Sample TOEFL Essays


76 In your opinion, what is the most important characteristic (for example, honesty, intelligence, a sense of humor) that a person can have to successful in life? Use specific reasons and examples from your experience to explain your answer. When you write your answer, you are not limited to the examples listed in the prompt.

Although honesty, intelligence, and a sense of humor are all worthwhile characteristics, I feel the most important one in life to have is sensitivity. A sensitive person is aware of him/herself and the way their actions affect others. A sensitive person knows the place of honesty, intelligence, and a sense of humor.
Honesty is not always the best policy. There is such a thing as a white lie. You don’t want to insult someone by saying that their new dress doesn’t fit properly or that you wouldn’t live in their new house if they paid you. You must be sensitive to when it is necessary to tell the truth and when it is better to tell a white lie.
Intelligence is a wonderful thing to have, but not all intelligent people use their intelligence sensitively. You don’t want to show off and make others feel stupid. You must be sensitive to the reactions of the people around you. It might be appropriate for you to admit that you have the right answer, but in some cases, you might have to say, “I think this is the answer, but we might want to check it.” A sensitive person would not make someone else look dumb.
A sense of humor is always valued. Different people, however, laugh at different things. You don’t want to make someone feel uncomfortable by laughing at his /her mistakes. A sensitive person would understand whether a person could be teased or whether a person would appreciate a certain joke.
A sensitive person would make everyone feel comfortable. A sensitive person understands that people are different and that the values of honesty, intelligence and humor can be applied differently.

77 It is generally agreed that society benefits from the work of its members. Compare the contributions of artists to society with the contributions of scientists to society. Which type of contribution do you think is valued more by your society? Give specific reasons to support your answer.

Artists and scientists both make valuable contributions to our society. It may seem sometimes that artists are more valued. That’s because those artists who are famous make a lot of money. However, they are relatively few. The fact is that scientists are more valued. They get more respect from society for the work they do.
Artists reflect their times and their culture. A painter or a writer shows us in pictures and words what we’re like as a people. They record our culture for future generations. Actors and other performers, like singers and dancers, entertain us. They take our minds off our troubles, and remind us how beautiful and exciting our imaginations can be. Artists also help keep their societies mentally and emotionally healthy. For example, children that participate in the arts, such as painting or music, in school do better in their other studies. Art of all types is necessary to the human spirit.
The contributions scientists make to society are more obvious. They include the cars we drive, the computers we use at home and at work, and the appliances that help us cook our meals and clean our houses. All of these come from the ideas and hard work of scientists. Because of scientific discoveries, we’re living longer and more healthful lives. Scientists also contribute to the arts. Movies are the result of science. So are television, radio, and the recording of music on CDs.
Generally, scientists don’t make as much money as famous artists like film stars, opera singers or successful painters. However, our society gives them more respect, and they generally make a good living. Scientists are considered to be serious professionals, while artists are sometimes viewed as flaky, irresponsible people. So overall, I’d have to conclude that we value scientists more.

78 Students at universities often have a choice of places to live. They may choose to live in university dormitories, or they may choose to live apartments in the community. Compare the advantages of living in university housing with the advantages of living in an apartment in the community. Where would you prefer to live? Give reasons for your preference.

I think it’s better for college students to live on-campus their first two years, and then move into an apartment off-campus life, while juniors and seniors need the independence of off-campus life. Students’ needs change over four years, so their housing should too.
Living on-campus makes it easier to get oriented to the way things are done. You get the whole university experience. Plus, you interact more with other students. This includes not only your roommates, but everyone in your dormitory. The older students in the dormitory can be a big help for the new students. Keeping up with studies your first year is hard enough. You shouldn’t have to worry about finding your way around and figuring out the university bureaucracy.
Living in the dormitory also makes a student feel more a part of the university community. There are more opportunities for becoming involved in university activities and networking with students and university administration.
Living off-campus, however, is a definite advantage for older students. Finding an apartment, dealing with leases and the landlord’s regulations, cooking meals, and figuring out budgets are all good practice for life after graduation. This kind of independence helps older students grow in adulthood.
Off-campus housing also gives students a better perspective on what’s going on around them. Campuses can be like little worlds of their own. There are few children or older people and everyone is focused on education. Getting to know neighbors who aren’t students is good for students coming from different places. It’s a chance to find out what other people think and feel.
I think a combination of two years on-campus and two years off-campus is a winning combination for most students.

