TOEFL® Writing Practice 63

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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 people believe that the Earth is being harmed (damaged) by human activity. Others feel that human activity makes the Earth a better place to live. What is your opinion? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
Word Count: 0

Question: Some people believe that the Earth is being harmed (damaged) by human activity. Others feel that human activity makes the Earth a better place to live. What is your opinion? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

Without a doubt the presence of humans on Earth is causing incalculable harm to the planet. Through our abundant existence, we are spreading so rapidly that we are reducing many animals’ habitats. Our reliance on energy consumption is also painfully polluting the atmosphere. Those two factors are joining together to cause the irreversible problem of species extinction.

To begin with, over the course of thousands of years, humans have spread across the globe to occupy every possible corner from the jungles to the deserts to the frozen north. In the last few centuries, however, the human population has grown so abundant that we have continued to expand cities and towns. This rapid expansion requires that humans claim land from other creatures, thus reducing animal habitats. The human desire to have larger homes and wider roads means that each person is occupying more space, and forcing out native creatures. By claiming the entire planet away from other creatures, we are obviously a source of ruin rather than good.

Alongside this same expansion of humans has come an increase in technology. All across the planet, people are now using gasoline to fuel vehicles and burning other fossil fuels to heat and cool homes. Our modern electronics require oil for constructing plastics, and fuel for powering batteries. These new conveniences are polluting both the air and the land. For instance, the heating of the atmosphere is causing the planet to warm, which is having a great impact on various plants and animals due to changing weather. In addition, the excessive waste our lives are creating is being dumped in oceans and landfills where it pollutes the land and water. This is damaging to animals and humans.

Concurrent with these first two ideas, is a less visible consequence of human existence, extinction. As humans claim land and reduce animal habitats, many creatures are driven to extinction because of a lack of food and space. At the same time, our contributing pollution is killing off many animals as we are contaminating natural environments. Since the Earth functions in cycles of animal competition, by eliminating certain species we are endangering the planet in unforeseeable ways. If humans are causing the extinction of certain species, then we are truly carriers of destruction.

To sum, humans are reducing animal environments and polluting them with our waste. This is in turn causing the extinction of many creatures. We have yet to see the end repercussions of these actions, but the possibilities are frightening. The only logical conclusion to be drawn from this contemplation is that humans are destroying the planet generation after generation. 

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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