Kinds of Essays
When you are writing a definition essay, you take a term or an idea and write about what it is. Often, definitions are combined with classification or other forms of organization in the essay. You need to give a careful definition of the key term before going on to discuss different types or examples.
In a classification essay, you separate things or ideas into specific categories and discuss each of them. You organize the essay by defining each classification and by giving examples of each type.
In a description essay, you write about what a person, place, or thing is like. You organize the essay by describing different parts or aspects of the main subject.
Compare and Contrast Essay
In a compare and contrast essay, you write about the similarities and differences between two or more people, places, or things. You can organize the essay by writing about one subject first and then comparing it with the second subject. A more effective way is to organize the essay by comparing each subject by category.
In a sequence essay, you are writing to describe a series of events or a process in some sort of order. Usually, this order is based on time. You organize the essay by writing about each step of the process in the order it occurred.
In a choice essay, you need to choose which object, idea, or action that you prefer. You organize the essay by describing each option and then giving your opinion.
In an explanation essay, you explain how or why something happens or has happened. You need to explain different causes and effects. You should organize the essay by explaining each individual cause or effect.
In an evaluation essay, you make judgments about people, ideas, and possible actions. You make your evaluation based on certain criteria that you develop. Organize the essay by discussing the criteria you used to make your judgment.
Welcome to this week’s installment of TOEFL Tuesday! Today, you’ll learn about all the different types of TOEFL exams, and you will discover who takes each test.
Did you miss last week’s video? Don’t worry. You can see it here.
There are four different tests which get the “TOEFL” label. Two of them are very unimportant. I’ll introduce those first just to move on to the important information quickly.
Don’t confuse this with the IBT! The ITP is not a test that you take for admission to graduate school or college, generally. If you are taking the GRE, GMAT, SAT, or another test for university admissions, and they require the TOEFL, the school does not want a TOEFL ITP score.
The ITP is a test given in classes by teachers who want to evaluate the skills of their students. It is not given at a special test center, and you (the student) don’t usually choose to take it. The teacher decides, and the scores are for the teacher to use. So you can basically forget about this test, unless you have a teacher/professor who wants you to take the TOEFL ITP.
“CBT” means “computer-based test.” This test is not used today, because it has been replaced by the IBT (internet-based test). If you have material for the CBT, they won’t be useful to prepare for the IBT. And if your target university lists required CBT scores, ignore them. This test doesn’t exist today.
This is the main form of the TOEFL, the internet-based test Around 97% of TOEFL takers go for the IBT. All of Magoosh TOEFL material is about the IBT—in fact, most resources you will find anywhere are about the IBT, because it has been the standard for almost ten years. (Have you seen our free Guide to the TOEFL iBT eBook yet?)
The IBT is made of four sections: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. All four sections are completed at a computer, with a microphone—test takers do not talk to anybody during the IBT nor complete any paper exercises. There is no grammar section (although grammar is important for speaking and writing), and no vocabulary section, unlike many other English tests.
The IBT is given anywhere that ETS (the company who makes the TOEFL) has a test center with internet access. If your country or area has internet access, then you will take the IBT. Very, very few people have the choice to take the PBT (below).
The paper-based test is for students who live in areas that don’t have an internet-based test center. It still exists, but soon ETS will completely replace it with the IBT.
If your area has the PBT, then it probably does not have the IBT.
Interestingly, the PBT is a very different test from the IBT. It does not have the same four sections. Instead, there is reading, grammar/writing, listening, and a separate essay. The reading and listening sections as similar to the IBT, but not the same. For example, the listening recordings are shorter on the PBT. Meanwhile, the PBT grammar section is completely unlike anything on the IBT. The scoring is also different. Whereas the IBT is scored from 0 to 120, the PBT is scored from 310 to 677 (I know it’s a strange maximum score!).
The Main Point
You will probably not have a choice in which TOEFL type you take. Almost all students take the IBT, which is most important and easiest to find information about and practice material for. A very small number of students take the PBT. If that includes you, then be sure to practice with PBT material, because the types of questions are quite different.
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