Five types of TOEFL Independent Essay..


five types of toefl essays

Now I know this site is called IELTS9PRO, however, as I wrote in my about me page, I coach many different exams as well as IELTS, one of which is TOEFL. So, this post is in response to a student question in my Telegram channel (IELTS Exam Preparation) which you can join if you have Telegram..(the link is here, just click). The question was asking about the difference between IELTS essays and TOEFL essays, specifically the TOEFL Independent essay. As you may know in TOEFL, you have two essay tasks, the first is an integrated essay where you listen to something, read something, then amalgamate the two pieces of information (that’s a little simplistic but I will write more about that task at a later date). The second, which we will look at today, is the independent essay. Now this is similar to the IELTS task 2 essay in some ways, they both have five different question types more or less, but the IELTS essay is more analytical, more academic if you will, whereas the TOEFL is a little more abstract. That being said, the general approach to writing the essay is, again, more or less the same (more on this later).

So, let’s have a look at the five types for the TOEFL with an example. This is to help you become accustomed to the differences, so you can prepare better for your exam.

In no particular order:

  • agree or disagree
  • preference
  • if/imaginary
  • description/explanation
  • comparison and contrast

So for the agree/disagree, a typical question might look like this

“Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? It is better to use printed material such as books and articles to do research than it is to use the internet. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.”

For preference

“Some people like to travel with a companion. Other people prefer to travel alone. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice ”

If essay type

“If you could change one important thing about your hometown, what would you change? Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.”

Describe/explain essay type

“How do movies or television influence people’s behavior? Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

Compare and contrast type question

“Some students prefer classes with open discussions between the professor and students and almost no lectures. Other students prefer classes with lectures and almost no discussions. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.”

So there you are, you can see the five types of essay, to make a point about structure, the first four types use or you can use the same structure, whereas the last question type has a slightly different approach. Let me show you what I mean.

For the first four qs, you can use something like this

  1. Introduction
  2. Reason 1
  3. Reason 2
  4. Reason 3
  5. Conclusion

Because the questions there ask you to take a position/answer a question, all you need to do is state your position/answer the question and gives reasons why you take that position (and examples).

Whereas, for the last question type, you are specifically asked to compare and contrast two different views/positions before stating your own view. The structure for that might look like this

  1. Introduction
  2. Advantages and disadvantages of position A
  3. Advantages and disadvantages of position B
  4. Your view
  5. Conclusion

As you can see, this last question asks you to take a more balanced and objective approach than the previous qs.

That’s enough for now, I will post essay examples for these qs in a later post, so if you have any qs, you can write to me at…see you next time!…