Sample TOEFL Essays

136 You have decided to give several hours of your time each month to improve the community where you live. What is one thing you will do to improve your community? Why? Use specific reasons and details to explain your choice.

Volunteering a few hours each week to some community activity is an important way of investing in the future of our society. I chose to spend my time working with elementary school children helping them to learn to read. Developing good reading skills will help these students keep up with their classmates, open new worlds to them, and help them succeed in life.
Students who are not good readers cannot keep up with their studies. They will not understand the lessons; they will come to school unprepared; they will not be able to perform. By learning to read, students will be on equal footing with their classmates. They will be active participants in class.
Books on different lifestyles, occupations, cultures, or governments will open new doors to students. Students who can’t read will only know what they see around them. Students who can read will be able to travel to new worlds and experience new ideas without ever leaving their classrooms.
Today, a person who can’t read is severely handicapped. A non-reader will have to work at the most menial jobs. Readers, especially good readers, have the whole universe open to them. They will have the possibility to learn any job that interests them.
By volunteering to help an elementary school child learn to read, I am helping him or her not only today, but for the rest of his or her life. I am helping them keep pace with their peers and explore the world and themselves through books.

137 Your school has enough money to purchase either computers for students or books for the library. Which should your school choose to buy—computers or books? Use specific reasons and examples to support your recommendation.

Our school has been given a grant to make necessary improvements to its facilities. We can spend it on new books for the library or on more computers. Our school already has books in its library and it already has computers. Since we have more books than computers, I think that new computers will benefit the student more.
Computers can access up-to–date information on the Internet. Right now, the reference books in our library are very outdated. Our encyclopedia set is eight years old. But if every student had access to a computer, we all could have the latest facts and figures on everything.
Unfortunately, giving every student a computer means we need a lot of computers. Right now, the ratio of computers to students is one to twelve. This means students only get to work on the computers three or four times a week. But if every student had a computer, we could use it whenever we wanted.
“Information on demand” should be our slogan. Students today need lots of information right away. Life goes by too quickly to wait. It takes forever to identify a book that you think might have the information you need. Then you have to go to the library and look for the book. Usually it’s not even there.
With a computer, information searches are instantaneous. If we all had computers, we could access more information and access it faster by computer. We could have all the information we needed for our schoolwork. We could all improve our grades. For these reasons, I feel that purchasing more computers will benefit us more than buying more books.

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

Although students can get a good education in most subjects at their home universities, it is important to study abroad for some or part of one’s college education. Study abroad can give a student competency in a new language, familiarity with a different culture, and a chance to grow in different ways.
One cannot deny that it is important to be bilingual or even multilingual in today’s fast-paced world. We have a global economy and communication by Internet and satellite TV means we must be familiar with other languages in order to keep up with new developments.
Knowing another culture is also important today. Respect for other people and their traditions will foster cooperation and peace. We should all do our part to make sure the world is safe for our children. It will only be safe if we understand and respect other people and their culture.
When we are out of our environment, we feel freer to experiment with different ways of doing things. We are all individuals and we need time to be on our own, away from our comfortable nests. We may try different things and reject them. We might also adopt them. People can change and it is easier to change when you are away from your family surroundings.
Study abroad can be enriching. Not only can we learn a new language, understand more about a different culture, but we can learn more about ourselves too. At the same time, of course, we are getting an education in the formal sense.

139 People listen to music for different reasons and at different times. Why is music important to many people? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.

Music seems to be a natural need for people. I’ve read that from ancient times human beings have produced sounds from “instrument” like rocks or skins stretched over a wooden frame. Music is something most people want and need. I think it’s important because it can be a major part of both community and individual experience.
Music is a way of sharing a common bond or feeling. When we’re children, we learn very simple songs called nursery rhymes. These songs help make us part of our culture by telling us what’s acceptable and what’s not. We play and sing music in our religious ceremonies because it enhances the worship experience. We play music when we’re going to war or celebrating the fact that we’re won a war.
We have national anthems to share our love and pride for our particular country. We have music we play for our school, and music we play for our athletic team. In fact, music has become a big part of athletic games. We use it to taunt the other team as well as celebrate when points are scored for our team.
Music is also a major part of individual experiences. When we fall in love, music is usually a part of that experience. People talk about having “our song.” That means the song that was playing when they met or a song they both liked when they fell in love. When we get married, we play music before and after and sometimes during the ceremony. It expresses how we feel. We play music to calm our nerves or to stimulate ourselves to get on with a task. We also play music for the simple enjoyment of listening to the sounds.
Music is special to us because it expresses our connection with our culture, and because it enhance our individual experiences. Nothing else seems to capture our feelings quite so well.

