In my last two posts about the Independent Writing task (Organizing Your Ideas & Fixing a Disorganized Essay in 4 Easy Steps), I described four steps for revising a disorganized essay: make an outline of what you wrote, make notes on problems in the outline, write a new and improved outline, and rewrite your essay based on the new outline. Then, I demonstrated the four-step process by using it on one of my own pieces of writing.
Now it’s your turn to practice this skill. Practice activities below!
Activity 1: Look at the following sample TOEFL Independent Writing question and the sample answer. Then:
A) Make an outline of the ideas in the answer.
B) Add your own thoughts to the outline. Ask yourself questions such as: Which ideas should be removed from the essay? Which ideas need more supporting details? Should the order of the ideas be changed? Etc…
C) Make a new outline that is better organized.
D) Re-write the essay, following the new outline you made.
TOEFL Independent Writing Question: Some young adults want independence from their parents as soon as possible. Other young adults prefer to live with their families for a longer time. Which of these situations do you think is better? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.
Many parents want their children to leave the house quickly, but some want them to stay. In the same way, some young adults want to be independent right away. Others want to keep living with their families after high school. Sometimes they drop out of high school early. It’s better for young adults to finish high school and go on to college.
I think there is a good argument for being independent from parents quickly. It’s part of American culture, the culture of the same country that makes the TOEFL. And parents can have some peace and quiet. On the other hand, if young adults keep living with their parents after high school, but have a job, they can save money. Young adults will feel more free and be able to do more of what they want at home if they quickly become independent at age 17 or 18 or so.
I think it’s best to keep living with your family for a while, even as a young adult. I know that young adults can have more fun in their own apartments. The parties can be great. But if they stay home for longer, they can work and save money. These savings can help them move away eventually, maybe go to college or start their own family.
Activity 2: Answer the following two TOEFL Independent Writing questions. Give yourself only 30 minutes to answer each question (the same time limit as the test). After you’ve finished writing both answers, change them with the same 4-step process you used in Activity 1. Outline what you wrote for both essays. How can you improve those outlines? Once you make newer, better outlines, use them to rewrite both answers.
Independent Writing Question 1:
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?
Young people enjoy life more than older people do.
Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
Independent Writing Question 2:
It has recently been announced that a new movie theater may be built in your neighborhood. Do you support or oppose this plan? Why? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.
Activity 3: Look at the list of TOEFL Independent Writing Questions on the official TOEFL website. Choose 3 questions and write answers to them. Again, restrict yourself to the 30-minute time limit. Once you’ve written the answers the first time, revise them using the four-step process from Activity 1.
Activity 4: Now choose three more questions from the list. Once more, give yourself 30 minutes to answer each question. However, this time, double check each paragraph after you write it. What ideas might not fit into the paragraph? Which mistakes can you spot and correct while you write? After writing your last paragraph, look at the whole essay. What additional changes should you make to the organization of your writing? If you still have time left in your 30 minute limit, make those changes too!
These activities should help you become very familiar with your own writing style, so that you can catch your own organizational mistakes quickly, revising as you write. This is a very valuable skill for TOEFL independent writing.