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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

START HERE: THE FAIL-PROOF DAILY TOEFL-STUDY PLAN


ADAPTED FOR WRITING
1.

(3-4 minutes) Review new words or grammar from yesterday. Speak out loud and
make a few spontaneous sentences.

2. (2-3 minutes) Review concepts from yesterdays


lesson or new material study time.
3. (15-20 minutes) Study some new concepts / material.

Js Million-Dollar Tip

Print or write out the 4 steps


of this study plan.
Put it near your desk.
It will keep you focused
whenever you study.

a. Look at the topics you marked on pages 2, 3


and 4. Each day, choose a clear new topic, go
to the location of the information and study that thing. In other words, youll
watch the corresponding videos in the Online TOEFL Workshop (OTW) or
carefully read the corresponding lessons in this workbook.
b. Alternatively, you might need to review some grammar to support you.
4. (20-30 minutes) Practice the new material.

a. Controlled Conditions: After looking at the lessons, finish the practice material
in the workbook.
b. Exam Conditions: After about 1 week of controlled conditions, you should test
yourself in conditions that are similar to the TOEFL exam. This means:
i. you need to carefully monitor your time;
ii. you shouldnt use a dictionary or any websites to help; and
iii. you should limit your distractions by logging out of Facebook and
turning off your phone.

NOW CONTINUE TO PAGES 2-4 TO CHOOSE YOUR LESSONS

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

YOUR WRITING STUDY PLAN


This page and the next two pages are both a to do list of things you want to accomplish with
writing, as well as a table of contents that tells you the location of the information youre
looking for.
If you want to save paper, start by printing the first three pages. After you decide which
sections you want to review, you can just print the necessary pages.
Put a check mark in the following sections that you want to cover. After youre done, watch
Jaimes video called ---- in General Tips, online. Get cracking! (that is slang for start!)
GENERAL THINGS THAT I WANT TO ACCOMPLISH
Location of information
Complete the quiz called General Writing Concepts

Page 5

Improve my typing / use the keyboard faster

Page 6

Collect more sources that I can use for practice

Libraries; official TOEFL site

Improve my strategies for learning new words

JaimeMiller.com/how-to-learntoefl-vocabulary

Improve my spelling

OTW / Other Essential Skills

Review the rules for English punctuation

Page 7

Learn 5 Neat Tricks to Sneak English into Every Day

Page 44-45

Attend Jaimes free monthly group Q&A calls or


schedule time with her for occasional lessons

See the FAQ page for the


schedule or email
info@jaimemiller.com

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT
THINGS I WANT TO ACCOMPLISH ON THE INTEGRATED WRITING
Location of information
The Basics what happens in the integrated writing?

The video in OTW + page 9

Understand what TOEFL wants

Page 10 and 12

5 Score-Limiting Myths and 5 Score-Boosting Tactics

Page 11 + video in OTW

Read some model integrated essays written by Jaime

Page 15 through 18

Review Jaimes Ultra-Targeted TOEFL Grammar


o

Subject / Verb Agreement + Final s

Uncountable Nouns

Past Guesses

Email
info@jaimemiller.com
to request your free copy.

Review vocabulary for the integrated writing


o

Learn how to permanently remember vocab

Video in OTW

Print the Useful Phrases and put it on my wall

Pages 13 and 14

Take phrases from Jaimes real model essays and


make flashcards

Pages 15 through 18

Rawdon Wyatts book, Check Your Vocab TOEFL

OTW / Other Essential Skills

Practice by writing ____ integrated essays in the next ______ days


Ask my trusted friend, ____________________, to read my essays and identify my
weaknesses
Decide on my TOEFL test day plan and make a review sheet of topics to remember in the
car, while I go to TOEFL.

www.JaimeMiller.com

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT
THINGS I WANT TO ACCOMPLISH ON THE INDEPENDENT WRITING
Location of information
The Basics what happens in the independent writing?

The video in OTW + page 19

Understand what TOEFL wants

Page 20 and 24

5 Score-Limiting Myths and 5 Score-Boosting Tactics

The video in OTW + page 21

Identify fascinating topics YOU can write about

Pages 22 and 23

Brainstorm Killer Ideas

Pages 25 through 27

Craft Super-Specific Thesis Sentences

Page 28 and 29

Eliminate I & You / Hide Yourself

Pages 30 and 31

Perfect Body-Paragraphs with Wrap-Up Sentences

Page 32 through 37

Read some model essays by Jaimes students

Page 39-43

Review Jaimes Ultra-Targeted TOEFL Grammar


o

Subject / Verb Agreement + Final s

Uncountable Nouns

If sentences

How to use whereas and on the other hand

Email
info@jaimemiller.com
to request your free copy.

Review vocabulary for the independent writing


o

Learn how to permanently remember vocab

Video in OTW

Print the Useful Phrases and put it on my wall

Page 38

Rawdon Wyatts book, Check Your Vocab TOEFL

OTW / Other Essential Skills

Practice by writing ____ independent essays in the next ______ days


Ask my trusted friend, ____________________, to read my essays and identify my
weaknesses
Decide on my TOEFL test day plan and make a review sheet of topics to remember in the
car, while I go to TOEFL.

www.JaimeMiller.com

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

OTHER ESSENTIALS: GENERAL WRITING CONCEPTS


Match the concepts with their definition.
1 ____Topic development

A the end of an essay

2 ____Introduction

B the way you build, support and justify


your opinion
C the beginning of an essay

3 ____Thesis
4 ____Body paragraphs

8 ____To play devils advocate

D the one sentence that captures the essence


of your / the writers opinion
E the symbols that help show grammatical
organization like , . ! ? ( )
F the parts of an essay that give details and a
clear explanation
G to accidentally type the letters of a word in
the wrong order and make a mistake
H to review and check for errors

9 ____To edit

I to argue the opposite opinion

5 ____Conclusion
6 ____To make a typo
7 ____Punctuation

To check your answers...


1. Log into the Online TOEFL Workshop.
2. Under 24+ Writing, you can see the Other Essential Skills for Writing section.
3. Then click General Writing Concepts. After finishing the quiz there, you will see the
correct answers.

www.JaimeMiller.com

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

OTHER ESSENTIALS: FAST TYPING


Lucky for you, American children also absolutely despise typing, so hundreds of people have
already invested in little free internet games to seduce kids into believing typing is fun.
4. Log into the Online TOEFL Workshop.
5. Click 24+ Writing and you can see the Other Essential Skills for Writing section.
6. Then click Fast Typing Skills to see a list of links and websites you can use.

TYPING SPEED PROGRESS CHART


Occasionally check your typing speed. Its best to use the spontaneous typing word counter at
http://www.spikex.net/FreeformWPM/
Date

WPM
(Words Per Minute)

How do you feel?


What do you notice about typing?

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

OTHER ESSENTIALS: PUNCUTATION


For resources to learn more about punctuation, please log into the Online TOEFL Workshop.
After clicking 24+ Writing, you will see Other Essential Skills. Click there and then select
Puncutation.

AN OVERVIEW OF THE CONCEPTS


In English, punctuation is the category for all of these symbols:

. , ; : !

