TOEFL® Integrated Writing Practice 8

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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.

Diprotodon is the largest known marsupial to have ever lived.  It was a member of a group of unusual species known as the "Australian megafauna" and existed around 1.6 million years ago.  The largest specimens discovered were as large as a current-day hippopotamus. There are many conflicting theories about when the diprotodon became extinct, these times range from 28,000 to 46,000 years ago. There have been three theories suggested for the mass extinction of the species.

The first theory is that fire set by humans caused them to become extinct. It is believed that early Aborigines would use fire to manage the land and drive game. This could have caused the diprotodon to lose its home and environment. With less land to have a natural environment undisturbed by humans, there was less room for them to live.

A second theory is that they were hunted to extinction by humans.  Fossils found with what appear to be butchering marks support this theory. Other support for the theory comes from other places where overhunting led to the extinction of megafauna such as in New Zealand and Madagascar.

Finally, the third theory for the extinction of the diprotodon was a cold and dry climate. Around the proposed times of the extinction of the diprotodon was when an ice age was occurring. An ice age is a long period of reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the expansion of ice sheets and glaciers. It is possible that diprotodon went extinct because of the temperature drop during the ice age.

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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 reading and lecture are concerned with the causes of the extinction of the diprotodon a creature that lived in Australia. This was the largest marsupial to ever live, about the size of a modern Hippopotamus.

The first suggestion in the reading is that humans cleared the lands that the diprotodon lived on so that they could farm. However, the lecture proposes that this is false because Australia is too large for the Aborigines to have cleared so much land. Also, the soil isn’t fertile enough to have justified clearing the land in the first place.

Next, the reading suggests that the creatures were hunted into extinction. While the lecture doesn’t directly refute this idea, it does suggest that there were a large number of animals for hunting. Therefore, there just isn’t enough evidence that they would have had to hunt this animal and caused its extinction.

The final suggestion is that an ice age caused the extinction. However, the lecture points out that there is no evidence that this ice age was different than others the diprotodon had lived through. So it wouldn’t make sense that this would kill it.

Both the reading and the lecture agree that something causes the extinction of the diprotodon and that some of these ideas are possible. However, the lecture shows that not enough information is known at this time.

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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