TOEFL® Writing Practice 26

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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: Would you prefer to live in a traditional house or in a modern apartment building? Use specific reasons and details to support your choice.
Word Count: 0

Question: Would you prefer to live in a traditional house or in a modern apartment building? Use specific reasons and details to support your choice.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

For many, growing up and moving out of the family house is an exciting, yet scary, time. Some choose to live with roommates while others opt to live alone. Regardless, there are essentially two types of dwellings to choose from: a house or an apartment. If I could choose whether to live in an apartment or a traditional house, I would choose the latter. Certainly, there are many benefits to both, but I feel that there are more advantages to living in a house; there is nobody living above you, you have a yard, and overall it's less stressful.

To begin, I have experience living in an apartment in a large building and my least favorite part of it was having someone living above me. When you live below someone in an apartment you can hear their footsteps, their music, and their chatter. For someone who worked odd hours, I found it very difficult to stay asleep once my upstairs neighbors woke up, mainly due to the noise.

Additionally, when living in an apartment there’s usually no option to have your own yard. As a lover of plants, it is important to me to have a yard in which to garden and grow plants and flowers. As well, I have always had a dog, and it is essential that my dog can go outside easily and freely, as dogs should not be cooped up indoors. A shared yard is sometimes a possibility when living in an apartment, but it is likely that the neighbors won’t appreciate sharing it with a dog.

Lastly, the stress of living in an apartment can be overwhelming. For, you are constantly worried about noise, appeasing neighbors, and hoping that you don’t do anything to upset the neighbors or landlord. Living in a traditional house provides a lot more freedom, which reduces the level of stress. And while there might be more involved in maintaining a house and its cleanliness, overall there are much fewer causes for worry.

All things considered, I would much prefer to live in a traditional house as opposed to an apartment if given the option. However, many people, unfortunately, don't have the luxury of choosing where they live - they have to go with what they can afford. But, if given the freedom to choose, I would be happier and healthier living in a traditional house rather than in an apartment.

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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