The Question

This integrated writing question is taken from an ETS practice test that I can’t share here.

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The Sample Essay

The article and lecture are about humpback whales.  The author believes that they migrate using the stars.  The lecturer challenges this claim.  He doesn’t believe that whales use the stars for migration.

First of all, the article notes that whales are intelligent enough to migrate using the stars because their brain capacity exceeds that of many other animals.  In contrast, the professor says there isn’t a connection between intelligence and the use of stars for navigation.  For instance, ducks do this but their intelligence is merely average. They migrate merely because of instinct.

Secondly, the article says that whales migrate in straight lines, which is only possible when an animal uses an external object as a source of direction. However, the professor says there is possibly a different explanation for this.  He mentions that it might be because whales are sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field and use it to guide them during migrations. Because humpback whales have a substance called bio-magnetite in their brains they are likely quite sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field.

Finally, the article mentions that whales do a unique behavior called spy-hopping, which is when they jump straight up into the air for minutes at a time. They may do this to get a good look at the stars in the sky.  In contrast, the professor notes that spy-hopping probably doesn’t have anything to do with looking at the stars. Sharks do the same thing, but they don’t migrate.  Moreover, humpbacks sometimes do this in the middle of the day, when no stars are visible.


This is a sample TOEFL integrated essay written by a native speaker.  It follows our TOEFL writing templates for integrated essays.  If you find it useful, please remember that we have many more sample essays for you to read!




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