Comparing writing performance in TOEFL-iBT and academic assignments: an exploration of textual features

A. Mehdi Riazi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports an exploratory study in which the written texts produced by postgraduate students in test and real-life academic situation are compared in terms of the linguistic and discoursal features. Data were collected from 20 international English as a second language (ESL) postgraduate students from different first language backgrounds and three general disciplines of science and engineering, arts and humanities, and business and economics. The participants were studying in postgraduate programs in five universities in New South Wales, Australia. These participants completed two writing test tasks of the TOEFL-iBT (integrated and independent tasks) and an academic assignment for one of the university courses they enrolled in. Textual features of the test and academic assignment texts were compared on 20 linguistic and discoursal features. These textual features are related to syntactic complexity (five variables), lexical sophistication (nine variables) and cohesion (six variables). Results of a series of repeated measures Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) indicated similarities and differences in the linguistic and discoursal features of the three writing task texts. Findings are reported and discussed and implications are made for the extrapolation inference claim in the validity argument of the Writing section of the TOEFL-iBT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-27
Number of pages13
JournalAssessing Writing
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • writing
  • academic writing
  • writing assessment
  • validity of writing tests
  • text analysis
  • TOEFL-iBT-Coh-Metrix


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparing writing performance in TOEFL-iBT and academic assignments: an exploration of textual features'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this