.

  • Integrated Task - In this part of writing section, students will be given a passage on academic topic to read. It will take 3 minutes for them to read the passage. Once they complete reading the passage, a recording on the same topic will be played for 2 min.
  • After the reading and listening procedure, the key facts that relates the reading passage and recording should be identified. Then the common purpose for both the passages should be found, which is followed by the cause, and major ideas.
  • The next step after finding the purpose and other aspects, as mentioned in the above statement, is that a comparison between the reading and recorded passage should be done. Here “comparison” is the hub of the integrated part of the writing section. It helps in demonstrating, how the key facts in reading passage are related to the recorded one.
  • Finally a summary of the relating facts and details between passages (reading and listened) should be written. The time given for writing the summary is 15 minutes.

On the whole it is important not to spend too much of time on thinking because , it is 3 minutes for reading, 2 minutes for listening and 15 minutes for writing(total time - 20 minutes). This is because the passage for both the parts is from an academic environment. As a result, students have to explain the contents which relate the passages and not their personal ideas or opinion.

The time span for an independent task is little higher because this task requires the students to write an essay on their personal opinion on a common experience. Boundaries of personal knowledge is wider when compared to the one acquired from a passage which is read or listened to. That’s why independent task is allotted 30 minutes.

  • Independent Task – In the independent task, a student is provided with a list of questions on common experiences. And also there is no necessity for an expertise in the subject, with which the questions are related. It will take 5 minutes for the students to read and understand the questions. Once this procedure is completed they should focus on the steps detailed below.
  • Students should explain their view point on the common experiences. When they observe the experience or a common issue on their own, they end up finding topics for the essay.
  • A relevant and an interesting introduction which is relevant to their view point should be written.
  • Then in the body of the essay they should cover the darker and lighter sides of the issue. Here if they agree or disagree with the specific points of the issue, they should explain it with supportive examples.
  • The examples which are presented should prove the main purpose of their essay. A simple sentence should be constructed to present the main purpose of the essay.
  • Finally, an interesting conclusion should be written, to give a complete look to the essay.

Integrated task is grounded on reading and listening skills while independent task projects on knowledge and experience.

2. Paper Based TOEFL Writing Test (PBT)

Paper based writing test consists only of one task which should be completed within 30 minutes. In this format of TOEFL writing test section, students will be presented with a set of questions on common time issues or general experiences. The TOEFL candidates should write their view point on those issues and substantiate them with strong and supportive example. 

The representation of TOEFL writing test structure in the form of iBT or PBT is designed on similar skills but the only feature that differentiates them is the timing. It is more important that good listening and analyzing skills are required to prove your opinions and to find the relation between two different sources.

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