Writing is hard. It takes work to write well. This little blog post, for example, took me somewhere between 2-4 hours to complete.

This little blog post took me 2-4 hours to write.

At first, I have an idea and I have to flesh it out in an outline. Once I have an outline, I write a rough draft. The rough draft is the hardest part. This is where I let my creative ideas flow out of me and I try my best to write it all down in a clear, coherent and grammatically correct manner. However, the most important thing is that I get all of my ideas out on the page. I don’t stop to change the spelling of a word or to rewrite the last sentence. The rough draft’s purpose is to let ideas flow out uninterrupted. After I complete the rough draft, I go through the first round of editing. After that, I go through a second, third and then fourth and final round of editing. After writing an outline, a rough draft and going through 3-4 rounds of edits, I have a well-written blog post (Usually!).

You’re not alone in your frustration to write.

It takes time, patience and a great deal of thought to write well. There are many things to keep in mind when preparing for and finally taking the TOEFL. I have a lot of experience helping TOEFL students achieve their dream score in the writing section. Here are five common problems I’d like you to keep in mind as you prepare so you can avoid making the same mistakes on test day.

1. Student don’t include a personal example in their independent writing.

According to ETS an effective response to the independent writing task contains at least 300 words. I actually think your aim should be more like 400, but either way, that’s a lot of words. Let’s say you’re asked, “Do you prefer to work alone or in a group?” That’s a simple question that you can answer in a single word. However, on the TOEFL, you’re going to have to write at least 300 words about your opinion to this simple question. The best way to expand upon your response is to provide a specific personal example that relates to your opinion.

The second most common problem I find is…

2. Students don’t ask for feedback from an instructor.

Most of my students don’t want to write. Writing is tough. On top of that, many English language learners feel that their fluency level or grasp of vocabulary isn’t enough to write a well-developed essay. No matter what stage of your language development, the only way to improve is to write and make mistakes. Hand your paper in to your teacher, listen to their feedback and write it again. Rewriting essays is a crucial step for you to take if you want to see improvement.

3. Students don’t write an outline before they start to write.

When students start to practice for the writing section of the TOEFL, many will just sit at their desks and blankly stare at the blank page in front of them for up to five minutes until they write a single word. You should take two minutes to write an outline before you start your essay. Outlines help give you an idea of what you want to write and how you want to write it.

A successful endeavor is the result of an effective plan.

Avoid this next mistake at all costs:

4. Students don’t leave themselves time at the end to edit.

You need to leave yourself time to edit because there is no spell check on the TOEFL. When you practice for the TOEFL, make sure you’re not using an application that automatically corrects your spelling. Since there’s no spell check, you will most likely have a lot of typos. When you let the words flow out of you as you write, it’s more important to get your ideas out first then to worry about spelling and grammar. Get all your ideas out and then give yourself enough time to go back and fix some of the spelling and grammar mistakes.

5. In the integrated essay, students put in their opinion and fail to report information.

For the integrated writing task, you’re expected to report information you heard or read in the passage. You’re not supposed to offer your personal opinion. For the integrated writing, ETS is measuring not only your writing ability, but your reading and listening comprehension skills. If you need more advice on how to write an integrated essay, check out TOEFL Resources for some sample essays and general advice.

That’s it, the five most common problems I see students make in the TOEFL writing section. Are there any common mistakes I missed? What mistakes do you always make? How do you plan on fixing them? Leave your ideas in the comments section below.

Stay lucky.

-Josh

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Writing is hard. It takes work to write well. This little blog post, for example, took me somewhere between 2-4 hours to complete.

This little blog post took me 2-4 hours to write.

At first, I have an idea and I have to flesh it out in an outline. Once I have an outline, I write a rough draft. The rough draft is the hardest part. This is where I let my creative ideas flow out of me and I try my best to write it all down in a clear, coherent and grammatically correct manner. However, the most important thing is that I get all of my ideas out on the page. I don’t stop to change the spelling of a word or to rewrite the last sentence. The rough draft’s purpose is to let ideas flow out uninterrupted. After I complete the rough draft, I go through the first round of editing. After that, I go through a second, third and then fourth and final round of editing. After writing an outline, a rough draft and going through 3-4 rounds of edits, I have a well-written blog post (Usually!).

You’re not alone in your frustration to write.

It takes time, patience and a great deal of thought to write well. There are many things to keep in mind when preparing for and finally taking the TOEFL. I have a lot of experience helping TOEFL students achieve their dream score in the writing section. Here are five common problems I’d like you to keep in mind as you prepare so you can avoid making the same mistakes on test day.

1. Student don’t include a personal example in their independent writing.

According to ETS an effective response to the independent writing task contains at least 300 words. I actually think your aim should be more like 400, but either way, that’s a lot of words. Let’s say you’re asked, “Do you prefer to work alone or in a group?” That’s a simple question that you can answer in a single word. However, on the TOEFL, you’re going to have to write at least 300 words about your opinion to this simple question. The best way to expand upon your response is to provide a specific personal example that relates to your opinion.

The second most common problem I find is…

2. Students don’t ask for feedback from an instructor.

Most of my students don’t want to write. Writing is tough. On top of that, many English language learners feel that their fluency level or grasp of vocabulary isn’t enough to write a well-developed essay. No matter what stage of your language development, the only way to improve is to write and make mistakes. Hand your paper in to your teacher, listen to their feedback and write it again. Rewriting essays is a crucial step for you to take if you want to see improvement.

3. Students don’t write an outline before they start to write.

When students start to practice for the writing section of the TOEFL, many will just sit at their desks and blankly stare at the blank page in front of them for up to five minutes until they write a single word. You should take two minutes to write an outline before you start your essay. Outlines help give you an idea of what you want to write and how you want to write it.

A successful endeavor is the result of an effective plan.

Avoid this next mistake at all costs:

4. Students don’t leave themselves time at the end to edit.

You need to leave yourself time to edit because there is no spell check on the TOEFL. When you practice for the TOEFL, make sure you’re not using an application that automatically corrects your spelling. Since there’s no spell check, you will most likely have a lot of typos. When you let the words flow out of you as you write, it’s more important to get your ideas out first then to worry about spelling and grammar. Get all your ideas out and then give yourself enough time to go back and fix some of the spelling and grammar mistakes.

5. In the integrated essay, students put in their opinion and fail to report information.

For the integrated writing task, you’re expected to report information you heard or read in the passage. You’re not supposed to offer your personal opinion. For the integrated writing, ETS is measuring not only your writing ability, but your reading and listening comprehension skills. If you need more advice on how to write an integrated essay, check out TOEFL Resources for some sample essays and general advice.

That’s it, the five most common problems I see students make in the TOEFL writing section. Are there any common mistakes I missed? What mistakes do you always make? How do you plan on fixing them? Leave your ideas in the comments section below.

Stay lucky.

-Josh

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What you need to know about yourself

Before the TOEFL exam, and even before you start preparing for it, the best thing to do is learn what your weaknesses are.

For this, we offer you the TOEFL Speaking Evaluation, a service that is designed to help you learn what your weak points are, so you can work on them.

TOTAL VALUE: $679

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