One of the most frequent questions I get is about the “maximum word count” in the TOEFL essays.  A lot of students think they must not write more than the suggested word count in both essays.  Even some teachers think it is a problem.

Hopefully this blog post will put that rumor to rest.

Here’s what ETS says about the word count for TOEFL writing task 1 (the integrated essay):

(Official Guide to the TOEFL Test, 6th edition, page 192. Published 2021)

And here’s what ETS says about the word count for TOEFL writing task 2 (the independent essay):

(Official Guide to the TOEFL Test, 6th edition, page 199.  Published 2021).

Meanwhile, when ETS is training teachers at their regular “Propell Workshops” they provide sample essays of each score level.  To represent the 5.0 level (the highest possible score) they provide the following 305-word integrated essay:

sample integrated essay

(Propell Workshop for the iBT Test, Page 42.  Published 2019)

And to represent an independent essay scoring 5.0, they provide this 466-word monster:

(TOEFL Teacher Workshop Manual, Page 49)

So there you go.  Write as much as you want.  Don’t worry about being penalized.

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