Improve English TOEFL Writing Skills.

You should learn English TOEFL writing skills, especially if you want to score 24+ points. In fact, creating sharply-focused theses, arguable topic sentences, and well-supported paragraphs are writing skills to practice.  In addition, having a coherent organization is also an important English TOEFL writing skill.  For our discussion today, I will focus on the TOEFL independent writing task.

English TOEFL writing skills

English TOEFL Writing Skills: Sharply-Focused Thesis Statements

Learning how to write a focused-thesis statement is an important English TOEFL writing skill. A blueprint for the organization your body paragraphs,  the thesis statement should restate the purpose of the TOEFL independent writing task. In addition, it should contain 2-3 support points that you plan on writing about.

Example writing prompt: Planning ahead is an effective way for your school success. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Use reasons and examples to support your ideas.

Sample thesis statement: Planning ahead is effective for school success. Thinking ahead will help me to finish complicated writing assignments on time, it will give me more time to prepare extensive study guides for my upcoming exams, and it will reduce my stress.

Notice in the sample thesis how I restate the question: “Planning ahead is effective for school success.” Then I introduce three support points: finishing complex projects, preparing study guides for tests, and reducing stress.  I can now use each of these support points as body paragraphs topics.

English TOEFL Writing Skills: Arguable Topic Sentences

You should also write arguable topics sentences to restate each topic mentioned in your thesis. I write example topic sentences based on the sample thesis and writing prompt above:

Topic Sentence A: First of all, if I plan ahead, I will be able to complete complicated projects on time.

Topic Sentence B: Second of all, planning ahead will give me more time to prepare study sheets for my upcoming tests.

Topic Sentence C: Third of all, planning ahead will lessen my anxiety due to my extensive preparation.

Notice how all three topic sentences restate “planning ahead” and the three support points in the thesis:

English TOEFL Writing Skills: Well-Supported Paragraphs

Your goal on this TOEFL writing task is paragraph unity.  Therefore, you should have topic sentences and relevant supporting details.  I recommend that you only use 1 example in each body paragraph. Try to develop each  specific idea using 80-100 words.  Writing about 1 example in such depth will extensively support the topic of that paragraph.

Example Well-Supported Paragraph

First of all, if I plan ahead, I will be able to complete complicated projects on time. For example, last term, my English teacher wrote in her syllabus that we had a 5-7 page writing project due at the end of the term. Knowing the due date was helpful because I was able to start planning, organizing, researching and drafting the paper beginning in the second week of the term.  In fact, because I was able to plan ahead, I consulted a reference librarian to get ideas on which periodicals in the library data-base would work best.  Furthermore, I went to the writing center on two separate occasions to restructure and edit my essay. Lastly, I visited my ESL teacher during her office hours to get some last minutes ideas on how to finish my paper. Because I planned ahead, I completed this difficult project on time.

Observe how the above paragraph spends 100 words discussing the same example. The example of a writing project shows how planning ahead can help someone complete difficult projects on time.

English TOEFL Writing Skills: Coherent Organization

Finally, your TOEFL independent writing task should have structure.  The example paragraph above restated part of the writing prompt. Similar words supported the first support point in the thesis. Transition words showed the connection of ideas.  Sentences consistently used the first-person point of view “I” and the past tense to discuss the writing assignment example.  All of these choices help to coherently connect the ideas together.

Follow these tips during the TOEFL independent writing task, and you will make some positive improvements.

Good luck!

Michael Buckhoff,