TOEFL Sample Essays

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TOEFL Sample Essays

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) conducts the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), and those planning to study abroad undertake this esteemed language proficiency exam. Among the English proficiency tests TOEFL is a widely accepted one. It aims to assess candidates on four parameters, i.e. Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening.

Essays are a part of the Writing section of the exam. Also, according to the recent changes in the TOEFL exam pattern, the most fundamental change has happened in the writing section. Therefore, for all the aspirants preparing to get their dream score in this exam, here is a blog to providing with various TOEFL sample essays and preparation tips for the updated writing section of the test.

TOEFL Exam Changes in the Writing Section

The TOEFL exam section is now only 1 hour 56 minutes long in duration. Hence, the exam sections underwent several developments to incorporate such a change, except for the Speaking Section, which remained the same. The writing section of the exam received some changes as well. Here are the changes that were made.

  • The duration of the writing section is reduced to 29 minutes.
  • The sections still contain 2 tasks. One is an integrated task but the other independent writing task has been transformed into a writing for academic discussions.
  • The new task is also a single writing task for which the candidates are given a lecture excerpt from a professor accompanied by some opinions by other students.
  • The candidates have to write their own opinion and give supporting arguments for the same.
  • The task will be evaluated for the candidate’s ability to understand the classroom environment and ability to understand along with other parameters.
  • Other factors such as allotted scores will remain the same.
New TOEFL writing task sample by ETS

Recommended Read: TOEFL Registration

TOEFL Writing Task 1- TOEFL Integrated Writing Task

The first TOEFL Writing task is Integrated Writing. This task expects you to use your reading, writing and listening skills. In this, you first read a short passage for three minutes, then you listen to an audio clip of the speaker discussing the same passage. Now you get 20 minutes to respond to the question with reference from these two sources.

During your answer, you can read the passage again but cannot listen to the clip again. The examiners mark this section from 0-5 and they judge you not only on your writing skills but also on your reading and listening skills.

TOEFL Writing Samples- Task 1

The following Sample is from the official website of TOEFL iBT:

Were Dinosaurs Endotherms?

Reading Passage: 

Endotherms are animals such as modern birds and mammals that keep their body temperatures constant. For instance, humans are endotherms and maintain an internal temperature of 37°C, no matter whether the environment is warm or cold. Because dinosaurs were reptiles, and modern reptiles are not endotherms, it was long assumed that dinosaurs were not endotherms. However, dinosaurs differ in many ways from modern reptiles, and there is now considerable evidence that dinosaurs were, in fact, endotherms. Polar dinosaurs One reason for believing that dinosaurs were endotherms is that dinosaur fossils have been discovered in polar regions. Only animals that can maintain a temperature well above that of the surrounding environment could be active in such cold climates. Leg position and movement There is a connection between endothermy and the position and movement of the legs. The physiology of endothermy allows sustained physical activity, such as running. But running is efficient only if an animal’s legs are positioned underneath its body, not at the body’s side, as they are for crocodiles and many lizards. The legs of all modern endotherms are underneath the body, and so were the legs of dinosaurs. This strongly suggests that dinosaurs were endotherms. Haversian canals There is also a connection between endothermy and bone structure. The bones of endotherms usually include structures called Haversian canals. These canals house nerves and blood vessels that allow the living animal to grow quickly, and rapid body growth is a characteristic of endothermy. The presence of Haversian canals in bone is a strong indicator that the animal is an endotherm, and fossilized bones of dinosaurs are usually dense with Haversian canals. 


[Narrator] Now listen to part of a lecture on the topic you just read about. 

