A super common issue on the TOEFL integrated writing section is copying words from the text.
Why is this a bad idea?
The poor habit of copying—any kind of copying, such as a few groups of words or just one sentence will hurt your writing score. Sometimes, you may feel like it’s time-consuming or it poses a risk from potential incorrect wording to write your own words in a paraphrase. However, coming up with a paraphrase from the original source in which you may have improper wording is not going to hurt your score as much as copying.
3 Techniques to Rephrase
Let’s go in-depth how to restate the original source sentence with these techniques: 1) changing word order (moving words or phrases around in the sentence) 2) modifying word forms (changing a noun to a verb or vice versa) 3) finding a synonym (adjusting a word/phrase to something similar)
Original sentence from text:
Humpback whales migrate long distances.
Changing word order:
Choose one or two words to move to a different place in the sentence, and then make sure the sentence keeps the same meaning. Hint: you may need to add a verb.
Humpback whales go long distances to migrate.
Notice the three words moved in changing word order were these: migrate long distances.
In this case, moving the verb migrate and placing that idea at the end of the sentence as an infinitive to migrate necessitates adding a new verb go to be grammatically correct.
Changing word form:
Humpback whales go long distances for migration.
In this case, moving the verb migrate and placing that concept at the end as a gerund (-ing form) following a preposition (for) in for migration (a prepositional phrase) necessitates adding a new verb, go.
In these techniques of changing the order of the words or modifying word form, the verb form of migrate was changed using the root base “migrat” converting first, into an infinitive (to + verb), and next, into a gerund (-ing) following a preposition in the phrase.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but you’ll need to keep the same meaning as the original.
Changing a word to a synonym or words to synonyms:
Humpback whales migrate a far distance.
- The original word long was replaced with the synonym,
- The original plural word “distances” was adjusted to singular form distance, dropping the plural -s at the end of the word.
With these two minor word changes, one to a similar word, and another to a plural/singular change, a quick proper rephrase has been created.
Now, you try to paraphrase from another phrase below. Use techniques #1, #2, or #3 above.
In the case of the humpback whales, we may have found the answer: they may be navigating by the stars, much as early human sailors did.
Practice your paraphrasing.
OK, let’s do a comparison. We can analyze a paraphrased sample to compare to your practice written response.
We might have discovered a reason, for in the case of these whales, they used stars to navigate just like early sailors.
Which techniques were used to rephrase in the sentence above? Can you point out technique 1, 2, or 3?
Word order in the case of whales was moved from the beginning to the middle
Word (verb) form navigating changed to navigate using the root “navigat” from an -ing verb ending to an infinitive with to + verb.
Word to synonym found replaced by discovered; may altered to might
Yes, speed and accuracy are essential in paraphrasing! First, you don’t want to waste time thinking too much when writing since you’ll be in a time crunch. Second, you’ll need to have a similar meaning to the original source. That’s why practicing your rephrasing is valuable to improve your skill. With time using any of these techniques, you’ll be faster and more accurate. If you feel like you are rephrasing too slowly, one of the fastest ways to change the word form or synonym quickly is to look at the main verb or any verb form in the original and adjust the main verb or other verb forms. Let’s take a closer look at how this works quickly.
Humpback whales seem to be intelligent enough to use stars to navigate by.
Try your hand at paraphrasing the above sentence by adjusting verbs or verb forms.
Your paraphrase practice:
Humpback whales are intelligent enough using stars for navigation.
Humpback whales are intelligent enough navigating by stars.
If you still find it a challenge to speedily change a verb, then change an adjective or a noun.
Humpback whales seem to be smart enough to use constellations to navigate by.
After you’re familiar practicing these techniques to paraphrase better and faster, you may be considering how does re-phrasing influence your integrated writing task result. Be confident that proper paraphrasing does positively impact your score…just as copying lowers it.
When you are short on time, remember that your paraphrase does not have to be perfect like the original writing in the passage, which was written by a professional.
To sum up, if you make it a habit to practice paraphrasing words or phrases from the original text, it will lead to better habits of faster thinking and writing in the language. In both tasks of the writing section, it’s important that you are comfortable writing your own words. In an upcoming post, we’ll analyze how to paraphrase the prompt properly in the independent task.
Finally, if you stay calm and focused, your paraphrasing will improve with practice. Before you know it, you’ll ace your paraphrasing technique on TOEFL writing and in professional business interactions.