79 You need to travel from your home to a place 40 miles (64 kilometers) away. Compare the different kinds of transportation you could use. Tell which method of travel you would choose. Give specific reasons for your choice.

Choosing the Best Transportation
There are many different types of transportation which I could use to travel 40 miles from my home. The type of transportation I would choose depends mainly on how fast I need to get there and how much money I have. Some possibilities are walking, horseback riding, driving, or using a taxi, bus, or train.
The most economical choice is walking. It costs nothing, is healthful, but it is time consuming. The average person can walk about 4-5 miles per hour, so this trip would take at least 10 hours to complete. That means I would probably have to spend the night somewhere along the way. If I have to spend money for a hotel, then this choice really isn’t free. Plus, I might arrive at the end tired and with sore feet! After walking comes animal transportation. In my area, horses are not common, so it wouldn’t be a likely choice. I believe that a 40-mile trip would take 2 or 3 hours on a horse. If I had free access to a horse, the cost would be minimal. Of course, I’d have to know how to ride!
With a car, the travel time is minimal (under one hour), with only the cost of gasoline to consider. However, I don’t own a car, and car rentals are expensive. Shared taxis are one form of affordable transportation, with 4 or 5 people sharing the cost of a car trip to a common destination. The only downside is finding people to share the fare with me. Fortunately, I live in an urban area, where there are buses and trains to ride. One of these would be my first choice.
In short, the kind of transportation depends on how fast I need to get to my destination and how much money I have. If I need to get there first, and money isn’t important, I can hire a private taxi. Since I don’t own my own car. I don’t have that option, and I have never walked 40 miles ins one trip. I usually depend on the bus and trains, and would do so in this circumstance. They are cheap, dependable and reliable.

80 Some people believe that a college or university education should be available to all students. Others believe that higher education should be available only to good students. Discuss these views. Which view do you agree with? Explain why.

Both good and bad students should have the opportunity to attend college. Everyone should have a period to learn about themselves before they begin to work and earn money. An education is an investment in yourself and in your future. Good or bad, a student must decide to invest real money and real time.
Higher education is very expensive. It might seem like a waste of money to send someone to college who might not be able to handle the course work. Still, education is a valuable investment in future career earnings. People with college degrees make more money and have more opportunities later. If people have a desire to improve their lives, do we have the right to say no?
Higher education is also a big investment of time. Some people think a weak student should get a job and earn some money. They think poor students shouldn’t waste their time at college. But college is a time to meet different people, separate from your parents, and begin to define yourself as a person. I think that’s an experience every student should have.
I think every student should be given a chance to see how far she can go. Students who got poor grades in high school might do very well in a different environment. College may be expensive and take time, but it’s an investment in one’s self and one’s future.

81 Some people believe that the best way of learning about life is by listening to the advice of family and friends. Other people believe that the best way of learning about life is through personal experience. Compare the advantages of these two different ways of learning about life. Which do you think is preferable? Use specific examples to support your preference.

Both learning through personal experience and learning through the advice of others can help you in life. If you don’t have a lot of knowledge about something, the advice of people you trust can be very valuable. They can tell you about their own experiences, and about the advantages and disadvantages of a situation. Then you can consider your own wants and needs and decide what you should do. Pretty soon, you’ll have more experience of your own.
When you’re thinking about what you want to do with your life, friends and relatives are a great resource. They can give you information about things like jobs, school, volunteering, and traveling to other parts of the world. They’ve done a lot of learning in their lives, and you can use it to decide what you want to do with yours.
In some cases, there’s no real substitute for personal experience. For example, I really don’t like to make presentations in class. I know I’ll make mistakes, even if I’m thoroughly prepared and know all about my topic. Nothing but experience can help me

82 Some people prefer to spend most of their time alone. Others like to be with friends of the time. Do you prefer to spend your time alone or with friends? Use specific reasons to support your answer.

If I had to choose between spending time alone or spending time with my friends, I’d rather be alone. I need this time alone to “recharge my batteries,” to re-energize my mind and spirit. Being with friends can be fun and can help you get through the rough spots in life, but it’s the time alone, I think, that forms you as a person.
When I’m alone, I have time to think about my goals and to develop a strategy to reach them. Of course, I can think about these things when I’m with others, but it’s harder to concentrate in a crowd. Being alone gives me the quiet time to really think about my life and what I want to do with it.
Being by myself is also a good way to listen to the silence and relax completely. When I’m alone I can practice meditation and lower my stress level. That’s a very good way to sharpen my powers of concentration. Too much time with friends means filling my mind with a lot of chitchats. That’s enjoyable for a moment, but can dull my concentration.
Being with other people can also distort my view of things. It’s easy sometimes to become too worried about what other people think of me, or what other people have that I don’t. When I’m alone I have time to step back. I can see the real value of things, without being influenced by the opinions of my friends.
It’s natural to want to be with other people, but I find the time I spend alone is more valuable to me in the long run.

