TOEFL sample essays: Tips and techniques for a high score

Updated on: May 15, 2024
TOEFL sample essays: Tips and techniques for a high score
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The TOEFL exam is a standardised test that measures a non-native English speaker's ability to use and understand English at the university level. One of the components of the TOEFL exam is the writing section, which requires test-takers to write an essay in response to a prompt.

To score well on the writing section, it is essential to understand the requirements of the exam and the characteristics of a high-scoring essay.

In this article, we will explore tips and techniques for writing TOEFL sample essays that will help test-takers achieve a high score.

TOEFL writing section

The TOEFL writing section is a crucial component of the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), which measures the English language proficiency of non-native speakers of English who wish to study or work in English-speaking countries. The writing section evaluates a test-taker's ability to write effectively and clearly in academic English.

The TOEFL writing section comprises two tasks: the Independent Writing Task and the Integrated Writing Task. Both tasks assess different aspects of the test-taker's writing abilities, including their ability to express ideas clearly, organise thoughts, use appropriate vocabulary and grammar, and demonstrate critical thinking and analytical skills.

Also read: TOEFL Writing Topics

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Integrated Writing Task

The Integrated Writing Task assesses your ability to comprehend and synthesise information from both a reading passage and a lecture. This section evaluates your ability to use your reading and listening comprehension skills to comprehend the given content and then integrate and organize the information effectively in your writing.

The Integrated Writing Task is composed of two parts: a reading passage and a recorded lecture. The reading passage presents a topic, and the lecture provides additional information on that topic. Both the reading passage and the lecture are related and complement each other. Test-takers must read and listen carefully, as they will be asked to summarise the information presented in both in a written response.

The reading passage is approximately 230-300 words long and usually includes a definition of the topic, background information, and supporting examples. The lecture is approximately 3-5 minutes long and adds additional information and examples to the topic presented in the reading passage.

Also read: TOEFL Writing Topics

Independent Writing Task

The Independent Writing Task assesses your ability to write in English on a given topic. The task requires you to express your thoughts, ideas, and opinions coherently and effectively in written form. The task aims to evaluate your ability to organise your thoughts, use appropriate vocabulary and grammar, and develop your ideas with sufficient details and examples.

The Independent Writing Task is a timed exercise, and you will be given 30 minutes to complete it. You will be presented with a prompt or a question, which you will be required to address in your response. The prompt may ask you to express your opinion on a particular issue or to describe a situation, problem or challenge and propose a solution. It is important to read the prompt carefully and understand what it requires you to do before starting to write.

Also read: TOEFL Exam Pattern

Independent Essay Sample

Prompt: Some people believe that it is better to live in a small town, while others think that life in a big city is more preferable. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each perspective and give your own opinion.

Living in a small town versus a big city has been a topic of debate for a long time. Some people prefer the peace and quiet of small towns, while others thrive in the hustle and bustle of big cities. In this essay, I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each perspective and provide my own opinion.

Living in a small town has its advantages. First of all, it is generally quieter and more peaceful than living in a big city. There is less noise pollution, less traffic, and fewer crowds. Additionally, small towns are often safer than big cities, with lower crime rates and a stronger sense of community. People in small towns tend to know each other better and are more likely to look out for one another.

However, small towns also have their disadvantages. They can be isolated and lacking in opportunities, particularly when it comes to education and employment. Small towns may not have access to the same resources as big cities, which can make it harder to pursue certain careers or receive a top-notch education. Additionally, small towns can sometimes feel claustrophobic, with everyone knowing everyone else's business and limited options for socialising or entertainment.

Living in a big city, on the other hand, has its own set of advantages. Big cities are often cultural hubs, with access to museums, theatres, concerts, and other forms of entertainment. They also offer more diverse dining options and a wider range of shopping opportunities. In terms of education and employment, big cities often have more options available, with top-notch universities and a greater number of job openings.

However, big cities also have their disadvantages. They can be noisy, polluted, and stressful, with crowds and traffic adding to the chaos. Crime rates are often higher in big cities, and there is often a lack of community and a sense of isolation. Additionally, the cost of living in a big city is often much higher than in a small town, which can be a significant barrier for many people.

