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TOEFL ibt Section Number of Items Number of Questions Timing
Writing Section 1 Integrated Writing
1 Independent Writing
2 Questions Overall 20 Minutes Integrated
30 Minutes Independent

Introduction to the iBT TOEFL Writing Section

There are two tasks in the Writing section of the TOEFL iBT test: an Integrated Writing Task and an Independent Writing Task.

The TOEFL Integrated Writing Task comes first because it requires some listening,  and when you are taking the real TOEFL iBT, you will be wearing headphones.  When you finish the Integrated Writing Task, which takes about 20 minutes, you may take the headphones off to work on the TOEFL Independent Writing Task. You will then have 30 minutes to complete the Independent Writing Task.  This chapter discusses each of the writing tasks in detail and the scoring criteria that raters will use to evaluate your writing. It includes samples of each task,  sample responses to each task, and specific advice on how to approach writing your own response.

For both the writing tasks on the TOEFL iBT, the people evaluating your writing recognize that your response is a first draft. You are not expected to produce a well-researched, comprehensive essay about a highly specific, specialized topic.  You can receive a high score with an essay that contains some errors.

TOEFL integrated Writing Task

You will read a passage about an academic topic for three minutes, and then you will hear a short lecture related to the topic. Then you will be asked to summarize the points in the listening passage and explain how they relate to specific points in the reading passage.

This task gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to show that you can communicate in writing about academic information you have read and listened to.

TOEFL independent Writing Task

The second task in the Writing section of TOEFL iBT is the Independent Writing Task. You are presented with a question, and you have 30 minutes to write an essay in response. The question asks you to give your opinion on an issue. Here is how the question is typically phrased:

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? [A sentence or sentences that present an issue appear here.]

Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer. An effective response is typically about 300 words long. If you write fewer than 300 words, you may still receive a top score, but experience has shown that shorter responses typically do not demonstrate the development of ideas needed to earn a score of 5. There is no maximum word limit. You may write as much as you wish in the time allotted. But do not write just to be writing; write to respond to the topic. The number of ideas you express is important, but it is the quality of your ideas and the effectiveness with which you express them that will be most valued by the raters.