I was able to ask a few more questions at an ETS webinar. Here’s what I learned (the answers are not direct quotes):

Q: Will results come back in six calendar days or six business days now?
A: Six calendar days.

Q: How significant are pauses when students are answering questions in the speaking section?
A: They can be very significant and can affect the score a lot.

Q: Could the same human grader score all four speaking responses?
A: No.

Q: Will a new Official Guide be published in 2019?
A: No. That has not been prioritized.

Q: Could students get only NINE reading questions with a specific reading passage?
A: Yes. This will happen if a fill-in-a-table question is given.

Q: Is it okay to mention the reading first in integrated essay body paragraphs?
A: The order “does not matter.” The scoring rubric is “not that structured.”

I get this question a lot. Here’s what I think you should do:

  • Get some templates for each essay type.
  • Watch videos lectures on each question type.
  • Read as many sample essays as possible.
  • Take accurate practice tests.
  • Improve your grammar.
  • Get your practice essays graded.

Details about how to do these things are below!

Read My Guides (and Templates) for Each Writing Task

Everything I know about the writing section 

can be found in my guides to the two tasks. Here they are:

Not only will these guides show you how to write the essays, but they will tell you how the questions are structured and the patterns to look out for.

Check out My Video Series

I have also made a bunch of YouTube videos about this section. Here’s the first:

I can now confirm the following details about the upcoming changes to the TOEFL.

  1. Speaking question one (personal preference) will be removed. Only speaking question two (personal choice) will remain in the independent speaking section.
  2. Speaking question five (campus situation) will be removed. The other three speaking questions will remain the same.
  3. No specific reading question types are being removed. Just the number of questions is being changed. Expect to see less of each type.

I should mention here that the test will probably take 3.5 hours instead of 3 hours as stated in the press release from ETS. Yeah, you will spend just three hours answering questions, but you will spend 30 minutes on administrative stuff and on your break. Keep that in mind.

Finally, I can’t get any news about planned updates to the textbooks and practice tests published by ETS. I hope those get updated, as EVERYTHING will be out of date in a couple of months time.

I’m making a writing course!

First, the good news: the course will be free. It will always be free.

Next, the bad news: the course isn’t finished. It will take some time to finish.

I understand that might be a bit annoying, but as you will see, I’m going to upload the course here as I build it. That means you’ll benefit at least a little bit right away, and you can also tell me what you want from the course. If some of my lessons are unclear you will have an opportunity to let me know.

The Lessons – The Independent Essay

Here are the lessons that make up the course. Links are to those completed at this time:

  • Question types and topics
  • Basic essay templates
  • Writing a great introduction
  • Writing great body paragraphs
  • Writing a great conclusion
  • Better essays: Vocabulary strategies
  • Better essays: Discourse phrases
  • Better essays: Grammar strategies
  • Better essays: Coming up with ideas
  • Using your time wisely
  • How is the essay scored?

Resources

This course will be more rewarding if you have a copy of the Official Guide to the TOEFL. That link is to the 5th edition of the book (from 2017). You can also use the 4th edition, which is cheaper.

You might also want to pick up at least one of the two Official Test Collection books.

For additional practice tests, I recommend the ten test collection from TSTPrep. Use the coupon code “goodine10off” for a 10% discount.

Basically, the course is more rewarding if you have some real questions to practice with. The three aforementioned sources are worthwhile in this regard!