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TOEFL Essay 1: Integrated

Since you’ll still be wearing headphones after the Speaking section, the writing section begins with the integrated task, for which you’ll need to keep your headphones on. The materials you’ll be using to answer the question are a reading passage and a lecture excerpt. Both of these will be longer than the ones you encountered in the integrated speaking questions—the reading passage will give you three minutes to read, and it will go into more detail than the one in the speaking section did. Whereas other integrated reading samples have served mainly to define a key concept, the one in the writing section will describe a process or defend a position. The lecture will then expand on this information by offering examples, explaining in greater detail, or, most likely, describing conflicting viewpoints on the topic introduced in the reading passage.

The question will follow one of several formulas. The question you answer will probably be almost identical to one of these:

  • Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they cast doubt on specific points made in the reading passage.
  • Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they challenge specific claims/arguments made in the reading passage.
  • Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to specifically explain how they answer the problems raised in the reading passage.
  • Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to specifically explain how they support the explanations in the reading passage.
  • Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to specifically explain how they strengthen points made in the reading passage.

The first two are by far the most common; usually, you will hear a lecture that contrasts with the reading.

Altogether you will have 20 minutes to plan and write your integrated essay. The essay will not be long—most responses are between 150 and 225 words—but there’s still no time to waste. Remember that your organization and content are just as important as your language. Your essay needs to have a clear structure with separate points that transition smoothly.  Most of all, it’s very important to draw from both the written and the spoken sources. If you only reference the written passage, the very best score your essay can get is a 1. In many ways, the integrated essay is a summary of the lecture that you heard, but be sure to mention both sources.

You can take notes as you read and listen. With enough practice you will be able to identify the important points in the reading passage that will most likely be discussed in the lecture, and your notes should reflect that. Then, when you listen, it will be easy to take notes that relate to the ones that are already on your paper. Make as many connections between the two as possible while listening. If you have trouble with this, it’s okay—you can take a minute to connect information before you start writing, after the lecture is finished.

 

 

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2 Responses to TOEFL Essay 1: Integrated

  1. Iris October 17, 2015 at 7:15 pm #

    I noticed in a few practice questions the speaker and the writer had different opinions over the same few points, but they also each discussed points the other didn’t mention at all.

    In this case, would you only write about the shared points in the reading and the lecture and compare/contrast them?

    Thank you very much for your help!

    • David Recine
      David Recine October 20, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

      You’ll definitely want to focus on points in the reading and lecture that can be directly compared and contrasted, Iris. And for a top score, you’ll also want to make connections between points in the lecture and reading that aren’t obviously connected. Whenever you see points in Integrated Writing tasks that don’t *seem* to correspond to each other, there’s usually a way to infer those connections. If you can make that inference and clearly state it in your writing, it can increase your chances of getting a 5 score.


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