hello everyone this is michael from TOEFL resources calm and i am very happy to present my new video about how to write a TOEFL independent essay this is also known as the type ii TOEFL essay i’m glad to say that this video has been updated for 2018 in this video i’m going to get started by telling you about the different styles of questions you can expect to get in the independent essay section of the TOEFL then i will give you a sample TOEFL question and step by step I will show you how to answer that question I’ll walk you through how to write an introduction to your essay how to write to good body paragraphs and how to write a conclusion I’m going to give you very specific templates that you can follow when you write your essay all right with that out of the way let’s get started by talking about question Styles broadly speaking there are three main styles of questions you can get in the independent writing section now before I tell you the styles I want you to remember that no matter what style the question is you’re going to answer the essay in the exact same way so remember no matter what the question looks like you must use the templates that I’m going to give you in a moment don’t get too stressed if the question doesn’t look the same as you think it should look just follow the templates all right the first possible style is the agree/disagree style and it looks a little bit like do you agree or disagree with the following statement children should be required to follow strict rules set by their parents so the question begins by telling you what style it is do you agree or disagree with the following statement and then it gives you a statement easy right I hope so the next style is the multiple choice style goes a bit like this in your opinion which of the following strategies is the best way for a student to prepare for X sucessful career studying academic subjects taking a part-time job getting to know other students sometimes you might be given two choices sometimes you might be given four choices don’t worry the method for answering this is to pick one of the choices and to then support it by writing an essay using the templates I’m going to give you in a moment so don’t worry don’t worry about the other two choices don’t worry if there’s five choices don’t worry if there’s two choices just pick a choice and support it with a good essay using the templates I will give you in a moment finally there is the preference style question goes a bit like this some people feel that high school students should be required to do volunteer work in their free time others think that they should spend their free time studying and preparing for classes which do you think is better or it might say which do you prefer this is a lot like the multiple choice style just pick a side and support it you don’t really have to worry so much about the other side you just pick a side and support it finally at the end of every question style you’re gonna get something like use specific reasons and examples to support your answer let’s get started now on our practice essay today I’m going to show you how to answer this question do you agree or disagree with the following statement attending their classes should be optional for university students use specific andrea cific reasons and examples to support your answer so as you can see this is an agree disagree question I want you to notice how this question is about university life I can’t guarantee it but most of the independent essay questions are either about university life work life or generally about growing up that’s not a promise but do keep that in mind today we have a question about university life so how do we answer this question well we start with an introduction every essay should have an introduction if you’ve seen any of my videos you know I love templates a template is a structure you can use to organize your essay a template will work wonders as far as giving your essay structure and organization some teachers dislike templates they will tell you that the SA graders are given a package of templates from the Internet and that they should punish students for using those templates that is absolutely incorrect I base my statement on interviews and conversations with TOEFL essay graders actual graders who have been employed by ETS they are not given a list of templates from the internet they will not punish you for using the templates in this guide I can guarantee you that so the template for the introduction should look something like this sentence 1 is your hook this is an interesting sentence that introduces the general theme of the essay without mentioning your main argument sentence 2 is the main point here you state your main point your main thesis beginning with personally I believe that finally sentence 3 is your transition you must transition to the body of the essay with a line like I feel this way for two main reasons which I will explore in the following essay I actually recommend using this exact sentence I find that when students tried to come up with their own transition they often make mistakes here’s the template in use I begin with a hook note that I’ve color-coded the sentences so they match the template a little bit more easily my hook says schools have changed a lot over the past few decades and some of them are experimenting with new ideas about classroom attendance so I broadly introduced the theme of classroom attendance without yet stating my opinion the other thing I tried to do here is to use words that I’m not gonna use in the essay body for example I used the word decades I don’t think I’m gonna use the word decades in the essay body likewise I don’t think I’m going to use the word experimenting in the essay body the hook gives me an easy opportunity to introduce these new words and thus expand my range of vocabulary and accordingly this should increase my score a little bit that’s the great thing about the hook you have a chance an easy chance to use some new words next up is my main point personally I believe that it is still extremely important for students to be present for all of their classes that’s a very clear very clear statement of my opinion on the prompt finally is my transition I feel this way for two main reasons which I will explore in the following essay easy right that’s a nice three sentence introduction it follows my template as closely as humanly possible that’s what you should do on the test a few more