Don’t Worry, It’s Easy to Write Concise Sentences

9.21“Less is more” in writing English. When you construct sentences to create a paragraph, each sentence should be trimmed down to only what is necessary to clearly communicate your point.

Do you find yourself struggling to create a simple, clear way of writing your ideas in English? On the TOEFL exam writing section, especially on the independent task, eliminating wordiness can raise your score.

Here are four efficient tips to make your sentences concise.

  1. Do not repeat the same idea twice.
  • Many uneducated adults who never went to primary school vote for improving the school system.

Examples of wordy phrases and how to trim them down.

A lot of many
In recent times now
There is no doubt that No doubt
Personally, I think I think
Each and every each
A total of 10 pets 10 pets
In a period of five days Five days
One and the same The same
Of particular interest Interest
In the event that If
At 12 noon At noon
A person who is smart A smart person
At 1AM in the morning At 1AM
New innovations innovations
In the field of business In business
He is a person who… He
In spite of the fact that… Even though
In the event that… if


  1. Delete phrases that do not add value to your writing
Delete unnecessary phrases
In other words,
Type of
Kind of
In the case of
By means of
In the event that
Have a tendency to
For the most part
As far as I’m concerned,
By virtue of the fact that
It seems that
Due to the fact that
For all intents and purposes
At the present time,
All things considered,
In light of the fact that
As a matter of fact,
…because of the fact that…
Which exists
For the purpose of
In a manner of speaking


  1. Avoid weak adverbs, choosing instead strong active verbs. The best effect is to use adverbs sparingly or only when necessary.
  • Really, very, mostly, severely


  1. Avoid there is/are or it is
  • There are 25 colleagues in the office. à 25 colleagues are in the office.
  • There is a mess. à A mess exists.

In short, concise writing does not equal short sentences. You can still go into detail in body paragraph development. Aim for clear ideas by deleting unneeded words and phrases.

If you enjoyed this blog, you’ll like Transitions and Structure Create a Smooth Flowing TOEFL Essay.


Superior Essays Contain Examples

note pen pencil

Examples are vital to creating a superior essay on the second task, the independent essay, in the TOEFL writing section. To create strong writing, you need to insert quality content with solid reasons on the topic and clear examples. Each example may be different since the topics are varied. Use a particular example from one of these below depending on which question you encounter on the exam day. Here are some samples of what types of examples you may integrate into your body paragraphs to give stronger support to your argument.

Your own experience

The majority of independent essay arguments can come from your own experience since your viewpoint is something you can grasp readily when you are in a time crunch. For example, you may consider referring to your family, friend, neighbor, classmate, boss, peer, or elder. If you have an independent (task #2) question that asks about family, community, children, school, education, work, career, or life, you can easily draw from your own experience to respond to the question and stay on topic. It saves time in planning your argument, and it makes your development more personalized with your experience. For structure in your example, keep the same main subject throughout a body paragraph for consistency.

Sample preference question

  • Some people prefer to live in places that have the same weather or climate all year long. Others like to live in areas where the weather changes several times a year. Which do you prefer?

Subject knowledge

Of course, you will not need any previous expertise on the subject to answer an independent question on the TOEFL. However, if you know something about the topic that is listed in the question, they you can use your subject knowledge to help you develop your argument. If you have a question related to social issues or politics, for example, it is useful to use subject knowledge for those types of questions.

Sample agree/disagree question

  • Agree or disagree? Technology has made the world a better place to live.

Someone famous or a global situation

Aside from using your personal experience or knowledge, you can use a global example. For instance, consider what renowned person you could write about as an example. Some questions may be a topic about time, about history, or about a country.

Sample independent questions:

  • If you could go back to some time and place in the past, when and where would you go? Why?
  • If you were asked to send one thing representing your country to an international exhibition, what would you choose? Why?

When giving evidence in the body to substantiate your claim, it is quick and helpful to illustrate an example from your own experience or knowledge, or from a well-known person or situation. Using those types of examples is effective in the body paragraphs, depending on which topic the question asks you.

If you liked this post, try reading the article: The TOEFL Independent Task Five-Paragraph Essay Structure.