TOEFL Independent Writing Exam Tips


The TOEFL Independent Writing Task involves writing an argumentative essay. Generally, an argumentative essay prompts a candidate to either support or oppose the given premise and write their opinion on an issue. The task tests candidates' language abilities at various levels:

  • The question tests reasoning and the ability to align the arguments in context.

  • It tests organisation abilities and the overall unity of structure of the essay.

  • It also tests basic language skills, such as vocabulary, grammar, and sentence construction.

Instructions/Dos & Don’ts

  • The questions generally begin by asking whether you agree or disagree with the following sentence or statement. Or, out of two aspects presented through two different statements, which one do you prefer?

  • It requires specific reasons and examples to support the answer or point of view.

  • Candidates will get 30 minutes to write the essay and must write a minimum 300 words.

  • A handy approach is to first spend a few seconds to conceptualise the piece and scribble down an outline, keeping in mind all the basics of a good essay. Then, elaborate the key points using examples and instances to emphasise the arguments wherever possible.

  • An effective conclusion is a hallmark of a good essay, so pay attention to how you close it.


Assessment Parameters for Articles/Essays

The Independent Writing essays are scored on the basis of the following parameters:

1. Development: Under this parameter, the way a candidate has responded to the topic in terms of ideating and organising is assessed. This means the topic has to be well understood, and only then, one of the suitable premises/arguments needs to be adapted for elaboration. In the process, the candidate is expected to chalk out relevant logical details, support their points with examples and instances, and stay close to the core argument.

Needless to say, candidates will be penalised if they use multiple sentences that are redundant or if they try to fill space with an idea irrelevant to the topic.

2. Organisation: This parameter refers to readability and lucidity. The essay should be easy to read and must not confuse a reader in terms of arrangement of arguments, or use of vocabulary. Clarity of thought, simple yet effective vocabulary, paragraph structure, and good transitions are assessed.

Candidates will be penalised for repetition of ideas/arguments and redundancy.

3. Language Use: This is the third criterion for scoring the essays and it involves assessment of sentence structure, choice of words and vocabulary, grammar consistency.

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