TOEFL® Writing Practice 1

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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: Describe a fear you had to overcome. How did you overcome it?
Word Count: 0

Question: Describe a fear you had to overcome. How did you overcome it?

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

As you continue through life, you are likely to be impacted by both positive and negative experiences. Various types of fears, unfortunately, can have a debilitating effect on one’s ability to live comfortably, which is why it is important to overcome them. Personally, I’ve recently conquered my long-term fear of flying on airplanes through practicing meditation and joining support groups.

In general, living with a fear of flying can be extremely limiting. In my case, the mere thought of boarding an airplane sent chills down my spine. Although I had never flown on an airplane before, vivid memories of plane crashes from films I had seen as a child stuck with me. Consequently, I was forced to forgo numerous family functions and career workshops in different cities throughout my childhood and early adulthood years. For this reason, I realized that it was time to confront my fear of flying once and for all.

First and foremost, I decided to focus on relaxation techniques. In particular, I enrolled in a meditation course to ease my anxieties and clear my mind of apprehension and doubt. Through using specific breathing techniques, I immediately felt calmer and safer. In fact, I currently employ these skills when I fly on airplanes. Thus, they have been an integral component of overcoming my fear.

Next, I attended a support group, facilitated by a counselor, in order to speak to other people with similar fears. Specifically, I listened to peers feeling similar emotions, which made me feel more comfortable when confronting my own anxieties. Additionally, my specific group brought in guests who had triumphed over their fears, which provided me with the necessary courage. Consequently, I am now a guest speaker at the support group and offer assistance to those dealing with similar problems.

All in all, phobias can be an unnecessary burden, and it is important to work towards eliminating them from your life. Through reflective meditation and helpful support groups, I am proud to say that I have prevailed over my fear of flying.

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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