( ) /

Punctuation is annoying, but its extremely important for your writing. If your punctuation is
bad, then your writing looks chaotic and childish. Good punctuation makes your writing look
professional and adult.
Improving your punctuation is one of the easiest ways to improve your TOEFL writing score.
Can match the concepts below with each symbol?
.
1

,
2

a slash
a period
quotation marks

:
3

;
4

a colon
parentheses
a comma

( )
7

!
8

/
9

a semi-colon
an apostrophe
an exclamation mark

PUNCUTATION ALSO INCLUDES


a space the white area between words.
an indent You can create an indent if you push the space bar five times to create a white
space on the left side, at the top of each paragraph.
a line This is different from sentences. The paragraph below has 6 lines and 4 sentences.

This paragraph
has 6 lines.

One of the reasons that its important to build a new


community center in my town is because young people need
a place to go. Currently, people hang out in shopping malls,
but this encourages them to buy things they dont need. If
they were at a community center, they could just see each
other. This is why such an addition is essential.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

OTHER ESSENTIALS: CALCULATING YOUR SCORE


Your two pieces of writing are read and scored by 2 certified raters. They give a score
between 0 and 5 for both essays. Then, they take the average of your score and add it to the
average of your independent writing. You can only calculate your complete TOEFL writing
score if you have both an integrated and an independent writing score.
Integrated score + Independent score = a number 2 = Writing Rubric Mean
After you have your Writing Rubric Mean, you can convert it to the final TOEFL score:

Writing Rubric Mean

Final Scaled Score

5.00
4.75
4.50
4.25
4.00
3.75
3.50
3.25
3.00
2.75
2.50
2.25
2.00
1.75
1.50
1.25
1.00
0

30
29
28
27
25
24
22
21
20
18
17
15
14
12
11
10
8
0

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INTEGRATED: THE BASICS


After you watch the video for The Integrated Writing: The Basics, fill in the sentences below
with the correct information.

WHAT HAPPENS?
The writing section happens first / second / third / last at the TOEFL iBT test. The integrated
writing is the first essay task on TOEFL. I have ______ minutes to read the academic text. The
text is about __________ words long. I should / dont have to take notes during that time. Next,
Ill listen for ______ minutes. I can listen to the lecture ______ time. I should / dont have to
take notes during that time. After that, I will see a prompt on the computer screen. The prompt
isnt always the same but it will sound something like, ____________________________________
______________________________. Ill have ______ minutes to write my summary. My target
is between _______ and _______ words. If I write more than that, there is / isnt a penalty.
____(#) TOEFL graders will evaluate my essay. They will give me a score with a number
between _____ and _____. After, they take the average of those numbers and convert it a score
between 0 and 30. There are 3 criteria that TOEFL graders analyze in my writing: (1) ________
_____________________, (2)____________________________________________________________,
and (3) ____________________________________________________________________________.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR ME?


I feel confident about my ability to ______________________ and I think it will be an asset for
me on the integrated writing. However, I personally think that my biggest weakness with the
integrated writing could be ________________________________________________. In order to
improve that weakness, I think I should ___________________________________. As a target, I
would like to practice writing one / two / three / four or more integrated writing before I take
TOEFL. Some reputable sources for practice that Ill use are ______________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________.

www.JaimeMiller.com

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INTEGRATED: UNDERSTAND WHAT TOEFL WANTS


ANALYZE HOW THE TASK IS PHRASED
If the lecture challenges the information in the reading passage, the writing task will usually
be phrased in one of the following ways:
Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they cast doubt on
specific points made in the reading passage.
Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they challenge
specific claims/arguments made in the reading passage.
Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to specifically explain how they
answer the problems raised in the reading passage.
If the lecture supports or strengthens the information in the reading passage, the writing task
will usually be phrased in one of the following ways:
Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to specifically explain how they
support the explanations in the reading passage.
Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to specifically explain how they
strengthen specific points made in the reading passage.

IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION:
I would like to thank my student, Mohamed Abdel-Moamen for his
keen observation that there are actually 3 types of phrases (even though
ETS divides them into 2 groups):
Partial contradiction -- The professor agrees slightly with the
passage but also contradicts each point with some kind of data.
Complete contradiction -- The professor has a totally different
view for each point.
No contradiction at all The professor agrees totally and
supports the passage in every point.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INTEGRATED: 5 SCORE-LIMITING MYTHS


AND 5 SCORE-BOOSTING TACTICS
While you watch the video for this, take notes on the myths (represented by a skull and
crossbones symbol) and the score-boosting tactics (represented by a smiley face).

www.JaimeMiller.com

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INTEGRATED: THE ANATOMY THAT TOEFL GRADERS PREFER


If you watched the video, 5 Score-Limiting Myths and 5 Score-Boosting Tactics, then
hopefully you noticed the image of the ideal paragraphs in Tactic 2. Go back and review it if
youre not sure, or need to check your answers but
In the diagram here, each square represents a paragraph in
your essay and its divided into a place for listening and
reading information.
Label the numbers with their sources and types of
information:
-

Listening, generalization of main idea


Listening, argument/statistics #1
Listening, argument/ statistics #2
Listening, argument / statistics #3
Listening, conclusion / brief restatement
Reading, generalization of main idea
Reading, argument/statistics #1
Reading, argument/ statistics #2
Reading, argument / statistics #3
Reading, conclusion / brief restatement

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INTEGRATED: USEFUL PHRASES


The following phrases are guidelines, but do not memorize them and use the same thing every
single time, or your writing will be boring.
WAYS TO REFER TO THE LISTENING
INFO:

WAYS TO REFER TO THE READING


INFO:
The author
The passage
The text

The speaker
The professor
The lecturer (person)
The lecture (thing)

SUPPORTIVE RELATIONSHIP

... , too.
also claims / says / states
supports
reinforces
backs up the claim that...
agrees with
Similarly, ...
reflects...

Js Million-Dollar Tip
Put this page of phrases on
the wall near your
computer so that you see
them every time you sit
down to write. It will speed
up your progress.

CONTRADICTORY RELATIONSHIP:

questions if
is skeptical about whether or not
contradicts / challenges the idea that
explains / argues that is not so effective/good/useful.
PHRASES TO IDENTIFY PROBLEMS IN THE READING:

The reading overlooks critical data about


The author ignores [thing]
The author simply doesnt mention [thing]
The authors theory simply doesnt match with the reality explained by the professor.
OTHER IMPRESSIVE WORDS TO USE:

contends that
demonstrates
explores
shortcomings (plural noun)

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INTEGRATED: PARAGRAPH ORGANIZATION / PHRASES


GOAL #1: INTRODUCTION PARAGRAPH 1 OR 2 SENTENCES
In the first sentence, introduce the main idea of the lecture with one of the following choices.
Avoid including specific details here:
The lecturer questions the idea that...[reading belief]
The lecturer explains / argues that .... is (not) [adjective].
Then, in the second sentence, explain the main idea of the reading but again, avoid details:
However / On the other hand
The author states that / claims that / argues that... [don't repeat yourself]
GOAL #2: FIRST MAIN DETAIL / BODY PARAGRAPH 1 3 TO 5 SENTENCES
Choose an appropriate way to introduce the listening:
o According to a study, .... [details from the listening]
o The first area of dispute is
Then tie it to the text:
o This directly contradicts / questions the author's idea / theory / claim that...
GOAL #3: NEXT MAIN DETAIL / BODY PARAGRAPH 2 3 TO 5 SENTENCES
Choose another way to introduce the listening:
o Researchers also learned that... [details from the research from the listening]
o Another controversial issue /area is
Then link back to the text:
o The author argued that... ,.,. but without any proof.
GOAL #4: FINAL DETAIL / OPTIONAL BODY PARAGRAPH 3 3 TO 5 SENTENCES
If theres a third point, start again with the listening:
o The final point of the research was that....
o The final conclusion was that...
o The final point of the debate/controversy is about
And then end back up with the relationship to the text:
o Again, the author's theory was challenged.
GOAL #5: SHORT CONCLUSION PARAGRAPH 1 OR 2 SENTENCES
Basically .... whereas....
Summing up...

