TOEFL Writing Section- Integrated Task Practice
Ready to get some practice working with Integrated Tasks on the TOEFL? Grab a pen and paper and get ready for a full-length practice task to help you prepare.
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Integrated writing tasks on the TOEFL ask you to read a passage, listen to a speaker, and then summarize both in writing. These tasks can be pretty tricky, and in another lesson, you got some general strategies for doing your best on them. In this lesson, you’ll work through a complete practice question, with a reading passage, a listening passage, and a writing prompt.
To complete this lesson, you will need:
A pen and paper - You’ll write the actual essay on a computer, but you’ll take notes on the passages on scrap paper.
A timer - You’ll need pause the video and time yourself while you write.
20 minutes without interruption - Go somewhere quiet, and make sure you’re ready to concentrate.
Ready to get started? First, you’ll read the reading passage. Then you’ll listen to a speaker talking about the same subject. Then you’ll have to write about both passages.
Reading and Listening
We’ll start off with the reading. You’ll only see this passage on the screen; you won’t hear it narrated. Pull out your pen and paper - you’ll be allowed to take notes on the passage as you read. You’ll have three minutes to read the passage. The passage will disappear as you listen to the speaker, but it will come back again when it’s time for you to actually write.
Today, most workers in the United States have a certain amount of money automatically withheld from their paycheck every month for taxes. This amount is calculated to represent everyone’s best estimate of what the worker will need to pay in taxes at the end of the year. Then when tax season arrives, the worker calculates how much she actually owes and compares it to the amount withheld. If she has accidentally underpaid, she pays the difference; if she has accidentally overpaid, she receives a refund.
This system is unfair. First, it deprives each worker of using or investing that tax money during the year. A worker who paid $15,000 in withholdings could have used that money to invest in a business or simply earn interest during the year.
Withholdings also do not save anyone any work, since everyone has to calculate the actual amount they owe anyway. The estimates are usually inaccurate and almost everyone ends up having to deal with a refund or an extra payment. Withholdings do not make tax paperwork any quicker or less painful.
For these reasons, a more rational system would be to do away with withholdings. Each individual would be responsible for saving up her own tax money, and she would have the freedom to invest it and earn interest on it during the year if she pleased.
That was the reading passage. Now you’ll listen to a person talking about that same subject. You’re allowed to take notes on the lecture as well.
Critics of tax withholdings point to lost potential for investing their extra money. They seem to assume that everyone in the United States, if granted immediate amnesty from tax withholdings, would immediately run out to their bank and make stable short-term investments, carefully look into startup opportunities, or otherwise use that money to make more money.
Experience, unfortunately, shows otherwise. Most people’s reaction to getting a paycheck is to spend it until it’s gone, and leave the future to take care of itself. A shockingly small number Americans have any retirement savings at all: most people simply will not save for future needs unless they are forced to. If taxes were not automatically withheld from paychecks, most people would spend that money when they received it and then be left scrambling to pay their taxes in April. Some would probably end up falling behind on rent or bills; others would take out loans at exorbitant interest rates. The financial crisis for the majority far outweighs any potential benefits for a few frustrated would-be investors.
Tax withholdings save individuals a lot of time, effort, and headaches by circumventing this process entirely. Admittedly, they do not eliminate the need to fill out tax forms, but which would you prefer: filling out your 1040 and getting a $200 refund or filling out your 1040 only to discover that you owed $16,000 you didn’t have? Withholdings reduce tax-season work by reducing the number of people scrambling to address a sudden financial crisis.
For these reasons, automatic withholdings do much more good than harm.
Time to Write
Now you’ve dealt with both the passages; it’s time to start writing. First, set your timer for 20 minutes and open a blank word processing document.
Now here’s your prompt:
Summarize the points in the lecture and explain how they respond to specific points in the reading passage.
On the actual TOEFL, you’ll have the reading passage for reference as you write, so it will be displayed again here.
Now start your timer, pause the video, and start writing. When you’re done, come back and press play.
Scoring Your Essay
All done? Congratulations; you’ve finished the practice question. Save the file with your response in it, and give yourself a few hours or a day to get some distance from it. Then read your essay again, checking for:
Completeness: did you address all the major points in the listening passage? Did you connect each major point to relevant information in the reading passage?
Organization: are your thoughts clearly organized into paragraphs? Does the essay have an introduction, body, and conclusion? Are there clear transitions between ideas?
Spelling and grammar: are there any spelling or grammar errors, especially errors that you made more than once?
These are the major points that TOEFL graders will be looking for as they read your essay on the real test.
In this lesson, you worked on a practice Integrated Writing Task for the TOEFL.
Integrated Tasks first give you a reading passage and then give you a listening passage on the same topic. Then you’ll have to summarize the main points of both in a written essay. The reading passage will be displayed again as you write.
The next step in developing your skills on these questions is to take the essay you just wrote in this lesson, and compare it to the TOEFL grading standards. Try to identify weaknesses to work on, and focus on those spots in the next practice questions you do.
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