TOEFL® Writing Practice 114

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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: Some students prefer to study alone. Others prefer to study with a group of students. Which do you prefer ? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
Word Count: 0
 

Question: Some students prefer to study alone. Others prefer to study with a group of students. Which do you prefer ? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

When it comes to studying, some people like to gather in groups and study together while others prefer to study in solitude. Studying alone certainly has its advantages; some people like to study alone because they need a quiet environment in which to concentrate on their studying. For me, however, studying in a group is my preference. When I study in a group, I can exchange my ideas with others, improve my teamwork skills, and consult the other members of the group about difficult problems.

The first benefit of studying in a group is that the members can share different ideas with each other. When a group is discussing one thing, they might have similar ideas but they can also share and discover new ideas. Many new ideas that I have never thought of before will come up which causes me to think of more new ideas. I gain a lot of valuable knowledge and some excellent ideas from others. Hence, studying in a group is also a good opportunity to improve our critical thinking ability.

Secondly, we can learn how to get along with others by studying in a group. For instance, when teachers assign a big project to do in groups, the members need to cooperate with others to complete the whole project. Each task will be delegated to a member of the group and if one individual can not finish his part before the due date, the others can and should help him finish his assigned task. The grade of a group project is not determined by one member's efforts but by the total group effort. Study groups quickly learn the importance of teamwork and cooperation.

The final reason that I prefer studying in groups is that we can solve problems together. If one member is good at a certain subject, we can ask him to help solve the problem relating to that particular area. On the other hand, if somebody asks me to teach him, I am glad to help him. Through teaching others in the group, I, in turn, learn how to present ideas to others and more clearly explain my thoughts.

To summarize, there are many benefits associated with studying in a group. Though it takes some time to get everybody on the same page, overall, I think that studying in a group is a good means to improve one's studying ability. As well, group study allows the exchange of ideas and knowledge. Surely there are some benefits to studying alone but I prefer to study together with my classmates. There is power in numbers.

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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