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

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


  • Kate Hardin

    Kate has 6 years of experience in teaching foreign language. She graduated from Sewanee in 2012, where she studied and taught German, and recently returned from a year spent teaching English in a northern Russian university. Follow Kate on Google+!