This style of question will be used on the redesigned TOEFL iBT starting July 26.  Get more samples here.  Read a detailed guide to the question over 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 business. 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: Next week, we’re going to spend a lot of time in class discussing the positive and negative ways in which companies affect the world around us.  Before we start talking about that in class, I want to hear what you think about the topic.  So here’s a question for the message board: In your opinion, what is the best way for a company to have a positive impact on society?


Sarah: I believe that companies should focus on making their operations more socially and environmentally friendly. While charitable giving can be beneficial, it doesn’t address the root causes of serious social and environmental problems. By doing business in more responsible ways, companies can have a more meaningful and lasting impact on society.  Moreover, if they attract positive attention from consumers they could inspire other companies to do the same.  That’s the only way we can really solve today’s problems.

John: While those are very good points, I think that companies should focus on charitable giving. Philanthropy can provide immediate relief to those in need and contribute to the overall well-being of society right away.  It could take years or decades for business changes to have a positive impact on society, and most people just can’t wait that long.  


Sample Answer 1

This is a challenging topic, but I think donating to charity is the best way for companies to make the world better. I strongly agree with John’s idea that charitable donations are a way to quickly address the serious problems that we are facing.  I’d add that some of these problems – like homelessness and food insecurity – are more serious than they have ever been, so companies certainly have a role to play. Even a small donation can save someone’s life. Sarah raised the relevant point that philanthropy might help businesses to attract new customers, but she didn’t mention that nowadays people’s purchasing decisions are mostly based on cost. Many people prefer to buy the cheapest products available, even if they are sold by unethical companies. Because the economy is in such rough shape, they just can’t afford to think about the reputation of a business when they are shopping.

Sample Answer 2

While I appreciate the points mentioned by both Sarah and John, I think that companies should focus on paying their employees higher salaries.  We all know that nowadays people around the world are struggling just to keep their heads above water. Everyone is also aware that inflation is out of control, so even basic necessities are quite expensive. Remember that children from poor households don’t always live up to their potential, so business executives ought to help them by paying their parents higher wages. Some people may feel that this approach doesn’t address long-term concerns like climate change, but I think that poverty is accelerating and could be an even bigger concern in the future.

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