The Question

This integrated TOEFL writing question is from the Official TOEFL Tests Collection from  ETS.  You can order the book if you need the reading and lecture.

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The Sample Integrated Essay

        The reading and the listening are about the “great houses” found by archaeologists in the Chaco Canyon area of New Mexico. The author presents three theories about the possible purposes of these structures, while the lecturer argues that each of the author’s theories is unfounded and that the true use of the houses is unknown.

        First of all, the author says that the structures were used for residential purposes. It is noted that they are very similar to the “apartment buildings” located in nearby Taos, New Mexico, where people have been living for centuries. The professor casts doubt on this theory. She says that while the buildings may resemble the apartment buildings from the outside, their interiors do not. She points out that the great houses contain very few fireplaces, which would have been necessary if they had been inhabited by many families.

       Secondly, the author mentions that the structures could have been used to store food. The article asserts that the Chaco people consumed great quantities of maize, which could have been stored in the houses for long periods of time without spoiling. On the other hand, the professor says that excavations of the sites have not turned up any signs of maize. She says that if the buildings had been used to store this crop, researchers would have found signs of either spilled maize or containers for maize.

       Finally, the author states that the structures could have served as ceremonial centers. The author observes that archaeologists found broken pots in a mound near one of the houses, and that pots were used during special occasions. The professor notes, in contrast, that the mound contained other materials as well, including sandstone and construction materials, which would not have been used in ceremonies. She feels that the mound was merely a trash heap left behind by workers when the house was constructed.


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





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