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TOEFL iBT Skills - Outlining

Outlining is a linear method of developing, classifying and organizing thoughts, ideas and information. It enables you to plan anything by creating a hierarchy of information based on importance and relevance. Points are arranged in sections, and then subsections, moving from abstract to concrete.

You can use outlining techniques in the Listening, Speaking, and Writing sections of the TOEFL iBT. For example, while listening to a conversation or lecture, you can keep track of the main points, sub-points, and examples. If your outline is accurate, you will be able to go back and find the answers to your questions.

In the speaking section, when you have just 15 to 30 seconds to plan your response, you may also wish to use a quick outline to plan your response.

The same is true while designing a plan for your essays in the independent and integrated tasks of the writing section.

You can practice outlining skills by working from all kinds of materials – textbooks, newspapers, and magazines. You can also listen to newscasts or audio books and jot down points in this way. By developing the outline, you will be able to reconstruct the structure of the written or spoken information.

Most ESL writing textbooks should have exercises related to outlining. In addition, textbooks designed to improve English writing and study skills should include sections on developing outlining skills.