According to the official TOEFL iBT Integrated Writing Rubric, you get a top score on the integrated essay if your response “…successfully selects the important information from the lecture and coherently and accurately presents this information in relation to the relevant information presented in the reading.”
It’s a challenging task, as you have only 20 minutes to combine the details from the lecture with the details from the reading. Timing is crucial, and if you spend too long on the first paragraph, you’ll most likely run out of time and submit an incomplete essay.
Our teacher Jane Birkenhead shares her quick tip on how to stay focused throughout the essay. Use this trick and next time you’ll complete your integrated essay on time and feel much more confident about the integrated writing. This way, you’ll be able to pay more attention to strong vocabulary, grammar and accurate content presentation.
My student’s problem was that she was really worried about running out of time in the integrated essay. She’s been writing essays for weeks and she’s got so good at them but she knew that she had only twenty minutes to write about a lot of things, so it was a big concern. In the integrated essay, it’s important to be very focused on the structure of your writing. You have to make sure you combine the details from the lecture with the details from the text. You know that you have to write an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion. So, focus on that as soon as you start writing. This is the tip that I gave to my student:
When you first look at the screen where you’re going to type your essay, put numbers or letters at the start of each line to show which paragraph you’re going to write there. It’s a bit like this:
This shows you what you’ve got to do and it keeps you focused on moving through the essay. You less tend to spend ages on paragraph one and run out of time when you could see what else you still have to do. Actually, seeing a structure visually makes a big difference. Of course, you should delete any of those marks when you finish writing, but you could make that part of your editing process. My student tried this trick and it helped her to write integrated essays more quickly and, importantly, it helped her to feel much more confident about the integrated writing.