TOEFL® Writing Practice 108

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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: It has been said, "Not everything that is learned is contained in books." Compare and contrast knowledge gained from experience with knowledge gained from books. In your opinion, which source is more important? Why?
Word Count: 0

Question: It has been said, "Not everything that is learned is contained in books." Compare and contrast knowledge gained from experience with knowledge gained from books. In your opinion, which source is more important? Why?

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

Although there are many ways to gain new knowledge, these days a profound amount of information is learned through books and experiences. These two things share many similarities as far as their ability to impart knowledge; however, their methods for teaching and often the content learned from them can be widely varied. Ultimately it is true that many things people learn in life cannot be taught in a book. Therefore, the experiences of a lifetime are vastly more important than the knowledge of books.

First of all, for a person to gain the true knowledge they would need to have an experience of their own. It is an undeniable fact that books are often the first step in acquiring knowledge about any potential topic. Books allow people to learn from the knowledge gained by the varied experiences of others, and this helps people to generate and challenge opinions. Nevertheless, books are a secondhand account of others experiences and knowledge. Knowledge gained from books cannot be compared to the personal realizations of knowledge gained through working out problems and seeing events and places. Although a book can teach a doctor the parts and theory of the inner workings of the body, the only experience can inform a doctor of how to operate on a patient or diagnose real-life symptoms. Only experience can teach a person how something truly feels, sounds, and looks, as books are always worked out in the brain.

Secondly, the experience can prove if the knowledge from books is true or false. Textbooks are very wonderful in teaching people essential principles, how is the world looks like, and what are the basic law of change of people and things? We can learn a lot through primary school, secondary school until university. However, people can only understand the real meaning of those from books and justify them if they are right through practices. A few hundred years ago, people learned from textbooks that the earth was flat. However, scientists found that was wrong through observations and measurement. In addition, knowledge from experience can improve and advance the world and our society. As books have the limitation, they only teach us the what people found in the past. There are a lot of new inventions and new products which could not be found from textbooks. People are continually discovering new things and assessing the creditability of the knowledge written in books. The knowledge from experience helps us much more than those from books.   

 As has been noted, there is a vast world of knowledge to be gained from reading books. However, books cannot teach people all there is to know about the world. Some information can only be gained from experience. Truly the personal knowledge acquired through doing is more important than the second-hand knowledge gained through reading. Despite the richness of books, experience is the greatest teacher.

Learn How to Tackle TOEFL Independent Writing - Compare and Contrast 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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