10 Tips to Improve Your TOEFL Essays
published by Manolo G
There are many ways to improve your TOEFL writing, and a lot of these don't involve studying at all. Here's our top ten list:
1. Answer the question
Your grammar may be perfect and your ideas may be great. Even so, if you don't answer the TOEFL question, none of that matters. If the question asks for your opinion, be sure to write about what you think--don't write about what other people think. On the other hand, if the question is about what other people think or do, don't write about yourself.
2. Use short and simple sentences
Good writers can express complex ideas in a very simple way. If you are able to do this, you will demonstrate strong writing skills. More importantly, short and simple sentences mean fewer grammatical mistakes.
3. Give your essays a beginning, middle, and end
Learn the TOEFL essay structure. Your essay should have anintroduction, a body, and a conclusion. This structure helps organize your thoughts and makes it easier for readers to understand.
4. Have a thesis statement
The thesis statement is the most important sentence in the essay. It is last sentence in the first paragraph (the introduction), and it tells the reader exactly what your opinion is. Not writing a thesis statement is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
5. Use topic sentences
A topic sentence is the first sentence of each paragraph in the essay's body. It gives the reader two things: 1) a summary of what will be in the paragraph, and 2) one reason that supports your thesis statement.
6. Learn the conditionals: first, second, and third
Learning the conditionals may actually help you more than studying the tenses. Conditionals are especially useful when expressing opinions and giving reasons, two things that you must do in the TOEFL independent writing tasks.
Each conditional, however, has a slightly different meaning. This depends on reality, possibility, and time. Learn how to use the conditionals, and practice them often. Not using the conditionals correctly is one of the most common mistakes in TOEFL essays.
7. Never begin a sentence with a conjunction
The words and, but, and because are all conjunctions. In English, we only use conjunctions to connect sentences--we almost never begin a sentence with one.
Learn how to use the comma (,) in English
Using the comma correctly will bring your writing to life. The good news is that many languages use the comma. The bad news is that the rules for using the comma are often different in each language! Learn the rules for using them in English--it will make your writing much easier to understand.
9. Use the active voice
There are two "voices" in English: active and passive. Here they are:
ACTIVE: Cats eat birds.
PASSIVE: Birds are eaten by cats.
The active voice is much stronger than the passive voice. Use the active voice as much as possible.
10. Use transitional words and phrases
Transitional words and phrases make your writing easier to understand. They connect ideas and present them to the reader in a logical order. Here are some examples: First of all..., In addition...,More importantly..., In closing..., In conclusion....
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