Sample TOEFL Essays


46. What is a very important skill a person should learning in order to be successful in the world today? Choose one skill and use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.

The one skill I would choose for success is tolerance. I do not define success economically. I define success socially. To succeed in the future, we will need to be tolerant of one another’s background, opinions, and lifestyle.
The world is becoming increasingly mobile. We no longer are able to live and work only with people who went to the same schools and went to the same parties as our parents and we did. Now, we will work directly with people whose backgrounds are completely different from ours. We must be tolerant of these differences as they must be tolerant of us if we are to live and work together amiably.
We cannot stop speaking to people or start a war just because there is a difference in opinion. We must learn to be tolerant of one another and respect these differences in opinion. We have to find a common ground, an idea we can both agree on. Once we have agreement on one subject, it will be easier to settle differences in other subjects.
Different people have different lifestyles. We must accept these differences even though they may be different than what we are used to. Woman can live on their own, hold important jobs, and raise children on their own. Men can stay home and take care of children. Social roles can change and we must be tolerant of these changes.
To succeed socially, you must be adapted to differences. You must be tolerant of all peoples regardless of their background, their opinions, or their lifestyles.

47. Resolving problems between individuals or groups is important. What should be considered or kept in mind in resolving problems between individuals or groups? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Conflict resolution is very important. The technique is the same whether it’s between people, between groups, or between nations. You need to find a common ground; you need to learn what both sides want; and you need to plan steps to resolve the conflict.
Finding a common ground is the first important step in any conflict resolution. For example, if two countries are fighting, a mediator could do what is the single thing that both counties are concerned about. One answer might be their children’s future. Agreeing on the future of their children is an important first step.
The next step would be to try to determine what both sides want for their children. For example, Country X says, “Security from Country Y.” Country Y says, “Security from Country X.” Obviously, they feel threatened by one another.
The third step is to plan steps to resolve the conflict. A mediator might ask what would make each side more secure: Stronger borders? Increased trade? Smaller military forces? Once the steps are established, the peace process has begun.
I don’t mean to imply that this is easy. Resolving long-term disputes is not simple. But the process can be broken down into three steps (common ground, needs, steps to resolution) and then repeated and repeated until there is peace.

48. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Self-confidence is the most important factor for success in school or at work. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Self-confidence is one very important factor for success, but there are two other equally important factors: knowledge and sensitivity. All three are required for success in any area.
One needs to feel one can accomplish a task. If one thinks he or she is incapable of doing something, he or she will not succeed. For example, if you think you are going to do poorly on an exam, you will probably do poorly. It is important to tell yourself that you can do well. If you have confidence in yourself, you will probably do well.
Even if you have a great deal of self-confidence, you won’t be able to well on the exam without knowledge. You have to understand your subject very well. With knowledge and self-confidence you have a better chance of success.
In areas other than exams, you will need to be sensitive to your surroundings in order to succeed. You will need to know whether to boast about yourself or be modest; you will need to know whether you should take the lead or let others. This is a difficult skill to learn, but an important one for success.
To be successful in school or work, you need three qualities: self-confidence, knowledge, and sensitivity. Along, none of these factors will help you succeed. But together, they ensure success.

49. Why do you think some people are attracted to dangerous sports or other dangerous activities? Use specific reasons and examples to support our answer.

Dangerous sports or activities attract a certain type of person. This person is often a risk taker, an optimist, and a fatalist.
People who take risks are found both in dangerous sports and business. But it is a special person who takes a risk with his own life as opposed to his money. My father was a risk taker. He put everything be owned into his business, but he stopped playing risky sports like horseback riding and skiing. Once his business was a success and he no longer bad to worry about providing for us, he returned on the age of 60, to the risky sports that he did as a youth.
Someone who plays a dangerous sport must be an optimist. They cannot imagine that anything will happen to them. They never think about breaking their leg while skiing, falling off a cliff while rock climbing, falling on their head while sky diving. They live for the thrill of the moment without a thought to the many things that could go wrong.
Rock climbers and sports car drivers must be fatalist. They might plan for potential problems, but once they have done everything they can do, the outcome is out of their bands. A motorcyclist when jumps across a narrow canyon will get the fastest, strongest bike available that will carry him or her across the canyon, however, wind conditions or other problems might interfere and the cyclist my fall short of his goal.
Many people have the same traits of course. Many of us are risk takers, optimists and fatalists. But I think people who play dangerous sports must have these characteristics in abundance.

