TOEFL® Writing Practice 71

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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 ask a famous person one question, what would you ask? Why? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.
Word Count: 0

Question: If you could ask a famous person one question, what would you ask? Why? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

Word Count: 0

Sample Essay

Despite the many tiny questions it would also produce if I could ask a famous person one question, I would ask Adolf Hitler, “Why?” By starting World War II he led to millions of individuals losing their lives and homes in global conflict. Similarly, millions of Jewish people lost their lives in concentration camps. In the end, his own country didn’t bcome better but lost many people, resources, and their freedom. I would want to know what Hitler was thinking when he chose to start a war that he knew would lead to global conflict.

Through the many years of WWII soldiers from nearly every continent waged war against each other. This led to millions of casualties including soldiers and civilians. Alongside the loss of life was the bombing of cities. Many people died in the bombings of London, Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, but also, cities were raised to the ground. This destroyed people’s homes and businesses. Also, this halted many people’s lives as children couldn’t attend schools, people couldn’t conduct business, and entire livelihoods were lost. Over the decade or so of fighting, innumerable lives were destroyed.

Among those lives destroyed were the millions in concentration camps. Predominantly Jewish people, but also many other groups of people were confined to labor or death camps throughout Europe. I would need to know how Hitler could justify actions which led to the systematic eradication of an ethnicity of people and countless others. This methodical brutality is so foreign to most of human experience that it remains outside the realm of understanding.

By the end of the war, Hitler had achieved little more than the destruction of cities and lives, including in his own country. As the war came to close many cities in Germany were bombed, soldiers were killed or imprisoned, and Germany became a possession of the opposing countries. Knowing that this was a possibility and would greatly harm the people of his country, I cannot understand why Hitler would justify taking such blatantly negligent actions. I don’t understand how a man could destroy the world and his own country with such little care.

Therefore, if I were allowed to ask a famous person one question I would ask Hitler, “Why?” I would seek to understand the circumstances for justifying the deaths of millions of people from across the globe. I would also like to understand the thinking behind killing millions in concentration camps. Given that in the end, he destroyed his own people and country I see no logical answer. Yet, I would want to ask, and see what such an evil man would say for justification.

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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