In this video Josh MacPherson, the Head Instructor at TOEFL Speaking Teacher, explains how to avoid five of the most common mistakes people make in the TOEFL Writing section.
In his experience, these mistakes are often made by students both in the integrated and the independent essay. Check them out below and see how you can improve your writing.
Mistake #1: You start writing immediately
Firstly, you need to make an outline before you start writing. It does not have to be too elaborate. You just need to plan out what you are going to say in your introduction, in the body of the text, etc. The outline is especially important for the independent essay because this is where you write everything from your own point of view and your own experience. When it comes to the integrated essay, the outline is not that important because you will have your notes from your Reading and Listening sections and you will just be reporting information for the most part.
Mistake #2: You think you are finished, but you are not
The TOEFL test is a long one – it takes about four hours. Considering that the Writing section is the last one of the exam, at this point you will probably be impatient to go home. A lot of students start writing too quickly so that they can already leave the test centre. Instead, after you finish writing, try to go back and do some editing. Check your spelling and look at the sentences and the paragraphs that you were not sure about. It is completely normal if your first draft of a text is not good enough. However, your writing will get better as you edit. So be sure to go back to your text once it is finished and give yourself a few minutes to edit it. As a result, your score will improve too.
Check out: Can My TOEFL Essay Be too Long? (Video)
Mistake #3: You use fancy words
You do not have to use difficult academic words just to try to sound smart in your writing. Rather, it is important to use synonyms so that you do not end up using the same vocabulary over and over again. Of course, there is nothing bad about using fancy words as long as you understand their meaning. You want to make sure that you feel comfortable with the vocabulary that you are using both in your writing and in your speaking. Whenever you use words that you do not fully understand, your examiners will know and you will not sound like a native speaker.
Mistake #4: You think your opinion matters
When it comes to the first writing task – the integrated essay, do not give your opinion or any outside information. This is the section where you just report information. A lot of students put in their own perspective when, in fact, this is unnecessary and can even cost you points.
Mistake #5: You do it all alone
Although many people prefer studying for the TOEFL alone, you will need a teacher or instructor to help you for the Speaking and Writing sections. With the Reading and Listening sections, you can check your answers yourself, you can change them, and you can even find explanations for them. However, with regard to speaking and writing, we all have different responses. This is why you need an expert to tell you what you are doing well and how you can improve.
Check out: TOEFL Writing Tips