50. Which is more important for success: the natural ability you are born with or hard work? Explain your opinion, using specific reasons and examples.

Without a doubt, hard work is a much better predictor of success than natural ability. In my experience, I have seen this at work in sports, school, and work.
Many athletes have a natural ability to run the fastest mile or kick the ball the most accurately. Unless they work hard though, they will not be stars. They need to train daily, eat properly, live correctly. It takes hard work to be Number One.
At school, I have seen many very bright students do poorly on exams. They count on their intelligence to get them through. However, unless they do their homework every day, participate in class discussions, and study for exams, they will be the bottoms of the class.
Many salespeople can talk with anyone and convince him or her to buy something. They have a natural ability to sell. They must however apply some hard work to this skill. They must learn a lot about their customers, about the product they are selling, and about the market, they must put some effort into the paper work that goes along with the sale. If they don’t follow through, the sale will not be made.
Whatever the area, whether on the playing field, at school, or on the sales floor, a person must not rely on his natural ability along if he or she wants to succeed. They must work hard to be a success.


51. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Parents or other adult relatives should make important decisions for their older (15 to 18 year-old) teenaged children. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

No one knows me as well as my parents. No one wants the best for me like my parents. It is natural that I should allow my parents to make important decisions for me. I think all older teenagers (15 to 18 year-olds) should take their parents advice on decisions that concern their education, their social life, and their future careers.

My parents have always chosen the best schools for me to attend. They have encouraged me to attend special prep classes to make sure that I was well prepared for the exams. They have given me tutors to make sure that I understood my subjects well. When it comes to choosing a college, I will trust my parents to make that decision. They know what they can afford and what will give me a good education.

When I was young, my parents would invite children over to play with me. Over the years, I have become very close to these children. They are like my family. We celebrate holidays and birthdays together. We even go to the mountains together in the summer. My parents do not want me to fall into the wrong crowd. They do not want me to meet and fall in love with someone they do not know. I understand that and I want to make them happy.

My father runs a very successful business and my mother is a well-known politician. They are very well connected and they have many friends who would like me to work for them when I finish school. This is a very good arrangement for me.

If all children follow their parents’ wishes, they would probably be happier. Parents only want the best for their children.

52 Some people like to travel with a companion. Other people prefer to travel alone. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.

Traveling alone is the only way to travel. If you take someone with you, you take your home with you. When you travel alone, you meet new people, have new experiences, and learn more about yourself.

When I traveled with my friend, I spend all my time with that friend. We eat together and sightsee together. When I travel alone, I spend my time looking for new friends. It is easy to fine other people, either other tourists or locals, to eat with or have a coffee with. When you share meals with strangers, they become friends.

When I travel with a friend, my routine is predictable. We maintain the same schedule that we do at home. When I travel alone, I adopt the rhythm of the place I visit. I might take a nap in the afternoon and eat dinner at 11 pm. I might go to a disco and dance all night.

When I travel with a friend, we know how we will react to things. When I travel alone, each new experience requires a new reaction. If I don’t try new things, I won’t be able to decide if I like something or not. Shall I ride an ostrich or eat one?

I think it is always important to do things on your own. You can fine new friends, collect new memories, and adopt different ways of doing things. Isn’t that the point of travel?

53 Some people prefer to get up early in the morning and start the day’s work. Others prefer to get up later in the day and work until late at night. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.

I prefer sleeping late and staying up late at night. This routine fits my body’s rhythm, my work schedule, and my social life.

I believe in following my body’s natural rhythm. My body tells me to sleep until I am ready to get up and go to bed when I am sleepy. This means I never get up early in the morning. My body tells me it likes me to get 8 to 10 hours of sleep a day.

