TOEFL® Writing Practice 157

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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: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? A zoo has no useful purpose. Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.
Word Count: 0

Question: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? A zoo has no useful purpose. Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

Animals are an important part of life on earth. Every living creature has a purpose in the world. I also believe that zoos have a significant purpose in our current world. However, many people have a problem with zoos because they think animals belong in their rightful, natural habitat. While that may be true, zoos have more than one purpose in that they are educational, entertaining, and help with the conservation of endangered animals.

First of all, zoos are a great educational tool. Schools everywhere have field trips to zoos so that kids can learn about all types of animals. Zoos have different animals, thereby providing a chance to learn about more exotic species than we are used to seeing in our own parts of the world. Zoos allow us to learn about animals' behavior, habitats, diet, and sometimes even the cause of their endangerment and how to prevent it. Zoos allow students to both see and learn about animals in a safe, controlled environment.

Second of all, seeing animals up close in real life is a lot more entertaining than reading about them in books. Being able to interact with them is even better, which is possible in some zoos as many have a petting zoo area where people of all ages can pet or observe animals even more closely. Some have birds that trainers will let rest on students' hands; the birds are trained well enough that a person can gently pet them to see how soft the feathers are. There are some animals that we would never have a chance to see up close if it weren't for zoos, as many live in remote parts of the world that are not easily accessible for most people.

Finally, many zoos do their part to help fight extinction by protecting endangered animals and breeding them in a safe location. Poachers, deforestation, and more threaten the lives of so many animals in the world that, even with the help of zoos, we may lose entire species within the next few decades. For instance, the tiger is one of the most beautiful animals, but they are very close to extinction - only a few thousand exist in the wild.

In conclusion, to say that zoos have no purpose at all is false. It is important to learn about the animals on this planet and the impact they have our lives, and zoos provide such an opportunity. Just as importantly, we should learn how we are impacting their lives and habitats. While it would surely be best if animals could be left alone, safe in their own natural habitat, zoos help protect them from harm and give humans a chance to learn how to protect the ones still living in the wild.


Learn How to Tackle TOEFL Independent Writing - Agree and Disagree 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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