E4TG started a TOEFL Writing service in August 2014 because our TOEFL Speaking students were scoring lower than they expected. We found three basic problems.
Problem #1: Language errors (grammar, word-choice, and punctuation). Some of these are covered on the blog. Some mistakes are serious, some are not. The most important thing is that the meaning of your words is clear.
問題 1: 語法の間違い(文法、語彙の選択、句読点)。E4TGのブログでもいくつか紹介しています。得点に響く深刻な間違いもあれば、そうではないものもあります。最も重要な点は、使用している言葉の意味がはっきりしていることです。
Problem #2: Irrelevant content. ETS says not to use long introduction and conclusion paragraphs just to add length to your essay in the Official Guide to TOEFL iBT (4th edition, pages 207-208). But I have seen many introductions such as this:
問題 2: トピックと関係のない内容。 ETSはOfficial Guide to TOEFL iBT (4th edition, pages 207-208)の中で、エッセイに長さを出すためだけに、長い序論と結論を書かないように、と述べています。しかしながら、下記のような序論を数多く見てきました。
In discussion of friendship, a controversial issue is whether people can be friends with a person who has much more money than they have. Some people say that it is impossible, but others contend that how much money a person have does not affect on relationship with other people. If asked, both groups could present logical reasons to support each opinion. Considering my experiences, I disagree with the statement that two people, one of which has more money than the other, can be good friends.
Meaning: It’s difficult for me to be friends with people who have more or less money than I.
This writer is wasting time. He’s wasting his own time writing this, and he’s wasting the rater’s time reading it. Although the paragraph is long, it’s mostly irrelevant to the question.
Problem #3: Redundancy
Many people simply copy the first sentences of their body paragraphs and paste it in the conclusion. This copy & paste strategy that adds length to their essay without adding content. This is not good writing.↑a verb missing?
Another kind of redundancy is the following underlined sentence:
In addition, since people now are living in cities, they tend to be less friendly. For example, when I was a kid, I lived in a rural area. I knew almost all the families living in the area, so I had a lot of friends. Therefore, that environment made me outgoing and friendly. However, since I live in a city now, I have less friends, which makes me less friendly. As the example above demonstrates, people nowadays are less friendly than in the past since they tend to live in cities.
This is a wordy paragraph. It takes this writer 91 words to say:
Second, people who live in cities are usually less friendly than people who live in the countryside. I grew up in the countryside of Japan, where I knew most families and had many friends. It was a friendly environment. But now I live in Tokyo, which is a big city, and have fewer friends.
Regarding problems #2 and #3 above: I know there are schools and teachers who recommend that you use templates, copy & paste, and redundant sentences. If you are using those strategies and are happy with your results, keep it up! But if you suspect that those strategies are hurting your score, not helping it, consider switching strategies.
So what do you need to score 4-5.0 consistently?
- You need about 400 unique words with relevant content, more if your writing is redundant or if there is irrelevant content in your answer.
- You need a style of organization that the reader will recognize.
- You need at least one reason for your opinion, but you don’t need reasons in every paragraph. For some questions, it’s absolutely OK to have one reason and 2-3 examples.
- Your need concrete, specific, and precise content. Here’s an example:
- "I worked hard every day to complete my tasks," is abstract.
- "I worked until late at night to finish an M&A deal," is more concrete.
- "Last week I negotiated an M&A with my client, a large telecommunications company, and a small startup that makes smart phone apps," is very concrete.
- Your grammar, expressions, and punctuation don’t need to be perfect, but the meaning should always be clear. Even though some sentences may be grammatically correct, they may be unnatural (not idiomatic).
E4TG Writing Service
- We will give you 12 questions (8 independent and 4 integrated tasks) during four weeks. The essays have a due date, and the deadline is strict. You can send your essays earlier than the deadline, but not later.
- We have one Q&A (Question & Answer) class per month in which you can ask specific writing questions about your mistakes. Depending on the month, the Q&A class will be on a weekend afternoon or Thursday night.
- Fee: ￥21,600 （税込み
Contact Donald Miller if you are interested.