Integrated Writing (Summary)

The purpose of most integrated writing (especially on the TOEFL writing task 1) is to compare and summarize. You are writing what you learn from different places and connecting the ideas. Your explanation of the reading and listening will be much shorter than the original.  You 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 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.

  • Important: A main idea or major detail from the source. This is something the author/speaker expects you to remember and understand.
  • Relevant: It is connected to the prompt. Sometimes you will find information in the source that is interesting to you, but not important to the prompt. Focus your details.
 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 list helps you to see the information simply.

In the TOEFL writing task 1, you should present the information in the same order that you see and hear it the original sources. You will compare each point in a paragraph.

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 connects to the last idea in the sentence immediately before.

  • ex. If my sentence before the summary is "One reason some Halloween and Día de los Muertos are different is their origins." Then your summary should begin with the idea of origins.

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 "Reading the books is better than watching a movie version of the book," my summary should use information from a source that supports the idea of better. So, if my source explains that the books have more details and stronger characters than in movie versions, 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 think about the "precept" the teacher shares with the students. Then click on the link and read. You will have 20 minutes to write your answer to the question below. You should have at least 100 words in your answer.

Prompt: Kindness is something we all want children to develop. Why is learning kindess important when you are young? How does kindness continue to be important as an adult? Use at least one specific example from the reading to explain this concept.

Article: Character Lab: Kindness 

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