About the TOEFL Writing Section

In the TOEFL writing section you'll get two essay questions.  First is the Integrated Essay where you must compare an academic article to a lecture on the same topic.  Second, is the Independent Essay, where you will give a personal response to a specific question.  The following sample essays demonstrate the types of questions you will face and how to structure your essays properly.

For detailed guides and templates for each TOEFL writing question, make sure to check out our main page.

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Sample Independent Essays

(most of these topics are from an old list formerly included in the Official Guide to the TOEFL  which I am slowly "upgrading" to be more modern - scroll down for integrated essay samples)

Question 1

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “Overall, the widespread use of the internet has a mostly positive effect on life in today's world."

Question 2

Some students prefer classes with frequent discussions between the professor and the students with almost no lectures. Other students prefer classes with many lectures and almost no discussions. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Question 3

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? It is better to use printed material such as books and articles to do research than it is to use the internet. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Question 4

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

Question 5

Neighbors are the people who live near us. In your opinion, what type of neighbor is the best to have?

Use specific details and examples in your answer.

Question 6

"Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? People in today's world have become too dependent on automobiles. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer."

Question 7

You have the opportunity to visit a foreign country for two weeks. Which country would you like to visit? Use specific reasons and details to explain your choice. (Note that this one is based on an old style question prompt that isn't in use these days).

Question 8

Some people like to travel with a companion. Other people prefer to travel alone. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.

Question 9

Some people think that the government should use extra money to fund programs to improve the environment.  Others think that it is better for the government to spend money to support artistic programs.  Which option do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Question 10

When you face difficult problems in life, what do you feel is the best way to solve them?

Question 11

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?  In my country, young people have a better life today than their parents enjoyed when they were young.  Use reasons and examples to support your answer.

Question 12

In general, people are living longer now. Which of the following do you think is the main cause of this phenomenon?

Question 13

Some people like to spend their money as soon as they earn it, while others think it is better to save their money for some time in the future. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion. Do not use memorized examples.

Question 14

People have a lot of opinions about the value of advanced education.  Which do you think is the most important reason to attend college or university? Use reasons and examples to support your answer.

Question 15

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement:

“Movies and television strongly influence the way people behave?” Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

Question 16

Imagine you could improve the town where you live by changing one important thing about it. Which of the following would you choose to do?

Question 17

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? People communicate with each other less than in the past because of the popularity of television. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Question 18

Some people prefer to live in a small town. Others prefer to live in a big city. Which place would you prefer to live in? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

Question 19

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “When people succeed, it is entirely because of hard work. Luck has nothing to do with their success.” Use specific reasons and examples to explain your position.

Question 20

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Universities should spend the same amount of money on athletic activities as they spend on university libraries. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Question 21

These days, people enjoy a lot of time away from their work and school obligations. Many people use this time to visit new places and learn about them. What do you think is the best way to learn about a place you are visiting for the first time?

Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Question 22

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? It is better for children to grow up in the countryside than in a large city. Use specific reasons and examples to develop your essay. 

Question 23

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Human activity is making the earth a worse place to live. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Question 24

People in society work in a many different settings, and for a variety of reasons.  What do you think are the main reasons why people have jobs?

Use specific examples and details to support your answer.

Question 25

Everyone wants to be as healthy as possible. Fortunately, in modern society there are many things that people can do to improve their physical condition. What do you think is the best way to stay healthy?

Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Question 26

Many people welcome the opening of shopping areas near their homes.  On the other hand, some people are strongly opposed to the construction of such facilities.  If the opening of a large shopping center in your neighborhood were announced, would you support of oppose its construction? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

Question 27

Some students prefer to study alone. Others prefer to study with a group of students. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Question 28

Some people prefer to eat at food stands or restaurants. Other people prefer to prepare and eat food at home. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Question 29

Some people believe that university students should be required to attend classes. Others believe that going to classes should be optional for students. Which point of view do you agree with? Use specific reasons and details to explain your answer.

Question 30

Some people think that they can learn better by themselves than with a teacher. Others think that it is always better to have a teacher. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons to develop your essay.

Question 31

What are some important qualities of a good supervisor (boss)? Use specific details and examples to explain why these qualities are important.

Question 32

In general, people are living longer now. Discuss the causes of this phenomenon. Use specific reasons and details to develop your essay (version two).

Question 33

We all work or will work in our jobs with many different kinds of people. In your opinion, what are some important characteristics of a co-worker (someone you work closely with)? Use reasons and specific examples to explain why these characteristics are important.

Question 34

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement:  in twenty years there will be fewer cars on the road than there are today.

Question 35

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement:  people today spend too much time on personal enjoyment - doing things they like to do - rather than doing things they should do. 

Question 36

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Life today is easier and more comfortable than it was when your grandparents were children."

Question 37

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "We can learn more from people at a higher level than us (like teachers) than from people who are at the same level as us"

Question 38

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "A person should never make an important decision alone."

Question 39

It has recently been announced that a new restaurant may be built in your neighborhood. Do you support or oppose this plan? Why? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

Question 40

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Sometimes it is better not to tell the truth. Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

Question 41

Consider a situation where you are asked by your supervisor to work with one of your co-workers on a project. This co-worker has opinions that are very different than yours. Moreover, they feel very strongly about these opinions. Do you think this is a good idea? Use reasons and examples to support your answer.

Video Essays

We've got a bunch of essays on the YouTube channel as well.  These include explanations and comments about how they were written.  Here's the first:

Integrated Essays