offers hundreds of practice questions and video explanations. Go there now.

Sign up or log in to Magoosh TOEFL Prep.

TOEFL Independent Essay Structure

The structure of your independent essay is going to be at least a little different from that of the integrated essay you will have just finished. While your task in the integrated essay was to highlight similarities and contrasts, your task in this essay will be simply to defend your opinion. Because of this difference, you’ll probably find it hard to write an independent essay in the same way that you write your integrated essay.


Introduction and conclusion

I’ve mentioned before that you should start and end by stating your opinion. That’s the easiest way of saying that it’s important to have a clear introduction and conclusion. Without these, the reader may be confused, as your argument will lack context, and your essay will be awkward to read.

Checking your work

You’ll want to have an idea of the structure of your essay even before you start writing, so take a minute or two at the beginning of the writing period to jot down an outline. Then you can jump straight into writing. If possible, though, try to have all your thoughts on the screen at about the 27-minute mark. Use the last three minutes to read through your essay again in its entirety and be sure that it flows well. Since your mind will probably jump around a bit as you’re writing, it’s really important that you leave yourself this time at the end to smooth everything out. This is also a good opportunity to check for spelling/grammar errors and typos.

Below is a brief outline you can model your essays on. This isn’t something that you absolutely must follow every time to get a high score. It’s just a learning tool and something to fall back on if you don’t know how to tackle your topic on test day. Magoosh TOEFL’s lesson videos provide more detailed guidance through exactly how to write each part of the essay.

I. Introduction

A. Very general statement about the world

B. Specify the topic

C. Optional: show the other side

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.

D. Give your opinion

II. Body

A. State your first reason

1. Explain the reason if needed

2 .Give a concrete example or detail

3. Optional: Second example or detail

4. Explain why the example supports your opinion

B. State your second reason

1. Explain the reason if needed

2. Give a concrete example or detail

3. Optional second example or detail

4. Explain why the example supports your opinion

III. Conclusion

A. Restate main idea

B. Optional: Reference reasons or opposite opinion

C. Real-world result of your argument

Psst...Need more TOEFL practice? Start your FREE TRIAL today.

Most Popular Resources

7 Responses to TOEFL Independent Essay Structure

  1. Anagha October 23, 2015 at 3:17 am #

    🙂 Thankyou! This post is very helpful!

  2. bipin October 31, 2015 at 12:51 am #

    Keep it up

  3. Varuzhan March 15, 2016 at 1:15 pm #

    Thank you very very very much!

  4. Chritiane August 5, 2016 at 9:49 pm #

    I think it should have a refutation paragraph in the body part, if there is still time.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 6, 2016 at 10:58 am #

      By refutation, I assume you mean counter-argument? I definitely agree that a counter-argument can enhance a TOEFL Independent Essay. However, I tend not to actually recommend using a counter-argument or show counter-arguments in example TOEFL essays I give to students. This is because– realistically— there usually isn’t time to add a counter-argument in the TOEFL Independent Writing Task. But certainly, if you fell you have time to include one, do so!

  5. Mishal October 24, 2017 at 11:27 am #

    Can we use personal pronouns like I, me, or myself in TOEFL independent writing section?

    • David Recine
      David Recine October 24, 2017 at 11:42 am #

      Yes, first person pronouns are allowed in TOEFL essay writing. The trick is to make sure that your use of first person is formal and appropriate. In other words, avoid irrelevant personal examples or unsupported personal opinions. But otherwise, the use of I/me/my, and other first person words is just fine!

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!

Leave a Reply