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 education. 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: Over the next few weeks, we’re going to talk about recent trends in education.  Specifically, we’ll discuss how many universities have started letting students take classes from home instead of taking them in person on campus. I want to know what you think about this issue, so here’s a quick question for the discussion board: “What do you think is the most significant impact of online classes?  Why do you think it has this impact?”

Jack: The main thing is that online classes make education more accessible. For one, they  help reduce commuting time and costs and give students more flexibility in their schedules. Plus, online learning can be more accessible for students who have disabilities or live far away from campus. Traditionally, high costs have prevented many people from pursuing an education, but thanks to online classes cost is less of a problem.

Emily: I think that online classes cause people to learn less than before. There’s something to be said for the energy and engagement that comes from being in the same physical space as your classmates and instructor. Moreover, when we take classes in person it is easier to build relationships and collaborate. We learn just as much from personal connections as we do from our actual lectures and textbooks.


Sample Answer:

In my opinion, online classes have a negative impact on our education.  I agree with Emily’s idea that we learn less when we take them.  I’d add that it is a lot easier to get distracted when we study at home using our personal computer.  It’s so easy for our mind to wander off to other things, which could cause us to miss really critical details from an important lecture.  This is less likely to happen when we are in a classroom surrounded by serious scholars. Jack raised the relevant point that online classes make education more accessible, but he didn’t mention that the main expense for students is tuition, and universities charge the same amount for online classes and offline classes.  For example, in my biology class some people attend in person, while other people take the class at home, but we all pay the exact same fee. Overall, then, I would say that online classes cause us to learn less than before.

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