TOEFL Independent Writing Universal Template
TOEFL, TOEFL Writing, TOEFL Independent Writing

You have probably heard by now that one way to succeed on the TOEFL Writing Section is to use templates. There are many templates out there for the Integrated Writing Task, but did you know there is also one for the Independent Writing Task?

What is the TOEFL Independent Writing Task?

The very last task you have on the TOEFL exam is the TOEFL Independent Writing. For this task, you will be given a question relating to topic which asks for your opinion. Often these questions are designed for you to pick a side of a controversial argument, state your preference between two or three conflicting options, or explain why you agree or disagree with a given statement. You will have 30 minutes to plan and write about your opinion on the topic, including providing reasons for your opinion and a personal experience to support each reason. The TOEFL suggests an Independent Writing that is 300-325 words, but we recommend writing 350-400 words.

 

How to structure your TOEFL Independent Writing Task Essay?

The best structure for the Independent Writing Task is to write four paragraphs: an introduction, two body paragraphs and a conclusion. The introduction paragraph should be short – only two to four sentences. In these sentences, you should very clearly and passionately state your opinion on the question (don’t copy the language from the question word for word), and your two supporting reasons.

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In the first body paragraph, you will write about your first supporting reason for your opinion. Then you should write 3 or 4 sentences telling a personal experience or anecdote to further explain your supporting reason. The last sentence of your body paragraph should be a conclusion sentence that links your personal experience to your overall opinion. The second body paragraph follows the same structure as the first body paragraph but is about your second supporting reason.

In the conclusion paragraph, write one or two sentences summarizing your opinion on the topic from the question and your two supporting reasons.

 

The TOEFL Independent Writing Task TEMPLATE

Using a template on the TOEFL exam will save you valuable time and keep you from losing track of yourself in your answer. While there is no way to predict what kind of opinion question you will get, there is a template you can follow no matter the question type.

1. Introduction

Your introduction paragraph has 3 parts: a) the general background statement on the topic, b) your opinion on the topic, and c) your two supporting reasons.

 

a) General background statement on the topic

In the very first sentence of your Independent Writing, it is best to start the general background of the topic question. For example, if you are asked about your opinion on the use of cell phones by teenagers, your first sentence can be something general like: “Nowadays, cell phones play an increasingly important role in teenager’s lives.” This is not stating your opinion, but generally mentioning the background on this topic. Here are some other phrases you can use to start:

 

Nowadays,…
These days,…
In today’s society,…
At present,…
In this day and age,…
Currently,…
It’s commonly accepted that…
It’s widely believed that…
It’s generally acknowledged that…
The debate over….
People remain divided over…
There is no consensus on whether…
The issue of…
People tend to hold different views on…

Time phrases:              General knowledge phrases:

 

Here are some phrases you can use to end your first sentence:

…has fundamentally changed our lives.
… plays an increasingly important role in…
…continues to advance at an astonishing rate.
…The progress in….has enabled us to…
…is an increasingly disturbing issue.
… has drawn widespread attention.
…is having a profound impact on…
…has caused quite a stir.
… continues to rage.
…has triggered intense arguments.
…is a highly debatable issue.

 Expressing Concern        Continuing Controversy

 

b) Your opinion on the topic

After making a general statement on the background of the topic, next you will state your opinion. The phrase will depend on the kind of question you are asked: start the general background of the topic question: pick a side, state your preference, or explain why you agree or disagree. Here are some other phrases you can use to state your opinion:

 

Pick a Side

In my opinion,…is better than…
For me, it is better…
To me, the best option…
What I think is the best is…
I feel that… is best…
For me, I would rather…than…
Actually, I would prefer… over…
If I had to choose, I would go with… instead of….
I entirely agree that…
I’m definitely in favor of…
I actually disagree with the view that…
I don’t share their point of view on…

Preference                      Agree/Disagree

 

 

c) Your two supporting reasons

The last part of your introduction is to state your two supporting reasons for your opinion. Here are some other phrases you can use to introduce your supporting reasons:

I think this way because… and…
I am of this opinion because… Additionally,…
This is because… as well as….
The reason for this belief is… Also, …
I feel strongly about this because…and…

The last part of your introduction is to state your two supporting reasons for your opinion. Here are some other phrases you can use to introduce your supporting reasons:

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2. Body paragraphs

You will write two body paragraphs, one for each of your supporting reasons. Each body paragraph has 3 parts a) supporting reason, b) personal experience, and c) linking sentence.

a) Supporting Reason

To start, use a signpost word or phrase to begin each of your body paragraphs.

First paragraph                             Second paragraph

First,…
First of all…
To begin with…
To start of with…
In the first place…
The main reason for… is…
Second,…
In the second place…
Furthermore…
Moreover…
In addition to…
The second reason for…is…

 

b) Personal Experience

You should spend most of your body paragraph telling a personal story that supports or illustrates your reason. While this is the most free-flowing part of your essay, there are some helpful phrases to help you get started:

When I was a child…
I remember once…
There was a time when…
The reason I feel this way is because one time…
When I was younger…

c) Linking Sentence

At the end of each of your body paragraphs, you should link your personal experience back to your opinion. To do this, use one of these signpost words and phrases:

Because of this, I feel that…
Based on that experience, I think that…
Hence, I would prefer…
Accordingly, I agree/disagree…

 

3. Conclusion

The end of your Independent Writing is a short conclusion sentence. All you need to do is restate your opinion, and your two supporting reasons. Here are some concluding signpost words and phrases to get you started:

In conclusion,… because… Additionally,…
In summary,… This is because… and…
To sum up,… because… Also,…
So, that is why… I think this because… and…

Putting some of these phrases all together, here is an example Independent Writing Task Template:

Nowadays,(topic),plays an increasingly important role in people’s lives.I entirely agree that(your opinion on the topic). I feel strongly about this because (your first supporting reason) and (your second supporting reason).

 

First of all, (your first supporting reason). There was a time when (2-3 sentences about your personal experience). Based on that experience, I think that(your opinion).

 

Second, (your second supporting reason). When I was a child (2-3 sentences about your personal experience). Accordingly, I agree (your opinion).

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