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 political 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. You have ten minutes to write.


Professor: Today we’re going to talk about the debate between economic growth and protecting the environment. Economic growth creates new jobs and gives people money they can use to improve their lives. On the other hand, if we protect the environment it can be enjoyed both by ourselves and future generations. If you had to choose between prioritizing economic growth or protecting the environment, which one would you choose.  Why?

Alex: I would prioritize the environment. We only have one planet and if we don’t take care of it, we won’t have pleasant lives in the future. Economic growth can be important, but not at the expense of the environment. I think we need to shift towards more environmentally-friendly economic practices, such as investing in renewable energy and promoting environmentally-friendly technologies.  We’ll all live much healthier lives if the world around us is clean.

Maggie: While I agree with Alex that environmental sustainability is important, I think that economic growth is the only way to solve many of the social and economic problems we face. We need a strong economy to create jobs, reduce poverty, and improve standards of living.  Not only that, but when companies grow stronger and more profitable, they can develop new technologies that solve our environmental problems.



Sample Answer:

In my opinion, we should prioritize the environment at this time. I strongly agree with Alex’s idea that our lives will be unpleasant if we focus entirely on economic growth. I would add that if the environment is damaged by industrial development we’ll all be more likely to suffer from serious ailments like cancer and lung disease. These sorts of illnesses can be a real strain on our medical systems.  Maggie raised the relevant point that we its possible that profitable companies will someday solve all of our problems using new technology, but she doesn’t mention that they might arrive far too late to be of use.  For example, it could take decades for an innovative company to create a clean energy source, but people are suffering from environmental catastrophes right now.

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