140 Groups or organizations are an important part of some people’s lives. Why are groups or organizations important to people? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.

Groups or organizations are an important part of our life because we are social people. We like to get together with people whose attitudes and beliefs are like ours. The most important groups for us are our families, our religious organizations, and our political organizations.
Our families are obviously our most important group. You will never find the physical and emotional support from any other group that you will find in your family. Your family is part of you; you are tied to them by blood. They will always be there for you.
Similarly our religious organizations can provide comfort for us in times of stress. When we are with people who have the same beliefs, we feel better. Our beliefs are based on tradition. These beliefs have been tested over time. These beliefs tell us how to respond and how to act.
Our political organizations change as we change. Some years we may feel conservative; other years we may feel more liberal. Whatever our political philosophy, we can find a political organization that matches our thinking at the moment. Those political organizations help us be a part of the larger community.
Whether the group is tightly knit like a family, spiritual like religion, or secular like politics, they all serve a function in our life. They all help us feel as if we belong.

141 Imagine that you are preparing for a trip. You plan to be away from your home for a year. In addition to clothing and personal care items, you can take one additional thing. What would you take and why? Use specific reasons and details to support your choice.

If I were to leave my home for a year, there is one thing I definitely would take with me: my cell phone. With my cell phone, I could call my friends or family if I ever was lonely, needed advice, or just wanted to talk.
If I were away from home for a year, I would be very lonely, especially in the beginning before I made friends. If I could call my mother and father, I would hear their familiar voices and I would not feel so lonely. Hearing my friends’ voices would also help me overcome my sadness.
I’ve never been on my own so there are many things I am not familiar with. I’ve never opened a bank account, got a driver’s license, or made my own food. If I had to cook chicken or something, I could call up my mother and she could tell me how to make dinner.
Sometimes, I may just want to talk in my own language. With my cell phone, I could call my friends and tell them about my new life. This would make them jealous of me. I would call them a lot so they could hear all the wonderful things I am doing.
For me a cell phone is a necessity. I would need it anytime I was lonely, anytime I needed to do something I didn’t know how to do, and anytime I just wanted to talk. Of course, the phone bill will be sent to my parents.

142 When students move to a new school, they sometimes face problems. How can schools help these students with their problems? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.

Students moving into a new community and attending a new school can face a lot of problems. Their biggest worry is usually fitting in. The school counselor, the school’s administration and the students’ teachers can all help the students come through this experience successfully. They can engage other students to become involved with the new students, too.
New students in a school need to feel like part of the school community as quickly as possible. A school administrator should begin by giving students a complete orientation to their new school. They should take them on a tour of the school and show them the classrooms, gym, computer lab, band room, and cafeteria. They should tell them about the history of the school, its academic achievements, and its athletic and debating teams. The administrator can talk to the students about what’s expected of them in the classroom and what rules the school has.
The school counselor should talk to the students what they’re most interested in studying. If these are older students, the counselor can ask them about career interests. If these are younger students, the counselor can ask them about their favorite subjects at their old school. The counselor can tell the students about all the extracurricular activities there are at the school. For example, the school might offer things like sports, art, music, and working on a school newspaper.
The teachers have the most important job when it comes to new students. It’s up to them to help the students meet other students in class. They can also help them learn how classes are conducted in their new school. They can encourage other students to make friends with new people and help them learn the system. Since they’re with the students the most, they can keep an eye on them and make sure they’re adapting well.
Both the adults and the other students need to help new students feel a part of their new school. It’s not easy, but it pays off with happier, more successful students in the end.

143 It is sometimes said that borrowing money from a friend can harm or damage the friendship. Do you agree? Why or why not? Use reasons and specific examples to your answer.

I don’t think it’s a very good idea to borrow money from a friend. It can cause resentment and awkwardness in the relationship. How do you approach your friend without making him feel he has to do this for you? It’s unlikely he’ll feel as if he can turn you down. Can be turn you down without insulting you? Probably not.
How do you know whether your friend can afford to lend you the money? He may be embarrassed to admit he’s a little short of funds himself. Or he might not want to disappoint you. So he lends you the money and then he needs money, too.
There’s also the question of when you’ll pay back the loan. It’s awkward for your friend to ask for a deadline for repayment. Besides, if you’re short of funds, you may not be able to predict when you’ll pay him back. What about interest on the loan? If it’s a small amount of money, this doesn’t matter. However, if large funds are involved, and you won’t be paying it back for a while, should you offer to pay interest? Should your friend ask you to pay interest? All these issues can result in hurt feelings and can harm the friendship.
It’s possible, of course, that if you borrow money from a friend and pay it back in a timely fashion, this will create a special bond between the two of you. You’ll know that you can count on your friend when you need help. He’ll know you’re trustworthy.
However, more often than not, money issues between friends are an embarrassment. If you need money, it’ s better to go to a bank for a loan.

