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

Your professor is teaching a class on computer science. 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:  A new story about Artificial Intelligence (AI) is in the news almost every day.  And, of course, companies are spending an enormous amount of money to develop new technologies related to AI.  Before next class, I want you to consider the following question: Is AI a dangerous technology that, overall, will be harmful to society, or is it a powerful tool that will improve the lives of people?

Megan: Personally, I think AI is a threat. As AI advances, many jobs may become automated, leaving people without work. That will certainly increase income inequality. Additionally, there’s the risk that AI systems could be programmed with biases or used to discriminate against certain groups. We need to be careful and ensure that AI is developed in an ethical and responsible way.  Since we can’t guarantee that right now, I think it is best to slow down.

David: I disagree with Megan. I’m of the opinion that AI has the potential to solve many of the world’s problems, from climate change to disease. Additionally, AI can help us make better decisions by analyzing vast amounts of data and identifying patterns that humans may miss. That said, I agree with Megan that we must ensure that AI is developed and used in a responsible way that benefits society as a whole.


Sample Answer 1

While I can understand both points of view, I think that AI is mostly helpful and will improve our lives over time. Like David, I’m really confident that AI will help us deal with many serious problems currently affecting society.  It has already been used to make driving safer and reduce car accidents, so we currently have some proof that AI is helping people around the world.  According to statistics I read last week, self-driving cars get in accidents 80% less frequently than cars driven by humans. That seems like an incredible advantage to me.  Remember that new technologies are always scary at first, but we shouldn’t let our fears prevent us from making progress.

Sample Answer 2

No one can predict the future with absolute certainty, but I am pretty sure that AI will cause a lot of problems in the long run.  For instance, think about the effect it will have on education.  We’ve already heard that many university students are using artificial intelligence to cheat on their assignments.  It is almost impossible for teachers to detect when an essay has been written by an AI bot, so lazy students have stopped writing their papers altogether. Not only are students using AI to write their essays, but some are even using it to do math assignments… or even write computer code for their computer science classes. While I’m sure that no one in THIS class is dishonest, we cannot ignore the overall trend.


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