Integrated Writing (Summary)

Integrated writing (especially on the TOEFL writing task 1) is all about comparison and summarizing. You are taking what you learn from different places and bringing it all together. Your explanation of the reading and listening will be much shorter and will only have the most important and relevant information.

Important & Relevant

When you are summarizing the information from the sources, you must first decide what information is most important for understanding the topic. This means you need to think about the purpose you have for writing.

The information you choose needs to be directly connected to the prompt. The information should clearly support your ideas and make sense in the organization of your writing. Do not include something in your summary that is just interesting but not important and relevant.

 TOEFL IntegratedClass Integrated
AudienceThe TOEFL raters want to see that you can explain each source as much as possible in the time limit. The listening is more important than the reading. Does your reader need more information to understand your topic? What can you expect your reader to understand without you including it directly?
Your WritingYou cannot include any additional information from your background knowledge on the topic. Your thesis and topic sentences will help you know if general or specific information is needed.
ContentThere is always the same structure. There is a main idea. There are three major details in each source. The details either agree or disagree.You need to decide if a very specific piece of knowledge (like a percentage or place name) is important to support your own ideas.

Writing the Summary

When you write your summary, make a list of the ideas that were most important and relevant. Making that short bullet list helps you to see the information in the most basic form.

In the TOEFL writing task 1, you should always present the information in the same order that you see and hear it the original sources. The structure follows the point-by-point comparision format not the block style.

In other integrated writing, you need to think about where the summary goes in a paragraph and why you want to include it. The summary should transition easily from your own sentences. This is easiest if the first point from the summary matches the last idea in the sentence immediately before.

  • ex. If my sentence before the summary is "One reason some languages are not used now is international business." Then your summary should begin with the idea of international business as a cause.

The purpose of the summary should be clear. What is the purpose of including that summary? What reason, detail, example, description, etc does it support? 

  • ex. If my sentence is "A balanced diet is more important for good health than exercise," my summary should use information from a source that supports the phrase more important. So, if my source explains that diet has more health benefits than exercise, this would be a good point to use in my summary.


Exercise 1: Review

Practice explaining the connection between writing a summary and integrated writing. If possible, share an example with the class.

Exercise 2: Integrated Writing Practice

Watch the video and take notes on the main idea and any major details. Then click on the article and read that source. You will then use your notes to answer the prompt. You will have 30 minutes to write your response. You should have at least 300 words in your answer.

Prompt: Describe the characteristics of a good listener using the points from the video. What benefits do the video and article explain result from really listening? Use at least one specific example from the reading to illustrate this concept.

Article: How Stuff Works: Continents (Read the introduction and the continents FAQs. You do not need to read the What makes a continent a continent section.)

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