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INTEGRATED: MODEL ESSAY1


SOURCE: ETSS WEBSITE, QUICK PRACTICE VOLUME 3, PAGE 21
HTTP://WWW.ETS.ORG/TOEFL/QUICKPREP
Relationship of the lecture and text: Contradictory; historical debate
Word count: 304

The professor argues that The Chevaliers memoir is an accurate and reliable historical
document even though the reading tries to poke three holes in the original authors credibility.
The first area of dispute was The Chevaliers wealth. This man had lots of assets that were both
liquid and fixed. His liquid assets likely paid for his lifestyle. However, if he wanted to get
more money, he had to convert his property into cash. During that waiting period, the
professor argues that he might have borrowed money from various sources. When his
transaction came through, he could repay the loan. Because of this, The Chevalier was not
necessarily poor, like the text argued.
Another controversial issue was The Chevaliers reported conversation with Voltaire. Friends
and servants who lived with The Chevalier later in life confirmed that he used many notes and
journals while writing his memoir. The professor is convinced that he took decent notes of his
talks with Voltaire, and then later referred to them. Again, this means that The Chevaliers
memoir might be more accurate than the text claims.
The final issue is that of his escape from prison. According to the professor, The Chevalier
didnt have as many political allies as other prisoners in the Venetian jail. In theory, those other
prisoners could also have escaped by bribing the guards yet they didnt escape. Only The
Chevalier escaped, and that makes his tale of digging a hole through the ceiling more
believable. Furthermore, the professor cites an old official Venetian document that details
repairs for the ceiling of a jail cell The Chevaliers jail cell. However, the text ignores these
potential explanations.
In sum, the lecture explains why scholars today can trust the veracity of The Chevaliers
memoir. The professor has reasonable explanations for all of the issues raised by the reading.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INTEGRATED: MODEL ESSAY2


SOURCE: ETSS BOOK, OFFICIAL TOEFL IBT TESTS WITH AUDIO,
PRACTICE TEST 1, PAGE 58
Relationship of the lecture and text: Contradictory; historical debate
Word Count: 275

Apparently theres been some historical debate about whether dinosaurs were reptiles or
endotherms (mammals or birds which maintain constant body temperature). The professor
tries to convince her class that dinosaurs were not actually endotherms, despite what they read
from the author.
First is the issue of dinosaur fossils being found in Antarctic zones. The professor explains it
was quite natural for dinosaurs to be in these regions because, so long ago, those regions were
actually warm. She says that even non-endotherms were there, and so dinosaurs could have
been among them, and when the weather got colder, they simply migrated like modern
animals. In other words, there are rational explanations for the presence of fossils in those
regions, and dinosaurs didnt have to be endotherms.
Second is the issue of skeletal structure. Animals with their legs under their skeletons (rather
than on the side, like crocodiles) are typically endothermic. The professor argues that dinosaur
skeletons evolved to support heavy creatures, and this is the reason that their legs are under,
rather than on the side, of their hips. The authors interpretation of the facts is not shared by
many scholars in the field.
Finally the professor addresses dinosaur bone structure. Modern reptiles bones show growth
rings and thickening both of these indicate that at certain times, the animal grows very slowly,
and then very rapidly. True endotherms, like humans, do not have these growth rings.
However, dinosaur bones have similar rings. Because of this, the professor refuses to accept the
authors claim that Haversian canals are proof of being an endotherm.
Basically, the professor illuminates the ongoing scholarly debate about dinosaurs as reptiles or
endotherms.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INTEGRATED: MODEL ESSAY3


SOURCE: BARRONS BOOK, WRITING FOR THE TOEFL IBT
BY LIN LOUGHEED (3 RD EDITION), PAGE 50
Relationship of the lecture and text: Contradictory; debate of an interpretation of research
Word Count: 224

The professor asks us to question the effectiveness of anti-smoking campaigns by analyzing all
of the available statistics, instead of jumping to conclusions. This is because the text promotes
the idea that anti-smoking campaigns end teen smoking forever because the author overlooks
critical data from the end of the research period.
The professor describes full research which compared two surveys: one that was conducted at
the end of the anti-smoking campaign, and one that was done three months later. Both surveys
asked participants to (1) describe their level of awareness of the anti-smoking campaign, and (2)
think about the chances of them smoking in the future. The first survey had very positive
results. More than 50% of students said they had heard of the campaign or seen brochures and
advertisements, and 40% of students guessed they would smoke in the future. However, three
months later, the results were quite different. Less than 30% of students remembered the
brochures and advertisements and 58% guessed they would start smoking. In other words, the
anti-smoking campaign was not as effective as the author would like to believe. The text just
summarized the optimistic results of the first survey and highlighted the importance of
spending money on anti-smoking campaigns.
When the statistics from the second survey are considered, the professor says that more
accurate conclusions can be made.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INTEGRATED: MODEL ESSAY4


SOURCE: BARRONS BOOK, WRITING FOR THE TOEFL IBT
BY LIN LOUGHEED (3 RD EDITION), PAGE 51
Relationship of the lecture and text: Supporting; similar research findings
Word Count: 228

The professor claims that music should be seriously considered as a way of increasing profits in
a business. This supports the theory described in the text that music is just one of many ways
that businesses can influence consumer behavior.
The first study that the professor describes occurred in restaurants. In one group of restaurants,
slow music was played, and in the other group, fast music was played. The profits and length
of time that patrons stayed in the restaurant was compared. On average, diners who listened to
slow music stayed 15 minutes longer and spent $4 per person more than those who heard fast
music. This confirms the texts claim that a good music system is a sound business investment.
The other study tracked college students as they shopped for clothing. When stores played pop
music, shoppers had a better perception of the store and tended to stay and browse longer.
However, stores that played older music didnt do as well with the same age group of shoppers.
Again, the reading confirms this by saying that stores can do a lot to influence the shoppers.
Neither the professor nor the author claims that a customers mood can be completely
controlled inside a store or restaurant. Rather, they both cite examples that indicate that
customers will spend more money if they are happier from listening to appealing music.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INDEPENDENT: THE BASICS


After you watch the video for The Independent Writing: The Basics, fill in the sentences
below with the correct information.