Sleeping late also fits my work schedule. Actually I don’t have that much work to do. I can easily finish my work between lunch and dinner. I think that if one works too much, there is not enough time left to enjoy one’s self.

My active social life is another reason I prefer to sleep late. Who gets up early in the morning to have fun? No one. Anything amusing, such as concerts, dances, parties, dinners, all happen at night. If I got up early in the morning, I would be too tired to enjoy myself in the evening.

I will maintain this pattern forever I hope. I think it is always important to listen to your body and if your body tells you to stay in bed, you should listen to it. By listening to you body, you will never let work interfere with your social life.

54 What are the important qualities of a good son or daughter? Have these qualities changed or remained the same over time in your culture? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

The qualities of a good son and daughter—obedience, loyalty, respect—have not changed. Any patent will tell you that, like their ancestors, they expect these qualities from their children. However, they do not always get what they expect from their children.

Parents demand that their sons and daughters, regardless of age, obey them. Even if the children are married and have their own children, they should still do whatever their parents ask of them. At last, that’s the way it was. Now, children tend to obey their parents until the children are of college age. Then they feel they are adult enough and can make their own decisions even if these decisions are against the parent’s wishes.

Parents also expect loyalty from their children. If there was a dispute in the neighborhood or between families, the parents would expect their children to side with their own family. This quality is probably still very common. Most children today will support their family against others.

Parents, of course, demand respect. As people become more mobile, and introduced to non-traditional ways of doing things, this quality may not endure. Parents are sometimes viewed as old-fashioned. Children don’t think their parents can appreciate the way life really is. They think their parents are too old to understand. They lose respect for their parents.

Obedience, loyalty, and respect are virtues that are being challenged today. We may not obey our parents, give them the loyalty or respect they wish or deserve, but I hope my children obey me, are loyal to me, and respect me.

55 Some people prefer to work for a large company. Others prefer to work for a small company. Which would you prefer? Use specific reasons and details to support your choice.

I would prefer to work in a large company rather than a small one. A large company has more to offer in terms of advancement, training, and prestige.

In a large company, I can start at an entry-level position and work myself up to the top. I could start in the mailroom and, once I know the company, can apply for a managerial position. In a small company, there is not as much room to grow.

In a large company, there are a variety of jobs. I could work in sales, in marketing, in distribution, in shopping, or in any department I applied for. I could be trained in a variety of positions and would have valuable experience. In a small company, there would not be the same opportunity.

In a large company, there would be more prestige. I could brag to my friends that I worked for one of the biggest companies in the world. I would always have something to talk about when I met strangers. If I worked in a small company, I would always have to explain what the company did.
Working for a small company would not give me the same opportunities for advancement or on-the-job training as working for a larger company would. Nor would I be as proud to work for a small company—unless the small company was my own.


56. People work because they need money to live. What are some other reasons that people work? Discuss one or more of these reasons. Use specific examples and details to support your answer.

Although people work to earn money, money is not the main reason people stay in their jobs. They also work because they enjoy working, they receive job satisfaction, and they like the sense of accomplishment.

Most people work for work’s sake. They enjoy going to an office, or store, or school each day. They like to interact with other people. They like to help people solve problems, learn something, or get a product. People like to help other people.

A lot of people keep the same job because the job gives them a lot of satisfaction. They genuinely enjoy what they do. This is true for most teachers. A teacher’s pay is not very great, but the job satisfaction can be very high. Helping someone learn is one of the greatest things anyone can do.

People enjoy their work because they like the sense of accomplishment. They like to know what they finished a project. People, who work in factories, take pride in the car they produce or the television they assemble. When they see a car on the street, they can feel a sense of accomplishment. They helped make that car.

Money is nice, but it is not the only reason people get up and go to work each day. I believe that people work because they enjoy the act of working; they find their work personally rewarding; and they like the feeling of a job well done.

57 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Face-to-face communication is better than other types of communication, such as letters, email, or telephone calls. Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

I would have to agree that face-to-face communication is the best type of communication. Face-to-face communication can eliminate misunderstandings immediately, cement relationships, and encourage continued interaction.

