The TOEFL iBT® Test: Improving Your Writing Skills

Advice for Writing
Skill: Writing based on Knowledge and Experience
Performance Level: Limited
Score Range: 1–16

  1. Practice writing daily.
    • Keep a journal. Write your opinions about things that you experience or topics in which you are interested.
      • Start out writing in your own language. This will help you get used to writing and will build confidence in your writing ability.
      • When you begin to feel more comfortable writing, keep a journal in English.
    • Take a writing class. This will give you lots of writing practice and a teacher will show you ways to improve your writing.
    • Find a pen pal or writing buddy. Write email messages or letters to each other.
    • Practice typing on a standard English (QWERTY) keyboard.
  2. Pay attention to your grammar and sentence structure.
    • Study the basics of English grammar and develop your vocabulary.
    • Practice writing correct sentences in English. Begin by writing simple sentences.
    • Make sure that each sentence has a subject and a verb, and that the subject agrees with the verb.
      • The student likes...; The students like...
    • Take two of your sentences and practice combining them.
    • Reread what you write. Look for and correct mistakes.
  3. Study the organization of good paragraphs and essays. A good paragraph discusses ONE main idea. This idea is usually written in the first sentence, which is called the topic sentence. Each paragraph should discuss one aspect of the main idea of the essay.
    • Write paragraphs in English that focus on one main idea and contain several complete sentences that explain or support that idea.
    • Ask your teacher to review your paragraphs for correctness.
  4. Think about who will be reading your writing. In some situations you need to write in a formal manner and your sentence structure, vocabulary use and general style should reflect that.
  5. Read a lot in English. This will help you recognize good writing styles.