TOEFL® Writing Practice 148

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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: If you could go back to some time and place in the past, when and where would you go? Why? Use specific reasons and details to support your choice.
Word Count: 0

Question: If you could go back to some time and place in the past, when and where would you go? Why? Use specific reasons and details to support your choice.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

If I had the opportunity to visit any time and place in history I would choose to go to Paris in the 1920’s. This was a time and place that was filled with people who drastically influenced the arts of the world including novels and paintings. I would have a chance to be a part of one of the most creative communities the planet has ever known. As such I would be able to see firsthand the birth of much of the culture of the past one hundred years.

The first and main attraction to Paris in the twenties would undoubtedly be the presence of many famous authors. American authors like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald made their home in Paris, where they lived and wrote their most famous works. By living there I would get to meet those men and speak with them about their work while they were in the process of production. Nowadays these authors hold prolific standing in our culture, but if I met them before their fame I would see a more honest picture of them as people. I would truly appreciate the chance to meet the great authors of the time.

Similarly, also living in Paris in the twenties were many famous painters such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. In a same way, it would be a thrill to see them creating their now famous works and follow their progression. This would also be amazing to see each work as it came out and attend art exhibitions knowing that some day in the future those works will be hard to see in such intimacy. As an expression of the times I would appreciate seeing the creation of famous paintings.

All of this falls into the same motivating factor of wanting to see the creation of culture in the twenties that then influenced the rest of the century. Not only the creation of novels and art, but also the food, drinks, and dress all became more profound parts of our culture. Also, this was a time of widely spreading new ideas about human rights, science, and psychology. To be in Paris at this time would mean gaining a firsthand education from the many great thinkers who all chose that city as their home and in turn influenced all of life until now.

Over the course of the past century, the world has changed greatly and Paris in the 1920’s was one of the most influential times and places for intellectual change. The creation of classic literature at this time would be worth seeing. Interacting with those writers, but also the many famous painters as they changed the way we see art would be amazing. All in all the many cultural changes that took place at the time would make Paris my choice.

Learn How to Tackle TOEFL Independent Writing - If / Imaginary 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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