TOEFL® Integrated Writing Practice 3

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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, being sure to explain how the cast doubt on specific points made in the reading passage.

The settlements of New Mexico's Chaco Canyon in American Southwest were notable for their massive stone buildings, known as great houses, containing hundreds of rooms and standing three or four stories high since the twelfth century A.D. Archeologists have been trying to determine how these buildings were used but still have not come up with a universally agreed-upon explanation. However, there are three competing theories that provide plausible explanations.

One theory states the Chaco structures were residential and held hundreds of people. Supporters of this theory look too similar architectural structures in more recent Southwest societies. One structure, in particular, that is strikingly similar to the Chaco buildings is the apartment building at Taos, New Mexico, which has housed several people of the centuries.

The second theory argues that the Chaco structures were used as food storage facilities. Since one of the main crops of the Chaco people was grain maize, it could be stored for an extended time period without spoiling. The large size of the structures made them ideal for storing large crops of maize.

A third theory proposes the houses were used as ceremonial gathering places. Archeologists discovered a large mound of old material near one house called Pueblo Alto. Further inspection of the mound revealed deposits containing several broken pots. It has been documented in other Native American cultures that during special ceremonies they ate a festive meal and discarded the pots that the meal had been prepared or served with. Because of these documented ceremonies, the finding at Pueblo Alto has been interpreted as evidence that people gathered there for special ceremonies.

 

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Question: Summarize the point made in the lecture, being sure to explain how the 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

In the reading passage, the author presents three theories to explain the primary function of some large houses found in Chaco Canyon. However, the lecturer points out the inaccuracies in each of the theories with three separate pieces of conflicting evidence.

First, the author points out similarities between the Chaco houses and other large residential structures, and argues that they may have been residential. However, the lecturer disputes this point. To disprove this idea, the lecturer discusses the lack of a sufficient number of fireplaces for a living space relative to the size of the structure.

Secondly, the author of the reading suggests that the houses may have been used for food storage due to their large size. The lecturer disagrees with this point, stating that it is unlikely the buildings were used for food storage. He explains that there would be more traces of scattered maize in the Chaco Canyon houses if they were used for this purpose.

Finally, the author in the reading proposes that the structures were used for ceremonial purposes. The author bases this claim the evidence of some pots found in the area. The lecturer argues that the pots found near the great houses are not sufficient proof that the houses were used as ceremonial gathering places. Moreover, the lecture explains the pots found in the mound were likely discarded by construction workers when the houses were completed.

In conclusion, although the reading and the lecture are both about the purpose of the Chaco Canyon houses, the three main points made in the reading are effectively challenged by the lecturer.

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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