Sample TOEFL Integrated Essay


The Question

This integrated (Type 1) writing question is taken from a Chinese textbook which you probably will not be able to find. I am not permitted to print the lecture and reading here, but if you need some practice tests I highly recommend buying the Official TOEFL iBT Tests Collection from ETS.  It’s an excellent source of actual TOEFL tests.

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The Sample Essay

          The reading and the lecture are both about whether monarch butterfly populations are declining, and whether herbicides should be banned in order to save them.  The author of the reading believes that  herbicides should not be banned.  The lecturer casts doubt on the claims made in the article.  She thinks that herbicides pose a serious threat to the butterflies and should be outlawed.

          First of all, the author claims that no overall decline in monarch butterfly populations has been observed in North America.  He notes that populations in certain areas have dropped, but that these have been offset by gains in other locations.  This point is challenged by the lecturer. She says because the butterflies are extremely territorial, it is very easy for biologists to count them.  Furthermore, she points out that a very clear drop in monarch butterfly populations has, in fact, been measured.

          Secondly, the author states that herbicides kill the milkweed that butterflies consume, but that plenty of it still remains in the wild for them to feed on.  He argues that herbicides have not caused a general decline in milkweed availability, but just a decline on commercial farmland.  This argument is rebutted by the lecturer.  She suggests that it is a well-known fact that America is rapidly losing rural land because of urban sprawl.  She notes that this effect has led to a very real decline of milkweed availability in rural areas.

          Finally, the author mentions that the attempt to ban herbicides is based on emotion rather than evidence and research.  He is of the opinion that people only want to ban the herbicides because they affect the food of their beloved butterflies.  The lecturer, on the other hand, feels that the move to ban herbicides is based on a rational examination of the evidence available.  She puts forth the idea that we know the herbicides affect milkweed and  we know that butterflies consume milkweed, so we can logically assume that the herbicides are detrimental to the insects.


This is a sample TOEFL integrated essay written by a TOEFL expert.  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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