TOEFL® Writing Practice 36

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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: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Grades (marks) encourage students to learn. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.
Word Count: 0

Question: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Grades (marks) encourage students to learn. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

I completely disagree with the idea that grades enhance or encourage student learning or motivation. My first qualm with this thought is that often times grades replace intrinsic motivation with a desire simply for the grade. Secondly, the modern school system inflates student grades giving inaccurate reflections of abilities. Finally, those same inaccurate scores provide poor communication between teachers, students, and parents. All in all the modern grading system is a poor way to encourage students to learn.

To begin with, the ultimate goal of education should be to inspire students, and as such to motivate them to achieve great things. With the modern grading system students may be inspired to get an A, but they do what they need to simply for the grade. This removes all motivation to learn because of passion, or because it generates greater character. Instead students do what is necessary to receive a certain grade, motivated singularly by a letter on paper rather than based on tapping into their intrinsic desires and motivations. A focus on grades removes a focus on inherent potential and inspiration.

Moreover, while simultaneously attaching unnecessary power to letter grades, schools inflate those grades. It is a poor reflection of a classroom or a school to have many bad grades. It is also not customary for a school to hold back any student let alone many students. Therefore, in communities of underperforming students, the schools adjust the grading systems to provide remedial work, lowered expectations, and in the end just shove students through the system. This allows students to move from one grade to the next with passing grades despite the fact that they’re not performing at that grade level. This removes the purpose of grades altogether.

Finally, given these problems with letter grades, the system perpetuates an unsatisfactory method of communication between teachers, students, parents, and governments. A teacher can know that a student is performing below grade level, but are under pressure to show positive numbers to justify government funding. Therefore they inflate grades to pass students. This sends a message to the students and the parents that the students are performing adequately at grade level when they aren’t. This makes the grade an inaccurate reflection of the reality of a student’s learning and falsifies its potential for communicating effectively.

Therefore, the modern system of grading students is a poor way to encourage greater learning. Letter grades remove any need for intrinsic motivation and replace them with a checklist of actions to get the grade. Also, the system is poorly implemented and leads to false reporting of student learning. In the end, this leads to an ineffective method of communicating success and failure. Ultimately grades are a broken and uselessly dated system of encouraging learning.

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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