83 Some people prefer to spend time with one or two close friends. Others choose to spend time with a large number of friends. Compare the advantage of each choice. Which of these two ways of spending time do you prefer? Use specific reasons to support your answer.

We all need to have friends, and I think the more friends we have the better. Friendship helps us learn how to trust others, what to expect from others, and how to profit from experiences. I want to have a lot of friends around me so I can learn more about myself from different people.
I want to have people around me that I trust and that I can depend on. We all need friends, both in times of trouble and in times of happiness. If I only have a few friends, it is possible that they might not be available if I need them. If I have a lot of friends, it is more likely that they will be able to share my troubles or my good fortune.
I want to have people around me that surprise me. If I have just one or two friends, I know what to expect from them. I know how they will react. If I have a lot of friends around me, I will always be surprised. Each will have a different way of reacting to a situation. Observing this reaction and responding to it will teach me how to deal with strangers whom I might meet.
I want to have people around me that can teach me something about life. If I only have a couple of friends, I will know everything about them very quickly. If I have hundreds of friends, think what I will learn. Each day they’ll teach me something new and show me a new way of thinking about something.
I have a lot to learn in life, so I want as many people as possible to help me. I want a lot of friends to show me how to have a good time. I’ll do the same for them.

84 Some people think that children should begin their formal education at a very early age and should spend 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?

Should children play more or study more? The question is what will be better for the child. There are benefits to both activities, but the answer depends on the details of the situation.
There are many things that could affect the outcome of the argument. What kind of a school is it? It could be a school where children sit at their desks all day long memorizing dates and facts. Or it could be a school where the teacher helps the children learn what they want to learn. I think the second kind is a lot better for a child than the first kind.
Similarly, what kind of play are we talking about? The child could be alone all day long watching television, which could make him or her bored and lonely. Or the child could be involved in group activities with neighborhood children of the same age, which could help him or her learn how to get along with others.
I think both study and play are valuable, so I would prefer to send my child to a school where there is a combination. I think a variety of activities makes learning easier for anyone at any age.


85 The government has announced that it plans to build a new university. Some people think that your community would be a good place to locate the university. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of establishing a new university in your community. Use specific details in your discussion.

The first advantage of having a new university built in my community would be the jobs it would bring to the community. Initially, the jobs would be those connected with the actual building of the university structures, such as brick layers and carpenters. Once the building were completed, the jobs would be those on the campus itself. Those would include teachers, office workers, custodians, and librarians.
Not all of the people the university hired would already be members of the community, so that would mean a lot of new people coming to town. Of course, a lot of students would come too. Two advantages of new people in town would be more taxpayers and a more diverse population. With more people paying taxes, there would be more money for schools, libraries and other community needs. With a more diverse population, there would be new stores, new restaurants (to serve different tastes) and new cultural influences.
Of course, there would also be disadvantages. More people living in the community could mean more houses being built. There would be more traffic on the streets, with the combination of new residents and students who bring their cars. Plus, more people would mean more public services would be needed. These services could include everything from trash collection to more schools to hold all the children of the new residents. New services might mean local taxes would have to go up, even though there would be more taxpayers.
Another disadvantage is that the personality of our community would change. It would go from being a place where everybody knows everybody else to a place where a lot of people are strangers. It would become a place with a lot of short-term residents, like the university students, who might not care as much about the town.
Communities always change over time, though, and overall I like the atmosphere of a “college town.” A new university would bring a lot of challenges, but I think it would be worth it.

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

Although friends make an impression on your life, they do not have the same influence that your family has. Nothing is as important to me as my family. From them, I learned everything that is important. I learned about trust, ambition, and love.
Your family is with you forever. They are not going to leave you because they find another daughter they like better. They are not going to leave you because they think you are too much trouble. A family is permanent, while friends come and go.
Your parents are your role models. They will encourage you to do your best, to push yourself, and to improve yourself. Friends want you to stay the same: they don’t want you to be different. A family is ambitious for you. Friends are not.
Your family teaches you about love. A family’s love is not judgmental. They love you for everything you are. Friends may love you because you have a new car or because you go out with them on Saturdays. A family loves you. Friends only like you.
Without my family, I wouldn’t know what to do. I wouldn’t feel as secure. I might not have the ambition to go to school. I probably would be afraid to love. My family is my greatest influence.

