TOEFL Integrated Writing Practice

Laura decided to do some TOEFL integrated practice at my web site, so she took a free practice test.  She watched the following video so that she could read the passage and then listen to a lecture on the same topic.

TOEFL Integrated Writing Practice:  You Tube video about bears

TOEFL Integrated Writing Practice:  Laura’s sample response

While she watched the video, she dotted down the notes. As part of her TOEFL integrated writing practice, then she wrote the below response.


The reading passage and the lecture discuss whether humans can coexist with bears, and what to do in case of an attack. The professor from the lecture casts doubt on all the points made during the reading. The reading passage holds that humans should avoid living near bears. On the other hand, the professor from the lecture argues that bears are not dangerous.

Body Paragraph 1:

Firstly, the author from the passage argues that bears are more likely to attack humans when they do not fear them. Bears lose their fear towards humans when they are fed by them. In contrast, the lecturer gives two examples in which he denies this idea. In Minnesota and Pennsylvania, bears coexist with humans, and no attacks have been registered.

Body Paragraph 2:

Secondly, the author from the passage describes few signs that a bear gives before it is ready to attack. When a bear huffs, or growls, or stands in both of his legs, it means it is about to attack. Conversely, the lecturer denies these are signs of attacking. Instead, he claims, for example, that when a bear stands on both of his feet, or displays some slapping or salivating, it is warning humans to walk away.

Body Paragraph 3:

Lastly, the author from the passage and the lecturer completely disagree on what to do in case of a bear attack. The reading passage holds that humans should run as fast as they can away from the bear, climb a tree, or shoot the bear with a gun. In contrast, the lecturer claims that it is worthless to run away because the bear can easily outrun even the fastest humans. Then, he states that climbing is not an option either because bears are good climbers as well. Lastly, he suggests that in case of an attack, humans should go on the ground and cover their head and neck with their hands. Humans can also try to raise their arms in the air, so bears can see that they are larger animals. The last option is to fake death or use pepperspray.

TOEFL Integrated Writing Practice:  My analysis

TOEFL integrated writing practice
TOEFL integrated writing practice

After her TOEFL integrated writing practice, Laura sent the essay to me for scoring.  When I read her essay, I noticed several important features:

  • Excellent control over her sentence structure, punctuation, and word choice
  • Frequent voice markers acknowledging the reading and listening passage
  • Consistent use of simple present tense reporting verbs throughout
  • Complete and accurate explanation of the most important points in the reading and the listening passages
  • Logical compare and contrast chunking organization clearly integrating the reading with the listening passage
  • Effective use of contrast transition words in key junctures of the essay

As a result, I was very impressed with her TOEFL integrated writing practice test.  I scored the essay 5.0/5.0 or 30/30 pts.  I sent her results by e-mail. In the email, I asked her what type of preparation she had been doing.

TOEFL Integrated Writing Practice: Laura’s writing tips

Below are the tips that Laura wrote me in an e-mail. From her response, you can see that she has done a lot different things to help her TOEFL integrated writing practice.

Laura’s Experience

Concerning questions about my background, I will break down my answer into three parts. First of all, I got my college degree in English Teaching in Colombia. I studied English for four years in college. Second, I have taken the TOEFL four times, and I have worked extremely hard every time I took it. I have used all sort of materials, and I have followed every piece of advice they gave me. Thirdly, I have been living in Louisville, KY,  since May 2017. This has been incredibly beneficial for my English. 
Nonetheless, it’s been frustrating that even when using all techniques and strategies, my writing score does not seem to improve that much. But I’m changing that mindset. I took a Writing and a Public Speaking class last Fall, so I’m hopeful that I can apply all the things I learned, and get a better score. 
I would love to share my studying tips with you -for the writing section. 

TOEFL Integrated Writing Practice Tips

1. The TOEFL has a fixed question model; ETS will assess your ability to understand the information from both the reading passage and the lecture. The lecture will always cast doubt on each of the main points from the reading passage. Be prepared! identify in what sense do they contradict the ideas, and be sure to write it down as clear as possible. 
2. Taking notes. Do not be messy. Don’t rush to read the passage as fast as you can during those four minutes they give you. The reading passage will flash back once the lecture is over, and will stay there for the rest of the time. Do not get distracted with the introduction paragraph, go to the main points in the body paragraphs; in the end, those are the points the lecturer will discuss, and the ones you will have to write about. 
3. Learn a structure by heart, in that way, you won’t waste time. My structure is: 
The reading passage and the lecture are both about ____topic____ Even though the passage argues that ____main idea from the passage___ the lecturer rejects this idea. The lecturer use a number of examples to cast doubt on the main points from the reading passage. 
Firstly, the reading passage holds that _______First main point from the reading__________. In contrast, the lecturer believes this is not true. 

TOEFL Independent Writing Practice Tips

1. Be sure to understand the prompt! it has happened to me. Once, I started writing my essay without having complete understand the prompt. I realized about that later on and I had to write the essay all over again. I lost 10 minutes, and time is precious when you are taking this test. 
2. Don’t think too hard, they do not really care about your opinion, they are assessing your English. Let’s say the writing prompt is about tourism, and you have never been abroad. Make up a story! 
3. Again, have a structure, a number of sentences per paragraph. Introduction, three body paragraphs, one conclusion. 
4. Practice, write every single day, and read as much as you can. 

TOEFL Integrated Writing Practice:  Getting help

Laura majored four years in English, and, after that, she moved to the United States when for more than a year, she continues to have a lot of exposure with English. If you re-read her response, you can see the extraordinary control over her writing proficiency, vocabulary, and grammar.  This is why I scored her practice test at 30/30 points.

Like Laura, I can help you get the TOEFL integrated writing practice you need to improve your proficiency. Learn more about my TOEFL Writing Boot Camp course. If you join this course, you will be able to  complete practice tests and get feedback from me. My feedback will help you to identify your specific writing problems. I will recommend lessons to help you eliminate these problems.

CLICK HERE to learn more!

Good luck!

Michael Buckhoff,







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