The writing section is the final section of the TOEFL test. It has 2 different question types, and you get one question from each question type in your test. You only get 20 minutes for question 1 and 30 minutes for question 2, so it can be difficult at first to come up with a high-scoring essay within such a short time. To help you with that, here are the structure templates that can help you write a high-scoring TOEFL Integrated essay.

This blog post is a part of a series where I post templates for all TOEFL Speaking and Writing questions. As a part of this series, I will introduce you to structure templates for 4 speaking and 2 writing tasks, along with model answers written based on those templates.

This is the second post: How to write a TOEFL integrated essay.

I will include the reading passage and the lecture script just so you have an idea of what the topic is about when I am explaining the structure using the model essay.

TOEFL Writing Integrated Reading Passage

Despite the worldly fame of William Shakespeare’s literary works, little is known about his life. Most of the facts we know are simply theories and rumors. The lack of specific records created many doubts about Shakespeare’s existence. Some have been arguing that there were other people who actually wrote the works under Shakespeare’s name.

The first candidate is Francis Bacon, who was a famous scientist, theorist, and philosopher in the 16th century. This theory gained support because of the legal references indicated in Shakespeare’s plays and poems. For example, some of Shakespeare’s poems such as “Venus and Adonis” and “The Rape of Lucrece” imply legal ideas that Francis Bacon was known to support.

The second candidate is Christopher Marlowe, who was a playwright and poet that lived in the same period as Shakespeare. Marlowe’s death is thought to be linked to the birth of the Shakespeare name. Some people believe that his death was faked to allow him to escape religious trials. He is then thought to have used the name of William Shakespeare to continue writing.

The third candidate is Edward de Vere, an English nobleman who worked as a courtier in the 16th century. Back then, the writings of the authors that were from the noble class were restricted to a private audience. Edward de Vere was also one of those authors. Since he wasn’t able to take credit for his writing publically, many claim that Edward de Vere used a false name, William Shakespeare, to reach a broader audience. This enabled him to receive the spotlight and create famous masterpieces.


Although there is no clear historical evidence that proves William Shakespeare’s existence, the theories in the reading about the identity behind the Shakespeare name are full of errors.
First of all, even though Francis Bacon and Shakespeare shared similar legal ideas, Francis Bacon’s academic background contradicts some of the scientific ideas in Shakespeare’s works. For instance, certain parts in Shakespeare’s canon and plays show a misunderstanding of the mainstream scientific beliefs of the time that Francis Bacon would not have had. Especially about astronomy beliefs, we can know that the ideas of these two figures don’t match.

Next, Christopher Marlowe’s death has nothing to do with Shakespeare. All the plays Marlowe wrote were published under his own name after his death in 1593, which was very unlikely to happen for a person who was regarded as a religious criminal. Meanwhile, 37 other plays and 154 sonnets were published under the name of William Shakespeare. This theory doesn’t make sense because there was no reason for Marlowe to use a different name.

And lastly, Edward de Vere couldn’t have used the name of Shakespeare because he died before the time some of Shakespeare’s works were newly published. Evidence clearly shows that many of Shakespeare’s plays and poems such as Macbeth, King Lear, and Tempest were written and revised in 1621, which is long after Edward de Vere died in 1604. Even if someone else had given the works to the publishers instead, revising them would have been quite impossible because no one would know what kind of stories Shakespeare wanted to publish.

Model Answer:

Both the reading passage and the lecture discuss three theories regarding the real identity of William Shakespeare. The reading passage mentions three people who could have used the name William Shakespeare as an alias, while the lecture contradicts the reading passage on all three points.

First, the reading passage talks about the possibility of Francis Bacon being the person behind the name of Shakespeare. This theory is based on the idea that the legal references that appear in Shakespeare’s works are also known to be supported by Bacon. However, the lecture refutes this claim by stating that although the two people shared the same legal ideas, Shakespeare’s works also included scientific ideas that would not be supported by Bacon. Bacon’s academic background would contradict such ideas. Since Shakespeare’s works did not follow the mainstream scientific beliefs, his ideas on astronomy significantly differed from Bacon’s.

Second, the reading passage suggests Christopher Marlowe as the second candidate. According to the passage, Marlowe faked his death to escape from religious trials and used the name of Shakespeare to publish his work. The lecture refutes this by asserting that Marlowe’s death had nothing to do with Shakespeare. Since some of Marlowe’s works were published under his own name after his death, it does not make sense for Marlow to also use a different name.

The final theory in the reading is about Edward de Vere, an English nobleman who might have used the name of Shakespeare to receive credit publically. The lecture opposes this theory as well by stating that de Vere could not have used the name of Shakespeare since he died before some of Shakespeare’s works were revised and published. Even if someone else had given the works to a publisher, there is no way that the publisher would have known how to revise the work.

In conclusion, while the reading passage introduces three different candidates who might have used the name of William Shakespeare, the lecture refutes all of the theories.

Before moving on to individual paragraphs, you should be aware of the general structure of TOEFL integrated essays. Your essay should include an introduction, 3 body paragraphs(one for each point), and a conclusion(optional). Since you need to show that you understood the connection between the reading passage and the lecture, each body paragraph should include one point from the reading and the related point from the lecture.

Now let’s take a look at how each paragraph is structured, starting with the introduction paragraph.

Main Topic: In this part, you explain the topic that is being discussed in both the reading passage and the lecture. This shows that you understood what the reading passage and the lecture were talking about.

Link between the reading passage and the lecture: This is where you explain the connection between the two sources. Most of the time, the lecture goes against whatever the reading says, so keep that in mind.

Moving on to the body paragraphs:

Transition Word: Make sure you start your body paragraphs with appropriate transition words. This makes your essay look coherent and easy to read. You can also include transitions between your explanation of the reading passage and the lecture.

Reading Passage: This part is where you paraphrase the information you got from the reading passage. Make sure you do not copy the sentences word by word from the reading passage. You should always rephrase the sentences in your own words because copying them will lead to point deductions.
Also, notice how in all 3 body paragraphs, the explanation of the reading passage is 2 sentences or less? Some students tend to include a lot of details from the reading passage because they can always read the passage while writing the essay. However, your explanation of the lecture should be longer and more detailed than your explanation of the reading passage. This means you should not waste your time trying to explain ALL the details mentioned in the reading passage. Use the passage as a guide to help you organize the key points in case you miss anything while trying to take notes for the lecture part.

Lecture: This is the most important part of your body paragraph. In order to get this part right, you need to have solid note-taking skills. So assuming you have taken good notes, the lecture part should be fairly easy to write. Just connect the information that you noted down to the information you got from the reading passage. Make sure you include appropriate details to support the key points mentioned in the lecture. And always keep in mind that you should try to include more information about the lecture than the passage.

Here is an example of a note-taking table that you can use to match key points from the two sources.

Last is the conclusion paragraph:

In conclusion, while the reading passage introduces three different candidates who might have used the name of William Shakespeare, the lecture refutes all of the theories.

In TOEFL integrated essays, the conclusion paragraph is totally optional. If you have enough time left, go ahead, but if you do not have enough time, focus on the body paragraphs and skip the conclusion. If you do write one, your conclusion should restate the information in the introduction paragraph. Here, the author rephrases the “Link between the reading passage and the lecture” part.

The final structure of your integrated essay should look like this:

This concludes today’s post. Please look forward to upcoming posts on the speaking section!


➡️ Practice with TestGlider Mock Tests