TOEFL® Writing Practice 30

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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 friend of yours has received some money and plans to use all of it either to go on vacation or to buy a car your friend has asked you for advice.
Word Count: 0

Question: A friend of yours has received some money and plans to use all of it either to go on vacation or to buy a car your friend has asked you for advice.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

The development of technology and different industries has delivered us many conveniences. With the help of modern conveniences such as cars, buses, trains, and planes, one can travel a great distance in a short period of time. Recently, one of my friends received a gift of a large sum of money. He is deciding whether to use this money to buy a new car or go on a vacation. Personally, I would suggest that my friend buy a car as that is what I would do. For, a car means convenience and less commuting time.

First, a car provides more convenience. Undoubtedly, nowadays people rely on cars for transportation more than ever before. For example, when one drives a car to go shopping, it is more convenient and thus, he can pick up more groceries than before because he can put groceries in the trunk instead of carrying them and juggling bags on the bus or train. Furthermore, when he wants to pick somebody up or travel to a scenic spot, a car is more convenient as there are no time constraints and no long routes with multiple stops.

Another advantage to buying a car is that it would significantly reduce the time spent commuting. Every day, many people waste too much time on waiting for and riding on a bus, train, subway - or combination of all of them - to work. We have all experienced the frustration of taking a bus. Having a personal car would eliminate such stressors and problems immediately as there would be no more waiting for the bus, running to catch the bus, sharing someone's personal space, finding change to pay the bus fare, etc. To offset any costs, one could even start a carpool with coworkers and/or friends.

That said, there are some advantages to taking a vacation, also. For example, a vacation might increase one's personal experience and knowledge. As well, there wouldn't be any of the troubles that come with owning a car, such as gas costs, repairs, parking, etc. However, considering all factors, I think that the advantages of buying a car carry more weight than those of going on vacation.

Based on the reasons above, I have come to the conclusion that buying a car would be the superior choice. For, a car would reduce commute times significantly, provide more convenience, and even offer more freedom. In fact, with my own car, I could take a road trip or take a vacation to a place to which I could drive myself.

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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