WHAT HAPPENS?
The writing section happens first / second / third / last at the TOEFL iBT test. The integrated
writing is the second essay task on TOEFL. I have ______ minutes to finish it. During that time
I should write about my opinion. My tone should/nt be formal.
My target is between _______ and _______ words. If I write more than that, there is / isnt a
penalty. ____(#) TOEFL graders will evaluate my essay. They will give me a score with a
number between _____ and _____. After, they take the average of those numbers and convert it
a score between 0 and 30. There are 3 criteria that TOEFL graders analyze in my writing:
(1) __________________________________________________________, (2)____________________
______________________________________, and (3) ______________________________________.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR ME?


I feel confident about my ability to ______________________ and I think it will be an asset for
me on the independent writing. However, I personally think that my biggest weakness with
the independent writing could be ____________________________________. In order to improve
that weakness, I think I should ____________________________________. As a target, I would
like to practice writing one / two / three / four or more independent essays before I take TOEFL.
Some reputable sources for practice that Ill use are _______________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________________.

www.JaimeMiller.com

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INDEPENDENT: UNDERSTAND WHAT TOEFL WANTS


ANALYZE HOW THE TASK IS PHRASED
Ive carefully reviewed all 200+ of the official writing prompts in ETS Official Guide to the
TOEFL iBT, 4th edition, and Ive identified what I call three main types of prompts: basic,
medium and complex. (These are not official ways to refer to the categories.)

IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION:
Even though it seems like TOEFL is separating the prompts into
different types, do not be confused! My high-scoring students always
follow the structure I recommend on the following pages and
organization when they answer any of these 3 styles of prompt. Ill
teach you how to write an impressive complex style essay each time.

BASIC: CHOOSE A SIDE AND EXPLAIN YOUR OPINION.


Some people think that they can learn better by themselves than with a teacher. Others
think that it is always better to have a teacher. Which do you prefer? Use specific
reasons and examples to support your answer.

MEDIUM: EXPLAIN YOUR POTENTIAL OPINION IN A HYPOTHETICAL


SCENARIO.
Note: These prompts usually have unreal situations. Just imagine and think about what you
would do or maybe you experienced something like it in real life, so you could explain that event
in a new context. These hypothetical scenarios are a great place to use If grammar.
A company has announced that it wishes to build a large factory near your community.
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this new influence on your community.
Do you support or oppose the factory? Explain your position.

COMPLEX: COMPARE AND DISCUSS ADVANTAGES OR DISADVANTAGES.


Note: These prompts usually have 3 directions. Just read carefully and make sure to write an
answer for each part of the question and youll be fine!
When people move to another country, some of them decide to follow the customs of the
new country. Others prefer to keep their own customs. Compare these two choices.
Which one do you prefer? Support your answer with specific details.
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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INDEPENDENT: 5 SCORE-LIMITING MYTHS


AND 5 SCORE-BOOSTING TACTICS
While you watch the video for this, take notes on the myths (represented by a skull and
crossbones symbol) and the score-boosting tactics (represented by a smiley face).

www.JaimeMiller.com

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INDEPENDENT: IDENTIFY FASCINATING THINGS YOU CAN WRITE ABOUT


Score-Boosting Tactic #1 is to be passionate when youre writing. There are many areas of your
life which you can use as background information for independent essays. Think about and
take notes. (If you speak out loud, youll get extra practice for the Speaking section!)

DONT FORGET: YOU ARE FASCINATING.

What are your hobbies? Which sports or musical instruments do you play?

What interesting life lessons have you learned from your hobbies?

What interesting life lessons have you learned from your family / parents / children?

Where do you live? Why is it interesting / horrible?

Where have you lived? Why is it interesting / horrible?

What are the 3 most important things that have happened in your life? Why?

What life lessons have you learned because you are learning English?

What do you think is the biggest problem your country faces? How could it be solved?

What is the biggest problem the world faces? How could it be solved?

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

I LOVE TRAVELLING (MOST ENGLISH TEACHERS DO). MY STUDENTS COME


FROM AROUND THE WORLD. THEY HAVE SO MANY INTERESTING STORIES
ABOUT THEIR HOME COUNTRIES AND CULTURES. YOU HAVE THOSE, TOO.
How do people live in your country? What are the houses, schools, transportation, roads,
shopping centers and grocery stores like?

What do you know a lot about? (This could be about your career, or your hobby.)

What debate is happening in your country right now? What do you think about it?

What issue is your city struggling with right now? What is your opinion?

What is something you wish you could change about your city or country? Why?

What is something positive you would like to share with the world about your country? Why?

Is English changing your countrys local culture? Do people complain about it, or do they
accept it? What do you think?

Is technology totally changing the people in your life? How do you feel about all these new
gadgets?

Was there a time when you gave up on something? Alternatively, have you persisted with
something even when it seemed crazy? What happened? What were the results for you?

How does your country protect (or not protect) the environment? What do you think about
that?

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INDEPENDENT: THE ANATOMY THAT TOEFL GRADERS PREFER


GENERAL SKELETON FOR THE WHOLE ESSAY
In the picture here, each square represents a paragraph in your
essay.
Label the paragraphs with these concepts:
conclusion / introduction / thesis / body paragraph
(you will write body paragraph twice)

GENERAL SKELETON FOR THE BODY PARAGRAPHS


In the picture here, each square represents a section of
your body paragraph in your essay. Label the
numbers and parts of the paragraph with these four
concepts:
topic sentence / reasons and examples
opposite argument / wrap-up sentence

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INDEPENDENT: BRAINSTORM KILLER IDEAS


Did you watch the brainstorm videos online? If not, that might be a good place to start.
After that, get a timer and set it for between 90 and 120 seconds. Work with the following pages
and brainstorm ideas for each prompt. Remember, the ideas that oppose your thesis (your
personal opinion) can be used strategically in the body paragraphs later, but its really
important to start thinking of them now.

EXERCISE 1
Prompt: In some countries, teenagers have jobs while they are still students. Do you think this
is a good idea? Support your opinion by using specific reasons and details.
Reasons for teens to have a job

Reasons for teens to only study

EXERCISE 2
Prompt: In your opinion, what are the qualities of a good supervisor (boss)? Use specific details
and examples in your answer.
Behaviors & qualities of a good boss

Behaviors & qualities of a bad boss

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT
EXERCISE 3
Prompt: What change would make your hometown more appealing to people your age? Use
specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.
The change we need is
Reasons we need this change
(current problems)

Reasons this change might not be so effective

EXERCISE 4
Prompt: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? All students should be
required to study history in high school. Use specific reasons and examples to support your
opinion.
Reasons (specific group of people) should
study history in high school

Reasons (specific group of people) wont


benefit that much from studying history

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT
EXERCISE 5
Prompt: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Only people who earn a lot of
money are successful. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

EXERCISE 6
Prompt: It has been said, Not everything that is learned is contained in books. Compare and
contrast knowledge gained from experience with knowledge gained from books. In your
opinion, which source is more important? Why?

