10 Great Essay Writing Tips

Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses. Impress your professors with your knowledge and skill by using these great essay writing tips.

Most college essays ask you to answer a question or synthesize information you learned in class. Review notes you have from lectures, read the recommended texts and make sure you understand the topic. You should refer to these sources in your essay.

Plan Your Essay

Many students see planning as a waste of time, but it actually saves you time. Take a few minutes to think about the topic and what you want to say about it. You can write an outline, draw a chart or use a graphic organizer to arrange your ideas. This gives you a chance to spot problems in your ideas before you spend time writing out the paragraphs.

Choose a Writing Method That Feels Comfortable

You might have to type your essay before turning it in, but that doesn’t mean you have to write it that way. Some people find it easy to write out their ideas by hand. Others prefer typing in a word processor where they can erase and rewrite as needed. Find the one that works best for you and stick with it.

View It as a Conversation

Writing is a form of communication, so think of your essay as a conversation between you and the reader. Think about your response to the source material and the topic. Decide what you want to tell the reader about the topic. Then, stay focused on your response as you write.

Provide the Context in the Introduction

If you look at an example of an essay introduction, you’ll see that the best essays give the reader a context. Think of how you introduce two people to each other. You share the details you think they will find most interesting. Do this in your essay by stating what it’s about and then telling readers what the issue is.

Explain What Needs to be Explained

Sometimes you have to explain concepts or define words to help the reader understand your viewpoint. You also have to explain the reasoning behind your ideas. For example, it’s not enough to write that your greatest achievement is running an ultra marathon. You might need to define ultra marathon and explain why finishing the race is such an accomplishment.

Answer All the Questions

After you finish writing the first draft of your essay, make sure you’ve answered all the questions you were supposed to answer. For example, essays in compare and contrast format should show the similarities and differences between ideas, objects or events. If you’re writing about a significant achievement, describe what you did and how it affected you.

Stay Focused as You Write

Writing requires concentration. Find a place where you have few distractions and give yourself time to write without interruptions. Don’t wait until the night before the essay is due to start working on it.

Read the Essay Aloud to Proofread

When you finish writing your essay, read it aloud. You can do this by yourself or ask someone to listen to you read it. You’ll notice places where the ideas don’t make sense, and your listener can give you feedback about your ideas.

Avoid Filling the Page with Words

A great essay does more than follow an essay layout. It has something to say. Sometimes students panic and write everything they know about a topic or summarize everything in the source material. Your job as a writer is to show why this information is important.

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Sample Essays for the TOEFL Writing Test

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Test Resources

TOEFL® Resources by Michael Goodine

Toefl writing questions (2023 edition) – sample essays and questions for the new toefl, about these toefl ® writing samples, sample toefl integrated essays.

On test day, you’ll first get a TOEFL Integrated Writing Question.  You will first read an article, then listen to a lecture, and finally write an essay combining information from both.

Complete Samples (with reading and lecture) and Responses!

  • Colonizing Asteroids  
  • Protecting Peregrine Falcons  
  • Paradox of Choice  
  • The Phoenicians  
  • Bronze Age Collapse (new) 
  • Quick Decline Syndrome (new) 
  • Living on the Moon (new)
  • Machu Picchu
  • Moai of Easter Island

Writing for an Academic Discussion Questions

Next, you’ll get a “Writing for an Academic Discussion” question.  This will ask you to answer a question that looks like it was posted to a university discussion group.  Each link below includes a complete sample question and two possible responses.

  • Targeted Advertising
  • Social Media
  • Grading Students
  • Taxing Unhealthy Products
  • University Spending
  • Economic Growth vs the Environment
  • City Spending
  • Corporate Impact
  • Work From Home
  • Online Classes
  • Smart Phones
  • Learning Styles
  • Influencers
  • Starting a Business
  • More Question from ETS

More Integrated Essays

These essays are all based on questions from famous books. I can’t give you the reading and listening, but you might like looking at their structure and organization.

