Writing Problems Students Have on the TOEFL Writing
TOEFL, TOEFL Writing, TOEFL Integrated Writing, TOEFL Independent Writing

Everyone makes mistakes with their writing, but there are five common writing problems that students tend to make most often on the TOEFL Writing Section.

Problem #1 – Run-on Sentences
Students often think that the longer their sentences are, the higher their score will be. However, this is not true. Writing run-on sentences will actually cause you to lose points. A run-on sentence is when two or more complete sentences are incorrectly written as one. Here are some examples from answers to both the Integrated and Independent Writing tasks:
First Body Paragraph
Incorrect: The author of the reading passage supports deforestation and claims that it has contributed to making human life better and the lecturer rebuts the argument by the author by pointing out that the disappearance of rainforests has long-term consequences.

Correct: The author of the reading passage supports deforestation and claims that it has contributed to making human life better. The lecturer rebuts the argument by the author by pointing out that the disappearance of rainforests has long-term consequences.

Here’s another example:
Incorrect: For me, I prefer to send messages to people rather than calling them this is because text messaging easier to use and because messages are a more convenient way of communicating when you are busy performing other tasks.

Correct: For me, I prefer to send messages to people rather than calling them. This is because text messaging easier to use and because messages are a more convenient way of communicating when you are busy performing other tasks.

TOEFL writing correction service
In both of these examples, there are two complete and sperate sentences incorrectly combined. They should be separated by a period and capitalized letter.

Problem #2 – Misusing Conjunctions and Connectors
Another common problem that students have on the Writing Section is that they misuse conjunctions and connectors. Conjunctions, such as and, but, or, so, because and connectors, such as therefore, moreover, however, can be a writer’s best friend. They allow you to smoothly express your ideas and add sophistication to your writing. However, many test takers think that conjunctions and connectors of the same type are interchangeable. Here are some examples of misused conjunctions and connectors:

Incorrect: In my opinion, I would rather travel with friends than alone so I am a very sociable and my friends and I always have a lot of fun together.

Correct: In my opinion, I would rather travel with friends than alone because I am a very sociable and my friends and I always have a lot of fun together.

Because and so are very similar conjunctions, but because is used to express the reason for a result, and so is used to express the result after giving a reason. Another correct solution is to put the reason first in the sentence:

Correct: I am a very sociable and my friends and I always have a lot of fun together, so in my opinion, I would rather travel with friends than alone so.

Here’s another example:

Incorrect: Since the author’s theories were based on incorrect data therefore the professor was able to disprove them.

Correct: Since the author’s theories were based on incorrect data, the professor was able to disprove them.

OR

Correct: The author’s theories were based on incorrect data; therefore, the professor was able to disprove them.

Since is a conjunction that can join two clauses with a comma, but therefore is a connecting adverb that should be separated by a period or semicolon.

Problem #3 – Word Mixed Up
The third common problem students make is that often mix up similar words. The words that they mix up depends on the individual student, but here are some frequently mixed up words that appear on the TOEFL Writing Section:

though – through – throughout quiet – quite – quit
affect – effect further – farther
opinion – option accept – except

Problem #4 – Misspelling
On the Integrated Writing, you have to write about what the author and the lecturer say about a topic. This can be difficult when the lecturer says words you don’t know how to spell. The best thing to do is to practice your phonetics. Listen to English speeches in advance, write the words you don’t know and then check you spelling.

On the Independent Writing task, you should only use vocabulary whose spelling you are familiar and confident. If you are not sure how to spell a certain word, don’t use it. Think of a synonym that you can spell correctly. Remember there is no spell check on the TOEFL.

Finally, on both tasks you should save time at the end to go back and edit. Students always want to walk away as soon as they finish writing, but you would be surprised how many spelling errors you will catch by proofreading. You will avoid losing unnecessary points from your score if you just save a minute or two at the end of your time to read back through and edit your Independent and Integrated Writing tasks.

TOEFL writing correction service
Problem #5 – Paragraph Structure
The final writing problem students have is that they don’t know how to properly structure their essays. Either they write run-on paragraphs, including more than one main idea in a paragraph, without breaks, or they write paragraphs that are missing major details. These are the best ways to structure your essay so that you avoid both of these issues:

The best way to structure the Integrated Writing essay is with four paragraphs: an introduction, and 3 body paragraphs. In the introduction, first state the topic of the two passages. Next, write what the author’s position is on the topic. Then explain what the lecturer’s position is on the topic, and that both the author and lecturer have 3 main points supporting their opinions. The next three paragraphs follow the same structure. First, write one sentence about one of the author’s main points. Then write two or three sentences about the lecturer’s counterpoint with supporting details lining back to the reading. And that’s it! You don’t need to write a conclusion.

Here is an outline for the Integrated Writing:

Outline of the Integrated Writing Essay:
1. Introduction
a. The topic
b. The author’s position
c. The lecturer’s counter position
2. First Body Paragraph
a. The author’s first main point
b. The lecturer’s first main counterpoint
c. Supporting details for the lecturer’s first counterpoint
3. Second Body Paragraph
a. The author’s second main point
b. The lecturer’s second main counterpoint
c. Supporting details for the lecturer’s second counterpoint
4. Third Body Paragraph
a. The author’s third main point
b. The lecturer’s third main counterpoint
c. Supporting details for the lecturer’s third counterpoint

The best way to structure the Independent Writing essay is with four paragraphs: an introduction, two body paragraphs and a conclusion. The introduction should be short, only two to four sentences. You should very clearly and passionately state your opinion on the question and your two supporting reasons. In the two body paragraphs, you need to write about each of the supporting reasons. Then you should tell a personal example or anecdote to further explain your supporting reason and finish each body paragraph with a conclusion sentence that links it to your supporting reason. Finally, give a one or two sentence conclusion paragraph summarizing your opinion and supporting reasons.

Here is an outline of the Independent Writing:

Outline of the Independent Writing Essay:
1. Introduction
a. Your opinion
b. Your two supporting reasons
2. First Body Paragraph
a. Your first supporting reason
b. A personal example or anecdote
c. Link your first reason to your opinion
3. Second Body Paragraph
a. Your second supporting reason
b. A personal example or anecdote
c. Link your second reason to your opinion
4. Conclusion
a. Summarize your opinion
b. Restate your two supporting reasons

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *