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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Independent Writing

Most of my students are using an Introduction – Reason 1, 2, 3 – Conclusion template for the Independent Writing task.  If you are using this and just copying and pasting your content, you will need around 500 words for a top score.
There is a better (and I think easier) way to write the IND essay. The 5.0 sample essay in the Official Guide is organized as a Five Part Essay.  You can find the Wikipedia article on the five part essay at the bottom of this page. Several students have use this to score 29-30 on the writing section recently.

There are five parts:

¶1: Introduction: Narrow the topic down from a universal idea to a specific idea.

¶2: Narration: Provide background information which is relevant to the essay.

¶3: Affirmation: Give a reason and explain your opinion (one strong reason is enough).

¶4: Negation: Provide evidence or arguments against your opinion, followed by either
1.      A refutation of the evidence, or
2.      A concession that exceptions exist.

¶5: Conclusion: Summarize the opinion, relating it to broader but related issues.

The Five Part Essay is more sophisticated because it is more balanced and fair. It acknowledges the complexity of the question because it forces you to address objections to your opinion (in ¶4). So you will need to discuss both sides of the topic.

But since you aren't copying and pasting, you will only need around 350 words to get a top score.

I'm not planning to teach TOEFL writing, but if I were, this is what I'd recommend.

Please use English well.