6 Strategies to Write Your TOEFL Essay as an Expert

Writing an essay with a time limit is a very demanding task, even for those who have the English language as their mother tongue. In the independent task of the TOEFL Writing section, you will have only 30 minutes to write your essay, which should demonstrate the quality of your skills through the correct use of spelling, grammar and context vocabulary.

In addition, the Writing section of the TOEFL test is the last one, so you may be a bit mentally exhausted, so you need to be very balanced, ready and with clear ideas to succeed in the writing test.

The independent task is to express in writing your opinion about a personal experience based on a specific topic. This means that there will be no right or wrong answer, but your mission is to substantiate or validate your arguments as clearly as possible.

Feel like a writer: How to write the Independent Writing on the TOEFL

These are the most effective strategies to write TOEFL independent writing as an expert, as part of your TOEFL preparation course with Exam Madrid Academy.

1- Use your opinion strategically

Writing your independent essay as clear and concise as possible could cause you to go against your own opinion. Why? The logic behind this statement is that, if your sincere opinion is based on emotional arguments or extremely idealistic abstractions, instead of concrete facts or personal experiences, we assure you that it will be much more convenient to choose the easiest side to support.

During your practice process in the TOEFL course in Madrid with the Exam Madrid Academy, you will learn to separate two elements of the independent essay: First, your sincere opinion, which in theory should be easier to support. However, and this represents the second element, defending positions in which you do not believe, it would most likely be the perfect contradiction to the first element and therefore would make it easier to defend the argument in an optimal way. This is the key to the independent essay: More than giving your personal opinion, it is about correctly defending your argument, whatever it may be.

As part of your TOEFL preparation course with EXAM Madrid, practice both cases: give your personal opinion to the natural, with foundation; and give the opinion that best expresses an argument, even when that opinion is contrary to what you really think.

2- Know the innocent mistakes and avoid them

There are many possible errors in the TOEFL test application in Madrid. The experience of EXAM Madrid as the authentic TOEFL academy in the Community of Madrid, has led us to identify many of these shortcomings. We will show you three of the most common, so you know what you should avoid doing on the day of the test.

-Innocent apologies: The evaluators know that English is not your native language, therefore, do not apologize in advance for your imperfect abilities! On many occasions, students begin their independent essay by offering apologies for their poor English. This will do is condition the evaluator throughout the evaluation. In conclusion, even if your essay is excellent, having noticed your skill level will subtract very valuable points.

-Live in white: This is one of the battles you must fight against yourself in your TOEFL preparation course with EXAM Madrid. Sometimes you have a lot of ideas to write in your thoughts, but you can not find a way to give them free rein and let the writing flow. As a result, you could be in trouble to see that the clock does not stop, you have little time left and you have not written almost anything. In these cases, always keep in mind that it is better to have some ideas instead of having none. Do not try to be perfect when you are against the clock.

-Not very short or very long: In addition to having a blank mind, in contrast, it could happen to you that the ideas flow to the maximum power, which could lead you to the other end of the problem: write an extremely long essay. The ideal is to find the perfect balance, and in that sense, in the TOEFL course of EXAM Madrid we have the answer. ETS, the company that created the test, has published the ideal amount of words for a independent writing on the TOEFL, and is 300 words maximum. However, writing between 300 and 500 word limit is also an excellent number.

-The independent task is the independent one: Do not confuse the roles or the mission of the integrated task with those of the independent task. Remember that the integrated task is not required to give your personal opinion. Study both separately and you will be ready to overcome the different challenges each one poses.

3- Find the balance between quality and quantity

In the TOEFL Writing, the shortest essays are those that obtain the lowest scores. This is due to the fact that, given its scarce number of words, there is not enough space to include details. Therefore, the test is not only shorter, but of poor quality. Otherwise, a more extensive essay, close to the ideal number of between 300 and 500 words, leaves enough space to detail the ideas and clearly explain your arguments.

The final recommendation to find the balance between quality and quantity is that you have enough time to thoroughly review the grammar, vocabulary, structure and clarity of your writing. These are the elements that will make it of great quality.

4- Perform real-time TOEFL Writing simulations

When time is involved, everything changes. You can not sit without limitations to put order to your ideas and carefully structure the way in which you will write them. When the timer is activated, you will have to think fast, write fast and edit / correct your essay quickly. And even, everything gets a little more complicated if you have problems with typing on the keyboard of a computer. These are details that, with practice, you can improve and master.

Practice outside of class with this method: Choose a topic of your choice, freely. Then activate the clock with a time limit of 30 minutes and reverse them completely by typing. Do not do anything else in those 30 minutes more than write without stopping. Once the time has finished, carefully read everything you have written and ask yourself the logical self-assessment questions. How was the grammar? And the spelling? How many sentences did you write? Do the ideas presented have congruence? Are they logically structured according to the opinion that you originally decided to express?

In class, one of the main features of the TOEFL preparation courses at the Exam Madrid Academy is the application of real-time simulations of the TOEFL Writing and all the sections of the test, as a practice to take the rhythm of the test. When you get your results, the team of native American teachers of our TOEFL academies in Madrid will develop a study plan to strengthen your weaknesses and maximize your skills.

5- Work on transitions

Transitions are one of the essential keys to master the ability to write on the TOEFL. As you use them correctly, or indeed use them – since many do not even use them – your writing will be understood harmoniously. These words or phrases are the ones that connect the different ideas of the essay progressively.

A transition could be as short as a word or as long as a complete sentence. Applying them correctly brings benefits such as a natural rhythm for the reader, a logical structure of very clear wording and an effective understanding of how the different ideas raised in your essay are related to each other.

Among the resources of the TOEFL course of the Exam Madrid Academy are the most common transitions, which you can use in different cases depending on the context of what you are writing:

-To express similarity: similarly, like, as, likewise, in the same way.

-To give contrast between ideas: nevertheless, yet, still, on the other hand, despite, although.

-To locate the reader on time: First, second, etc …; next, then; at first; after that; currently; simultaneously.

-To make emphasis: actually, even, indeed, especially.

-To conclude and close ideas: In conclusion, finally, therefore, thus.

6- Identify the topics of the independent essay

There are three main types of topics in the independent TOEFL trial. The first one refers to agreeing or disagreeing (agree or disagree), which among the three is the most common. It will present two diverse opinions on an argument. Your task is to choose one of the two positions and give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

The second is about explaining the two sides of an argument. Unlike the first, in this case you will not choose a position, but you will discuss both positions on a topic. On occasion, you will be asked to compare the advantages and disadvantages between the two and give examples to support your affirmations.

The third is to choose a position among several options. For example, the question would be formulated as follows: “Which age group do you believe the majority of television advertising should be directed towards? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer. “


Agree or disagree:

-Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? When people solve problems as a group, they come up with better solutions that if they were to try to solve the problem individually. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

-Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? All children should be required to take a foreign language class from the time they start school until they begin university. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Explain both sides

-Compare the advantages and disadvantages of requiring college freshman to complete at least one year of college classes before selecting a major versus having them choose right away. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

-Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of living in a large city versus living in a small town. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Choose a posture

-What do you believe is the most important problem facing the world today? Why is it the most important? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

-If you could learn one new skill you’ve never had the opportunity to try before, what skill would it be? Explain your choice by using specific reasons and examples.Ready to start typing? You are one step away from complementing your preparation in the best way: By taking a TOEFL preparation course with the Exam Madrid Academy. We guarantee that you will get the best score. Check our TOEFL courses in Madrid by going through the EXAM Madrid Academy website.

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