tips before we move on to the body of the essay first of all don’t copy my hook use your imagination when introducing the general theme in last year’s video my hook began with a phrase that was easily copied I don’t like that for your hook come up with something fresh and unique that will make your grammar easier and it will make your vocabulary better secondly be clear as I said the main point should be very clear I need to know exactly what you think about the prompt don’t just say I agree with the statement period that’s really shitty don’t do that actually tell me what you think likewise don’t copy from the prompt avoid copying the statement word-for-word don’t say personally I agree with the statement that students should not be blah blah blah you need to actually paraphrase that prompt finally don’t mention your supporting reasons in the introduction this is a waste of time and it is also repetitive if you’ve list the reasons at the end of the introduction you’re probably gonna use the same vocabulary as in the body paragraphs so you’re not getting any vocabulary points and to be honest you’ve only got 30 minutes to write this essay and if you have to waste a couple minutes listing those reasons in the introduction it’s gonna take away from the rest of the essay don’t do it just follow the three sentence template I gave you a moment ago alright we’ve got the introduction out of the way now for writing to good body paragraphs I want to emphasize two not one not three not four to two body paragraphs in support of your main point as you could probably predict I have a template for body paragraphs as well goes like this first of all a topic sentence this is something that states your first reason in support of your main idea beginning with first of all next one or two explanatory sentences that give more information about your argument next a transitional sentence it’s gonna go like this my own experience is a compelling example of this you don’t have to change the transitional sentence you can use the exact same one from this template as I said you won’t be punished come up with your own if you like but you might make mistakes why not just use this one it’s perfect finally you’re giving me a supporting example this is an example from your life and three to six sentences which supports the topic sentence let’s put this one into a sample I wasn’t going to read this because I didn’t want the video to be thirty minutes long this year but I think it’s too late for that so I’m gonna read this very quickly and I’m gonna talk about the template as I do I begin with a topic sentence first of all attending classes gives students opportunities to develop useful skills by participating in discussions and debates this is one reason that supports the main idea of my essay then I explain that a little bit most University students are very opinion so they often engage in very lively discussions consequently by actually going to their classes students can develop public speaking skills and the ability to win people over and then my transition my own experience is a compelling example of this and then my example when I was a freshman I took an introductory political science seminar the professor began each session by distributing an article about a controversial social issue in addition one student was selected to argue in favor of their position on the issue and to respond to questions from the rest of the class after doing this for one year I became an extremely confident public speaker these days I work in a fast-paced corporate environment where I feel no anxiety when negotiating with new clients or when I have to convince them to accept a new contract if I had not attended the aforementioned class I would not be thriving in my current career as you can see I follow the template exactly as it was created now I don’t want to turn this into a grammar and vocabulary video but I did highlight a few techniques that I used to ensure that this would be a high scoring body paragraph first of all I used conjunctions I used so and I used where these conjunctions are used to create something called compound sentences if your essay has compound sentences it’s going to score better than if it doesn’t I’m gonna put a link in the video description to a page that explains the difference between a simple and a compound sentence keep in mind that if your body paragraphs have a nice mix of both simple and compound sentences your score will increase so keep that in mind as you’ve studied grammar before test today next up you can see that I highlighted the words consequently and in addition these are called transitional phrases or discourse phrases the use of such phrases will increase your score other such phrases are moreover therefore however again I will put a link in the video description to a page that includes a few more of these finally notice that I underlined seminar and session when I first wrote this body paragraph I noticed that I used the word class way too many times so later on I replaced it with seminar and then later on I replaced it with session now these do have slightly different meanings but for the purpose of this essay they work and most importantly they vary my vocabulary doing that will increase my score again I will put a link in the video description to my vocabulary guide for TOEFL essays it will talk more about the value of using a variety of words and it will talk a little bit about the value of using subject specific words which is a very advanced technique which I also accomplished here now a few general tips for body paragraphs before we move on to the second body paragraph of this say as I said use a mix of simple and compound sentences you got to learn what a conjunction is number to emphasize the example the example is the easiest part to write so go ahead and make it about 60% or more of each body paragraph make your job easy the example is so much easier to write than anything else in the essay next up avoid very short sentences and very long sentences don’t write less than seven words in a sentence and don’t write more than 60 words in a sentence now I love conjunctions but try to avoid starting your sentences with conjunctions that’s a little bit non academic in tone avoid repeating words too many times as I said finally please understand that you are mostly graded by a computer program this means that you know you need to be aware of vocabulary because the program is simply counting