[Professor] Many scientists have problems with the arguments you read in the passage. They don’t think those arguments prove that dinosaurs were endotherms. Take the polar dinosaur argument. When dinosaurs lived, even the polar regions where dinosaur fossils have been found were much warmer than today—warm enough during part of the year for animals that were not endotherms to live. And during the months when the polar regions were cold, the so-called polar dinosaurs could have migrated to warmer areas or hibernated as many modern reptiles do. So the presence of dinosaur fossils in polar regions doesn’t prove the dinosaurs were endotherms. Well, what about the fact that dinosaurs had their legs placed under their bodies, not out to the side, like a crocodile’s? That doesn’t necessarily mean dinosaurs were high-energy endotherms built for running. There’s another explanation for having legs under the body: this body structure supports more weight. So with legs under their bodies, dinosaurs could grow to a very large size. Being largely had advantages for dinosaurs, so we don’t need the idea of endothermy and running to explain why dinosaurs evolved to have their legs under their bodies. OK, so how about bone structure? Many dinosaur bones do have Haversian canals, that’s true, but dinosaur bones also have growth rings. Growth rings are a thickening of the bone that indicates periods of time when the dinosaurs weren’t rapidly growing. These growth rings are evidence that dinosaurs stopped growing or grew more slowly during cooler periods. This pattern of periodic growth—you know, rapid growth followed by no growth or slow growth and then rapid growth again—is characteristic of animals that are not endotherms. Animals that maintain a constant body temperature year-round, as true endotherms do, grow rapidly even when the environment becomes cool. 

Prompt: Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they challenge the specific points made in the reading passage. 

Life on Mars 

Reading Passage: 

For years, scientists have been trying to discover whether life exists on Mars. Most have concluded that the Martian environment today is too harsh to support living organisms. However, three recent discoveries lend support to the idea that there may very well be life on Mars after all. First, large amounts of methane have been detected in the Martian atmosphere. This suggests the presence of living methanogens, tiny organisms that release methane into the atmosphere as a by-product of their life processes. Methanogens get their energy from hydrogen in rocks and do not need oxygen or sunlight to live, so they can survive in harsh environments like Mars. Since methane can remain in Mars’ atmosphere only for a few centuries after it’s created, these methanogens must be present and producing methane today.             

Second, the existence of life on Mars is also strongly supported by a meteorite discovered in Antarctica in 1996. The particular chemical composition of this meteorite indicates that it is a rock from the surface of Mars. The meteorite also contains chemically pure and flawless crystals of the compound magnetite. Such magnetite crystals are produced in nature only by bacteria. Third, observations of hydrogen on Mars made in 2001 by NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft suggest the presence of liquid water there that could support organisms. The spacecraft detected the hydrogen in the top layer of Martian soil. This hydrogen is just what one would expect if there were liquid water under the surface. A subterranean reservoir of liquid water is an extremely suitable environment for microscopic life. 


[Narrator] Now listen to part of a lecture on the topic you just read about. 

[Professor] Mars is a very unfriendly place for life. The evidence that has been put forward as supporting there being life on Mars is actually very ambiguous. The facts as we know them can easily be accounted for without supposing life on Mars. First, methanogens are not necessarily the source of methane. Methane can be produced by non-biological processes like volcanic eruptions. The same experiments that detected the atmospheric methane also indicated recent volcano activity. Moreover, unlike methanogens, volcanoes have actually been found on Mars. So since no methanogens have been found yet, it’s more likely that volcanoes are the source of Mars’s methane. Second, while the magnetite crystals found in the meteorite from Mars were probably made by bacteria, there is no indication that the bacteria themselves originated on Mars. The meteorite arrived on Earth about 13,000 years ago, which means it has had thousands of years to become exposed to bacteria on Earth. So it could have been bacteria on Earth that formed the crystals we now observe. Indeed, recent research performed on the meteorite found that, in fact, it has become contaminated by Earth bacteria. Since the sample has been contaminated, the magnetite crystals on the meteorite cannot be used as evidence of life on Mars. Third, what about the supposed existence of liquid water near enough to the surface of Mars to support life? The recent investigations of Mars detected hydrogen; they didn’t detect liquid water per se. It’s actually much more likely that if there’s any water close to the Martian surface, it’s frozen; in other words, it’s ice, not liquid water. And that’s not a great environment for life. 

