TOEFL Tuesday: Speaking & Writing Templates

Templates are very popular for TOEFL students, because they give a clear path to success. Memorize a template, use it on test day, and your score will be high. That sounds easy, right?

But really, templates can be as hurtful as helpful. It depends how you use the template, and what type of template you have. The most obvious problem is copying full sentences exactly from a template in your own answer on your test. If the graders realize you are copying (and they look for it specifically), you will get a score of 0 on that response. Clearly, we want to avoid that! So don’t memorize full sentences that other people also plan to use. Instead, focus on learning how to structure your answers.

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There are many phrases and words that help to transition from one part of an answer to the next. They can help you transition from a general introduction to a specific example, or from a summary of a text to a summary of a lecture. They help organize your writing and speech, which makes them extremely useful.

A good template will show the structure of a good TOEFL essay or spoken response, and provide you with transition phrases that help create the structure. We at Magoosh have a set of TOEFL speaking templates and TOEFL writing templates, which give those structures and transition phrases—try them!

But don’t just use them once. Come back to them multiple times. Use words and phrases in different orders. Try repeating an answer using different transitions. Try using the same transitions in multiple answers. The more you repeat and mix up your practice, the more natural you’ll feel on test day.


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4 Responses to TOEFL Tuesday: Speaking & Writing Templates

  1. Azadeh August 30, 2016 at 10:07 am #

    Hi Lucas,
    Thank you so much for the templates!
    Maybe irrelevant to this topic, but i have a question:

    I have a question about Advantage and Disadvantage essay.If we are asked to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of two things and then state our preference, how should we answer? for example: Some people like to read paper books while others prefer to read on digital publication, such as on computer. Discuss advantages and disadvantages of both and give reasons for your answer.
    I think we should write one paragraph about Advantage and Disadvantage of paper books and then one paragraph about Advantage and Disadvantage of digital books, am I right? If so, what transition should I put before 2nd body paragraph, when we I want talk about seemingly the same thing (Advantage and Disadvantage) about different option(digital books)?
    I really appreciate your response in advance; I really need to know your answer soon if possible.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 5, 2016 at 10:25 am #

      Hi Azadeh,

      Not irrelevant at all. This is a great question, and I bet a lot of our readers could benefit from an answer. 🙂

      The first thing I’ll tell you is that comparing the disadvantages and advantages of two different things is pretty uncommon in TOEFL Writing. Usually you’ll just be asked to discuss the advantages and disadvanages of one thing. However, if you do need to compare the advantages and disadvantages of two separate things– such as reading paper books vs. reading digital books– you suggested format can work. (Note also that this slightly more complex essay format is more likely to be seen on the IELTS, so it’s definitely a format worth thinking about.)

      Next, you really should prepare for discussing the advantages and disadvantages of one thing. This is a far more common and TOEFL-like format for Independent Writing. The Magoosh TOEFL blog offers examples of this question format and advice on how to structure your answers. Read all about it in Lucas’s post on TOEFL Writing topics.

  2. nurzahan October 17, 2019 at 4:59 pm #

    Hi, I have exam in 19 oct. can I write speaking templates structure in 10 minutes break time? is it illegal?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 20, 2019 at 12:27 pm #

      Hi Nurzahan,

      You are not allowed to write anything during the test break time. If you write during these times, the test center may report you to ETS.

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