The TOEFL Independent Task Five-Paragraph Essay Structure



The typical structure for essays is the five-paragraph organization. The model is useful in the independent writing task since you have a limited time; you will have an advantage to know your structure in advance within a 30-minute time frame. Of course, it’s only one format, so you can optionally write a four-paragraph structural model instead. In either case, you would be organizing with an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs (2-3,) and a conclusion.


Start by getting the reader involved in your essay. You can write a general sentence about the question, but be sure to catch the reader’s attention by stating the topic. Since the introductory paragraph tells the reader what the essay is about, you can present your main points. For instance, you will need to answer the question and include a thesis statement (your main argument) with reasons. The last sentence of the first paragraph will have a related key word to lead into the first body paragraph so the connection is smooth.


The first body paragraph often has the strongest argument. Consequently, you should be sure to use the most significant reason to support the argument, the best example or illustration. The first sentence has a transition/reverse hook, which links back to the last sentence of the introduction.

  • In the first topic sentence, state the argument and first reason, which was in the thesis in the introduction.
  • Then, develop the reason with a supporting example and details which become more and more specific.
  • The last sentence can be either a concluding idea to restate the topic or a transition to lead into the second body paragraph.


The second body paragraph usually presents the second strongest point. So, use the next most convincing reason and direct example with underlying details in support. Again, the first topic sentence of this paragraph has a transitional hook such as a paraphrase of the previous reason relating back to the last paragraph (or the last sentence of the previous body paragraph.)

  • To start, write the topic reason (related to the introductory thesis,) followed by a clear example with supporting details.
  • To conclude, the final sentence can wrap up the paragraph by reiterating the topic reason in other words or lead into the next paragraph.


The third body paragraph will contain the weakest reasoning point, simplest example, and a follow up of that illustration with specific details. The beginning sentence will give a connecting transition or a clear link to the previous paragraph.

  • The first sentence will be the topic (related to the thesis in the introduction) with the least important reason, your weakest example to support that reason, and concrete details.
  • Finally, the last sentence should signal the reader that this is the concluding point in the essay.


For the concluding paragraph, allude to the introduction by paraphrasing the thesis (echoing the idea but not copying the exact original words,) synthesize the three reasons from the body, and offer a universal call to action such as a recommendation or a suggestion of consequence for the reader or a provocative question on the topic.

When you present an orderly structure, the end result is a well-organized essay with ideas that flow coherently, leading to a higher score.

TOEFL Independent Writing Task Topic–Type 1: Choose a Side


The writing section of the TOEFL analyzes how well you can communicate in written English. In the independent question (writing question 2,) one question topic will be presented. You will need to address the question, developing an opinion essay. In order to score well on that task, it is crucial to identify exactly what the question asks by picking out keywords, the important ideas found in the question. Then, create a logical response to directly answer the question by keeping all ideas on topic. If you do not respond to the question and by accident go off topic, it will lower your score.

Hundreds of different TOEFL independent task writing topics exist. One essay topic might ask about family, education, technology, travel, or another subject. The advantage you have is that only a couple different types of questions are presented. Let’s look at a few examples of just one specific type that is the most common: choose a side (either 1 or 2: agree/disagree.) With Choose a Side (Agree/Disagree) questions, choose to either agree or to disagree with the given statement, and then explain your choice.

By examining some samples of Agree/Disagree type of topics, you can pick out essential keywords to focus on. Look at what the question asks, and then select nouns which lead the idea. Pay attention to quantifiers such as all, superlatives such as most, best, comparatives such as more than, better, and conjunctions such as and as well as or that connect two key nouns since these may alter the meaning of how you respond with reasons and examples. You can also consider synonyms or related terms for those key nouns that you can integrate into your writing.

  1. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? All university students should take basic science courses even if science is not a major field for them.
  2. Do you agree or disagree with following statement? The most important characteristic of a leader and a politician is a good communication skill.
  3. Do you agree or disagree that face-to-face communication is more effective to produce better work than e-mail communication?
  4. Today, young people are expected to follow or obey rules that are too strict. Do you agree or disagree?
  5. Do you agree or disagree movies and televisions have more negative effects than positive effects on young people?
  6. Do you agree or disagree? Some people think that to go on field trips (such as a museum) is an important part of an education for a child. Others think that a child should spend time on classwork at school.