In my opinion, both small towns and big cities have their advantages and disadvantages, and which one is preferable depends on individual preferences and priorities. While I appreciate the peace and quiet of small towns, I also value the opportunities and diversity of big cities. Ultimately, the choice between living in a small town versus a big city comes down to personal preference and what one prioritises in life.

Also read: TOEFL study material and resources

Tips for writing high-scoring TOEFL essay

Writing a high-scoring TOEFL essay requires effective preparation, practice, and the use of a clear writing structure. Here are some tips to help you write a high-scoring TOEFL essay:

1. Understand the task requirements

The first step in writing a high-scoring TOEFL essay is to understand the task requirements. Make sure you read the prompt carefully and understand the topic you are being asked to write about. Additionally, make sure you understand the type of essay you need to write. The TOEFL independent writing task requires you to write an essay expressing your opinion or providing your perspective on a given topic.

2. Plan your essay

Once you understand the prompt and the requirements of the task, take a few minutes to plan your essay. Jot down some notes, create an outline, or even brainstorm on paper to organise your thoughts. Make sure you have a clear idea of the main points you want to make and the evidence you will use to support them. Organising your thoughts and creating an outline will help you stay on track and make your essay more coherent.

3. Use effective paragraph structure

Paragraphs are the building blocks of your essay. Each paragraph should have a clear topic sentence that relates to the main idea of the essay. Use supporting evidence and examples to back up your main point in each paragraph. Additionally, make sure each paragraph flows smoothly into the next. Using transition words and phrases can help link ideas and make your essay more cohesive.

4. Use specific examples

One of the keys to writing a high-scoring TOEFL essay is to use specific examples to support your ideas. Use real-life examples, statistics, and facts to back up your argument. This will demonstrate your knowledge of the topic and show that you can think critically. Additionally, using specific examples will make your essay more interesting to read and help you stand out from other test-takers.

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5. Use varied sentence structure

Varying your sentence structure can make your essay more interesting and engaging to read. Use short and long sentences, questions, and statements to add variety to your writing. This will help you avoid repetition and make your writing more engaging. However, make sure your sentences are grammatically correct and make sense in the context of your essay.

6. Use academic vocabulary

Using academic vocabulary can make your essay sound more professional and knowledgeable. Use vocabulary that is appropriate for the academic level of the test. Avoid slang, colloquialisms, and overly complex language. Additionally, make sure you use words correctly and avoid using words that you do not fully understand.

7. Use correct grammar and punctuation

Using correct grammar and punctuation is essential to getting a high score on the TOEFL writing section. Make sure you use correct verb tenses, subject-verb agreement, and sentence structure. Use appropriate punctuation to ensure your writing is clear and easy to read. If you are unsure about a grammar or punctuation rule, look it up or ask a tutor for clarification.

Also Read TOEFL Exam Syllabus

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TOEFL writing samples

TOEFL writing samples provide valuable insights into the structure and content expected in the writing section of the exam. These samples showcase both the integrated and independent writing tasks, allowing test-takers to familiarise themselves with the types of prompts and the expected responses. 

Below we have provided three TOEFL writing samples with answers. By analysing and studying these TOEFL sample essays, students can understand the effective use of transitions, supporting evidence, and coherent arguments.

TOEFL essay sample #1

The importance of learning a second language

Learning a second language has become increasingly important in today's globalised world. It offers numerous benefits such as improved cognitive abilities, enhanced cultural understanding, and better job prospects. In this essay, we will explore the advantages of learning a second language and how it can positively impact individuals and society.

Learning a second language has been shown to improve cognitive abilities. It requires mental effort and helps develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and multitasking skills. Research has shown that bilingual individuals exhibit higher levels of creativity and have improved memory and attention spans.

Furthermore, learning a second language enhances cultural understanding. Language is deeply intertwined with culture, and by learning a second language, individuals gain insights into different cultures, traditions, and perspectives. This fosters empathy, tolerance, and a broader worldview, enabling individuals to engage and connect with people from diverse backgrounds.

In addition, knowing a second language opens up better job prospects. In today's global job market, multilingualism is highly valued. It allows individuals to communicate effectively with clients, colleagues, and partners from different countries. Employers often seek candidates with language skills, as it demonstrate adaptability and a willingness to engage in cross-cultural interactions. Thus, learning a second language offers advantages in terms of career opportunities and professional growth.