144 Every generation of people is different in important ways. How is your generation different from your parents’ generation? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.

The principal differences between my generation and my parents’ generation are in how they relate to others. My generation is more tolerant of other people’s choices, less concerned about what others think, and more self-centered.
My parents’ generation has stricter standards about what kinds of behavior are acceptable. They sometimes have a hard time accepting the fact that other people may have different ideas about what’s right and what’s wrong. My generation thinks people should have a lot of choices. For example, they choose whom they want to live with, whether or not to have children, whether or not to practice a particular religion, and what to do for a living.
My parents’ generation is much more concerned about what other people think of them. Many grew up in tightly knit communities where people knew each other’s families. Filling in meant that you had to act a certain way. Many of my generation grew up in loosely knit communities, where we only knew about our closest neighbors. We didn’t care what the rest of the community thought of us. Also, we were a very rebellious generation and often did thing just to shock people.
Wherever we grew up, most of my generation didn’t have to worry about having enough to eat or a roof over our heads. My parents’ generation did. They grew up during the Great Depression, when many people were poor. For this reason, my parents didn’t have time to analyze their feelings or think about their inner selves. They were too busy trying to get by. Children of my generation were well taken care of by their parents. Because of that, we had time to think about ourselves and our place in the universe. As adults, many of us have continued to be self-absorbed. We join health clubs to be prefect in body and go into therapy to be perfect in mind.
When I think about our actions, it seems that my parents’ generation is more “outer” directed and my generation is more “inner directed.”

145. Some students like classes where teachers lecture (do all of the talking) in class. Other students prefer classes where the students do some of the talking. Which type of class do you prefer? Give specific reasons and details to support your choice.

In my country, the lecture system is the most common system. It is the one I prefer for three reasons: I am used t the lecture system; it is an efficient system; I am too shy to talk in class.
All my life, I have listened to teachers. They come into the room, open their books, and start to lecture. We students sit quietly at our desks and take notes. We never ask questions because we don’t want to seem stupid. At the end of the course, we are given a test. If we can repeat on the test what the teacher said in class, we will get a good grade.
The lecture system is an efficient one. Te teacher is the one who knows the subject, not the students. It is a waste of time listening to a student’s ideas. What good will that does me? Time is short. I want the teacher to give me as much information as he or she can during the class period.
Even if we could talk in class, I would never open my mouth. I am much too shy. I would be afraid the other students would laugh at me and make fun of my ideas. I prefer to listen to the teacher and memorize the teacher’s ideas.
I hope I can always study in a school where they use the lecture system. I think it is better to continue with what one is used to. I also think that there is a lot of information that I must learn in the most efficient manner possible. I wouldn’t want to interrupt a teacher with my foolish questions.


146. Holidays honor people or events. If you could create a new holiday, what person or event would it honor and how would you want people to celebrate it? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

October 24 is Union Nations Day. This day is noted in the calendars, but not observed as a holiday around the world. I want the entire world to celebrate the birth of the United Nations because of its attempts to promote peace, education, and health around the world.
Peace is the most important thing that we can have today. The sooner that we can stop war the sooner we can all have better lives. There are countries around the world that have been at war for generations. In some of these countries, UN Peacekeepers have temporarily stopped the violence so people can go about their lives. If this peace could be made lasting, the lives of these citizens would be much richer.
The UN actively works to promote education. Universal literacy is one of its important goals. Every child in the world deserves to know how to read and write. The UN is also involved in job training for adults. The age of information technology demands new job skills. The UN works with continuing education programs around the world so workers are not left out of the job market.
The UN has played an instrumental role in the eradication of smallpox. Polio vaccines and AIDS-awareness programs have also helped reduce the incidence of these diseases. There is a lot to be done in these areas.
Much of the work of the UN is unknown and underappreciated. If we want to live in a peaceful world, where every child can attend school and where every citizen has access to health care, we need to support the work of the UN. We need to recognize its importance and celebrate its birthday.

147. A friend of yours has received some money and plans to use all of it either
# to go on a vacation
# to buy a car.
Your friend has asked you for advice. Compare your friend’s two choices and explain which one you think your friend should choose. Use specific reasons and details to support your choice.

