Sample TOEFL Essays


  1. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement:

People should sometimes do things that they do not enjoy doing.

Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

Life is challenging. In order to be happy and successful, we need to prepare ourselves on many fronts. Although participating in enjoyable activities is always desirable, in my view it is also necessary at times to do things we do not enjoy. The bases for my view are personal, social and financial.

Personally, doing things we don’t care for builds character and helps us mature. For instance, when parents have their first baby they are forced to give up their freedom in order to look after the child. There are times when parents barely get enough sleep and still have to get up and go to work in the morning. Similarly, when students are in school and university, they need to spend a lot of time studying. In spite of being tempted to go out with friends and attend parties, those who have self-control and keep their priorities straight are the ones who get high grades. Through such life experiences people become stronger, wiser and more responsible.

From a social perspective, we live in an interdependent world which imposes its obligations on us. Each person belongs to diverse social groups and plays various social roles. Each of us has to attend birthday parties, weddings and funerals to show we care about our fellow human beings. Participating in events for the sake of others teaches us to go beyond our own selfish needs and to share in the joys and sorrows of others.

Financially-speaking, people need to work – and spend – to keep the local, national and international economy growing. We need to support our own family in particular and our community in general. In fact, most of us work many more hours than we would like to work. What propels us to continue working is our financial needs, commitments and obligations. Only in this way are we able to live comfortable lifestyles and save for our retirement days.

In conclusion, life places huge demands on us. By participating in a wide variety of activities, both pleasant and unpleasant, we can discover more about our unique selves and live fuller lives.

  1. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement:

Only people who earn a lot of money are successful.

Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

It is said that money makes the world go round. We spend the majority of our waking hours at work – earning a living, providing for our families and saving for our retirement. Although money no doubt plays a critical role in determining the quality and nature of our lifestyles, in my opinion, the size of one’s pay cheque is not a measure of one’s success in life. The bases of my views are philosophical, social and personal.

Philosophically, success can be defined in myriad ways. For some, success is an external concept to be measured in terms of high income, huge bank balances, fancy cars, expensive mansions, luxurious holidays and so on. However, in my view, success is a reflection of internal human qualities, such as compassion, kindness, honesty, understanding and more. By this definition, the mere fact of earning a high income does not determine or define success.

Socially, success depends on how we treat other human beings. Do we regard others with respect or do we impose our will on them? Are we mindful of their needs and desires or do we behave selfishly? Do we encourage and support our friends, family and communities or do we insist they only follow the path we think best? It is clear that a critical aspect of success lies in the answers to such questions for they reveal the quality of relationships we share with our fellow human beings.

Personally, success can only be self-defined. My idea of success may not be the same as another person’s vision. This is as it should be. Each of us is a product of diverse social, cultural, economic, political, religious and ideological influences. When we add to that mix the free will that each of us exercises, we can understand clearly how each of us fashions his / her own aspirations for what we consider to be success in our own lives.

In conclusion, success is a concept which can be interpreted in a million different ways. Each individual’s version adds to the richness of our world and makes our planet a more delightful, amazing and colourful place to live and thus, whether a materialistic yardstick such as money is the sole criterion of success comes under serious consideration.

  1. Many students choose to attend schools or universities outside their home countries. Why do some students study abroad? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

Pursuing higher studies abroad has become a popular choice for students from around the globe. Each year, young people spend thousands of dollars to travel, live and study in universities, colleges and schools overseas. In my view, this life-changing decision is based on the premise that education is an investment in one’s future. My opinion is based on academic, professional and personal reasons.

In my opinion, the primary reason for studying abroad is academic. Students wish to reap the benefits associated with attending a reputable educational institute. In addition, gaining admission to prestigious college or university is often regarded as an achievement in itself. The quality of the academic programs, the level of specialized instruction and the availability of professional resources are all high. It is no wonder that students long to graduate from well-known institutes.

From a professional viewpoint, graduating from foreign universities is often a gateway to a successful career. The connection is direct and provides strong motivation for young people to study abroad. The hope is that such graduates have an added advantage over their peers in a highly competitive job market. In some cases, top students from prestigious universities land job offers even before completing their studies. Furthermore, well-known corporations vie to attract the fresh new talent, who will help achieve corporate profitability in the future.

From a personal angle, studying abroad enables young people to mature quickly and develop independence. For instance, joining a foreign academic institution is often the first experience students have of living away from parents, siblings and friends. In one’s home country, this strong nexus provides support, assistance and guidance. However, while abroad, students must overcome the initial homesickness and culture shock, conform to a different teaching style, adapt to unfamiliar social and cultural expectations and develop proficiency in a new language. These challenging tasks enable youngsters to emerge with greater maturity and self-confidence.

In conclusion, the desire to study abroad is based on several concrete benefits for students in terms of the present and the future. This is why most students would gladly accept an opportunity to go abroad and would work quite diligently to turn this opportunity into a resounding success.

  1. Some people think that family is the most important influence on young adults. Other people think that friends are the most important influence in young adults. Which view do you agree with? Use examples to support your position.

As social beings, we are naturally influenced by those we meet in the course of our lives. This is particularly true for young people, whose character and personality are still malleable. Although friends play a central role in the lives of teenagers, in my opinion, it is the family which has a greater impact on young people. My view is based on psychological, intellectual and financial reasons.

Psychologically, the family is the central grounding factor for a young person, because the parents, brothers and sisters are the ones who actually love him or her. It is through thousands of life situations and family discussions that norms, values, customs, traditions and expectations are passed on to the youngster. The depth of relationship, developed over the years through shared joys and sorrows, place family members in an incomparably close bond which cannot easily be replicated by friends or anyone else.