KEEP GOING! FIND MORE BY SEARCHING


GOOGLE FOR ETS TOEFL WRITING PROMPTS.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INDEPENDENT: CRAFTING SUPER-SPECIFIC THESIS SENTENCES


FIRST, ASSIGN YOUR THESIS TO A GROUP OF PEOPLE.
You should always write about what you know. You probably belong to at least one of the
following groups. To boost your score, simply focus on a specific group for that essay - students (high school? university? graduate? )
other people who have your career:
o health care professionals (doctors? nurses? pharmacists? physical therapists?)
o lawyers / teachers / writers / ?? something else??
foreigners / non-native English speakers X native-English speakers (Americans / Brits)
adults / parents (or their opposites, young people / children)
people from (write your towns name) / (your countrys name) X people from another
country

ANALYZE WHY A THESIS IS WEAK, OR SPECIFIC.


Prompt
When people succeed, it is
because of hard work. Luck has
nothing to do with success. Do
you agree or disagree with the
quotation above?

Some people prefer to live in a


small town. Others prefer to live
in a big city. Which place would
you prefer to live? Use specific
reasons and answers to support
your answer.

Weak Thesis
You cant rely on luck to succeed
in life; hard work is more
important.

I think that big cities are definitely


better than small cities.

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Super-Specific Thesis
(This writer is a student)
For students, studying and
working hard is a huge factor in
success; being lucky in a
classroom or library is rarely a
reason that students succeed.
(This writer is a doctor)
When healthcare professionals
are successful, it is often
because of their knowledge, and
professionalism. Such
information and behavior were
learned over a long time they
didnt result from random luck
alone.
(This writer is American and
lives in another country)
After living in a small town in
Northern California, its clear
there are many advantages of
living in a city like Istanbul, which
is one of the biggest cities in the
region.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

PRACTICE WRITING STRONG, SUPER-SPECIFIC THESES:


Use the exercises from the previous pages (where you brainstormed) and write some gorgeous
theses.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

CHANGING YOUR VOICE ELIMINATING I AND YOU


Its important to use your life and experiences to write your essays. What else would you use?
Its totally logical to write about yourself, and you should use your life and experiences,
however, you can raise your score by hiding yourself in the essay.

EXAMPLE 1: IMPROVING YOUR THESIS


Acceptable Thesis
As a mother of a toddler, I prefer indirect
ways of communicating with my friends.

Score-Maximizing Thesis
Mothers of toddlers typically prefer indirect
ways of communicating with their friends.

What did we change? We eliminated I and talked about the group (mothers of young
children) in general. We also replaced my with their.

EXAMPLE 2: IMPROVING YOUR REASONS / EXAMPLE PARAGRAPH


Acceptable Reasons In A Paragraph
If you spend time with your friends in person,
for example, you can create good memories.
Also hard times can be adjusted to more easily
with support and care of your close friends. If
you are in the same room, its better than
talking on the phone. If I have no opportunity
to talk to my friends, personally I will be
happy to use all available types of
communication. I am sure there is nothing
wrong with it, but I also can't deny the
obvious pros of face-to-face communication.

Score-Maximizing Reasons In A Paragraph


Spending time with friends in person, for
example, can create good memories. Also hard
times can be adjusted to more easily with
support and care of close friends. Being in the
same room is better than talking on the phone.
If people dont have the opportunity to be
together, they would probably be happy to use
any available type of communication.
However, the obvious pros of face-to-face
communication are undeniable.

What did we change? Again, we eliminated I and you and used people or they
instead. Also, we changed many of the if you sentences to a sentence style that is great for
making generalizations: verb-ing subject + verb (Example: Spending time with friends can
create good memories.)

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT
PRACTICE ELIMINATING I AND YOU:
Look at a few of your recent essays and rewrite the problematic sentences to eliminate I and
you phrases. If youre not comfortable making verb-ing generalization sentences, practice
the relevant pages from the Ultra-Targeted TOEFL Grammar Guide (get it free by emailing
info@jaimemiller.com and requesting it nicely).

NEED MORE HELP?


Remember, if you still feel stuck, you should consider an occasional, one-hour lesson with Jaime
to focus on the problematic issues. Alternatively, you could get Digital, Personalized Feedback.
To learn about the options now, email info@jaimemiller.com say that youve bought the
writing tutorial already, and explain what you would like to do.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INDEPENDENT: PERFECTING YOUR BODY PARAGRAPHS


WITH WRAP-UP SENTENCES
This page has a detailed explanation and example for a prompt. You can start the practice on
page 28. On page 31 you can read a students essay and add wrap-up sentences to his essay.

EXAMPLE AND EXPLANATION:


PROMPT:
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? New fathers should get a paid vacation
from work when they have a baby.
JAIME AGREED AND BRAINSTORMED THESE REASONS FOR TOPIC
SENTENCES:
help the mother after shes given birth; take care of her and baby; develop stronger
bonds with his family
make the father a more productive employee; come back to work with fresh energy
conclusion: ultimately, more stronger families are good for society
BODY PARAGRAPH #1:
Topic Sentence: First, a new father needs this time off because he will help make
stronger bonds with his family.
Reasons / Examples: After a mother gives birth, she is physically very exhausted. She
needs to be taken care of and if her husband helps out, she will probably have more
energy and recover more quickly. Also, the father will get to know his child.
If: Babies grow so quickly and if a father is just at work during this period, he will miss
the miraculous beginning of his childs life.
Although / Comparison: Even though some fathers might be nervous about becoming
fathers, mothers might be just as nervous.
Wrap-up: Its best if both parents experience this newness and uncertainty together
because they will have a deep understanding of the commitment and energy it will take
to raise their child.
BODY PARAGRAPH #2:
Topic Sentence: Its also very reasonable to assume that a new father will be more
productive and energetic at work after some time off.
If / Reasons: If a new father stayed at work, he would probably feel that his attention is
constantly divided between thinking of work projects and wondering about his wife and
newborn.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT
Although / Comparison / Example: Its true that taking care of a newborn baby isnt
really the same as having a vacation. However, the new parents will spend a lot of time
at home and its certainly a break from routine. Hopefully he and the mother will have
time to play with the baby and make memories.
Wrap-up: When a new father has some time off, it will help him return to work with
fresh energy and the company could ultimately benefit from that.

THE PRACTICE CONTINUES ON THE NEXT PAGE.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

PRACTICE 1: WRITING YOUR OWN WRAP-UP SENTENCES


In the following practice, you will quickly brainstorm (90-120 seconds) and then you will just
focus on making topic sentences and wrap-up sentences. In other words, you will write only 2
sentences. Its kind of like making a sandwich, and just preparing the two slices of bread. In
this practice, we wont include the middle of the paragraph (Reasons, Examples, If or Although)
however when you write your real essays, you should definitely include those elements.

PROMPT 1:
Do you agree or disagree? Students should be allowed to grade their teachers.

SUPER-SPECIFIC THESIS:
BODY PARAGRAPH #1:

Topic Sentence: First,

Wrap-up: This is one of the reasons

BODY PARAGRAPH #2:

Topic Sentence: Its also very important to remember / reasonable to assume / ??


Wrap-up: When a student / teacher...

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT
PROMPT 2:
Many students choose to attend schools or universities outside their home countries. Why do
some students study abroad? Use specific reasons and details in your answer.