Trying to decide how to use your money is always tough. Should you use your money to buy a car or go on a vacation? Both afford lasting pleasure, but of a very different kind. From a vacation you get the pleasure of doing wonderful things and of totally relaxing and enjoying yourself. The memories you bring home with you can give you that same pleasure again every time you think of them.
A car also gives you pleasure, every time you drive it. There’s the pleasure of not having to depend on public transportation. You can go places off the beaten track, where public transportation doesn’t go. There is also the pleasure of being independent. You are able to go anywhere your car can take you, without depending on others.
A vacation gives you the opportunity to learn new things and meet new and interesting people. However, it’s only for a short period of time. A car gives you the same opportunities on a smaller level, but on a more regular basis. With a car, you can go someplace new every weekend. You can also join a car pool. That way you can share travel expenses with the new people you meet.
Some people might say that spending your money on a vacation instead of on a car is being impractical. But nothing is as satisfying as a really good vacation. It’s mentally and physically healthy. It gives you a chance to get away from all that is familiar to you and see the world from a new perspective. It lets you do nothing but play, the way you did when you were a child. Being able to play, even for a short period of time, is absolutely necessary for everyone’s mental health. I would choose the vacation, because we all deserve to indulge ourselves sometime.

148. The 21st century has begun. What changes do you think this new century will bring? Use examples and details in your answer.

Now that we are in a new millennium, we can assume there will be changes in the world. I predict that the changes will be in the areas of information dissemination, global alliances, and family structure.
In the past decades, the computer was responsible for changing the way information was organized. Now, the computer plus the Internet is changing the way information is spread. Information will now be universally available to anyone with a computer. You will not have to go to libraries to do research; you will not have to travel to visit scholars; you will not have to go to a bookstore to buy a book. You can do all of this from your home on the computer.
In the past decades, the nations of the world aligned themselves with the United States, the former Soviet Union, or with one another in a loose alliance. In the future these alliances will be more fluid. Some countries will align politically with one country, but economically with another. Some countries will share technology and other information, but will not trade together. Some countries, which have long been enemies, will align militarily for regional security.
The family structure will not be based on a mother/father/child pattern. Single parent families will be more common and often the child will not be a biological child of the single parent, but will be adopted. Other family structures like domestic partnerships will become more accepted.
Whatever the changes may be, whether in the way we receive information, the way nations align with one another, or the way family units are defined, you can be sure that there will be more change. Change is a constant.

149. What are some of the qualities of a good parent. Use specific details and examples to explain your answer.

I am fortunate to have good parents so it is easy for me to identify the qualities that make them good. These qualities are unconditional love, trust, and respect for me and my brothers and sisters.
All mothers and fathers love their children. They nurture them and keep them from harm. But not all love is unconditional. Some parents would not love their children if they married someone of a different religion or from a different ethnic group. Some parents would not love their children if they were of a different sexual orientation. My parents won’t. My parents would love us regardless of whom we married or whom we chose to love.
Part of unconditional love is trust. My parents trust us to do what is right. They know we would never do anything to hurt them or to disgrace them. They trust us so we trust them. We are confident that they would never do anything to hurt us.
Because our parents love us, they also respect us. They treat us as individuals. They accept our differences. They do not expect us to be like them. They want us to be our own persons. They want us to make our own way in the world, not follow in their footsteps.
Without their love, I would not be as confident as I am. Without their trust, I would not be free to do what I want. Without their respect, I would not feel comfortable being on my own. All children should have such wonderful parents.

150. Movies are popular all over the world. Explain why movies are so popular. Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

Movies are popular because people are great watchers. They like to watch other peoples’ lives. They like to live vicariously. By going to movies, we can escape our own lives, share other emotions, and imagine ourselves as someone else.
Many of our lives are not as adventurous or glamorous as the lives in movies. We do not battle evil all day long and then go back to our luxurious penthouse apartment. We just go to school, do our homework, et, talk to our friends, and sleep. We need a little excitement in our lives and we find excitement at the movies.
Humans are very emotional people. We all like to cry and laugh. Fortunately, there is not much to cry about in my life so I like to go to sad movies where my heart strings can be tugged. I also like to go to comedies so I can laugh. I tend to cry and laugh more in a dark movie theater than I do in broad daylight.
Now I am a student, but I know someday I will be a scientist or a politician or a famous model. When I go to the movies, I can see my role models. I see how they act, what they wear, how they talk. I can prepare myself for the day when I will be like them.
Even though my life is quiet, I can go to the movies and watch someone else’s life. I can share their emotions and their everyday life. I wonder if they would like to share mine.