A monthly peek at test content from Michael, a TOEFL® test expert.

A Closer View of the Independent Writing Task

Jul 26, 2016

Test takers, let’s spend some time going over the Independent Writing Task, which is question 2 of the Writing section on the TOEFL® test. This is where you will be asked to write an essay that states your opinion on an issue and then explain and support that opinion.

An Overview of the Task –

  • Amount of time: 30 minutes
  • Essay length: A minimum of 300 words is usually needed to write an effective essay
  • Required objective: Write an essay that states, explains and supports your opinion on an issue
  • Essay questions usually start with one of the following:
    • “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Use reasons and specific details to support your answer.”
    • “Some people believe [X]. Other people believe [Y]. Which of these two positions do you prefer/agree with ? Give reasons and specific details.”
  • Overall scoring: Your essay will be scored on the quality of the writing, which includes: development, organization, and the correct use of grammar and vocabulary. (It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the topic.)

Practice Tip:Reviewing Your Response –

  • Select a Sample Independent Writing topic: Go to Appendix 5 of the TOEFL® Test Prep Planner or Volume 2 or 4 of TOEFL iBT® Quick Prep
  • Time yourself (30 minutes in total)
  • Review your work to make sure you:
    • Completed the task
    • Wrote clearly
    • Used correct grammar
    • Chose the right words 
    • Organized ideas clearly and coherently
    • Used the time effectively

If you want even more practice, download the TOEFL iBT® Interactive Sampler for free unlimited access to past TOEFL iBT® test questions.