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

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: Today, we’re going to discuss the impact of social media on society. On one hand, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have connected people from all over the world. However, there are concerns about the negative effects of social media, such as the spread of misinformation, the rise of cyberbullying, and addiction to social media use. What do you think? Does social media cause more harm than good?

Sarah: I think that social media has caused more harm than good. While it’s true that social media platforms have connected people in unprecedented ways, they have also caused real harm to individuals and societies. Additionally, when people spend too much time on social media platforms, they could suffer from mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.  This is probably because they allow people to anonymously bully and harass other users.

Mark: I think that social media has mostly improved society. For instance, it has given a voice to people that previously were ignored. Moreover, it has provided platforms for political activism that has led to positive change. And, of course, social media has made it easy for everyone to stay connected to family and friends who are far away.  In the past we had to make expensive phone calls to contact our loved ones, now we can talk to them and send them pictures for free on social networks.

Sample Answer One

While I totally understand what both of you mean, I mostly agree with Mark.  I think social media is beneficial. I like how social media sites help people to hear the opinions from a diverse range of people. Traditional media outlets are controlled by the rich and powerful nowadays, so they don’t often include the voices of common people.  On the other hand, everyone can use social media as a platform to share their ideas. For instance, last week I read a Facebook post about an effort to unionize a coffee shop in Washington.  That’s not the sort of thing we can hear about on CNN or in the New York Times.

Sample Answer Two

In my opinion, social media is incredibly beneficial. I strongly agree with Mark’s idea that social media gives a voice to people that society used to ignore.  I’d add that it is almost impossible for most people to get their messages on television or in print media because those are controlled by companies and wealthy individuals.  Sarah raised the relevant point that social media causes mental health problems in some young people, but she didn’t mention that social media can also help us to cope with and recover from such problems.  For example, there are a lot of support groups on communities like Facebook where people can talk about their struggles and get advice from people going through similar experiences. Many people have mentioned that such groups are critically important to their lives.

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