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 public administration. 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: Funding for education is a really hot topic nowadays, so today we’re going to talk about how universities use their limited resources.  In the discussion board please respond to the following question: Should universities prioritize funding academic facilities like libraries, or is it okay to spend just as much money on sports and athletic programs?

Rachel: I think universities should prioritize funding for libraries. Libraries are essential for academic research, and they provide students with access to information and resources that they might not have otherwise. Investing in libraries can also help attract and retain the most talented professors, which can ultimately benefit the university as a whole.  Sports, on the other hand, appeal to just a few people. 

Mike: While I agree that libraries are important, I think that sports programs should also be a priority for universities. Sports can bring the campus community together, even if that just means they attend sports and cheer for their favorite athletes.  Meanwhile, among the athletes themselves, sports promote teamwork and leadership skills. Additionally, successful sports programs can generate revenue for the university and boost its reputation.


Sample Answer

In my opinion, universities should spend more money on academic facilities. I strongly agree with Rachel’s idea that academic facilities draw talented professors to specific universities.  I’d add that they also attract helps schools attract the best possible students, which improves the whole academic environment. Everyone enjoys classes a lot when their classmates are intelligent and devoted to their studies.   Mike raised the relevant point that athletic events bring people close together, but he didn’t mention that there are other ways to do that which are much more affordable.  For example, organizing a campus festival is a more cost-effective way to help students bond than funding an entire football team. 

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