TOEFL® Writing Practice 151

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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: Nowadays, food has become easier to prepare. Has this change improved the way people live? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
Word Count: 0

Question: Nowadays, food has become easier to prepare. Has this change improved the way people live? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

The modern grocery store, filled with shelves of prepackaged food, frozen items, and produced flown from all corners of the earth is absolutely a modern convenience. However, the ease of modern food has not had an overall positive effect on people’s lives. Modern food has diminished the art of cooking and the family meal to something of the past. This change has also left the world with many unhealthy food options, which is clearly not an improvement to life.

Throughout human history, the act of preparing a meal has been an important part of every culture. With the modern convenience of boxed, canned, or frozen foods people are no longer aware of what ingredients are in their food. Along the same lines, people are also unaware of where different foods come from to create a meal. Easily prepared foods have limited the knowledge people have been gathering for thousands of years about how various foods are grown and prepared. Limiting a person’s knowledge about a daily task cannot be seen as an improvement to life.

Similarly, people are losing sight of the importance that meals can have to families and friends. Although meals take time to prepare and busy people may not have time, the preparation and eating of a meal as a family is a human tradition. Through cooking and eating meals people are able to share knowledge, stories, and experiences. Busy people are often seeking more time to spend with those people they care about, and what better way to spend time with people than in creating something together which is an integral part of life. If easy to prepare food allows people to not set aside important time spent with family and friends, then it has not improved people’s lives but eliminated an important part of life.

Consequently, the food that has replaced traditional home cooked meals is frozen prepackaged foods or fast food. While these foods are convenient, they are widely known to be unhealthy. Preparing a frozen meal or eating fast food does not easily inform a person of what nutrients or lack thereof they are putting in their body. If people are saving time, but eating unwholesome foods which lead to obesity, heart disease, and many other ailments then obviously they are not living better lives.

Given these points, it seems obvious that despite the time-saving benefits of modern easily prepared foods, the benefits do not outweigh the drawbacks. People are losing knowledge about how their foods are prepared as well as losing the valuable experience of preparing and eating a meal as part of a group. Those first two points say nothing of the undeniably negative health consequences associated with fast food. Obviously, the many problems with fast food show that it does not in fact improve lives, but hurts them.  

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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