TOEFL essay sample #2

The impact of technology on education

Technology has revolutionised the field of education, transforming the way students learn and teachers teach. In this essay, we will explore the positive impact of technology on education, including increased access to resources, improved engagement, and enhanced learning outcomes.

One significant impact of technology in education is the increased access to resources. Online platforms, digital libraries, and educational apps provide students with vast amounts of educational materials, regardless of their geographical location. Students can access textbooks, research materials, and interactive learning tools, empowering them to explore and learn at their own pace.

Moreover, technology has improved student engagement in the learning process. Multimedia elements such as videos, simulations, and gamification techniques capture students' attention and promote active participation. This not only enhances their understanding of the subject matter but also fosters creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

Additionally, technology facilitates personalised learning experiences. Adaptive learning platforms analyze student performance and provide personalised feedback, allowing for targeted instruction and remediation. Online collaboration tools enable students to work together, fostering teamwork and communication skills. These personalised and collaborative learning experiences contribute to enhanced learning outcomes and student success.

TOEFL essay sample #3

The benefits of exercise for physical and mental health

Regular exercise is essential for maintaining good physical and mental health. It offers numerous benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased strength and flexibility, stress reduction, and enhanced mood. In this essay, we will explore the importance of exercise for overall well-being.

Engaging in regular exercise improves physical health. It helps prevent chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Exercise strengthens the cardiovascular system, boosts metabolism, and enhances overall physical fitness. Activities like running, swimming, or weightlifting promote muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Exercise also plays a vital role in stress reduction and mental well-being. Physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. These endorphins promote feelings of happiness and well-being, helping to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Regular exercise can also improve sleep quality, increase energy levels, and enhance cognitive function.

Furthermore, exercise provides an opportunity for individuals to unwind, clear their minds, and focus on their physical well-being. It can serve as a form of self-care, allowing individuals to take time for themselves and prioritize their health. Incorporating exercise into one's routine can have a positive impact on their overall mental and emotional state.

In conclusion, regular exercise offers a multitude of benefits for both physical and mental health. It improves cardiovascular health, increases strength and flexibility, reduces stress, and enhances mood. By incorporating exercise into our daily lives, we can experience improved well-being and lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.

It is important to understand the requirements of the exam and the characteristics of a high-scoring essay to achieve a high score on the TOEFL writing section. By organizing your thoughts, using specific examples, using clear and concise language, focusing on coherence and cohesion, and proofreading and editing carefully, you can improve your essay writing skills and increase your chances of success on the exam.

Frequently asked questions

What is the format of the TOEFL essay?

The TOEFL essay is a 30-minute written task where you are asked to express and support your opinion on a specific topic. The essay is typically four to five paragraphs long and should include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Where can I find sample TOEFL essays to practice with?

You can find sample TOEFL essays in TOEFL preparation books or online. The official TOEFL website also provides sample essays and scoring guides.

How can I prepare for the TOEFL writing section?

To prepare for the TOEFL writing section, you should practice writing essays using sample prompts, develop your grammar and vocabulary skills, and learn how to organize and develop your ideas effectively. You may also want to work.

How to write a TOEFL essay?

To write a TOEFL essay, it is important to understand the prompt, brainstorm ideas, create an outline, and then write a well-structured essay with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Practice organising your thoughts and expressing them clearly within the time limit provided.

Is 27 a good writing score in TOEFL?

Yes, a score of 27 is considered a good writing score in TOEFL. It demonstrates a high level of proficiency in writing and indicates strong language skills, coherence, and clarity in expressing ideas.

What is the TOEFL essay format?

The TOEFL essay format consists of an introduction, two or three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction presents the main idea or argument, the body paragraphs provide supporting evidence or examples, and the conclusion summarises the main points and restates the thesis statement.

Is 24 a good TOEFL writing score?

A score of 24 in TOEFL writing is considered a good score. It reflects a strong command of English writing skills, including the ability to organise ideas coherently, use appropriate vocabulary and grammar, and develop well-structured paragraphs.

Is TOEFL writing difficult?

The difficulty level of TOEFL writing can vary from person to person. It requires strong language skills, critical thinking, and the ability to express ideas clearly within a time constraint.

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