TOEFL® Writing Practice 111

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For this task, you will write an essay in response to a question that asks you to state, explain, and support your opinion on an issue. You'll have 30 minutes to write your essay.

Typically, an effective essay will contain a minimum of 350 words.

We recommend you practice organizing your essay for the first 5 minutes with a pen and paper like you will during your TOEFL exam.

Question: Some people believe that the best way of learning about life is by listening to the advice of family and friends. Other people believe that the best way of learning about life is through personal experience. Compare the advantages of these two different ways of learning about life. Which do you think is preferable? Use specific examples to support your preference.
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Question: Some people believe that the best way of learning about life is by listening to the advice of family and friends. Other people believe that the best way of learning about life is through personal experience. Compare the advantages of these two different ways of learning about life. Which do you think is preferable? Use specific examples to support your preference.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

Some people believe that the best way of learning about life is by listening to the advice of family and friends. Others prefer to learn about life through the personal experiences that one encounters. I intend to look at both arguments and then draw a conclusion.

The guidance of close ones is a crucial factor in guiding one through life. The family is a valuable store of wisdom and experience. Think about the collective experience of your parents. The lessons they have learned enable them to counsel and guide you. They have navigated the self-same obstacles you will experience as you grow older. If you add in the counsel of your grandparents and other extended members of your family you will realize just how privileged you are. Listen to their experiences and learn from them. You will soon realize that they do not want you to suffer and undergo threatening experiences. Of course, you have another valuable resource – the advice and help your friends offer. Sometimes there are issues that are difficult to share with your family; this is when your friends are uniquely placed to offer guidance. Their perspectives will give you insight into your own problems. Decision-making becomes a whole lot easier when you listen to others and think carefully about issues. Of course, there may be times when you will have to take a stand despite the advice you have been given. This will also be a key time in learning about life.

The second viewpoint is that the best way of learning about life is through personal experience. Personal experience is a great teacher and is an inevitable part of growing up. The experiences you encounter will range from normal, everyday occurrences to the threatening, challenging and emotionally exhausting. Your family, school, friends, job, and love life, among others, will all be a part, in one way or another. Lessons will be learned in the way you deal with these obstacles. You should also listen to your inner-self as I believe it also helps in easy decision making. Handling difficult personal experiences well gives a sense of satisfaction and confidence. When people experience things personally, they learn life's lessons faster and do not repeat their mistakes.

Ultimately, each of the above views has its own advantages. It is clear that both are an undeniable part of one’s life. On these grounds, then, my conclusion is that a combination of both teaches life’s lessons best. A person could not be more advantaged than drawing from both sources!

Learn How to Tackle TOEFL Independent Writing - Compare and Contrast Essays
Tip 1: Follow a standard TOEFL essay structure
Introductory Paragraph 1. Provide background information about the essay topic. Here are a few techniques:
  1. Begin with two sides of opinions on the essay topic
  2. Begin with the general public's opinions
  3. Introduce a fact that raises a question about the essay topic
  4. Introduce a debate on the essay topic
  5. Mention the advantage or disadvantage of a subject as a way to contrast
  6. your main opinion on the subject.

2. Write a strong thesis statement

Lesson: How to write a high-scoring TOEFL introductory paragraph part 1
Lesson: How to write a high-scoring TOEFL introductory paragraph part 2
Body Paragraph A
Body Paragraph B
Body Paragraph C (Optional)
1. Include a transition word/phrase at the beginning
2. Write a topic sentence
3. Include supporting sentences

Lesson: How to write a high-scoring TOEFL body paragraph
Conclusion Paragraph 1. Include a restatement of the thesis statement you wrote in your introduction
2. Provide a brief summary of your main ideas

Lesson: How to write a high-scoring TOEFL conclusion paragraph

There's no maximum length for your essay, but a good response is usually at least 300 words.

Tip 2: Use transition words and phrases

You need to use transition words and phrases to connect your ideas in your essay. You should have 2 transition words/phrases every 4-5 sentences.

Type of connection Transition words
These words can help you show the order of ideas. First/Second/Third
Firstly (or "First of all")/Secondly/Thirdly (or "Lastly")
For one thing/For another thing/Finally (or "Lastly")
In the first place/in the second place/Finally (or "Lastly")

Instead of "First", "First of all" and "Firstly", we can use "To begin with", "To start with", or "For starters". We can also use "First and foremost" to state that the first key point is the most important one among all key points.

Likewise, instead of "Finally" and "Lastly", we can use "Last but not least" to state that the final key point is just as important as the others, despite it being mentioned last.

These words can help you add information In addition, furthermore, additionally, also, next, moreover, what's more, on top of that
These words can help you conclude or to summarize: To sum up, in summary, in conclusion, to conclude, all in all, all things considered ,overall, taking everything into consideration, in a nutshell
These words can help you demonstrate contrast Conversely, on the contrary, by contrast, by way of contrast, on one hand/on the other hand
These words can help you compare or demonstrate similarity Similarly, likewise, by the same token, along similar lines
These words can help you state a result. As a result, as a consequence, consequently, therefore
These words can help you state a generalization. Generally, on the whole, in most cases, in general
These words can help you clarify a point. That is, in other words, to put it simply, That is to say, just to reiterate
These words can help you give examples. For example, for instance, take something, for example, to give a clear example
These words can help you state an alternative. Alternatively, as another possibility
Tip 3: Vary your sentence structure

To achieve a higher score or a perfect 5 out of 5 on the TOEFL English language criteria, you must show that you can accurately and flexibly use a variety of structures.

Lesson: Achieving sentence variety part 1
Lesson: Achieving sentence variety part 2
Lesson: Achieving sentence variety part 3
Tip 5: Vary your vocabulary

You should avoid using the same vocabulary throughout your essay. Instead, you can use synonyms or phrases that have the same meaning of words.

Here are some ways you can improve on this area:

  1. Read our sample essays and pay attention to words you are not familiar with.
  2. Utilize our TOEFL Vocabulary system
  3. Utilize our TOEFL synonyms exercises
 
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