Do you struggle with how to best tackle which way to go about improving your essays on the TOEFL writing section? To beat both the integrated and independent in the writing section, a few straightforward strategies go a long way to boost your section score.
Are you typing at least 40 words per minute? Of course, you can type faster improving your ability through typing sessions. First, make sure to practice typing your English writing on a QWERTY computer keyboard. Since you will need to type in your task responses, the faster and more accurate you type on the keyboard, the better you can focus on writing a quality essay. Touch typing without looking at the keyboard will give you an advantage since you will be able to think in English while not looking at the letters on the keyboard. Type daily for consistent practice with speed and no errors. Aim for 55 words per minute. Some websites for English typing test speed and practice are these:
The Principles of Touch Typing
Timing, of course, is critical in each writing task. When you first start practicing, you may feel slow and not be efficient in finishing your essay on time within 20-30 minutes, depending on the task. Every time you practice a simulated timed writing, you will get closer and closer to finish your essay in time, so that by the time the exam day rolls around, you are confident and comfortable to complete your tasks in the given time frame.
It’s important to also make a strategic plan to expand your vocabulary day by day. Maintain a vocabulary list in a notebook with new words and use review time daily to learn the words. Attempt to use those words in your essay practice when your writing is checked by a native speaker.
While you are practicing writing, look at your vocabulary list and use some of those words in context in your writing. Write in a style which has a variety of grammar structures. Using alternative word choices and various sentence structures, you can master how to write them effectively. The raters of the exam count a variety of word choice and sentence variety as higher level writing.
Next, formulate your essay structure so it’s well-organized with an introduction, body and conclusion, and be sure to use that structure in practice and on the actual test day. Each of the three parts of an essay has structural aspects to follow so that each paragraph in the essay is ordered logically and flows smoothly.
After you learn the structure, familiarize yourself with how to organize the content in the essay. There is a planning stage, a writing stage, and a revision stage. During the planning time of 3-5 minutes, you create a mapping of ideas or an outline before beginning to write the essay. A solid planning such as idea mapping saves time during the writing period because all your ideas will already be organized. The planning stage has key words from the question, a list of mapped out phrases of reasons, examples, and supporting details of ideas for the body paragraphs (2-3.) Do not write sentences, only write words or phrases to create an order of ideas so that you can refer to your planning to develop a clear, logical, and well-organized essay.
Know how to successfully write with connecting ideas, in particular, use transitions or phrases to introduce a reason or point, to give an example, to contrast an idea, to switch from one idea to another, to give more supporting information such as details, or to conclude. Some transition words are the following: first, second, next, in addition, moreover, for example, for instance, in contrast, on the other hand, to conclude, and to sum up. A list of transition words and phrases to be familiar with is at Study Guides and Strategies link.
How far have you come? Reflect on your writing advancement. Have a native English teacher or editor give you feedback on your writing according to the writing scores for TOEFL. Use the accurate input to get better on your writing techniques. Implement strategies to help you advance even further so that your writing progress is faster to get your goal.
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