Como planificar y organizarse en la sección de Writing

Como planificar y organizarse en la sección de Writing

La sección de Writing es la cuarta y última sección del examen TOEFL iBT. Descubre los consejos para planificar la respuesta y administrar el tiempo en la sección de Writing del examen TOEFL.

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The writing section is the fourth and last section of the TOEFL iBT test. It tests your ability to produce clear, well-organized and fairly flawless academic writing.

As you have learned from previous posts, there are two types of writing:

  1. The independent writing task requires you to read a prompt (a set of instructions to write about a topic) and express your opinion on this topic. Your response is based on your own experience, knowledge and ideas.
  1. For the integrated writing task, you read a short reading passage, and then listen to a lecture on the same topic. After that, you write a text summarizing the points made in the reading passage and the lecture and showing the relationship between them.

The prompt for the Independent writing task

The prompt provides a topic about which you must write. The topic is given to you, so you cannot choose it. Contexts for the prompts include areas such as education, art, technology business, sports and games, travel, communication, and language. The prompts are general, will not require any special knowledge, and will never be about controversial topics.

There are three common types of prompts:

  1. Defense of an opinion: in this type of prompt, you are provided with two different opinions and asked to choose one side to support. For example, “Some people believe that children should begin school at a very early age. Other people think that parents should wait until children are mature enough to enroll them in school. Tell which point of view you agree with and explain why, using specific details and reasons.”
  1. Agreement/Disagreement: another type of prompt presents a general statement and asks you to agree or disagree with it. For example: “Do you agree or disagree with this statement: If you want to have a great vacation, you should go to the mountains. Use specific examples and reasons to support your answer.”
  1. Importance or relevance: the third type of prompt requires you to explain the importance or relevance of a development, invention, phenomenon or situation. For example: “The telephone has revolutionized the world in many ways. Choose another invention that you think is of great importance. Use specific examples and reasons for your choice.”

Planning your response

The Independent Writing task should be about 300 words, but this is an approximate number. In reality, the response can be as short as 280 words and not longer than 330 words (otherwise you would run out of time). You will see the time on the screen, which you should check as often as possible to keep track of your progress.


  1. Read the prompt and analyze it

The first thing you should do is read the prompt carefully and understand what type of prompt from the classification above you are presented with. Then you have to express your opinion about the issue in the prompt. Keep in mind that it is entirely up to you which side of the issue you choose to support and that there are no right answers. If after a few seconds of looking at the prompt you are still undecided about what side you will defend, do a quick brainstorming: write a vertical line down the middle of your scratch paper and write the pros on one side and the cons on the other, and then select the choice that has more ideas.

For example, imagine that the prompt requires to agree or disagree with this statement: “Living in a small town is better for your health”. After brainstorming, your scratch paper may look like this:



You do not need a car

You live closer to your neighbors

You can walk to places or use your bike

Life is less hectic

You know more people

It is boring

You may not have public transport

In this example, it is clear that you have more ideas in favor of the statement than against it, so you should choose to agree with the statement.

Another advantage of the brainstorming activity is that it will start you thinking about reasons to support your opinion. In the example above, you have five ideas to choose three from.

  1. Think of an outline to develop your ideas

An outline that works for the Independent Writing task is based on three different essay parts and five paragraphs:

Essay part Paragraphs Content of the paragraph
Introduction 1 -Statement of your opinion or preference

-Brief presentation of the three reasons you will develop in the body paragraphs

Body 2 -First reason to support your opinion

-Examples and details to support the first reason

3 -Second reason to support your opinion

-Examples and details to support the second reason

4 -Third reason to support your opinion

-Examples and details to support the third reason

Conclusion 5 - Summary of your opinion and reasons
  1. Manage the time effectively

You have thirty minutes in which to write the response. Therefore, you should divide your time into the following activities:

Pre-writing: 2 to 5 minutes

-Read and analyze the prompt


-Make an outline

Writing: 20 to 25 minutes

Checking: 2 to 5 minutes

-Identify and correct problems with content, grammar, and mechanics (punctuation, capitalization, and so on)

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