10 Tips for Improving Your TOEFL Writing Score

10 Tips for Improving Your TOEFL Writing Score

The TOEFL test includes a Writing section, which has two parts. Do you know how to prepare for TOEFL Writing? Here are 10 tips for improving your TOEFL Writing score.

10 Tips for Improving Your TOEFL Writing Score

TOEFL Writing has two parts: the Integrated Task and the Independent Task. The test is about 1 hour long.

For the Integrated Task, you will read text, listen to a lecture, and then write an essay. Visit the official TOEFL site, ETS, for sample text and lectures.

For the Independent Task, you will be asked a question. The topic of this question is related to TOEFL Speaking Task #2. For the Writing test, you will be asked to express an opinion based on your personal experience.

Tip #1: Learn to identify the main ideas

What are the main points of the passage you read, and what are the main points of the lecture? Be sure you can identify main ideas while reading and listening. For practice, read articles, listen to the news, or listen to podcasts and try to identify the main topics.

Tip #2: Take good notes

Learn how to write and listen at the same time. To do so, try watching TED Talks or listening to podcasts. Take notes while you listen, and pause the recording when you need to. You will quickly learn to be able to do both things at once.

Tip #3: Plan and prepare

Do not begin writing without having a clear plan. For the Integrated Task, use your notes to make an outline of what you want to say. For the Independent Task, brainstorm ideas based on your experience. Prepare an essay with ideas that connect, and then begin writing.

10 Tips for Improving Your TOEFL Writing Score

Tip #4: Paraphrase, don’t plagiarize

In the Integrated Task, do not use the exact words from the passage or recording. Learn how to paraphrase (say the same thing using different words). If you do not do this, you are plagiarizing, which can cost you points.

In the Independent Task, do not use the exact words from the prompt. Use synonyms.

Tip #5: Vary your sentence structures

Learn how to make more complicated sentence structures and your TOEFL writing score will improve. Here are some examples of grammar concepts to learn in order to improve your score.

Mixed Conditionals

If + subject + had + past participle, subject + would + have + past participle

If I had known you needed help moving, I would have helped you.

Had + subject + past participle, subject + would + have + past participle

Had I known you needed help moving, I would have helped you.

Should + subject + base verb, base verb

Should you need help moving, let me know.


Expressing Regret

Using the construction “if only + subject + verb”

If only I had known you needed help moving!


Noun Clauses

Make your -ing clause the subject of the sentence

Living in San Diego has made me very happy.

Growing up in Northern California was very peaceful and fun.

The more you study grammar, the more your understanding of complex sentence structures will improve!

Tip #6: Learn connecting words

Connecting words will help you understand how a lecture or argument changes. For example, if a sentence begins with “however,” we know that the following information will contradict the information before. Read our article about Connecting Words in English to understand more.

Tip #7: Read

The best way to improve your writing is to read. The more you read, the more vocabulary words and sentence structures you will come into contact with. Read the news, read books for pleasure, and read short academic articles to prepare you. Our article Book Recommendations for ESL Students is a great place to start.

10 Tips for Improving Your TOEFL Writing Score

Tip #8: Learn how to summarize

For the Integrated Task, you will have to process information in the text and lecture and then respond to it. Learn which parts are main ideas, which parts are details, and which parts need to be included in your writing.

For the Independent Task, you might have to provide your reader with a backstory or details. Make sure that you can do this efficiently.

Tip #9: Learn to edit

Editing your own work can be difficult, but with practice, you can train yourself to look at your work like you are a teacher or an editor. The best way to do this is to edit other people’s work, so find a study partner and trade writing samples. This will teach you how to look for mistakes.

Having your paper edited will also help you to understand the common mistakes that you make. Remember these common mistakes and then look for them when you edit your own paper during the test.

Tip #10: Take a preparation course

A TOEFL preparation course will provide you with:

  • Access to a skilled instructor
  • An English learning environment where TOEFL is the main goal
  • A chance to speak English more often than you normally do
  • TOEFL preparation materials
  • The opportunity to improve your confidence and abilities

Bonus Tip: Be comfortable on a QWERTY computer

The TOEFL Writing is taken on a computer with the American QWERTY keyboard. Practice typing on this keyboard to ensure that you are comfortable.

10 Tips for Improving Your TOEFL Writing Score

Good luck!


Converse International School of Languages has provided quality English instruction for over 45 years. CISL offers TOEFL preparation classes in San Diego and San Francisco. Contact CISL for more information on its intensive TOEFL preparation classes.

Why CISL? Our classes are never more than 8 students!