This style of question will be used on the redesigned TOEFL iBT starting July 26. Get more samples here.  You can also check out my detailed guide to this task.

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 sociology. 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: Lately we’ve talked a lot about the impact of technology on our lives. With the prevalence of smartphones and other devices, we’re more connected than ever, but some people are distressed by this trend. We’ll discuss this in our next class, but before we do I’d like to hear your thoughts on the issue.  Overall, do devices like smartphones have a positive impact on the way we communicate?  Or a negative one?

Rachel: This sort of technology has had a negative impact on our ability to communicate face-to-face. People are too reliant on text messages and social media, and that reduces the nuance and depth in our interactions. It’s harder to read body language and tone of voice over text, and that can result in misunderstandings. If people want to become effective communicators, they should talk to people in person.

Mike: While I agree that it can sometimes be challenging to communicate in person, I also believe that modern technology is beneficial. Smartphones make it possible for us to stay connected with acquaintances and loved ones who are far away, and social networks provide a platform for introverted people to express themselves in ways that they may not be able to do in person.

Sample Answer 1 (with template)

In my opinion, having a smartphone is advantageous in the modern world.  Certain groups of people just aren’t able to share their ideas in traditional media like newspapers and television broadcasts, but if they have smartphones they can easily share whatever is on their mind by posting to social networks like Twitter and Facebook.  When people are able to share how they feel about political and sociological issues, they can bring about positive change in society.  Think about the last election in our country. People were really upset about the policies of the Red Party, so they flooded social media with complaints and encouraged people to vote for the Blue Party.  I think those posts had a profound impact on the final result.

Sample Answer 2 (with template)

While I can see where Mike is coming from, I am convinced that smartphones have a really detrimental impact on communication in the modern world.  People everywhere have become obsessed with watching short videos and reading social media posts when they have some time to kill, so their attention spans are almost non-existent. This means they have a hard time interacting with each other for long periods of time.  When my parents were young, they spent their free time reading newspapers and books. I think that improved their overall academic abilities, so when they went to college they were able concentrate on things for hours at a time, including conversations.  In contrast, I get pretty anxious when I have to talk to someone and am unable to look at my phone every five minutes!

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