How to prepare for TOEFL iBT Test (4)


Writing is the fourth and last section of the TOEFL iBT® test. There are 2 tasks and you have 50 minutes to write essay responses based on reading and listening tasks (integrated task, 20 minutes session); support an opinion in writing (independent task, 30 minutes session).

In the integrated writing section, you will be given a short reading passage and listening passage on the same topic. Then you will be given 20 minutes to write an essay of about 150-225 words, explaining how the listening passage either supports the reading passage or contradicts the reading. The second part is independent writing. You are given one topic, and you have 30 minutes to write an essay of about 4-5 paragraphs, or 300-350 words. You can  find elaborate explanations and sample questions here:

Task 1: Integrated Writing

The integrated writing task includes reading, listening and writing. Before you write your integrated essay, you’ll read a paragraph and listen to a lecture excerpt. Both of them will deal with the same topic, although they will likely offer different opinions or interpretations of it. You’ll generally have about 3 minutes to read the topic, and the lecture will be about the same length. You will have 20 minutes to finish the essay and will be able to view the reading passage while writing your essay.


  1. Take notes on the opinions in the reading passage. In this way, you can expect what to listen in the listening part.
  2. Take notes on the opposing/supporting ideas in the listening passage under each corresponding points in the reading material.
  3. Focus on the listening material when you write your essay, but mention the points made in the reading.
  4. Typically an effective response would be 150-225 words.

Writing Templates

  1. In the lecture, the professor made several points about ...... .the professor argues that..... However, the reading passage contends that ......The professor's lecture casts doubt on the reading by using a number of point that are contrary to....
    The first point that the professor uses to cast doubt on the reading is that....According to the professor...... .....differs from the reading in that the reading states.....The point made by the professor casts doubt on the reading because ....
    Another point that the professor uses to cast doubt on the reading is....The professor claims that.....However, the reading states.....This point is contradicted by.....
    Finally, the professor stated that ,on the contrary of reading,......In other words,.....This directly contradicts what the reading passage indicates, because.....
  2. The reading passage explores the issue of… The professor’s lecture deals with the same issue. However, he/she thinks that…, which contradicts what the reading states. And in the lecture, he/she uses three specific points to support his/her idea.
    First, even though the reading passage suggests that…, the professor argues in the lecture that … This is because…, which meansObviously, the professor’s argument disproves its counterpart in the reading.
    Moreover, despite the statement in the reading that…, the professor contends that… Then he/she supports this point with the fact that… In other words,…
    Finally, the professor asserts that… whereas the author of the reading claims that… The professor proves that this claim is indefensible by pointing out that…
    In conclusion, the professor clearly identifies the weaknesses in the reading passage and convincingly shows that the central argument in the reading,… is incorrect.

Substitute words for the red words:

Explores: analyzes, examines, deals with, is concerned with, is about, focuses on, concentrates on, investigates

Issue: subject, topic

Professor: lecture, speaker, instructor, the presenter

Lecture: speech, talk, the listening passage, the presentation

Deals with: analyzes, examines, explores, is concerned with, is about, focuses on, concentrates on, investigates

However: But/Yet/Even so, / Despite that,

Thinks: believes, argues, asserts, claims, contends, maintains, insists, states, indicates

Contradicts: challenges, directly contradicts, clashes with, conflicts with, denies, opposes, is opposed to, runs counter to, is exactly the opposite of, is precisely the opposite of, make… seem weak, makes…seem incorrect, makes…seem dubious, makes…seem doubtful, raises doubts about, puts…in doubt, throws…into doubt

States: believes, argues, asserts, claims, contends, maintains, insists, states, indicates

Use three specific points: makes three specific points, uses ample evidence, offers plenty of evidence, presents sufficient evidence, provides some compelling arguments, shows enough evidence/reveals three pieces of evidence

Support: confirm/back/back up/buttress/strengthen/bolster/advocate

Idea: view, opinion, viewpoint, point of view, understanding, perspective, conception, notion, belief, position

First: first of all, to begin with, to start with, to start off with, in the first place

Even though: although, while, whereas

Because: due to

…which means…: …which suggests that…/and this means that…/--that is to say,…/in other words,/specifically.

Obviously: apparently, evidently, clearly

Disprove: believes, argues, asserts, claims, contends, maintains, insists, states, indicates

Moreover: second,…/also,…/in the second place,…/…as well./…, too./further,…/furthermore,…/aside from…/apart from…/in addition to…/besides…

Contrary to: in opposition to, in sharp contrast to, in stark contrast to, in marked contrast to, in noticeable contrast to, despite, in spite of

Contends: believes, argues, asserts, claims, contends, maintains, insists, states, indicates

Finally: third, ../lastly, …/ additionally, /in addition…

Asserts: believes, argues, asserts, claims, contends, maintains, insists, states, indicates

Whereas: while/in contrast/even though/although

Proves: shows, confirm, verifies

Indefensible: very weak, specious, spurious

In conclusion: in summary/to sum up/in the final analysis/based on the arguments offered above/hence/thus/therefore

Clearly: precisely, exactly, correctly

Identifies: finds, determines, pinpoints, ascertains, discovers, discerns

Weaknesses: flaws, weak links

Convincingly: compellingly, forcefully, successfully, impressively

Show: prove, reveal

Central argument: fundamental argument, main idea, main argument, main point

Incorrect: inaccurate, wrong, indefensible, inadequate specious at best, unconvincing

Task 2: Independent Writing

In the independent essay, you were asked to give your opinion of an issue. It involves writing a four to five-paragraph essay of 300-350 words in 30 minutes.


  1. Develop any topic into a well-organized, logical answer.
  2. Use synonyms to paraphrase the question.
  3. Use a variety of sentence structures & grammatical forms.
  4. Begin with a simple, strong introduction.
  5. Create body paragraphs that flow logically.
  6. Develop unity by linking the body paragraphs.
  7. End with a memorable conclusion
  8. Practice and develop your own style of writing.

Sample response (Both parts)

*Note: The templates are just for reference, they may help you organize your thoughts. You can design your own template. Just remember once you decide, use it as much as possible when practice to get familiar with it.

*Above points of view are only derived from personal experiences. Anyone is welcomed to comment and offer new advice.