TOEFL® Integrated Writing Practice 17

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You'll have 3 minutes to read a passage. After reading, you'll listen to a lecture regarding the same topic you just read. Finally, you'll have 20 minutes to write a response to a question that asks you about the relationship between the lecture you heard and the reading passage. Try to answer the question using information from the reading passage and the lecture.

Typically, an effective response will be 250 to 300 words.

We recommend you practice taking notes with a pen and paper like you will during your TOEFL exam.

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Question: Summarize the point made in the lecture and explain how the speaker cast doubt on specific points made in the reading passage.

A menhaden, also known as a mossbunker, bunker, and pogy, is any forage fish of the genera Brevoortia and Ethmidum of the family Clupeidae. Gulf menhaden and Atlantic menhaden are small oily-fleshed fish characterized by their bright silver color and a series of smaller spots behind the humeral spot. They are flat with soft flesh and a deeply forked tail, and they grow to a maximum of 15 inches long. According to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the stock of menhaden is not considered overfished currently, there have been 32 instances of overfishing in the past 54 years. Paul Greenburg, the author of Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, has called for a fishing ban for menhaden in US federal waters and the Chesapeake bay due to the detrimental effects overfishing is having on the population, and in turn the menhaden's predator populations and the water quality. However, a fishing ban is not the best course of action.

One factor that could be resulting in the reduced population of menhaden is the large population of striped bass. They are a culprit in the decline of the menhaden population because as their population grows they eat more fish including menhaden. This type of culprit would not be effected by placing restrictions on menhaden fishing.

Also, because menhaden are a food source for all animals, the prohibition of fishing menhaden would break a supply chain. Therefore by trying to protect menhaden through the prohibition of fishing it is really hurting the food supply for others.

Finally, if the government were to issue these harsh fishing restrictions, a lot of people would become unemployed. Those who depend on fishing menhaden for a living would not be able to maintain their livelihood if they are no longer able to fish for them.

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Question: Summarize the point made in the lecture and explain how the speaker cast doubt on specific points made in the reading passage.

Word Count: 0

Listen to part of a lecture on the same topic.

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Sample Essay

The lecturer presents information concerning the proposed rules and regulations around fishing menhaden. While the article presents the argument that a ban on fishing menhaden is not a solution, the lecturer strongly disagrees and presents ideas refuting the reading. 


First of all, the reading says the number of menhaden is falling because they are prey to striped bass. However, the lecturer explains that natural predators are a vital part of every ecosystem maintaining a natural balance. New rules will allow for this balance to be better monitored, and allow for a return to normal levels of fish in the waters. 


Next the reading suggests that menhaden should not be banned from fishing because they are a vital source of food for livestock. The lecturer refutes this idea by suggesting that there are alternative sources of food. Given that menhaden are not the only source of food for livestock, new rules would not interfere with livestock production. 


 Finally, the reading brings up the point that fishermen will suffer because of fishing bans. While the lecturer acknowledges this as true, he beings up the point that this ban will be short-lived, and then the fishermen may be able to return to fishing menhaden with new regulations. He also proposes a switch in the type of fish they seek as a means of alternative income. 


All in all, the lecturer provides alternative reasons for why a fishing ban would be good for menhaden. It would help rebalance the natural structure of the food chain. In the process farmers would have to find alternative feed, and the fishermen would have to seek out a different fish, but none of this is insurmountable. 

Steps to tackle the TOEFL Integrated Writing Task
Step 1: Read the passage

The passage is important in giving you general background information of the topic. Read the passage carefully and make sure you understand it well. Take notes of the main ideas of the passage but do not go into too many details. Even though there will be a three minute timer for you to read the passage, the passage is actually displayed while you are writing your essay. Your goal while reading the passage the first time should be to understand the main points in each paragraph.

