TOEFL® Writing Practice 109

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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: Learning about the past has no value for those of us living in the present. Do you agree or disagree? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
Word Count: 0
 

Question: Learning about the past has no value for those of us living in the present. Do you agree or disagree? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

The proposition that learning about the past holds no value for those of us living in the present is absurd. Immersing ourselves in the knowledge of the past enables people to learn from the mistakes of others and simultaneously to learn from the great successes of the past. Ultimately, the benefit of understanding the trials and tribulations of the past offers the advantage of knowing why the world has taken the shape it has, and therefore why society exists as it does. The information gained from studying history is highly useful and valuable.

When considering the length of human history, it is easy to see where and how humans have made mistakes and then learned from these errors. By looking at the history of kings and emperors we are able to discern why certain forms of government ultimately failed. In so doing we learn from their mistakes. Without an analysis of their past, the writers of the Declaration of Independence would have had no reason to understand why the rule of kings failed. Similarly, by looking at the reasons why there have been two World Wars, we can ensure that we make diplomatic and political choices that do not lead to future wars. The lessons of the past inform the decisions of the present.

Moreover, we can also learn from past successes. The example of America also enabled France and then other countries to mount successful revolutions against their oppressive monarchs. A study of the methods by which medical science has changed over time can inspire people to create further advances. The lives of men such as Martin Luther King Jr. can enable people to learn that the world is not static, but rather can be changed and adapted. Studying the past inspires us to generate further change.

Most importantly, the above two reasons enable people to gain an understanding of why the world exists as it does. Studying how governments came into existence helps us to perceive how to make them successful in future. Similarly, understanding why certain countries are allies or enemies requires an analysis of the intricate history of people and places. To further the knowledge of medical science we need to study the findings and results of previous medical thinkers. To understand the modern world we need to know how and why it looks the way it does.

Therefore, the study of the past is essential for intelligent modern people. Without knowledge of the mistakes of the past people are likely to make the same errors. The examples of historic people and events can teach and inspire current generations to achieve great ends. Overall, the past informs us of the reasons why our world exists. Without the past, there is no present and so it is highly important to understand where we come from.

Learn How to Tackle TOEFL Independent Writing - Agree and Disagree 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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