Sample TOEFL Paired Choice Essay

 

The Question

Some people think that they can learn much more by themselves than if they work with a teacher. Others think that it is always better to get help from a skilled teacher. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons to support your choice.

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The Sample Essay

              Everyone realizes that it is important to improve our skills and abilities.  I am of the opinion that it is much better to study with a teacher than it is to study alone.  I feel this way for two main reasons, which I will explore in the following essay.

          To begin with, studying with a teacher helps us to stay focused and avoid distractions, which are two things that people today often struggle with. Nowadays, we have a lot of technological distractions right at our fingertips, including smartphones, social networking websites and streaming videos.  Even when we make firm plans, it is difficult to stay focused on our studies because it is so easy to consume some frivolous entertainment instead. My own experience is a compelling example of this. When I was attempting to learn English for the first time, my studies faltered because I pulled out my phone whenever I hit a difficult part in my exercise book.  When I switched to studying with a tutor, however, she scolded me whenever I tried to use a phone in class. Additionally, whenever I tried to begin some idle small talk in order to avoid hard work, she changed the subject back to learning English. I progressed much more quickly with her than I did while studying on my own.

          Secondly, most of us have an inflated sense of our own intelligence, which causes problems when we try to study alone.  Many people believe that with just a nice textbook they can master any topic on their own. They are of the opinion that they can create a curriculum all by themselves and formulate their own study plan.  However, this is something that only trained experts are actually very good at. For example, when I first started learning English I studied all by myself. I wrote complicated lesson plans and schedules that I thought would match my progress.  Sadly, I did not learn as quickly as I anticipated and my plans fell apart. When I started studying with a talented and experienced tutor, she immediately assessed my needs and ability level and created a more realistic timeline for me. As a result, I have been able to make realistic progress without feeling discouraged.

          In conclusion, I strongly believe that studying with a teacher is better than studying alone. This is because teachers help us to avoid distractions, and because they can help us form realistic goals and objectives. (407 words)

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