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)
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.
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.
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).
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.
- asking someone with more experience for advice about the problem
- finding information about the problem using the Internet
- taking a long time to think about the problem
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Television Appearances by University Professors (casting doubt)
- Portrait of an Elderly Woman in a White Bonnet (casting doubt)
- Incan Fortress of Sacsayhuaman (casting doubt)
- Iron Fertilization (casting doubt)
- Moai of Easter Island (includes a full lecture and reading)
- The Usefulness of Coal (casting doubt)
- Monarch Butterflies (casting doubt)
- Large Animals (casting doubt)
- Wheat and Beer (from "Cracking the TOEFL 2016")
- Forest Fires (from "Cracking the TOEFL 2016")
- Endotherms (from "Official Collection")
- Online Encyclopedias (from "Official Collection")
- Buying a Franchise (from "Official Collection")
- Great Houses (from "Official Collection")
- Smart Cars (from "Official Collection")
- Eco-Friendly Wood (from "TOEFL Quick Prep")
- The Chevalier (from "TOEFL Quick Prep")
- Wave Farms (from "Hackers Actual Test")
- The Anasazi (from "Hackers Actual Test")
- Trans Lunar Phenomena (from "Hackers Actual Test")