The Question

This TOEFL integrated writing question is taken from the official  TOEFL Practice set. Check it out if you want the reading and lecture.

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The Sample Essay

          The reading and the lecture are both about ecocertification of wood products, which is a way to show that they are environmentally friendly. ​  The author of the reading believes that American companies will not adopt this practice.  The lecturer casts doubts on the claims made in the article.  She thinks that American wood companies will eventually certify their products.

            First of all, the author points out that customers will likely ignore such a label. It is mentioned that many products are now given special labels, so shoppers no longer trust them. This point is challenged by the lecturer. She says customers actually do pay attention to claims when they are made by official agencies. Furthermore, she she argues that Americans will be enthusiastic about products that are endorsed by a trustworthy organization​.

          Secondly, the author contends that it costs a lot to have wood inspected, so certified products will be more expensive. The article notes that American consumers are strongly motivated by price, and as a result will choose products that have not been certified. The lecturer rebuts this argument. She suggests that customers do not care too much about small differences in price. She elaborates on this by mentioning that certified products will only be about five percent more expensive, which will not affect the purchasing decisions of buyers.

          Finally, the author states that certification only makes sense for companies that sell products outside of the United States. The article establishes that American firms sell most of their products domestically, and their customers are happy with their merchandise as it is. The professor, on the other hand, posits that American businesses should be afraid of foreign competitors. She puts forth the idea that foreign firms could flood into America and win customers by selling ecocertified wood to people who care about the environment.

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