The Sample Question:

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.


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

Special Offer: Learn Your TOEFL Writing Score and Improve it!

You can now sign up to have your practice essays evaluated and scored by a native speaker.  It's a good way to learn your real ability level before test day and how you can best prepare for the test.  Sign up today!

Sample Independent Essay:

(Note that this question came from the Official Guide to the TOEFL, which is a really great book)

          Maintaining healthy relationships can be very difficult in today’s world, and there are many aspects of our interactions with others that we need to worry about.  In my opinion, there are times when it is better to not tell the truth to others.  I feel this way for two reasons, which I will explore in the following essay.

          First of all, telling small lies can sometimes motivate the people we care about. Humans are very competitive and want to be the best at whatever task they are completing.  Whether they are involved in an athletic event or taking a test at school, they feel more motivation if they think it is possible that they will achieve an impressive result.  In cases like these, sometimes lying about their potential can encourage them to perform well.  My own experience is a compelling example of this.  Last year, my husband signed up for a marathon in our city. I knew that he would struggle to even finish the event, but I wanted him to feel confident in his ability.  Accordingly, when he asked me about my opinion, I lied and said that he had a chance of finishing in the top ten. This gave him a lot of confidence and he dedicated himself to training for the marathon.  Even though he did not win the race my small lie was enough to maintain his motivation both before and during the race.

          Secondly, being honest all of the time can lead to high levels of anxiety. If we tell unpleasant truths, we may spend days or hours worrying about the possible consequences of what we have revealed.  For instance, last week a colleague asked me what I thought of her new hairstyle.  I was honest, and said that I thought it looked terrible. Though she did not express any anger at my remarks, I could see that she was really hurt by what I said. As a result of this, I spent the rest of the day worrying that I had jeopardized our relationship. My emotional state greatly reduced my productivity that day, and I am still a bit nervous that my colleague will hold a grudge against me.  Had I simply said that her hair looked wonderful I could have avoided all of these feelings.

          In conclusion, I believe that there are times when it is best to not tell the truth to others.  This is because lies can motivate people to perform well, and because always being honest can sometimes cause personal turmoil.