Step 2: Take notes during the lecture

Needless to say, you need to take careful notes during the lecture. Unlike the passage, you will not have a chance to listen to the lecture again, so make sure you take careful notes of either the contrast between the passage and the audio or the similarities. The lecture will provide wither counter examples and disagreements or will provide examples to further prove the passage correct. Every main point from the passage is discussed again in the lecture, but with a different angle and attitude. For example, if the lecture is disagreeing with the reading and the reading says "teamwork allows individuals to respond quicker to their assignments", then the lecture might say "teamwork takes away the opportunities for hard working, talented individuals to be recognized".

Step 3: Organize your response

There are many ways to organize an essay, but there are still a few good rules you can follow. The essay should have three sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. See the "TEACHING" tab in Independent Writing for an overview of the basic essay format.

1) Introduction
Write a short and concise introduction for your essay. This introduction should include an explanation of your topic, and how the article and the professor either agree or disagree with each other about the topic. Keep this introduction short. Do not go into details of the reasons. You will only need to introduce the topic briefly, so the reader knows what to expect in the body section.

2) Body
This section should include 2 to 3 paragraphs, each one with the main point that is mentioned in the reading. So each paragraph should start with a sentence that introduces the point to be discussed in the paragraph. Use the specific examples from the article and lectures. Use the same paragraph structure for all the paragraphs in the body section. Remember to start a new line for every paragraph. Don't clump all the paragraph together as a big block, and also do not break a paragraph into many small paragraphs. Each topic should be contained in one paragraph only. Do not copy the article or the lecture into your essay. This is your essay so all the information should be conveyed in your own words. Paraphrase as much as you can. Use a variety of words and sentence structures to avoid repetition in your essay, as well.

3) Conclusion
Write a short conclusion to sum up the whole essay. This conclusion can be considered a paraphrased version of the introduction. Restate the list of the main points and how the article and the professor either agreed or disagreed. Because this is the last section of the essay, many people tend to run out of time do not write a conclusion. First of all, running out of time can be avoided with proper organization and following our process. Secondly, forgetting to write a conclusion is a big mistake that you should avoid. Even if there is only one sentence in the conclusion, you still need to have one. It is essential for an essay to have three sections. Missing one section will make the essay incomplete, and that will cost you some points.

Step 4: Review

You should time yourself so that you have about 5 minutes left to review your essay. Fix typos, check for inconsistencies of the tenses of the verbs, the plurality of the subjects and verbs, and add transition words wherever you see fit. Having good transitions will gain you some extra points. Make sure the essay flows in a logical order.

Writing Template for Scenario 1: Contradiction

This scenario is the most common scenario. In this scenario, the lecture will contradict or cast doubt on the key points in the reading passage.

Writing Template:
The reading and the lecture are both about ______. Whereas the author of the reading states that _______, the lecturer suggests that ________. The lecturer casts doubt on the main points made in the reading by providing two/three reasons.

First of all, according to the reading, _____________ .However, the lecturer disputes this point. He/She says that _________. Furthermore, he/she mentions that ___________

Secondly, the reading states that _______. Nevertheless, the lecturer refutes this argument. He/She argues that __________. In addition, he/she points out ________.

Finally, the reading claims that _________. On the other hand, the lecturer believe that _____. He/She thinks that _______. Moreover, he/she feels that ________

In conclusion, although the reading and the lecture are both about _______, the two/three main points made in the reading are effectively challenged by the lecturer.
Writing Template for Scenario 2: Supporting with examples

In this scenario, the main points of the lecture are examples that support the key points in the reading passage.

Writing Template:
The reading and the lecture are both about _____________. The reading states that ____________. The lecture builds upon those same ideas to give a more comprehensive picture with two/three examples.

First of all, according to the reading, _________. Supporting this idea, the lecturer explains that _________. Furthermore, he/she mentions that __________.

Secondly, the reading states that_______. The lecturer then goes on to explain that ________. In addition, he/she points out ________.

Finally, the reading claims that _______. In support of this idea, the lecturer brings up the point that ________. (Optional) Moreover, he/she feels that _________.

In conclusion, although the reading and the lecture both discuss __________, the two/three main points made in the reading are effectively supported by the lecturer.
 
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