The writing section is the final part of the TOEFL® test.  You’ll have about 30 minutes to answer two writing questions. They are known as the TOEFL Integrated essay, and the TOEFL Writing for an Academic Discussion Task.  You’ll be graded based on your content, organization, grammar and language use. Below are links to my best stuff, or read on for descriptions of each task.


The TOEFL® Integrated Essay

The first writing question is the Integrated Essay Task.  For this task, you’ll first read a short article on an academic topic.  Next, you will listen to a short lecture on the same topic. Finally, you’ll have 20 minutes to write an essay that includes details from both sources.  You should write about 280 to 300 words in total.


The Reading

The article will be about 300 words long. It can be about any academic topic that might appear in a first-year university course, but topics related to history and zoology seem to be most common. You’ll be given three minutes to read it and then it will disappear (don’t worry, you’ll be able to see it again when you write the essay). Remember that the article will always have a main argument and three supporting points.  


The Lecture

Next, you will listen to a lecture on the same topic.  It will be about two or three minutes long.  You can only listen once, so try to take detailed notes.  Remember that the lecture will always challenge the article.  This means, for instance, that if the article claims that it is advantageous to explore Mars, the lecture will explain that it is not a good idea to explore Mars.  If the article mentions three problems with using bacteria to clean up oil spills, the lecturer will mention three solutions to these problems. 


Writing Your Essay

Finally, you will be given twenty minutes to write an essay that compares the reading and the lecture.  The question will look something like this: 

Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they oppose specific points made in the reading passage.” 

You can see the article as you write, but you cannot hear the lecture again (or look at a transcript). I recommend that you write between 280 and 300 words in total.  Ignore the “suggested length” mentioned in the instructions.  You should write more than is suggested!


Master Guide

For more help with this task, check out my master guide to the integrated writing task.  It’s got a complete sample question, a sample essay, and a template you can use.


Practice Questions

I’ve created a bunch of practice questions.  They are all free!



The TOEFL® Writing for an Academic Discussion Task

The second writing question is the Writing for an Academic Discussion Task.

Right away, you’ll see four things on your test screen – instructions for the task, a question written by a university professor about a specific subject, and two student responses to the question.  

The question could be about any subject a student might study at university (sociology, business, political science, education) but subjects in the liberal arts seem most common.  The questions don’t require any background knowledge, however, and can be answered by any test-taker.

You will have ten minutes to read the instructions, read the question, read the responses and write your own response to the question.  There is just one clock for all of this!

A word counter will be displayed as you write. You should write at least 100 words.  I recommend writing a bit more than that. 

Master Guide

For more help with this task, check out my master guide.  It contains a detailed description of the task and an answer template.

Practice Questions

I’ve created a bunch of practice questions.  They are all free!

How are you Graded?

Your grades come from two separate systems: 

  • First, a human rater checks each response based on the official ETS rubrics.  They give you a score from 0 to 5.  The rater’s score is based on your content, organization and language use
  • Next, the ETS “e-rater” AI  checks each response.  It mostly focuses on structure, grammar, punctuation and vocabulary

The scores from the humans and the AI are combined. Then they are converted into a  number from 0 to 30, which is included on your score report. 

Each essay has equal weight.

Get Help – TOEFL Essay Evaluation

  • Sign up today to have your practice essays evaluated by a TOEFL writing expert (that’s me).  I’ll check your answers line by line and comment on your grammar, development, argument and vocabulary. I’ll even guess your score.  More importantly, I’ll tell you what you need to do better next time.  Check it out.


Sign Up for an Essay Evaluation Today!

To learn how to beat the TOEFL, sign up for our essay evaluation service.  In 48 hours, a TOEFL expert will check your essays line-by-line and tell you how you can do better next time.