TOEFL® Writing Practice 181

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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: A university plans to develop a new research centre in your country. Some people want a centre for business research. Other people want a centre for research in agriculture (farming). Which of these two kinds of research centres do you recommend for your country? Use specific reasons in your recommendation.
Word Count: 0
 

Question: A university plans to develop a new research centre in your country. Some people want a centre for business research. Other people want a centre for research in agriculture (farming). Which of these two kinds of research centres do you recommend for your country? Use specific reasons in your recommendation.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

A local university is planning the development of a new research center, however, there are two vastly differing opinions concerning the type of research center that should be developed in our country. One side wants to develop a business research center and the other, an agricultural research center. Considering the current situation in China, I strongly recommend the former as it would help solve the urgent problems that our country is currently facing.

First of all, a business research center would help develop the economy. At present, the global economy is slowing down and there is no evidence indicating that recovery will occur anytime soon. Our biggest trading partners, including the United States and Japan, have fallen into economic plight. As a result, the exportations to those countries and direct investment from them are decreasing. The most important task is to keep the economy growing stably. The center would surely contribute to the accomplishment of this task by exploring new business opportunities to increase exports and helping enterprises adapt.

Secondly, a business research center would help solve the problem of unemployment. The reform of state-owned enterprises caused a large number of workers employed by those enterprises to lose their jobs. Our economic reform and adjustment are going through a vital stage. A business research center would help the enterprises figure out how to solve this problem and create new opportunities for the unemployed to get jobs in new business fields.

Finally, it would help to solve China's rural problems. China has a huge population and nearly 70 percent of its population is farmers; there are 700 million farmers in China. Now the rural problem is focused on finding jobs for farmers who have been released from arable lands with the development of new technology. A business research center would help develop the rural economy in the industrial and service fields which could absorb the enormous number of farmers.

Therefore, based on the reasons mentioned above, I believe that a business center would be a wiser development at present than an agricultural research center. The former would be an overall better investment, as well as a more strategic investment in our nation’s economy and people.

Learn How to Tackle TOEFL Independent Writing - Preference 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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