TOEFL® Writing Practice 58

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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 movies are serious, designed to make the audience think. Other movies are designed primarily to amuse and entertain. Which type of movie do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
Word Count: 0

Question: Some movies are serious, designed to make the audience think. Other movies are designed primarily to amuse and entertain. Which type of movie do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

When given the choice of what type of movie I prefer to watch, I will choose an entertaining movie over a more serious one. I view movies as a break from work or intellectual endeavors, and as a chance to relax. Also, movies are a great way to spend enjoyable amounts of time with friends. Finally, I can learn more from reading books than from movies and so would prefer to save my learning for when I’m not relaxing. Thus I would generally choose to be amused when watching a movie.

Since movies are watched on the couch, with snacks, drinks, and wearing comfy clothes, I view them as a means for relaxing. An amusing movie helps me to relax because it is not intellectually stimulating. I am not encouraged to think about anything important, merely to laugh. Since I watch movies to relax I prefer something that allows me to turn off my brain and just watch. In the end, humorous movies are more soothing to watch.

In a similar way, I often watch movies with friends or family and I want those moments to be lighthearted and enjoyable. Watching serious movies about The Holocaust, while important, does not inspire a fun atmosphere. A movie that is more of a comedy or a romance is more adept at generating happy gatherings. Since part of relaxing is gathering with my friends, and I want those to be enjoyable moments, I would prefer to watch a funny movie. A happy movie creates a cheerful situation, and that’s the point of a movie.

Aside from thinking that movies are about relaxing, I also think that books are simply better for learning. If I want to know more about a situation or a historical event, I will be more inclined to read a book which his more informative rather than watching the movie. While movies can give a good visual of a situation, they cannot get as in depth or be as instructive as a book. When I want to learn something I will turn to a book, and recognize that moments, when I am inspired to know more, are not the same as times when I want to relax. Books can be more informative and not as social, and that’s when I prefer to learn.

My conclusive perspective is that movies that are more amusing are preferable to my tastes. A movie is a time to relax, and that is provided by a humorous movie more than a serious one. At the same time, I like to relax and watch movies with friends, which is made better by funny moments. Whereas movies are relaxing, learning is a different endeavor entirely, and I would prefer to learn from books instead of movies. Thus given my choice in types I will choose amusing movies.

Learn How to Tackle TOEFL Independent Writing - Preference 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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