Although there is a wealth of TOEFL writing material on the Internet, a lot of it is of dubious quality. The best resource for independent essay questions is the Official Guide, which includes fifteen pages of sample topics from past exams. For those of you who don’t have the Official Guide there are a few more topics below that will get you started on practicing essays.
It’s very difficult to find good integrated writing tasks since the necessary reading and listening is unique to the TOEFL. Your best option is to use all the official resources available to you (see below), then to either buy a good TOEFL resource or invent your own topics.
Independent essay topics
- Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?
Modern life is easier than life in the past.
Use specific details and examples to support your answer.
- Which would you choose: a high-paying job that you didn’t enjoy, or a lower-paying job that you did enjoy? Explain your reasoning, using specific reasons and examples.
- Some students prefer to study many different subjects at once, while others prefer to focus on one topic at a time. Would you rather take a semester of classes in different subjects, or a semester of classes in the same subject? Explain your choice, using specific reasons and examples.
- Would you rather live in a large city or in the countryside? Explain your choice, giving specific reasons and examples.
Integrated essay topics
In addition to the Official Guide, ETS offers QuickPrep, an free online study resource with a few very shortened practice tests. Four tests are available in all, although they don’t all contain an integrated writing assignment. You can find Quickprep here.
Once you’ve used those resources, you should have be able to incorporate the reading passage into your essay. All the other skills you’ll need—including structuring your essay, note-taking, grammar, and advanced vocabulary—can be practiced without a reading sample. Online lecture series, including KhanAcademy, iTunesU, and TED, all have endless supplies of great lectures that you can write about. You’ll want to practice writing on a wide variety of topics, as the subjects addressed in integrated tasks vary widely.
However, you may find that you can create your own integrated topics based on information in your field. Find a lecture on a topic that you know something about. When you find one, start searching for an online article that deals with the same topic, and write an essay that compares and contrasts the two resources. This isn’t a perfect study method, but it’s good for mastering the language of combining multiple sources and comparing.
If you’ve used all the integrated tasks you have and can afford to buy, then go ahead and write an integrated essay or two in your field to cement these skills, then spend the rest of your time writing essays based on single sources—just listening.