words you need to be aware that it is gonna get your grammar mistakes cuz it’s programmed to recognize them just keep that in mind as you move forward in your studies next up the second body paragraph the template is pretty much the same we start with a topic sentence begins with secondly one or two explanatory sentences a transitional phrase and a supporting example this time I’m not using a transitional sentence but I’m using a phrase for instance comma and then the example begins I think this just gives you a little bit more variety in your grammar I’m not going to read this one but I will show you again that the template is color coded I followed it and exactly as it was written to the left and I also used a few discourse phrases a few transitional phrases this time I used and as a result as a result is a fantastic transitional phrase you can use it in the middle of a sentence as I did or you can use at the beginning of a sentence I used however that’s another great one and in my opinion I like that one too I used but as a conjunction and then I didn’t want to repeat the word business so I used to the word firm I didn’t want to repeat the word classmate so I used the word peer I didn’t want to repeat the word employment so I used the word jobs so as you can see as I wrote this body paragraph I was really concerned about my structure I was really concerned about my vocabulary and I was really concerned about my use of these transitional phrases those are the sorts of things that you need to worry about when you write your essay a few more general tips of a body paragraphs before we move on to the conclusion please remember that the body is the most important part of the essay I recommend about 18 to 20 minutes writing it I also recommend that you save all of your practice essays looking back at those essays will help you become more familiar with the styles of questions more importantly looking back at your personal examples will make it easier to come up with similar examples if you get a similar question on the real test finally I want you to remember that spelling is important but don’t worry about it too much the penalty seems to be minor not only that but if the eraider can determine what your intended vocabulary was you will still get credit for the vocabulary even if you have spelled the word wrong all right moving on to the conclusion the conclusion I’m glad to say is the easiest part of the essay you’re starting with a template of course the first sentence in your conclusion should be in conclusion I strongly believe that and after that you repeat your main argument but use different words don’t copy and paste from above when you write your conclusion in fact the ctrl-c and ctrl-v keys are going to be disabled on your keyboard so you won’t even save time next sentence this is because reason 1 and reason to repeat your reasons by use different words paraphrase as best as you can in the conclusion here’s the model in conclusion I strongly believe it is very beneficial for students to attend all of their classes this is because it helps them to perfect their communication skills and because it gives them opportunities to connect with possible business partners when I paraphrase my reasons I also shortened them that’s a good general practice because the conclusion is not so important you don’t need to waste a lot of time writing a long paraphrase this one came out to 416 words in total I’m going to talk a little bit more about essay lengths at the very end of this video I just wanted to give you the word count there right away a few tips for conclusions as I said paraphrase yourself don’t copy and paste from above when you restate your ideas in the conclusion number two keep it simple no new ideas in the conclusion just follow the template third give me two sentences some people always write one sentence or three no two sentences follow the template finally don’t write this is because that I see this mistake every day from a different student I don’t know why but I see it I don’t want to see it anymore so I’m mentioning it here as a extra tip uh and now we’ve reached the end of the essay that’s it an introduction a body and a conclusion so I want to give you a few final thoughts first of all aim for about 380 to 400 words in total this essay was a little bit longer than that that’s okay it’s totally okay to write a long essay there is no penalty however I do find that really long essays are usually full of mistakes sometimes a student will give me a six hundred word essay because they think god it’s a good way to get a high score but in fact they’ve made so many mistakes because they were working so fast that their score in fact is just garbage you can write a little bit more than 400 if you need a really high score but honestly it’s not necessary meanwhile at the test center the software is going to recommend a length I need you to ignore the recommended length that the software gives you on the screen that’s just a suggestion and the ETS really ought to remove that from the software next up spend a minute or two planning at the beginning and proofreading at the end I’ve got another video in the channel about how to best use your time but I’m telling you just think about what you’re gonna write for a minute before you actually start typing and at the very end I hope you’ve got one or two minutes to look for mistakes and to maybe replace some repetitive vocabulary that will make a big difference finally avoid contractions avoid slang and avoid other non-academic language I don’t really think you should use idioms in this essay they’re not really academic and they’re pretty hard to use correctly you could use them in the speaking section but don’t put any of that stuff in the writing section okay that brings us to the end of the video I do want to remind you that for more of this kind of crap you can visit me at TOEFL resources com that’s my home page and there you can find a text version of this guide with templates that you can easily copy and paste into your own work you’ll also find some tips for the speaking section and you will be able to sign up to have your essay evaluated by me for a small fee I will check it line by line and I will tell you what you have done right and what you have done wrong and what you should do next time speaking of next time I hope you will come back in a few days for a video about the integrated essay all right I will see you then take care guys and bye bye