TOEFL® Writing Practice 135

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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 success in life comes from taking risks or chances. Others believe that success results from careful planning. In your opinion, what does success come from? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
Word Count: 0
 

Question: Some people believe that success in life comes from taking risks or chances. Others believe that success results from careful planning. In your opinion, what does success come from? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

Although people are constantly on the lookout for an easy path or a “quick fix”, the key to success is a complex mix of risk taking and planning. To achieve almost anything requires taking risks that are either personal or professional. Alongside these possible threats, a person needs to calculate those ventures which are worth undertaking. Furthermore, a person needs to plan for the success or failure of their risk taking in order to be prepared for the future. Success thus relies on a delicate balance of trying new things while planning for potential outcomes.

First of all, to attain any goal entails some level of risk. When people make decisions about what college to attend, what subject to study, what jobs to apply to, they are taking risks. This is a necessary step, though, in moving forward in life. Similarly, companies need to take risks in order to prosper. A fashion designer must take a risk in predicting next year’s fashions. A basketball team needs to take a risk in drafting a certain player over any other. These risks either pay off or not, but in order to be different from others, people or businesses need to make choices that accompany risks.

Furthermore, in any new venture, a successful person or business will first examine or investigate the possible risk factor. If my SAT scores are not good enough I am not going to risk applying only to Ivy League Schools, knowing the odds of getting in are low. I will, however, spread the risk or chance level in order to protect myself. While companies need to take risks in product design and price, they are not going to stray too far from the expectations of consumers. Success requires that people analyze the odds of a risk backfiring and then take precautions that those risks can reasonably be overcome.

Moreover, a vital step in assuring success is careful planning. When undertaking a new enterprise, people and businesses need to plan for either success or failure. If a venture is successful I need to calculate how best to further exploit its success. Likewise, if that same enterprise fails, I need to have thought about my next steps in recovering from the failure. Thus planning for various outcomes is a crucial part of the whole process.

Overall, the process of generating success is a combination of risk-taking and planning. All actions are accompanied by some level of risk which, of necessity, we are required to expose ourselves to if we want to progress. However, it is within our power to assess the potential net gain. Finally, underpinning both success and failure is the vital necessity to plan thoughtfully and seriously.

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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