88 Some people prefer to plan activities for their free time very carefully. Others choose not to make any plans at all for their free time. Compare the benefits of planning free-time activities with the benefits of not making plans. Which do you prefer―planning or not planning for your leisure time? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your choice.

I think that free time is a precious thing for most of us. When we’re working hard, it’s nice to imagine what we’ll do when the weekend comes. We juggle one idea with another, trying to decide what best suits our budget and the amount of time we have. After all, anticipating free time is part of the pleasure.
It’s good to plan what we’re going to do with our free time. That way we won’t waste any of it trying to decide. It’s so easy to just sit around and think about this or that activity. Before we know it, half the day is gone. If we decide ahead of time, We can get started in plenty of time, and we can get the most benefit out of the time we have. For instance, if we’re going on a picnic, we can get all our supplies ready to go. Or if we’re going to a movie, we can find out the time and how long it’ll take us to get there. Also, if we plan what we’re going to do with our free time, we can invite others to join us. If we wait until the last minute, our friends may have other plans.
On the other hand, it’s also fun sometimes to do things without a plan. We can just leave the house and walk around and see what catches our attention. Often, this is how we discover places we never knew existed. We might end up doing something we never thought we’d try. We might just happen to find ourselves outside a new bookstore or a bowling alley and go in on a whim, because we have some free time.
It’s nice if we can have the best of both worlds. We can plan our free time activities for one day of the weekend, and let the other day plan itself. This way our free time also gives us the enjoyment of having it both ways.

89 People learn in different ways. Some people learn by doing things; other people learn by reading about things; others learn by listening to people talk about things. Which of these methods of learning is best for you? Use specific examples to support your choice.

The effectiveness of a learning method varies from person to person and also from activity to activity. Learning by doing, learning by reading, and learning by listening all have the transfer of information as their goal, but the information is transferred in very different ways in each case. Each has its benefits. In my own opinion, learning by doing is the method that works best for me.
Learning by doing works because it gives a learner first-hand experience. Other methods are more passive; you’re either listening to a conversation or trying to pay attention to words on a page. However, learning by doing means actually participating in the activity. Can you imagine learning how to play a musical instrument form a book? As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Frankly, I can’t think of a way that better ensures one has truly learned than by seeing and doing.
In contrast, reading makes learning less easy to visualize. Not only that, learning by reading often requires extra research, such as looking up unfamiliar words. Also, you might not be a good reader, or you might be learning in a second language. If so, you might find it hard to concentrate or become frustrated by the slow pace. So while reading is fun and useful for many people, for others it may not be the best way.
Learning by listening can be enjoyable. Lively debate is interesting, and interesting things are usually easier to learn about. Plus, unlike reading, you can ask questions if you don’t understand. However, as with reading, it is all too easy to become a passive listener and not truly learn anything. If you get bored, you might even fall asleep while you’re listening! When you’re actively participating in something, you’re more likely to stay alert.
Overall, when it comes to learning. I believe that nothing substitutes for the first band experience that physically doing an activity provides.

90 Some people choose friends who are different form themselves. Others choose friends who are similar to themselves. Compare the advantages of having friends who are different from you with the advantages of having friends who are similar to you. Which kind of friend do you prefer for yourself? Why?

There are a lot of advantages to having friends who are different from you. For one thing, they’ll give you a different way of looking at the world,. Friends who are different can introduce you to foods, music, politics, and books you’ve never tried before. If you’re a spontaneous kind of person, someone who is more scheduled can help you get better organized. You, on the other hand, can help them loosen up a little bit, and do things more on the spur of the moment.
Someone who is different from you won’t have the same reaction to situations. This can be a big help. If you’re the kind of person who gets very impatient waiting for your meal in a restaurant, it helps to have someone calm with you. Your friend can help you keep your temper. If you’re a little timid about standing up for yourself, a more assertive friend can help you develop a little more self-respect.
However, there can also be advantages to having friends who are similar to you. You usually enjoy doing the same things, so you don’t have to argue about what you want to do. Sometimes it’s fun experiencing new things. Other times, it’s more fun doing what you know you’ll enjoy.
All things considered, I think I’d like to have a lot of acquaintances who are different and a few close friends who are similar to me. That seems the best of both worlds.