TOEFL® Writing Practice 159

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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: Is the ability to read and write more important today than in the past? Why or why not? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
Word Count: 0

Question: Is the ability to read and write more important today than in the past? Why or why not? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

For ages, reading and writing have been vital aids to the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth of mankind. With the rapid changes in society and the scientific advancement of the human race over the decades, the necessity and importance of reading and writing have increased remarkably. These skills have become increasingly critical to a person's success. Several reasons account for the lesser importance of reading and writing in the past, including access and necessity. Just as there are several reasons for the increased importance of these skills today.

Firstly, education used to be restricted to certain classes of society; not everyone was fortunate enough to be able to access it and its advantages. Only the wealthy, learned few enjoyed intellectual development and satisfaction. Knowledge and information were not shared freely due to hierarchies, status, and a lack of proper means of communication. This societal structure prevented many from accessing and realizing the benefits of education and learning.

Secondly, technology was obviously not as advanced in the past. Hence, the general pace of life was slower than it is now and people did not feel the need to seek a "proper" education nor keep themselves abreast of current affairs. In other words, the need did not exist for mass education or participation in efforts for intellectual enlightenment through reading and writing.

However, the situation has changed considerably. In order to keep up with the rapid evolution of ideas and concepts, reading has become more important now than ever before. The invention of high-tech gadgets and state-of-the-art information systems in areas of communication, transport, and general business demands more awareness about current events and higher levels of reading and writing. As humans advance and further develop technology, education has become increasingly powerful. In fact, knowing how to read and write are crucial skills to survive in our current world.  

In conclusion, our current society favors those who can read and write. Although writing letters has decreased considerably with the advent of electronic mail, it will still take some time to make our varied businesses paperless. As most written correspondence shifts to being done on computers, it still remains as important, if not more important, than in the past. The rules and etiquette of writing are especially critical as we communicate with people internationally with the possibility of our written words being kept forever on the internet. In this environment of global communication and mass internet usage, reading is an imperative skill to communicate and thrive. Moreover, reading and writing have become instrumental to man's success in today's competitive world.

Learn How to Tackle TOEFL Independent Writing - Description or Explanation 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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