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 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.


Professor: Today we’re going to discuss whether the government should tax unhealthy products, such as sugary drinks and junk food. On one hand, taxing these products could discourage people from consuming them and reduce health problems. On the other hand, some argue that such taxes unfairly target lower-income families who may rely on these products as affordable sources of food. If you had to choose, would you support or oppose taxing unhealthy products? Why?

Sam: I support the idea of taxing unhealthy products. These products are often high in sugar, salt, and fat, which can lead to serious health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. As you said, by taxing these products, the government can discourage people from consuming them and resolve some of these health issues. Moreover, the revenue generated can be used to fund advertising campaigns that promote healthy eating habits.

Tanya: I believe that such taxes are unfair to families that don’t have a lot of money. Wealthy people will not care about the taxes and their habits won’t change. Additionally, when prices go up, people usually try to save money by purchasing lower-quality products that are cheaper to begin with.  If people start buying low-quality food they could suffer even more health problems.  There are better solutions to this problem than taxes.


Sample Answer: In my opinion, it’s probably a good idea to tax certain unhealthy products. I strongly agree with Sam’s idea that taxes on junk food can reduce the prevalence of serious health problems in society.  I’d add that the government already spends an enormous amount of money treating people with such illnesses and can’t afford to keep doing that forever. I read that budget of our national health care system has increased by 20% in the last five years alone. I was shocked when I read that.  Tanya raised the relevant point that people might turn to lower-quality products to save money, but she didn’t mention that the government can prevent this by using the money from the tax to make healthy choices more affordable.  For example, they could subsidize products like fresh fruit and vegetables.   I think people would be more willing to buy carrots and applies if they were cheaper.

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