SUPER-SPECIFIC THESIS:
BODY PARAGRAPH #1:

NOTE! Be careful not to talk about I too much. Use your life, but hide yourself (review pages 24-25).
Topic Sentence: One of the reasons for this is because

Wrap-up: When

BODY PARAGRAPH #2:

Topic Sentence: Another obvious reason for studying abroad is

Wrap-up: This is why

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT
PROMPT 3:
Many parts of the world are losing important natural resources, such as forests, animals, or
clean water. Choose one resource that is disappearing and explain why it needs to be saved.
Use specific reasons and details in your answer.
The resource that needs to be saved in my country / region:

SUPER-SPECIFIC THESIS:
BODY PARAGRAPH #1:

NOTE! Be sure to make specific generalizations about your place. You can create useful statistics or facts.
Topic Sentence: The first reason for this is that

Wrap-up: It is essential to in order to

BODY PARAGRAPH #2:

Topic Sentence: Another obvious reason for protecting is

Wrap-up: This is why

IF YOU STILL LACK CONFIDENCE WITH THIS, CONTINUE THE SAME ACTIVITY
WITH 3-5 MORE PROMPTS. DO A GOOGLE SEARCH FOR ETS TOEFL WRITING
PROMPT.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

PRACTICE 2: ADDING WRAP-UP SENTENCES TO A STUDENTS ESSAY


STEP 1:
In the following essay, fix the body paragraphs (#2 and #3) so that they each have a wrap-up
sentence that is logical and consistent, based on the authors topic sentence for each paragraph.
I grew up in a small town in Japan. When I was a child, I didn't recognize that my
hometown is in the countryside, until I moved to a city for my studies. Now, I really
appreciate that I was raised up in such peaceful place and I'd recommend the
countryside as a good place to raise children.
Firstly, young age children have to move around and play as much as they can. I believe
such kinds of activities support childrens proper evolution as they become adults. If
they were in a busy city, they could not run around fields or explore nature in their
neighborhoods. Although small rural towns typically have limited access to education,
nowadays, an Internet connection would solve such a problem. If the parents or teachers
would occasionally take them to cities, it would provide them good stimulation more
than staying in distracting cities all the time. In my experience, since I grew up in a small
town, I love exercising and I am always curious in new situations. [Add a wrap-up
sentence here]
Secondly, Japanese people from the countryside are often kind to children even if they
are not relatives. However, in cities people don't like to be involved in another family's
matters -- especially regarding children. Seniors in a small town can easily scold the
neighbors kids, but I cant imagine such situations in a city. [Add a wrap-up sentence
here]
To sum up, I think the countryside has a good effect on children. Then if I can give a
piece of advice to new parents, I would recommend that they raise their kids outside of
noisy cities.
STEP 2:
Look at the paragraphs again. By speaking out loud, can you change the voice of the writer to
eliminate the I phrases? Remember, our goal is to make statements that use the authors
experience or opinion, but hide the I. Review pages 24-25 if this concept isnt familiar.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INDEPENDENT: USEFUL PHRASES


The following phrases are guidelines, but do not memorize them and use the same thing every
single time, or your writing will be boring.
SUPER-SPECIFIC THESIS

Its easy to understand why [your super specific thesis].


Personally, I think [your super specific thesis].
In my experience as a [group name], its clear to me that [opinion].
I believe there are two main reasons that [opinion].
TOPIC SENTENCES FOR BODY PARAGRAPHS

One of the reasons that [refer to the prompt] is because [main reason from brainstorming].
Another reason for [refer to the prompt] is because [main reason from brainstorming].
First, this is true / obvious / clear / necessary because [main reason from brainstorming].
It is also clear / obvious that [topic] is [main reason from brainstorming] because
REASON / EXAMPLE SENTENCES

Make generalizations and explain scenarios that happen to people in the group.
IF SENTENCES
Even if
Otherwise

Js Million-Dollar Tip
Put this page of phrases on the wall near your
computer so that you see them every time you sit
down to write. It will speed up your progress.

ALTHOUGH / COMPARISONS

Even though some might argue [alternative], [your idea].


Although some people say [controversy], [your opinion].
Some people say [controversial idea]. Despite that, [your idea].
[Controversial opinion]. That being said, [your opinion].

Dont forget these first two


must be one sentence with a
comma in the middle!

WRAP-UP SENTENCES
When [rephrase the reason from the topic sentence] [result]
These are some of the reasons that [rephrase the topic sentence].
Because of this, its best if its clear that its necessary to

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

REAL INDEPENDENT MODEL ESSAYS


The following essays were written by students in the week before they took TOEFL; their scores
were 27 or 29. After they took TOEFL, they reported to me that they used the same TRIAW
organization that you see in the following essays. We know that their grammar / vocabulary
hardly changed in the last week. You can refer to the following code of colored highlights for
the type of errors that were made by the writer.

HOW YOU CAN BENEFIT FROM REVIEWING THE REAL MODEL ESSAYS:
First, choose an essay and read it -- either #1, 2, 3 or 4. After that, ask yourself the following
analysis questions. Keep notes in a digital document, or in your notebook.
ANALYTICAL QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF ABOUT E ACH MODEL ESSAY :

1. What kind of mistakes did the writer make? (Hint: See the color code below.)
2. Whats the writers thesis?
3. What are the writers two main reasons? (Hint: Search for the topic sentences in each
body paragraph.)
4. In the first reason paragraph, which example does the writer use to play devils
advocate?
5. In the second reason paragraph, which example does the writer use to play devils
advocate?
6. What phrases does the writer use to wrap up each body paragraph? Does that wrap up
sentence clearly link back to the paragraphs topic sentence?
7. How can you ensure that your writing emulates this essay?

THE COLOR CODE FOR MISTAKES:


Yellow a grammar error; generally an issue with the verb.
Green an error with using a an the the of or s.
Blue a vocabulary error; the writer should choose a more precise word.
Pink an error with the logic; sometimes this is used for vocabulary and phrases which are
repetitive.
Gray a typo / spelling or punctuation error.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INDEPENDENT: MODEL ESSAY1


Writers Final TOEFL Writing Score: 27
Word count: 360
Is it a good idea for students to work while they are in school?
Parents look always for methods to prepare their teenages for the adult life. One of the most
controversial way is to push teenages to take a pert-time job. Some think that it can be hard for
the teenages and it can break them instead of helping them. Others, think that it's the best way
to prepare children for the adult life and they advance that pert-time job encourages teens to be
more rensonpible. Personally, I think that pushing teenages to take a part-time job is a positive
thing.
First, taking a part-time job is the only way that teenages can experiment ___ the real life and
prepare them for adult life. Teenages are generally inside the parent's bubble. They dent touch
the real life. For example they don't have to work hard to get money to buy what they would
like. The only thing that they have to do is asking for the parent's generosity. Hence, they don't
genearally value things correctly. As they will have to work hard, wake up early and sometimes
leave the office late during a part-time job, they will, certainly, better value life and things. Even
though some people might argue that a part-time job can break and harm these teenages, this
will not happen if parents keep a close eyes to what their children do. Thus experimenting ___ a
part-time job is crucial for teenages.
Second, a part-time job can financially help both parents and teenages. After the financial crisis
many parents found themselves unemployed or they have sought a decrease in their salaries. In
addition, teenages increase their depenses as they diversify their activities and start looking for
universities. The parents start, then, getting a lot of troubles to come to the needs of their
children, espacially when the family is composed of many teenages. Although, the money that
teenages get from a part-time job is not huge, it's certainly better than not thing. Therefore, a
part-time job can be very helpfull for both of parents and teenages.
In summary, a part-ime job is benefecial for the teenages as it's the only way to expriment the
real life and can help them. financially.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INDEPENDENT: MODEL ESSAY 2


