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.

Your professor is teaching a class on social studies. 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: Life expectancies are increasing all over the world nowadays.  Some of you probably know someone who is more than 100 years old.  Before our next class, I want you to consider the following question: What factors do you think have contributed to the increase in life expectancy? Is it due to advances in medical technology, improvements in government services, changes in lifestyle habits, or something else entirely?

Lisa: I think the main reason why people are living longer nowadays is recent advances in medical technology. Modern medicine has enabled us to better treat and manage chronic illnesses, and there have been major breakthroughs in areas such as cancer treatment and organ transplantation. As a result, people are able to live longer with diseases that may have been fatal in the past.  Not only that, but they can live more rewarding and fulfilling lives.

John: While medical technology has certainly played a role, I think improvements in government services have been just as important. We now have access to clean drinking water, sanitation systems, and free vaccines that have dramatically reduced health problems.  In the past, people didn’t have access to any of these things. Additionally, public health campaigns have helped educate people about healthy habits such as exercise, healthy eating, and about the danger of smoking.


Sample Answer:  In my opinion, new scientific discoveries are the main reason we live longer nowadays. I strongly agree with Lisa’s idea that technology has led to medical breakthroughs.  I’d add that new technology also makes it a lot easier for doctors to deliver those treatments.  In many cases, doctors can assist patients over the Internet, from miles away.  That wasn’t possible when my parents were young. Back then, the average life expectancy was much lower than it is now.  John raised the relevant point that public campaigns about healthy eating and exercise have improved our lives, but he didn’t mention that people actually have less healthy diets and get less exercise than in the past and still live longer lives.  For example, although children are less likely to have physical education classes or play outside nowadays, they still suffer from fewer diseases than in the past.  


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