TOEFL writing

The TOEFL writing section is the last part of the TOEFL iBT test and the third part of the TOEFL Essentials test. On the TOEFL iBT, it lasts 50 minutes and is made up of two writing prompts. You will be given a pre-determined amount of time for each writing task: 20 minutes for the first task and 30 minutes for the second. On the TOEFL Essentials test, the writing section is made up of 15 to 19 sentences that you must build from the provided words, and then 2 writing tasks. It takes 24 to 30 minutes to complete the writing section of TOEFL Essentials.

Your written answers must be typed on a QWERTY keyboard, so it’s important to be able to type quickly and accurately.

Question types

The first writing task on the TOEFL iBT is so-called “integrated”, which means that you will have to read or listen to a text or more than one text or lecture and write an essay response in relation to what you have read or heard. You are allowed to take notes as you are reading and listening. An effective response to the first TOEFL writing task is generally 150 to 225 words.

The second TOEFL iBT writing task is an opinion essay. You will be given a short statement and asked to say whether you agree or disagree with it, supporting your argument with examples. Your essay will be scored on development, organization, coherence, and detail in addition to English usage and accuracy. A good response will usually be at least 300 words.

The TOEFL Essentials writing section has a collection of tasks which are sentence builders. You are given some words to drag and drop in order to make a grammatically correct sentence. You will then have 2 writing tasks to complete. These can be of three different types: describing a photo, writing an e-mail, or posting on a university forum.


The TOEFL writing section is scored by ETS examiners centrally, not at each test location. It is also scored by computer for grammar, spelling, range of vocabulary, etc. Each of the two writing tasks on the iBT is scored between 0 and 5, then the combined score is adjusted to a 0 to 30 scale overall. A TOEFL writing score of 24 or higher is considered a good score. On the Essentials, your writing score will be between 0 and 12, and a good score is 9 or above.