  • Television Appearances by University Professors (casting doubt)
  • Portrait of an Elderly Woman in a White Bonnet (casting doubt)
  • Incan Fortress of Sacsayhuaman (casting doubt)
  • Iron Fertilization (solution and problem)
  • Humpback Whales (casting doubt)
  • Going to Mars (Problem and Solution)
  • The Usefulness of Coal (casting doubt)
  • Monarch Butterflies (casting doubt)
  • Large Animals (casting doubt)
  • Wheat and Beer (from Princeton Review)
  • Forest Fires (from Princeton Review)
  • Endotherms (from “Official Collection”)
  • Online Encyclopedias (from “Official Collection”)
  • Buying a Franchise (from “Official Collection”)
  • Great Houses (from “Official Collection”)
  • Smart Cars (from “Official Collection”)
  • Eco-Friendly Wood (from “TOEFL Quick Prep”)
  • The Chevalier (from “TOEFL Sample Test”)
  • Wave Farms (from “Hackers Actual Test”)
  • The Anasazi (from “Hackers Actual Test”)
  • Trans Lunar Phenomena (from “Hackers Actual Test”)
  • Four-day Workweek

TOEFL Writing Guides and Templates

  • Complete templates for each essay task .
  • A detailed master guide to the integrated essay task .
  • A detailed master guide to the independent essay task .

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Sample Essays for the Writing Section of the TOEFL® Test

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Sample Essays for the Writing Section of the TOEFL Test ( document.write(new Date().getFullYear()) )

Did you hear about the updated TOEFL iBT Writing section?

On July 26, 2023, ETS introduced a new TOEFL Writing question : Writing for an Academic Discussion.

That’s right. The Independent Writing question has been retired from the official TOEFL iBT test.

Before we get into the topics and sample essays for the new TOEFL Writing question, let’s start with the first task, which hasn’t changed, the Integrated Writing.

TOEFL Integrated Writing Topics

In the TOEFL Writing Section, there are two questions you must respond to. The first question is called the TOEFL Integrated Writing task. The second question is called the TOEFL Independent Writing task.

The list of 20 TOEFL Writing topics above is actually for question two, the independent writing task.

“Why did you start with question two?”

Well, it’s a simpler question. It provides one direct question and you have thirty minutes to write. That’s it.

But the TOEFL Integrated Writing question …

The integrated question presents a reading and listening passage, followed by a question, which is a bit more complicated.

Simple, right?

No? Still confused.

No worries. The best way to understand something better is through examples.

Let’s do one together.

This TOEFL integrated writing topic deals with the use of  Corn Ethanol .

Give yourself three minutes to read it:

The chemical compound, ethanol, has risen in recent years as the most viable alternative to fossil fuels. Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from crops, mainly from corn in the United States, which can power engines. There are many who argue that corn ethanol should replace fossil fuel gas as the primary source for running cars.

One major benefit of using corn ethanol is that it uses less energy than gasoline. Using less energy means that people can get better gas mileage while driving these more fuel-efficient cars. In the long-run, this will be cheaper for consumers because they can drive further than they do now with fossil-fueled cars. People will spend less money on gas because they won’t have to stop to fill up as frequently.

Another advantage of switching to corn ethanol is that it helps the American economy become less reliant on energy sources from other countries. Petroleum is not readily available in the U.S., so it must be imported from other countries. Depending on foreign relations with those countries, fuel becomes a political issue. Corn is a crop that America has in abundance. By using corn ethanol instead, the cost of gas will decrease because now the import taxes on fossil fuels are calculated into the price. This also means that we will be putting the money into our own economy, thus helping local corn farmers.

One of the most attractive aspects of corn ethanol is how environmentally friendly is when compared to current automobile gasoline. Fossil fuels release carbon that has been stored for years from the earth. Burning biofuels, like corn ethanol, is better for the environment because it releases less greenhouse gas emissions. Lessening the amount of carbon emissions will help prevent global warming and all of the other negative effects of climate change.

