Getting the perfect TOEFL Independent Writing score!
As the founder, owner, and materials writer of the Online TOEFL Course “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT” and as a composition professor for the English Department at California State University, San Bernardino, I have read and scored 1000’s and 1000’s of essays.
One of the services I offer my Online TOEFL students is that I will error correct one of their independent or integrated writing practice tests to show them how to improve the essay so that it gets a perfect score on the writing section of the exam. In this case, M. sent me her essay to be corrected. Here is what she wrote:
Topic: Many people visit museums when they travel to new places. Why do you think people visit museums? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
There are many beautiful places around the world and people visit these places for different reasons. These reasons are relaxing their muscles and learning about different cultures. For me, the most interesting ones are museums because I feel very comfortable especially when I am with my family in museums and I like to learn about different cultures since museums reflect different cultures in different countries.
First, people face many stresses during their days either in home or at work. As me, I have many responsibilties such as taking care of my husband and my baby, cooking, cleaning house, and working at my job and I should do all these responsibilties in the same day. Travelling to museums will give me an apportunity to spend good time with my family, to relax my muscles, and to relieve my stresses. Museums are very beautiful places since it has many pictures on their walls. These pictures include flowers, animals, beautiful houses, and other nature’s pictures. For me, when I see these pictures, I feel like all my bad feelings are emitted in the air.
Second, people like to learn about different cultures and to expand their knowledge. I am very interested in increasing my knowledge. Museums reflect many culture’s characterstics and I can learn it from museums’ pictures. I can learn about how many countries build their houses, how they build their industries and expand their market economy. Moreover, I can share my knowledge and ideas with other people in museums. Therefore, I can expand my intellegent and I can tell my friends about these museums and cultures.
In conclusion, people visit museums to expand their knowledge about many cultures, to have good time with their families, and to relax their muscles
Due to some organizational and developmental issues, I scored her essay at 3.0/5.0 or 20/30. Then, I rewrote her essay. Here is the edited version of her independent writing practice test:
People visit many beautiful places around the world for different reasons. They may visit the Taj Majal in India to learn more about the country’s culture, or they may visit the Grand Canyon in the United States to learn more about nature and its raw, rugged beauty. Moreover, when these people travel to new places, they may visit museums. When I travel to new places with my family, I like to visit museums to relieve stress and to learn about different cultures.
First, like other people, I visit museums to relieve stress from my family and work life. I have many responsibilities such as taking care of my husband and my baby, cooking, cleaning our house, and working at my job, and doing these family and job responsibilities daily causes me stress. Traveling to museums will give me an opportunity to reduce some of these stresses. Museums often contain pictures on their walls: flowers, animals, beautiful houses, and other nature’s pictures. For me, when I see these pictures, I feel like all my bad feelings are emitted in the air. For example, last year, I visited an art museum in Paris, France. During the tour, I saw pictures from many famous artists who had drawn these beautiful relics of art many hundreds of years ago. While viewing these paintings, I forgot about my family and worked-related stresses and became captivated by the sheer beauty and craftsmanship of these timeless works of art.
Second, I also visit museums because I like to learn about different cultures and to expand my knowledge. Museums reflect many cultures’ characteristics, and I can learn these attributes from museums’ pictures. For instance, I visited a native American museum in Phoenix, Arizona earlier this year. During the visit, I learned how the Apaches built their houses using only sticks and mud and how they sold blankets and pottery to earlier settlers, which expanded their market economy. In addition, I even learned that the Apache had no written language, but these tribes still transmitted their values and traditions orally by telling stories from one generation to the next. Moreover, while I was at that museum, I could share my knowledge and ideas with these guides and other tourists. Therefore, by visiting this museum, I expanded my knowledge about native American culture. In fact, I can tell my friends about the culture of this great native American civilization even today.
In conclusion, traveling is a hobby of mine, and, when I travel to new places such as France and the United States, I definitely will stop at some of the local museums. Museums relieve my family and work stress and help me to learn more about new cultures, which expands my knowledge. As the saying goes, “Knowledge is power.”
In the following video, I explain what changes I made to her essay and why. In addition, near the end of the video, I do an analysis of her writing strengths and weaknesses and tell her what she needs to do to get a perfect score.
Michael Buckhoff, TOEFL iBT writing specialist
Getting the perfect TOEFL Independent Writing score!