Integrated Writing (TOEFL Task 1)

In the first integrated writing practice, you learned that integrated writing is a common task at the college level. Because incorporating ideas from outside sources through summary and synthesis is so important, it is a task included on the TOEFL. This section of the integrated writing practice focuses on the unique differences between a normal integrated writing task and the very controlled version you will encounter on the TOEFL.

It is important to first note that the TOEFL integrated writing task is not a true essay as you have likely learned to create. There is no introduction. There is no conclusion. There is no room for your own personal reactions and opinions on the topic. You do not write a thesis statement. You don't need 5 paragraphs with 5 sentences each. 

The TOEFL integrated writing structure is very prescribed, and the content is provided directly. The integrated writing task requires you to summarize and compare academic information.

Task format

You will have three minutes to read a passage about an academic topic. You should take notes about the main points that the author makes, but you do not need to write a lot because you will be able to see the reading again when it is time to write.

Then you will listen to a piece of an academic lecture that addresses the same topic that you read about. The professor that is speaking may have the same opinion as the author of the article you read, but the professor often has an opposing point of view. You need to take good notes during the listening. You can only listen one time. Make sure you listen for the main points you found in the reading.

You will have 20 minutes to write your response to the question.

Read the question carefully and address all the parts of the question. For example, in this example question, the primary task is to summarize the points made in the lecture. Then you should explain how they relate to points in the reading. Always answer both parts of the question.

Example: TOEFL Writing Prompt 1

The TOEFL Writing Task 1 will always ask you to summarize the lecture and compare it to the reading passage.

Prompt: Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they challenge specific arguments made in the reading passage.

Response format

Your answer will not look like a traditional essay because this task is not an essay. This task is a summary. In order to summarize the information they give you, you will typically need four paragraphs. The first paragraph will state the relationship between the reading and the listening (e.g., do they agree about the topic, or do they disagree?). The other three paragraphs will each focus on a specific point that was addressed in both the reading and the listening. You do not need a conclusion paragraph. An effective response will have approximately 200 words.

Be careful in your response to not summarize both the reading and the lecture. You should typically focus on summarizing the lecture. You should not copy from the reading passage word-for-word.

Paragraph 1: Introduction

A brief introduction with a comparison thesis statement. There is probably no hook. The background information is more of a summary of the listening and reading passages. 

Paragraph 2:  Point #1 A summary of the listening and reading passages. You may want to use a comparative/contrastive cohesive device to transition from summarizing one source to the next source. 
Paragraph 3: Point #2A summary of the listening and reading passages. You may want to use a comparative/contrastive cohesive device to transition from summarizing one source to the next source. 
Paragraph 4: Point #3A summary of the listening and reading passages. You may want to use a comparative/contrastive cohesive device to transition from summarizing one source to the next source.

*Because this is a summary, DO NOT include your own opinion or any outside information. This integrated writing task is not an opinion essay. The independent writing task is the opinion essay. 

Strategy

Many students find it helpful to organize their notes with a “T-Chart.” On one side of the T chart, write down the main points from the reading. On the other side of the T-Chart, write down the corresponding points found in the listening. Even though the reading passage reappears on your screen while you write, taking notes on the reading is important. If you can quickly refer to your notes instead of spending longer periods of time rereading the passage during the writing time, you will be able to spend more time writing.

It can also help you focus during the listening and give you something to listen for. Make sure you listen for the main points you found in the reading. The listening passage will probably address the same three points found in the paragraphs of the reading. They may even be in the same order. Take notes on the main ideas and key details. You do not need to write full sentences; phrases or words could be enough. 

This is a sample T-Chart that could be used to show the points made in the example task. 

Reading Passage 

Lecture 

1.  

2. 

3.  

1.  

2. 

3. 

Scoring

In order to receive a high score on this section, you need to answer the question by writing about the important points from the reading and listening in a clear and accurate way.

The sample task on the following pages contains a reading passage, a lecture transcript, and a response that would receive high marks.

Integrated Writing Tips

Because students take the TOEFL at various points in the semester, here is a list of strategies that are discussed at other points in this textbook. All of these strategies are things to keep in mind as you prepare. You may want to skim through the textbook ahead of the class schedule to learn more about these points in more detail.

Exercises

Exercise 1: TOEFL Writing Task 1

  1. Read the passage.
  2. Listen to the lecture. 
  3. Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they challenge specific arguments made in the reading passage.

Teachers have access to the "Illegal Immigration" Integrated Writing files on the ELC Curriculum Portfolio.