All things TOEFL iBT

Useful Writing files

Do you know what some of the most common mistakes in writing are? Take a look at this file:


And while you’re at it, look at some errors in a composition done by a student:


What type of errors do you usually make in writing? How do you think you can stop making them?

Comments on: "Useful Writing files" (7)

  1. Lahna Barbosa said:

    The errors that I usually make in the writing part of the Toefl Ibt test are grammar, common vocabulary and the typing hability that its require.
    The first error, the grammar, is a consequence of the similarities and contrats that english and portuguese have. Because of this, I still get confused about it. A way to improve my writing skill is read english every day and get used to its specificities.
    About the common vocabulary error, I would say that can be improved by reading diferents texts about all subjects I can found. Therefore, I can get a broad vocabulary and increase my range of words.
    And the typing hability I could improve by doing exercises about the writing part on the computer, so that I can get used to the operation os the keyboard.

  2. 18:14
    The type of error I usually make when I am writing are related to my native language. I understand that english has a different structure from portuguese. English tend to be a more active language and passive voice is not very used.

    Other problem is to use the english language and think in portuguese. It is impossible to someone to use properly a language if the strategy is real time translation. When I lived in New Zealand, I could think in English but most of time I didn’t need to write. This happened 3 years ago and now I am studying English again I see that I translate a lot to write. This long time means also practicing loss.

    I reckon that I make all kinds of mistake when I am writing. I try all the time to don’t use the passive voice but sometimes I make this mistake. The prepositions are very hard to me and many times I don’t know which one I am supposed to use: in, on, at, from, to, by. I often change the order of the words. Not rarely I misspell words.

    In my opinion the only way to improve my writing skills is practicing. Writing essays and texts many times will help to memorize which structures are right and which are wrong. The constant writing practice are also good for my other problems: prepositions, order of the words and misspell words.

    I think the writing practice is different than listening, reading or speaking. Practicing these last ones can help. Although I understand that to improve someone writing skills the only way is to write, and write, and write.

    • Okay Henrique,
      The most important thing is being more aware of your errors and making more conscious effort to get them right. Read and observe how the language is being used.

  3. Good writing comes with practicing. Some mistakes and even more common than others, as the previous lecture showed. My personal mistakes are directly connected with a sentence structure, like how to use comma and even verb forms.
    The comma can be difficult to use in every language because it is hidden when we talk. When there is comma in a sentence during a conversation, it is marked as a pause between words to complete the meaning on a speech. Imagine if there is no comma, people would need to write “pause” in everything they write.
    About verbs forms, my personal problem with it is when one should use Past Tense or Past Perfect and also Future Tense or Future Perfect. Some languages have a much more difficult grammar than others. Italian grammar, for instance, has five varitations of Past and they use them all.
    At the end of the day, people advise me to stop worrying and trust my own instinct by considering what looks better in the sentence than actually analyzing every single element to build my composition. As it was said before, practicing is the answer to develop a better writing and that thought works in every other skill one would like to perform.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: