This style of question will be used on the redesigned TOEFL iBT starting July 26. Get more samples here.

The test-taker must read the question posted by the professor and the two student responses.  Finally, they should write their own response which addresses the question and adds to the conversation.  They have ten minutes to complete the task.

Your professor is teaching a class on education. Write a post responding to the professor’s question.  In your response, you should

  • express and support your personal opinion
  • make a contribution to the discussion in your own words

An effective response will contain at least 100 words.


Professor: In next week’s class we’ll talk about different approaches to education. You know, not everyone agrees about the best way for young people to gain knowledge and learn new skills.  Let’s prepare by discussing whether it’s better for students to take classes with a lot of discussions or classes mainly focused on lectures. What do you think?

Rachel: I prefer classes that have a lot of discussions. I just learn better when I’m actively engaged with academic material and can exchange ideas with my classmates. When I have the opportunity to get immediate feedback, I can understand things more deeply. I also benefit from hearing about different perspectives and new ways of thinking about challenging topics. Additionally, discussions help me retain the information better since they’re more interactive and memorable.

Mike: I see your point, Sarah, but I prefer lectures. I like being able to listen to an expert explain a topic and really get into it. With lectures, there’s usually a clear structure and a set agenda, which can help me stay focused and organized. I also appreciate being able to take notes and study at my own pace.  I can’t do those things if I have to engage in a discussion. Not only that, but discussions can sometimes get off track or become too argumentative, which can take away from the learning experience.


Sample Answer

In my opinion, interactive classes are much better than ones where we just sit and passively listen to a professor.  I strongly agree with Rachel’s point that discussions help us to remember details more easily.  I’d add that we need to prepare for discussions in advance, which also improves our retention of specific details and concepts. In the end, I think these things improve our grades on tests and assignments. While I understand Mike’s point that it is easier to take notes while listening to lectures, he doesn’t mention that nowadays it’s extremely easy to record our classes.  If we need to take notes about things we missed, we can just listen to a recording and fill in the blanks.  As a result, we can take part in the cut and thrust of debate and not worry about missing anything critical.


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