If you are talking to someone directly, you can see right away if they don’t understand you. A person’s body language will tell you they disagree or don’t follow your line of thought. You can repeat yourself or paraphrase your argument. If you had sent an e-mail, the person may have misinterpreted what you wanted to say. He or she could be insulted and you would have to waste time explaining yourself in another e-mail.

When you talk face-to-face, you communicate with more than words. You communicate with your eyes and your hands. You communicate with your whole body. People can sense that you really want to communicate with them. This energy bonds people together. Your relationship with a person can grow much stronger when you communicate in person.

Face-to-face encounters tend to go on longer than other forms of communication. An e-mail lasts a second; a telephone call, a few minutes. However, when you meet face-to-face, you’ve made an effort to meet with the person, and the person has made an effort to meet with you. You will probably spend longer together talking. The longer you talk, the more you say. The more you say, the stronger your relationship will be.

In summary, if you want to establish a relationship with another human being, the best way is talking face-to-face. When you communicate directly, you can avoid misunderstandings that may occur in writing. You can communicate on levels other than just words and you can spend more time doing it.

58 Some people like to do only what they already do well. Other people prefer to try new things and take risks. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.

I am not a risk taker. I like to do just those that I am proficient at. I have learned that it is better to focus my attention, do one thing and do it well, and not try anything new.

When I was younger, I was always experimenting with a lot of different things. First I wanted to be a dress designer so I studied drawing. I couldn’t’t draw so I decided to be a historian. That suited me perfectly since all I had to do was sit in a library and read. I learned to focus my attention on one subject.

I am a very good reader and history is very interesting to me. I decided not to read any other subject. I only read history books. I even focused my attention on Chinese history. I only read history books on Chinese history. I do one thing and I do it well.

I don’t like to try anything new. If I read things in another area, I don’t do well. I don’t understand American history or English history. The names are confusing and the stories not interesting to me. I don’t want to learn about anything else. Chinese history is my subject.

I may seem a bit stubborn, but I have learned what makes me happy. I don’t like to take a risk with new things. I like to focus my attention on one subject, do it well, and not try anything new.

59 Some people believe that success in life comes from taking risk or chance. Others believe that success results from careful planning. In your opinion, what does success come from? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Nothing ventured. Nothing gained. If our great explorers and scientists did not live by this creed, where would we be? I think that we must all take risks in our lives, but these must be calculated risks. Like the great thinkers of our time, we must plan carefully, seize all opportunities, and reevaluate our plans.

There is no such thing as a chance occurrence. Columbus in his search for the Indies drew maps, plotted his route carefully, and set out. Madam Curie worked diligently in her laboratory recording every aspect of her experiments. You need to have a careful plan so you can measure your success.

Even with a careful plan, changes occur. Columbus was looking for the Indies, but ended up in the Caribbean. Lewis and Clark were looking for a river passage west, but discovered much more. You have to be ready to take advantage of new things as they occur.

When things go against plan, you must be ready to change direction. Columbus didn’t bring back spices from the East Indies, he brought back gold from the West Indies. It is important to see the positive side of things. Make your mistakes work for you.

You will never succeed in life if you don’t take chance. But before you start, you must plan carefully so you are ready to take advantage of every opportunity and turn mistakes to your advantage.

60 What change would make your hometown more appealing to people your age? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

I think that people my age would like to have a place to go after school. They could go there to socialize, have meetings, and just relax.

In my town, there are a few tea houses, but these are reserved for our fathers and their friends. Teenagers do not go there unless it’s to carry message to their fathers. We need a place where we can meet after school to talk about school and other subjects that interest us.

At our own tea house, we could also have meetings. Those would be like club meetings. We could have a debating society, a poetry reading group, or a political club. We could meet after school one night a week and have our meetings.

We need a place where we could just relax away from our family. Our home life is very hectic; there are a lot of younger children making a lot of noise in the evening. We need a quiet place to study, read the paper, or just sit.

If our town had a tea house reserved for teenagers, it would be good for our parents since they would always know where we were. They would know that we were just socializing, or meeting, or just relaxing with our friends.