David Recine

Printable Academic Writing Handouts

This is my latest in a series of posts about the TOEFL/ESL writing materials you can find on college websites. In my first post in the series, I gave an overview of two major writing resource websites from top universities. Then I showed you two very good writing resources from lesser-known schools.

In this post, we’ll look specifically at a one university resource for writing printables—short, ready-to-print files designed to deliver user friendly lessons to classrooms and study groups.

I think resources like this are particularly useful for teachers—I know I’ve used a lot of printables from university websites in my own classes. But students, you may want to stick around and read this too.  On the website featured in this post, you can find plenty of things to use in self-study and share with your classmates, tutors, and teachers.

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The University of North Carolina-Wilmington’s Printable Academic Writing Handouts

UNC-Wilmington offers PDF online writing handouts on this page. The handouts are conveniently organized into four categories: “global” revision, “local” revision, types & styles of writing, and other handouts.

The global/local revision split is especially useful for teaching the TOEFL. The first of these two categories focus on higher order (global) writing concerns such as overall essay structure, thesis, introduction, conclusion, style, cohesion, transitions, and so on. The second category, focuses on local/smaller writing concerns—finer details such as spelling, grammar, punctuation, word choice, etc… Often, developing academic writers have trouble understanding the difference between these two kinds of writing features.

These handouts can help students understand that they should prioritize the global concerns first, and make local revisions toward the end of the essay writing process. When teaching TOEFL Writing, you can also use this set of handouts to help students understand how TOEFL essays are scored, with global concerns representing most of the points on the rubrics.

The remaining two sections are of more limited use for TOEFL prep. The types/style section is more relevant to writing assignments in the degree courses that students take after they pass the TOEFL. One PDF in that section though, is quite good for the TOEFL Integrated Writing Task—be sure to show your students UNC-Wilmington’s tips for writing a summary. And then in the final section, filed under “other,” we arrive at what is maybe the most TOEFL-relevant resource on the page: the guide to answering essay questions on academic exams. This guide provides a short but powerful checklist of structure and language for short essays on exams such as the TOEFL.

Beyond the UNC website, there are a number of other print-friendly academic materials on the web—in fact, as I mentioned in my last post, George Mason University has its own small catalog of downloadable MS Word documents full of writing tips. And certainly you should check other sources out, too.

But UNC-Wilmington’s printable database is one of the best places to get simple but impactful materials that can be incorporated into TOEFL study or general writing classes. Better still, UNC-Wilmington offers a large online writing guide in addition to the handouts. For teachers and students, this guide can serve as a framework for handout use and the development of academic writing skills.


  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he’s helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master’s Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he’s presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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