A change to the writing section of the TOEFL was announced, beginning in July 2023. This change to the TOEFL shows a clear shift in the college experience as technology has advanced. The second TOEFL writing prompt now asks for students to participate in an academic discussion.
The discussion is set up like a discussion board similar to what is used in many college classes today. There is an explanation of the task, as with all TOEFL questions. The discussion board shows a question from the professor and responses from other students. You have 10 minutes to express and support your opinion.
The goal of this task is to show that you can actively participate in an online class discussion and add to the conversation with your own unique ideas.
This task does not result in an essay. You should have a short response of about 100 words.
Because you only have 10 minutes to read the other posts on the discussion board and add your own contribution, you need to think quickly.
Your response should begin with a 1 sentence clear statement of your opinion (similar to a thesis statement). The following sentences should provide support for your opinion.
The other student response can be used as a guide for how to organize your ideas, but you should be careful to add unique thoughts to your post. You do not want to repeat what someone else has already said. You can acknowledge the thought with a statement such as I agree with James or My perspective is similar to Emily's post. However, your ideas and language should be clearly distinct from what others have said.
In the TOEFL rubric, it is stated that a response would receive a high score if it is clearly connected to the prompt and the ideas are communicated well.
Exercise 1: Rubric
Review the TOEFL rubric for the second writing task "Writing for an Academic Discussion." Then discuss the following questions with a partner:
- Why do you think the TOEFL has added this type of writing task?
- What similarities and differences are there between the expectations for writing task 1 and 2?
- What challenges do you expect with this type of writing?
Exercise 2: Integrated Writing Practice
You are taking an anthropology class at BYU. One of the unique aspects of a BYU education is that the university includes "spiritually strengthening" as one of it's aims. This means that concepts of faith and religion are often integrated into classroom discussions on a wide-range of topics. In your anthropology class, you have been discussing the concepts of race and racism. The professor has assigned two articles for you to read before writing your essay.
Read the passages.
American Anthropological Association: Statement on Race
Deseret News: "Root out Racism" (Optional video included)
Set a timer for 20 minutes. Write your response to the question below. Remember to leave time for revision.
- Explain the anthropological view on the concept of race and how racism came to be (1 paragraph). Then discuss these two concepts in terms of the religious perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1 paragraph). How does the guidance of the prophet connect to the statement on race from the AAA (1 paragraph)? Remember to include specific references to both of the readings in your response.
Exercise 3: Discussion Board Practice
Add to the discussion board conversation about racism in your Canvas course. Your teacher will provide the question and two example student responses. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Your addition to the discussion board should be about 100 words.