Once three minutes have ended, listen to a conversation about the same topic

Now, it’s time to write your TOEFL essay.

Stop reading.

Start writing.

Write your essay before you look at this TOEFL Writing sample. You will learn a lot more if you actually write the essay and then compare this to your own.

Here’s an expert TOEFL teacher’s sample essay to this particular TOEFL Writing topic.

The article introduces the topic of corn-based ethanol. More specifically, the writer discusses the advantages of switching from fossil fuels to this alternative energy source. The lecturer in the listening passage disagrees. He believes that the benefits the author mentions are misleading and attacks each of the claims made in the reading.

In the reading, the author begins by stating that drivers will get better gas mileage on corn ethanol than on fossil fuels, and therefore save money on gas. The speaker, however, disagrees. He states that the production of corn ethanol is very expensive. He says that in order to make for the costs to create and distribute this biofuel, the price of ethanol gas will increase.  Therefore, it will not be any cheaper for consumers in the long run.

The writer also claims that making the switch to corn ethanol will help the American economy because it will make the United States less dependent on foreign oil. Again, the lecturer believes there are flaws in the writer’s argument. He holds instead that mass use of corn-based ethanol will hurt the economy. He elaborates this by point out that the inevitable competition for corn by multiple consumers, including beef and dairy farmers, will drive the price of corn up.

Another reason why the author feels that moving from traditional gasoline to corn ethanol is a good idea is that they are more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels. The professor in the listening passage is doubtful that this is accurate. He suggests that as more farmlands are created to support the demands for more corn, more carbon will be absorbed by the land. This means that these emissions will still be released to negatively affect the environment.

As you can see the author and speaker hold very different views about the use of corn ethanol.

The author here clearly defined the main idea, organized the supporting points from both the reading and listening passage, and showed how they differ from each other. 

I know it may seem a bit difficult, which is why I recommend that you start off with a TOEFL Writing template for both the independent and integrated essays.

sample essay for toefl writing pdf

Looking for more example essays?

Download our TOEFL Writing 24+ Guide if you would like more sample essays. It includes extra tips, tricks, and strategies you will not find anywhere else. Download it for free here

Too complicated? Don’t worry.

I will share TOEFL writing templates for the Integrated Writing question, which will make your life a whole lot easier.

We have to talk about the Writing for an Academic Discussion question.

Writing for an Academic Discussion Question

You will have 10 minutes to complete the Writing for an Academic Discussion question .

For this task, you will participate in an online discussion. After you read the question and student responses, you will have to write a response that adds to the conversation.

Here’s the breakdown:

This question is straightforward, but let’s do a sample together.

When the question appears on the screen, take two minutes to scan the passage and the student’s opinions.

sample essay for toefl writing pdf

Start to write your response. Be sure to add to the discussion and avoid repeating the same points as the other students.

Aim to write at least 120 words.

sample essay for toefl writing pdf

Get peace of mind with these TOEFL Writing Templates

Now that you have a few TOEFL Writing topics and sample essays to study from, you may want to use a writing template to help guide your writing.

A TOEFL template is basically a pre-organized set of words and phrases that you can use in almost any TOEFL Writing response.

Here’s TST Prep’s template for the integrated TOEFL Writing question (question one) :

The article introduces the topic of (general topic). More specifically, the writer discusses (stance of the author on the topic). The lecturer in the listening passage disagrees. He believes that (stance of the professor on the topic) and attacks each of the claims made in the reading.

In the reading, the author begins by stating that (first point made to support stance). The lecturer, however, disagrees. He states that (first counterargument by the professor). He goes on to say that (additional detail about first counterargument).

The author also claims that ( second point made to support stance). Again, the lecturer believes there are flaws in the writer’s argument. The speaker holds that (two sentences about the professor’s second counter-argument).

