Wednesday, April 10

The TOEFL Integrated Essay

The integrated essay consists of three steps:

1. Read a short passage for 3 minutes.
2. Listen to a lecture on the same topic as in the reading for 60-90 seconds.
3. Write a fact-based essay that shows (summarizes) how points in the lecture "cast doubt on points in the reading."

Remember: You will hear the lecture only once so you must take good notes. The reading, however, stays on your computer screen.

For many test-takers, the integrated essay is a challenge. However, classroom experience proves that once my students understand ETS's testing methodology specific to the integrated essay, they score consistently higher on the integrated essay than on the independent essay. Why? Good question, TOEFL fans.

My theory is that the independent essay, because it is a subjective task, is also a creative task. Creative, in this context, means the test-taker must develop examples. Developing examples is a creative process that many test-takers find challenging. Why do some students just sit there looking at the ceiling when writing an independent essay? Because they can't think of examples/can't be creative. The ability to create (develop and write) examples will test your automaticity, your ability to write and think like a native speaker. Those test-takers who write high-scoring independent essays also demonstrate a high level of automaticity (creativity) when writing.

However, since the integrated essay is a fact-based argument, test-takers do not need to be creative with examples. They just have to summarize facts that are in the reading and in the lecture. In short, summarizing a fact-based argument (integrated essay) is easier than writing an opinion-based argument (independent essay).

Remember: The key to understanding how to write a proficient integrated essay starts with your understanding how to write a proficient independent essay. Why? Because the integrated essay tests your ability to integrate two independent essays. If you can't write an independent essay, then you will not understand how to write an integrated essay.

Want to learn how to write a proficient integrated essay that scores a 5? 

It's all in the book.

The Pro

 Mr. and Mrs. iBT

© Bruce Stirling 2011