How to Write a TOEFL Independent Essay
The second essay on the TOEFL is an independent essay. You’ll be asked to write on a specific topic, without any further input. There’s no passage to read, nothing to listen to, etc. You will need to state your own thoughts and opinions and come up with examples to prove your points. However, there are a few things to make it easier:
- Quality matters. The test is designed to test your knowledge of the English language and your use of written English. The quality is the most important thing here, so don’t worry about writing ten paragraphs. Instead, focus on creating one or two very well-written paragraphs.
- Use the right words. Since the independent essay is meant to show your command of written English, you should take care to use the right phrases. If you’re trying to contrast two points, you might use:
- However . . .
- Meanwhile . . .
- In contrast . . .
- On the other hand . . .
Study up on these words and other common phrases that show continuity, transitions and similarities before you take the exam.
- Give your opinion. This is your time to shine. The TOEFL independent essay allows you to share your thoughts on the given topic and provide your own examples. While this can be somewhat difficult because you have nothing to work off of or rephrase, it is an excellent opportunity to be creative and let the testers know exactly what you think about the topic. As an argumentative essay, your opinion needs to be backed up with examples of why you feel this way.
- Get specific. The reviewers will be looking at whether or not you have examples and details to back up your opinion. These don’t actually have to be factual and you can just make up some examples, if you like. The trick is to be very specific. The more details you include, the better your score will be.
- Go back and edit. You do have a time limit on the independent essay, but it’s worth finishing up a few minutes ahead so you can edit and revise. This takes just a few minutes, but it can make a big difference in your final score. Practice ahead of time so you are able to write quickly without making too many mistakes.
The TOEFL independent essay requires plenty of focus and practice. It’s not easy writing within the allotted time, so you need a plan. Look carefully at the question and formulate a thesis statement that shows what you believe. It’s easier to do this if you’ve had practice before taking the exam.