Another reason why the author feels that (restate stance of author ) is that ( third point made to support stance). The professor in the listening passage is doubtful that this is accurate. He suggests that (two sentences about the professor’s third counter argument ).

To sum up, both the writer and professor hold conflicting views about (general topic). It’s clear that they will have trouble finding common ground on this issue.

And here’s our template for the independent TOEFL Writing for an Academic Discussion (question two) :

You will notice that the sample essays in this article differ from the templates.

You do not have to use templates, it’s up to you. Some people prefer to write in their own unique fashion for the entire exam. However, you will notice that the structure of the templates is similar to the TOEFL example essays.

These templates follow the exact organization and structure you are expected to use on test day, so don’t hesitate to use them in your writing.

Also, don’t forget to download the free 24+ TOEFL Writing Guide if you would like more example essays, templates, and exclusive tips to help you earn the best possible TOEFL Writing score on test day.

If you read this far, it means you are serious about your TOEFL studies. Don’t hesitate to send us an email and let us know how we can help you earn the TOEFL score of your dreams – [email protected]

Did we forget anything? Please comment and let us know how we can improve our TOEFL Writing advice (or if you want to just say hi that would be great too).

Other articles

Ten Awsome Tips for the Writing Section of the TOEFL Test

100 Free Questions for the Listening Section of the TOEFL Test

Check other articles on TOEFL



Hi Josh! For the academic writing, I only gave my reason for the topic, and I forgot to mention the opinion of the other student. I checked my word count. It is already past 100 words, and I do not want it to be too long. Do we really need to mention the other students’ opinion?


Hi Ireen. Great question! We often suggest mentioning one of the other students, but it is not required. As long as what you said was on topic, you “added to the discussion,” and gave specific reasons and examples, you should be okay with the 100 words you wrote.


Hello, I have a question about the independent writing: Is it a problem if I just give one reason in my essay (but detailed enough)? Thank you

Hi there and thank you for your question. There are no specific grading criteria that say you MUST give two reasons for your opinion, so, in theory, yes, you can just give one reason. I don’t think you will be marked down for it. If possible, try to give two though. It will make your word count higher.


Hello Josh, I was wondering if you have more integrated writing questions that we could do for practice, do you know where to find them?

Hi there and thank you for your question. If you search “TOEFL Writing Practice test” on Youtube you will find 2-3 TST Prep practice videos with an Integrated Writing practice question. I’m sure there will be tests from other providers as well.


Hey Josh, I have been following your YouTube channel for my TOEFL preparation, where I learned a lot. My question is that I got stuck between 15-17 scores in the reading section and could not figure out what I would do to enhance my scores. Any suggestions?

Hi there Ashina, and thank you for your question.

It is, indeed, a difficult question to answer. Here are two pieces of advice on how to practice at home and how to improve time management:


I am going to breakdown the process you should go through when you do a TOEFL Reading passage:

1. Copy the test conditions (set a timer to complete the passage and all the questions in 18 minutes)

2. Check your answers

3. Identify the reason you got a specific question wrong (or didn’t understand why you were correct) and write down what you can do to avoid the same mistake next time. Step #3 is the most important and the one often overlooked because most test-takers are pretty tired after reading and answering questions. This will help you notice patterns in incorrect choices and apply what you have learned later.

4. (Optional) Do the same passage again two weeks later. (You will remember much of what you did before, but it should help remind you of what you have learned)


My advice is pretty simple here, practice with LESS TIME. If it is not too stressful, try to complete a passage and all of the questions in 16 minutes (instead of 18). This usually does the trick for most students over time.

I hope you find some of this helpful. Good luck, and let me know if you need anything.


Hey Josh, in the Reading section the last question holds two marks where we are asked to pick three choices. I have always have a hard time getting the perfect score here. any suggestions, please…

Hi Kiba, this is a popular complaint. I posted a video about summary questions here. You might find it helpful.