Prompt: Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they cast doubt on the specific points made in the reading passage.

TOEFL Writing Task 2- TOEFL Writing on Academic Discussion

The second task of writing for an academic discussion is the independent writing task. In this, you will be asked a question on a particular topic or issue. You will get around 10 minutes to write your views on the topic and explain your opinion. You must give reasons for your opinion with logical arguments.

Also Read: TOEFL Sample Test

TOEFL Sample Essays: Writing Task 2

Now that you know the key tips and tricks, take a look at the following TOEFL sample essays to understand the format, structure and style of writing that will get you a higher score: 

Test Link
Question 1Click Here
Question 2Click Here
Question 3Click Here
Question 4Click Here
Question 5Click Here
Question 6Click Here
Question 7Click Here
Question 8Click Here
Question 9Click Here
Question 10Click Here
Question 11Click Here
Question 12Click Here
Question 13Click Here
Question 14Click Here
Question 15Click Here
Question 16Click Here
Question 17Click Here
Question 18Click Here
Question 19Click Here
Question 20Click Here
Question 21Click Here
Question 22Click Here
Question 23Click Here
Question 24Click Here

Exploring TOEFL Sample Essays? You must also check out IELTS Sample Essays!

TOEFL Sample Essay Type

Here is a type of Questions that can be asked in the Independent Writing Task:

  • Motion For or Against a Topic
  • Explaining both sides of a topic
  • Choosing your stance from different options

TOEFL Sample Essay List

  • What are your observations on the effects of widespread use of the internet?
  • Movies and television tend to create certain notions of a perfect lifestyle/human being. How would you elucidate that?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the idea that young people can teach older people?
  • What do you think is the impact of the place in which a person spends his/her childhood?
  • Parents are the best teachers. What’s your take on that?
  • Do you believe that technology is helping people connect on a deeper level?
  • What do you think brings out better solutions? A group or an individual?
  • If you could change one thing about your family what would it be and why?
  • At some point or other, you’ll have a co-worker in your life. What measures will you take to bring out the best in both of you?
  • If your school announced that students with low GPAs will be kicked out of the school. What will you do in response to the situation?
  • What’s your take on the compulsion for traditional schooling? What do you think will happen if we start studying whatever we want by ourselves?

TOEFL Writing Tips 

The writing section is an integral part of language proficiency assessments. Thus, it becomes important to work on your writing skills as well as vocabulary and grammar before appearing for the exam. Here are the best TOEFL preparation tips for the writing section which will surely help you gain your desired score:

  • You must wisely utilize your time and keep in mind that you only have 20 minutes to draft a 250-word essay.
  • Take precise notes of the audio passage which will help you while writing the essay.
  • Do not construct long and complex sentences but adhere to a simpler and concise style of writing.
  • While writing the essay where you are asked to present your views on one side of an argument, do not dwell on both sides. Stick to one opinion and elaborate on the same.  
  • Conclude each body paragraph with a precise sentence. 
  • Using transitional words will help you connect better with the situation. 

Also Read: TOEFL Preparation Tips


How do I write a good TOEFL essay?

There are a few things to keep in mind as you write the body paragraphs:
Use a mix of simple, compound and complex sentences.
Emphasize the examples. …
Avoid very short sentences (less than seven words) and very long sentences (more than 60 words).
Don’t start sentences with coordinating conjunctions.

How do I start a TOEFL essay?

The introduction is the most important paragraph of your TOEFL essay.
The first paragraph of the essay.
Usually 3 to 5 sentences long.
Introduces the essay topic.
Clearly gives your opinion.
Has a strong thesis statement.

Is 28 in TOEFL writing good?

You can use percentiles to determine what a “good” TOEFL Writing score is. You might define “good” as anything that’s above average, or the 50th percentile. Using that definition, any scaled Writing score higher than 22 would be a good score.

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