Error Taxonomy of TOEFL iBT Writing: An Iranian Perspective

Document Type: Original Article


Islamic Azad University, North Tehran Branch


TOEFL iBT has turned recently heads to the impacts language tests can have on language learning. Since error analysis-based instruction has gained a new life with the advent of the computer analysis of the learner’s language, the researchers of this study embarked on examining a sample of integrated and independent writing tasks of 45 Iranian TOEFL iBT candidates in order to identify and classify their errors. Examining 90 writing tasks in toto, the researchers categorized the errors into three major categories: grammar, mechanics, and content errors. Although, the errors of integrated and independent tasks at the levels of grammar and mechanics, with slight differences, had much to share, the content errors exhibited considerable differences. The content errors of the integrated task included plagiarism, for instance while the independent category was limited to organization of ideas and task fulfillment. Given the relative youth of TOEFL iBT for language teachers and learners, the results of this study can have promising potential for enhancing Iranian TOEFL iBT teachers’ understanding of the problems of their prospective candidates. The findings can also be used to improve TOEFL iBT preparatory materials as adopting a troubleshooting approach seems to be more viable in short-term tailor-made courses.