Hey Josh, I have a question. If the question is saying a good essay is between 200 and 300, and I wrote more than 300, is this okay? Or should I make it only as maximum as they are saying?

Hi Joud and great question. Definitely write MORE. There is a direct correlation between test scores and word count, so the more you write the better. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should write as much as possible as fast as possible, but anything between 350-450 words would be great.


Hey Josh, I think I do well in my writing section, but my score doesn’t improve. Is there anything that I can do to know my mistakes from the ETS?

Hi Aziz, good question, and unfortunately, no, they do not release that information. The best you can do is work with an experienced teacher who can point out your weaknesses and work on them at home before test day.

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sample essay for toefl writing pdf

Duolingo English Test® vs. the TOEFL iBT®

Your dream is to study abroad, but the entire process is a massive headache. You have to fill out applications, research visa requirements, and prepare for exams.

One common requirement is an English language proficiency exam. You have probably heard about the TOEFL iBT® before, but there is a chance you might be able to take a new test: the Duolingo English Test®

TST Prep

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  1. Free Sample TOEFL Essay

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  2. 185 toefl writing twe) topics and model essays pdf wiziq

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  3. Question 1 writing toefl essay: Analysis

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  4. Toefl writing essays examples in 2021

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  5. TOEFL Essay 011_020

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  6. 004 Essay Example Tofel Toefl Writing Tips ~ Thatsnotus

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  1. TOEFL Writing practice test 15 with answers, New version (2023)

  2. TOEFL Writing practice test 12 with answers, New version (2023)

  3. TOEFL Writing practice test 8 with answers, New version (2023)

  4. TOEFL Independent Writing

  5. TOEFL Writing Question 1: Sample w/Answer!



  1. 10 Great Essay Writing Tips

    Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses.

  2. Ace Your TOEFL Exam: How to Use Sample Tests with Answers Effectively

    Are you preparing for the TOEFL exam and looking for an effective study strategy? One of the most valuable resources available to help you succeed is a TOEFL sample test with answers.

  3. A Comprehensive Overview of APA Formatting Guidelines for Sample Essays

    When it comes to academic writing, understanding the proper formatting guidelines is crucial. One widely used style in the field of social sciences is the American Psychological Association (APA) format.

  4. An Essay Collection For TOEFL

    faster way to complete a task in hand like typing a resume or an essay instead of

  5. Sample Essays for the TOEFL® Writing Test (TWE®)

    This Book contains 230 sample TOEFL essays of 6.0 score. Each essay was written on one of the topics from the ETS official list. The Book covers 100% of these

  6. Sample Essays for the TOEFL Writing Test

    Sample Essays for the TOEFL Writing Test. by Analiz Yorum. See Full PDF

  7. Sample Essays and Questions for the New TOEFL

    About these TOEFL® Writing Samples Sample TOEFL Integrated Essays On test day, you'll first get a TOEFL Integrated Writing Question.

  8. Sample Essays for the Writing Section of the TOEFL® Test

    Updated and expanded TOEFL Writing topics and sample essays that will reduce confusion and build confidence. Downloadable PDF included.

  9. TOEFL iBT® Writing Practice Questions

    Writing Practice Set 4: (Academic Discussion) -- Sample Responses. Response A

  10. Ace the TOEFL Essay (TWE)

    for essay writing; each pattern (except the first) with its own sample essay, highlighted for speedy reference, points out the cues to look for in essay.


    Use reasons and specific examples to explain your answer. Page 3. TWE Essays. 3/292. 3. 172 When students move to

  12. TOEFL iBT® Writing Practice Questions

    Try to cover the topic as well as you can within your abilities. Development of your essay is judged by the amount and kinds of support (reasons, examples


    Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer. 2/384. TWE Essays. 03-1-9 www.ztcprep.com

  14. TOEFL® iBT Writing Sample Responses

    Typically, an effective essay will contain a minimum of 300 words. They