Intellectually, the family impacts the young person’s ability to think. Parents create the intellectual climate in the home. Whether children develop the habit of reading, studying hard or striving to achieve their goals depends largely on the parents’ example. Whether youngsters agree or disagree with their parents’ political or religious views, the family remains a reference point against which young people develop their individuality. In Asian cultures, where respect for elders is an important value, the family plays an even more central role in shaping the young person’s world view.

Financially, the family influences the youngster by providing a certain type of lifestyle. Home, school, friends, hobbies, clothes, holidays and material possessions – all of these are impacted by the family’s prosperity. The same holds true for the youngster growing up in a poor family- a totally different reality will surround that young person. No friend could have this powerful or tangible an influence on the teenager.

In conclusion, though friends can have a strong influence on a young person, it is finally the family which provides the more powerful backdrop in a young person’s life. The family’s influence is permanent, unforgettable and inescapable.

  1. Some people believe that university students should be required to attend classes. Others believe that going to classes should be optional. Which point of view do you agree with? Use specific reasons and details to explain your answer.

Going to university is a coveted goal for most students around the world. Many parents dream of their children having the opportunity to receive a university education, as a gateway to a successful future. Although it is possible to receive a degree without attending classes, in my view, attendance plays a critical part in the university experience. The bases for my views are educational, social and intellectual.

From an academic standpoint, attending classes simply enables students to learn more. After all, professors do not simply parrot what is written in university textbooks; they add to this knowledge from their own professional experience, reading and research. This provides an opportunity for students to receive key perspectives, as well as relevant and up to date information in their specialized fields. Since acquiring knowledge and developing critical thinking skills are important goals of higher education, attendance at classes should be considered a mandatory requirement for graduation.

Socially, university life offers young people the opportunity to form meaningful friendships, relationships and connections, some of which last for life. One can make good friends or even meet a future life partner while in college or university. In addition, one’s classmates may become the “movers and shakers” of tomorrow’s corporations and industries. These important contacts are also made while attending university classes, studying and partying together.

Lastly, from an intellectual perspective, a student can gain tremendously by matching wits with other bright students from around the world. In the context of classes, students can discuss issues, exchange views, explore ideas, solve problems and develop cross-cultural skills through interaction with international students. This can be a critical experience that helps students define themselves and their political and ideological place in the world.

In summary, attending university classes benefits students in myriad ways. Broadly speaking, it enables students to make the best of their years in university. Therefore, it should be regarded as a desirable and meaningful means to achieving various important life goals.

  1. Some people think that children should begin their formal education at an early age and should most of their time on school studies. Others believe that young children should spend most of their time playing. Compare these two views. Which view do you agree with? Why?

Childhood is one of the most important and memorable periods of our lives. We come into the world innocent and unaware and in just a few short years make great physical and mental progress. Although play is an important component of our young lives, in my view, there are significant benefits to be gained from beginning formal education at an early age. My view is based on intellectual and social reasons.

Intellectually, the period from birth to six years is the most significant for brain growth. A child who is surrounded by a rich multi-sensory environment develops infinitely more connection between brain cells, which are the basis of what we call “intelligence”. In this connection, the process of learning to read is of particular significance because it has such a strong positive influence on neural development. Although parents can provide this early intellectual stimulation, in most cases working parents find it difficult to do so. This strengthens the case for enrolling children in a formal education system, which can provide the necessary resources and trained personnel to bring out the best in the child.

Socially, being in a school environment teaches children both how to behave themselves and also how to get along with other children and adults. These lessons in human behaviour are as important as the formal subjects a child must study. By learning how to follow rules, take turns and be respectful a child becomes a part of the social nexus to which we all belong. The formal academic experience, in an objective context, away from the family structure, also satisfies the child’s growing sense of independence. Most children often “play school” in any case, particularly if they have older siblings.

In conclusion, early education offers children a host of benefits at different levels. A child can always play after coming home; in the meantime, the school experience sets the child on a path to success and self-confidence in a competitive, demanding world.

  1. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

Children should be required to help with household tasks as soon as they are able.

Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

We are born into a complex, demanding world. From infancy to adulthood lies a period in which we must prepare for the responsibilities and obligations of communal living. Although childhood should be a period of relative freedom, in my view it also needs to provide a strong preparation for the future. From this perspective, assigning household tasks to children is beneficial from a personal, social and economic point of view.

Personally, children need to learn the value of responsibility. Parents should involve children in household chores such as dusting furniture, raking leaves, washing dishes and so on. By including youngsters in this way, parents acknowledge the children’s ability to contribute meaningfully to the smooth running of the home. What’s more, such tasks teach them about being reliable, working efficiently and developing integrity. This early training strengthens their self-images and self-confidence.

Socially, young people need to be absorbed into the social nexus. While developing independence is a desirable trait, it is equally important to realize that we live in an interdependent world. Our decisions, choices and actions affect others around us. When a child sets the table he / she not only learns how to create an aesthetically pleasing dining environment, but also that guests are to be honoured and appreciated. Such experiences are a part of the socialization process whereby social and cultural norms are passed on to future generations.

Economically, children need to understand the connection between effort and reward. Initially, when children are young the “compensation” for their efforts may be in the form of a warm hug, a word of praise or a public compliment. Later, parents may link pocket money to the performance of household duties. This arrangement allows youngsters to realize that by exchanging their free time for work, they can earn money to buy the things they like. In this way, young people develop a strong sense of the financial realities that await them.

In conclusion, participating in household duties and chores is beneficial at myriad levels. Most important, it enables children and youngsters to understand the philosophical equation that to receive, we must also give.