TOEFL® Writing Practice 152

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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: Should governments spend more money on improving roads and highways, or should governments spend more money on improving public transportation (buses, trains, subways)? Why? Use specific reasons and details to develop your essay.
Word Count: 0

Question: Should governments spend more money on improving roads and highways, or should governments spend more money on improving public transportation (buses, trains, subways)? Why? Use specific reasons and details to develop your essay.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

When governments contemplate spending money on highway or public transportation development they should always put those funds towards the construction of public transport. Communal vehicles are always more environmentally friendly while also being healthier options for communities as a whole. They also provide a wider core of people with transportation options while roads do not. Therefore the further construction of public transport would provide more benefits than the simple improvements of roads and highways.

    A single advantage public transportation has is the limitation of environmental pollutants. While each individual car carries few people and produces it’s own pollution, a bus, subway, or train carries significantly more people and therefore produces less pollution per person. Also, a single train line or bus lane requires less space than a large highway. This means that less land will need to be claimed for the construction of roads and will limit the destruction of land and animal habitats. The protection of the environment is a great reason to promote public transport.


 A second related advantage of alternative transportation to cars is the added health benefits. If there are fewer pollutants in the air people will breathe fewer toxins and be healthier overall. Limiting toxins means better air, better water, and better plant life. Ultimately it will limit the potential for pollutant to be transferred to our food and water sources as well. Also, when people use public transport they are often required to walk short distances between home and bus stops, or train stops and offices. These short trips of walking or biking would improve overall public health. Any action that improves public health is worth further investment.


 Finally, a public transportation system will provide options for a wider variety of people. Given that not all people can afford a car, gas, insurance, and maintenance, the construction of more roads doesn’t provide everyone with a transportation option. All people, however, can use buses, trains, or subways, since the costs for ridership are far less than the overall costs of car ownership and there are no age requirements for riding. Therefore a public transit system would provide more people with options for getting around. This would improve employment options and empower more people who would be limited by the singularity of automobile travel.  


In conclusion, the multifaceted benefits of improving public transportation far outweigh the singular benefit of improved roads and highways. Transportation options can improve the environmental impact of travel while simultaneously offering enhanced health for the entire community. Also, the options of public transit can reach a multitude of people and create a more mobile populace. These three benefits provide the framework for encouraging the growth of public transportation in any community.

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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