Writers Final TOEFL Writing Score: 27
Word count: 365
Do you agree or disagree nowadays people dont spend enough time in local community involvement.
Use specific details and examples to explain your answer.
Whether people give enough time to their community today is a controversial question. Some
think that people nowadyas give a lot of time to the community. They argue that, thanks to
interet, people have more knowledge about the T society than they did before and therefore
they are more evolved in it. Others claim that because people become increasingly far from each
other and more unsociable than they used to be, they less participate in the community's
problems. Personally, I think that people are involved a lot in the community today.
First, people are much ___ aware about their self and the society than they used to be and
therefore they are more willing to help it. Internet and new media have increased the
consiousness of people about their self belongness to a community or a group of people. Hence,
people do whatever they are capable of to reinforce that sense. As this feeling helps them to
better understand themselves. For example, an american, a french or a tunisian do whatever in
his hand to increase his sens of patriotisme and appartenance to the country. This is becuase
people love their countries and they would like to be proud of it. Therefore, people allocate a lot
of time to the community than they did before.
Second, the new media such as internet increased the time and the effort that people consacrate
to their communiti. On a recent research, sientists found that people stay at least 3 hours
connected to internet per day and that they use 50% of time when they go over internet to
connect __ social website. This simply demonstrate that people are increasingly interested in
their community and in the people they know. Moreover, on internet people participate to
surveys to resolve community'problem, found blogs to help people express their thoughts and
program web sites to come to the needs of some of the community problems such as web sites
showing congestion on the roads. Therfcre people are more involved in their community than
they used to be.
In summary, people are concerned a lot nowadays by their community as their awerness
increased and the media that they use increased their involvment.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INDEPENDENT: MODEL ESSAY3


Writers Final TOEFL Writing Score: 29
Word count: 342
Some people think that the government should spend as much money as possible on protection the
environment. Others think this money should be spent on other things such as education and healthcare.
Which one of these options do you agree with?
I believe that the government should spend enough money on protection the environment. Of
course, it should not be all the money of the country, but a big part of the budget should be
reserved for the ecology issues.
First, there is no doubt that the government should spend money on education and healthcare,
but if it ignores support of the environment, health system will be helpless to solve people's
problem. Our health is thoroughly connected with ecology. For instance, if we breathe in
poisonous air, we will have the problems with lungs, or contaminated water causes problems
with digestion, and so on. Moreover, not only the organs like lungs or stomach are under threat,
but the whole body is suffering. It is a fact that those people who live in polluted areas are
prone to different diseases, and some of them are extremely serious. So, government's support
of healthcare is pointless without protection of the environment.
Secondly, we share the planet with all the other people, and ecological situation of one country
may affect the situation in other parts of the world. It can be indirect influence, but it exists, as
we are all the ''citizens'' of the same place the Earth. For example, the government of one
country ignores the activity of the factories which throw their toxic wastes in the sea. Seas are
the parts of world ocean, so the water pollution in one region leads to the global water
pollution, and people from different countries suffer. That is why, the government should be
completely responsible for its actions, and financial support of the environment is a part of its
general mission on the planet.
Finally, I think that the situation in any country is a complex issue, and the government cannot
spend as much money as possible only on one sphere. System of education, healthcare, social
services, etc. are as important as protection the environment. However, the government should
not forget about the environment and should support eco-friendly projects and the activity of
the environmentalists with enough money.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

INDEPENDENT: MODEL ESSAY4


Writers Final TOEFL Writing Score: 29
Word count: 334
What are the qualities of features of a good newspaper, current affairs television program, or news
website? Use specific details and examples to explain your answer.
Mass media is powerful source of information, but it is obvious that not all of them are of good
quality. I think that there are 3 main features of a good newspaper, TV program or website
which focuses on news.
First, responsibility is a feature of crucial importance. Media should be responsible for the texts
published, and all the information should be checked. Sometimes media are called ''the fourth
power'', and it is a reasonable name, as media can seriously affect the political and social
situation in the country and world. Let's imagine what could be, if a newspaper published the
news that was not actually true. Even a world scandal could happen, let alone accusations of
individuals (for example because of the libel).
Second, I believe, that the use of language is also very important for any good newspaper, news
TV-program and website. Journalists should be extremely competent in the language they write
(or speak). They are the masters of the language like writers, words are their tools, so, they
should know how to work with them. Texts should be written in a smooth and clear way,
without grammatical and orthographical mistakes, etc. TV-reporters should have good
speaking skills and clear pronunciation. Although all these things are not connected with the
news itself, they create the impression of the media. For me it is always very disappointing to
see the mistakes in features, and it makes the image of it worse.
And finally, a good media should not be biased. People open a newspaper or a website and
switch on a TV-set to be informed, but not to be deceived. I think that the main problem of
central TV-channels and newspapers in Russia is their political bias. Most newspapers and
current affairs television programs show the oficial point of view, and the Internet is the only
place for opposition.
To sum up, in my opinion, there are three main qualities of a good newspaper, news website
and TV-program responsibility, good language and objectivity.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

5 NEAT TRICKS TO SNEAK ENGLISH INTO EVERY DAY


Now that youve been studying for a while, you have to make sure that you review. Here are 5
fail-proof ways that you can make sure you see or think about English thats essential for
boosting your TOEFL Writing and Speaking score every day.
TRICK 1
Use digital flashcards Jaime shows you how to use and customize her favorite app,
Flashcards Deluxe (by OrangeOrApple.com), so you can study while you commute
or wait for friends, instead of checking Facebook. Her video explains step-by-step in
Secret 2 at http://www.jaimemiller.com/how-to-learn-toefl-vocabulary/

TRICK 2:
This is especially useful if you use Flashcards Deluxe (from Trick 1). However, even if you
dont have that app, you can still make a free account at www.quizlet.com to study vocab and
make instant quizzes. Then change your settings on Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox so that
when you open a new internet window, a set of pages are automatically opened. Include
Quizlet.coms website so that you are reminded to study every day.

TRICK 3:
If you have a smart phone, take advantage of the lock screen
(the constant picture that displays a photo when you enter
your password to open your phone). Change the image to
something that you want to remember. If youre improving
your pronunciation, choose a few words that use all the time
for TOEFL and put them on the lock screen.
1.

Go to www.jaimemiller.com/images/stickynote.jpg
and download or save the picture of the sticky note.

2.

Open it in a program like PowerPoint, where you can add text and then save it all as a
new image.

3.

Transfer the picture to your phone, and set it as your lock screen photo. You are
guaranteed to look at it at least 20 times a day!

