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The TOEFL iBT® Test: Improving Your Writing Skills

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

  1. Read and listen to academic articles and other material in your own language. Take notes about what you read and hear.
    • Start out taking notes in your own language and then take notes in English.
    • Summarize the points in complete English sentences.
    • Ask your teacher to review your writing and help you correct your errors.
    • Gradually decrease the time it takes you to read the material and write these summaries.
    • Practice typing on a standard English (QWERTY) keyboard.
  2. Listen to recorded lectures in English. Practice finding the main points and taking notes.
    • Stop the recording every 20–30 seconds and write down the main points.
    • Replay the recording to check your notes and add information you may have missed.
    • Use your notes to write out these ideas in fuller, more complex English sentences.
  3. Learn important phrases that help you figure out what is happening.
    • Determine who the source of the information is.
      • The speaker
      • Someone else the speaker is talking about
    • Find out how certain the information is.
      • Might be versus is
    • Listen for words that indicate the main ideas being discussed.
      • point
      • factor
      • issue
  4. Practice writing grammatically correct sentences and use appropriate words to summarize information from text and lecture material.
    • Each week focus on a different aspect of English grammar. Complete grammatical exercises that reinforce this aspect.
    • Record news broadcasts and informational programs in English from the radio or television.
      • Practice listening and writing grammatical sentences about what you hear the newscaster say.
      • Ask your teacher or a friend review your work.
    • Read factual informational articles in English.
      • Underline sentence structures and words you are not familiar with.
      • Ask your teacher or a friend to help you understand what they communicate.
  5. Learn to pay attention to differing ideas about a topic, and to find the similarities and differences of opinions.
    • Look at different articles about the same topic (for example, editorials in the newspaper). Make a list of the similarities and differences of opinions about that topic.
    • Take a controversial cultural issue and write about how your culture understands it. Then compare your ideas with someone from another culture.
    • Study expressions that are used to compare and contrast ideas
      • in contrast
      • on the other hand
      • however
      • but
      • although
      • similarly
      • like


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