Writing an essay is an important part of your TOEFL exam. It is part of the writing section and often proves challenging, especially for candidates who are not completely confident of their English skills. Use these tips on TOEFL Essay to ensure that you get an excellent score for this portion of the test.
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TOEFL Essay Tips
1. Budget your time
You have 50 minutes to complete the writing section. It is generally accepted that you should plan on spending 30 minutes to write the TOEFL essay. This will give you enough time to plan your essay, write it and also revise and edit it so that there aren’t any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes.
It is very important that you develop the ability to write a complete essay in the allotted time. The only way to do this is to practice writing as many similar essays as you can. Educational Testing Service have several sample essay questions of their website. There are also many sample TOEFL tests on the internet as well as books containing past exams. You should use these resources to practice until you are comfortable producing an essay under exam conditions.
3. Present a point of view
The essay question will usually ask you if you agree or disagree with an issue. Remember to take a stance on whatever issue you have been asked to comment on. You are writing an argumentative essay and the examiner is testing your ability to present a logical, coherent argument. You shouldn’t, therefore, attempt to be neutral. Make sure you state an opinion. This doesn’t have to be your personal point of view. Instead, try to adopt a stance that you feel you can convincingly argue.
4. Plan your essay
Don’t start writing straight away. Take a minute or two to decide on the argument you will be making. Once you have selected which side of the argument you will favor, decide on the points you will make to support your argument. Write all this down. Noting down a basic outline before you start writing will help you to create a complete, coherent essay in the time that you have, instead of a muddled mess that doesn’t have all the points that you wanted to include. Another important advantage of writing to a structure is that you resist the temptation to start writing about things that are not strictly relevant to the topic of the essay. As your time is limited, it is important to avoid any unnecessary verbiage.
5. Structure your essay
Once you have planned your essay, give it a structure. Most successful essays will have four or five paragraphs. Your essay should have an introduction, the body, and a conclusion. You should start with an attractive opening that will grab the attention of the reader. After this, you can state your main argument or the idea behind your essay. The body will consist of a couple of paragraphs where you make the points supporting your stance. Finally, you will have the conclusion where you tie everything up by summarizing the points that you have made and restating your main argument.
6. Come up with a thesis
The examiner will be looking for your thesis statement, where you clearly state the argument that you are making. This must be made in the introductory paragraph and should preferably be at the start of your essay. Besides giving the reader a clear idea of your point of view, it will also help you to give a definite direction and purpose to your essay. The thesis sentence can simply a restatement of the question where you agree or disagree with what has been said.
7. Support your thesis
Your body should consist of at least three paragraphs with each paragraph being devoted to a point that you are making in support of your thesis. Select the three strongest points that you have come up with. Support the points you have made by giving reasons and examples. Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence where you strongly state the point that you will be making.
8. Give your writing a natural flow
A common mistake that many candidates make is sticking to simple, short sentences. This can be monotonous for the reader. The examiner will expect you to vary the length and structure of your sentences in order to make your essay more palatable to the reader. Also, make sure you use connectors such as however, for example, firstly, etc. This will help give your essay a natural flow and make it far more coherent and easy to read.
9. Watch out for spelling and grammar mistakes
It goes without saying that making spelling and grammar mistakes will cost you valuable points. If you have only a basic grasp of English, you will need to make a concentrated effort to improve your standard of English in order to score well on this exam. Make sure you are familiar with subject-verb agreement, the correct use of tenses, punctuation, pronouns, etc. Try to write as far as possible in the active voice as it will make your essay sound more dynamic. Go through sample essays and study the words you most commonly encounter, referring to them in the dictionary. This will help to improve both to improve your vocabulary and spelling. If, however, you are unsure of the spelling of a given word, try to use an alternate word to avoid being penalized for making a mistake.
10. Edit your answer
You have done it! You have written an essay that will give you a great score and make all your hard work worthwhile. Now, however, is not the time to relax. Use the few minutes you have left to go over what you have written. Even native English speakers make mistakes, so it is important that you use this time to correct any spelling or grammatical errors that you have made in your writing. Correcting these mistakes can push your score up to the next level so make sure you use your time wisely.
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