Note: For maximum effect, change the image once a week because its human nature to stop
seeing things become routine. You have to trick your brain into noticing new information.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT
TRICK 4:
This trick is similar to the phone lock screen advice in Trick 3. Instead here, change your
computers desktop background to something that you want to remember.

TRICK 5:
After 1-2 weeks of studying a variety of TOEFL topics, make 3-4 different review sheets. Each
review sheet should be just one page, and might include important TOEFL vocabulary,
important grammar rules that you keep forgetting, messages for yourself about important
TOEFL information, or strategies for reading, note-taking, speaking or writing.
1.

Hang one list on your bathroom mirror. Stare at it while you brush your teeth or dry
your hair.

2.

Hang another list in your kitchen above the hot water kettle. Stare at it while you make
a cup of tea.

3.

Put another list in your car. Check it out at safe moments while youre commuting, or
right before you start driving, or immediately after you arrive somewhere, if you have 1
or 2 extra minutes.

4.

Put the final list in another place that would be useful for you.

Note: For maximum effect, rotate the lists through locations at the end of every week because
its human nature to stop seeing things that are routine.

GO ON NOW! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?


CHOOSE 2-3 OF THE TRICKS AND DO THEM NOW.
IF YOU DONT HAVE TIME TO DO THEM NOW, AT LEAST SCHEDULE SOME
TIME THIS WEEK WHEN YOU WILL GET STARTED WITH EACH TRICK.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

TIPS FOR POLITE, EFFECTIVE EMAILS


As my online school has grown, Ive received thousands of emails from people in dozens of
countries. Here are some tips you should follow whenever you write emails to anyone.

TIPS FOR WRITING EMAILS WITH NATIVE-ENGLISH SPEAKERS


If you have multiple email addresses, and if you need to start writing emails to a
university or professional program, you should always write from the same email
address. If theres a problem, the secretary can easily find all of the emails that are about
you at the same time. If your emails come from different email addresses, it might be
difficult for the secretary to read (or remember) all the information you send. That could
be bad for you later.
Change your email account options to show your real name your first name and then
your last name. There are two serious reasons for this:

It makes you look more professional and people will take you more seriously.

Second, if another person with your first name already sent them an email, the
recipient might accidentally send your email to the other person with your name.

Dont use all capital letters or multiple question marks (?).

Example of an ineffective message: HEY WHERE IS THE INFORMATION


ABOUT FINANCIAL AID??????? (The recipient will probably think you are
rude, and will answer your email last.)

Example of the same message expressed in a polite way, Hello! Can you please
tell me where I can find the information about financial aid on your website? I
tried searching but I cant seem to find it. Thanks so much for your help. Jaime

Use Enter to make separate paragraphs:

Formatting that looks a bit unprofessional:


Hello! Can you please tell me where I can find the information about
financial aid on your website? I tried searching but I cant seem to find it.
Thanks so much for your help. Jaime

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT

Formatting that looks professional:


Hello!
Can you please tell me where I can find the information about financial
aid on your website? I tried searching but I cant seem to find it.
Thanks so much for your help.
Jaime

Dont use all lower-case letters because it looks unprofessional. Use proper punctuation.

Also, its wrong to use a lower-case I (Example: im writing because i want to ask
for your help.)

When you write I for yourself, it should always be upper-case. (Example: Im


writing because I want to ask for your help.)

Dont use things like u when you write you or 4 if you really mean for.
Those abbreviations are slang they are only acceptable in casual situations, or if you
know the speaker very well.

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT
POLITE, EFFECTIVE PHRASES FOR INTRODUCTORY EMAILS
1. Start the email by acknowledging the recipient.
If youre writing a casual email, then start with Dear his/her first name then
put a comma.
If youre writing a professional email, then start with

For a man: Dear Mr. (last name) then put a comma.

For a woman: Dear Ms. (last name) then put a comma.


Note: Actually, in most American companies, first names have become
totally normal in writing emails. You dont need to write Mr. or Ms. but
its an extra sign of respect.

If you dont know the persons gender: Dear + his/her first name

If you dont know who to email (like if youre emailing an Admissions


Committee, or an office with lots of secretaries): Hello! or
Greetings!

2. Mention who you are. Just type, Im (first name). or My name is (first name). not
This is (first name). because you should only use that on the telephone.
The recipient will remember you better if you give your name. In many situations, it is
an advantage if they know who you are.
Also, help them pronounce your name. This is only important if your name is spelled in
a way that usually confuses Americans. Trust me, the recipient will be so grateful for
the pronunciation tip! Here are some examples:
In Japan, her teachers taught her to write Rie but its actually pronounced with
an L so she could write My name is Rie but it sounds like Lee-ey.
My name is Xueliang but it sounds like Zoo-lee-ang.
If you write your last name here, please be very clear that its your last name. In some
countries, its common to write the surname and then the first name. However,
Americans always expect to see a first name FIRST. Ive had a few confusing situations
where a writer changed the order they told me their name in every email, and I became
very confused.

3. Explain why youre writing. Here are some options:


Im contacting you because

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24+ Writing: 13 Self-Study Lessons for TOEFL iBT
Im not sure if youre the right person to ask at your company, but Im hoping to
find out
I would really appreciate your help with something. (Extra explanation)
Im interested in
Id like to
Its not always appropriate, and it depends on the situation, but you might want to write
some hints that help the recipient understand if you are male or female. This can make
it easier to respond to your email and it makes a clearer picture of who you are, so you
are more memorable.
Example: Im planning to apply to your MBAs 2015 cohort for the Fall term. I
need some information about financial aid because my wife isnt working right
now and things are a bit tight. (The reader understands the writer is a man.)
Example: I need to finish my certification as soon as possible because Im giving
birth in July. (The reader understands the writer is a woman.)
4. At the end of your email, thank the person for his/her time or patience with you. Here
are some options:
Thanks for your time and patience!
Thank you for your help.
I appreciate your time and patience with me!
Im sorry about all the questions, and I appreciate you being patient.
5. Close the email with a standard phrase like
Best wishes,
Cheers, (note: thats mostly British)
Best regards,
Regards,
6. Type your name. I recommend writing your first name again, but you might also
include your last name here. The choice is yours.

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HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE COMPLAINT
If someone offended you, it will be difficult for him/her to hear your complaint if you are rude.
If you want to be taken seriously, then being polite is more effective.
1. Of course, start your email with the phrases I mentioned in 1 and 2 on the previous
page.
2. Acknowledge the persons difficult situation. If you start this way, they will listen to
your complaint more quickly. Here are some options that make the recipient feel like
you see him/her as a human:
I can imagine that youre really busy because (empathize).
It seems like youre really busy Im sure youre pretty stressed, as well.
Its clear that youre really busy, and I appreciate that its difficult for you right
now because (empathize with him/her).
3. Then, express your complaint.
I hate to add more pressure but (explain your problem / issue).
That said, I am upset because (explain your problem / issue).
With all due respect, (something) is a problem.
4. Tell them what you need, or what will make you happy.
Please consider
Would it be possible for you to ?
5. Apologize for any inconvenience and thank them for their time.
Given the circumstances, I really appreciate your time and energy.
I hope this doesnt cause you too much trouble, and that we can resolve this as
soon as possible.
6. Close your email with the phrases and tips from the previous page.

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