Sample TOEFL Essays

91 Some people enjoy change, and they look forward to new experiences. Others like their lives to stay the same, and they do not change their usual habits. Compare these two approaches to life. Which approach do you prefer? Explain why.

There are those who prefer things to stay the same, while there are others who prefer change. My personal preference is to establish a routine and stick to it, though this has not always been true of me.
When I was younger, I wasn’t a creature of habit. I enjoyed change. When summers came and I was free from the responsibilities of school, I would travel, take off with friends at a moment’s notice, and make decisions from day to day. In this way, I had lots of new experiences, met new and interesting people, and learned a lot about life.
These days, I enjoy sticking to a routine. This is partially due to the fact that I am a mother of two small children. I find that their lives are happier if I don’t upset their schedules too much. For example, we give the children a bath every night at 8:00, put them in their pajamas read them stories and put them to sleep by 9:00. There are times when this is inconvenient, but everyone in the household is happier if we stick to our routine. In addition, our friends know when to find us at home and when we are free. This makes visiting easier.
In conclusion, the type of person I am has changed with the circumstances of my life. The obligations of my family force me to have a routine. When I was young, I enjoyed the suspense and adventure of living a crazy life. Now the stability of a household routine suits me better. I think that while most people need a minimum amount of security, those who depend on you often make a difference in your lifestyle.

92 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? People behave differently when they wear different clothes. Do you agree that different clothes influence the way people behave? Use specific examples to support your answer.

People do behave differently depending on what they are wearing. The reason is not because they have changed, but because people’s reactions to them has changed.
Certain clothes are appropriate for certain situations. A man can wear a suit to work and a woman can wear something professional looking like a skirt and jacket. When everyone dresses the same, there is no problem. It is like a uniform. Imagine going to a law office to hire a lawyer. One of the lawyers is wearing a suit; the other is wearing jeans. Which lawyer do you want to hire? Similarly, a mechanic works on cars all day and wears clothes that can get dirty. It would be strange to find a mechanic wearing a coat and tie to repair and engine.
People will treat you differently depending on what you are wearing. It will depend on how well they know you and where you are. If your clothes are unusual for the situation, they may treat you with disrespect. I remember once I had an old army coat. I wore it into a fancy candy shop to buy some chocolates. The woman was very suspicious and a little afraid. I couldn’t understand her reaction since it was still me underneath my big, old ugly green coat. I was dressed like a bum and this caused the salesperson to react negatively to me. Consequently, I was even more polite than usual.
This experience shows me that sometimes I do behave differently because of what I’m wearing. In this case, I had to balance my appearance. Still, that doesn’t mean that I’m rude if I dress up.

93 Decisions can be made quickly, or they can be made after careful thought. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? The decisions that people make quickly are always wrong. Use reasons and specific examples to support your opinion.

I disagree with the statement that the decisions people make quickly are always wrong. However, I think those decisions probably turn out to be wrong more often than carefully made decisions do. Usually, fast decisions are based on what we call our “gut reactions,” or feelings we have about a situation. Sometimes these gut reactions are based on good sense backed by experience, but sometimes they’re based on nonsense or poor reasoning.
Let’s say you’re at work and the boss calls you to his office and tells you there’s a big project that needs to be done. He thinks you’re the best person for the job, but he needs an answer from you on the spot. He hasn’t told you what the project is, but you make the quick decision to accept. This is the right quick decision, because you’re basing it on a lot of factors that will occur to you later. One is that it wouldn’t make sense for the boss to ask you to do something he didn’t think you could handle. That would only hurt his business. Plus, doing a good job on this project might help your career. You realize it’s good to reach higher, if you want to get ahead.
But let’s say you’re on a deserted highway late at night and your car breaks down. Along comes a car driven by someone who doesn’t seem quite right to you. He offers you a ride to the nearest gas station. You make the quick decision to accept the ride because it’s late, you’re cold and tired and you don’t want to sit there waiting for the highway patrol to arrive. This is a case where a quick decision is a wrong decision. You shouldn’t trade your personal safety for physical comfort, and if you thought about it, you wouldn’t.
How do you know when it’s okay to make a quick decision? You have to be able to guess at the possible benefits versus the possible dangers. If it’s a small decision like where to go to lunch, who cares? However, if my whole future were at stake, I’d want as much time as I could get to think about it.

94. Some people trust their first impressions about a person’s character because they believe these judgments are generally correct. Other people do not judge a person’s character quickly because they believe first impressions are often wrong. Compare these two attitudes. Which attitude do you agree with? Support your choice with specific examples.

Any opinion is, in fact, a judgment. I feel that as Americans we would do well to judge others less often. Still, we must be able to decide whom to spend our time with and whom we’d rather forget. In my opinion, this type of judgment is best after we get to know other people. First impressions are not always accurate impression.
Judging a person based on a first impression does save time. There are more people than anyone could possibly get to know in one lifetime. It is frustrating to waste time getting to know someone, only to find out that your first impression was correct and that you really don’t like him or her. So is it a waste of time getting to know people your probably won’t like? That seems to be a valid point of view, but I believe that it is not the best attitude to take.
It’s more humane to spend time getting to know people before judging them. I know that I don’t always make a good first impression even when I truly like the person with whom I am interacting. We all have bad days, I wouldn’t want to lose a job or a potential friendship simply because I picked out the wrong clothing or said something wrong. I think everyone deserves the chances make a second impression.
If we all base our final opinion of others on first impression, it would be hard to get to know anyone. There is always more to people than meets the eye. If we don’t give someone a chance, we may be missing out on meeting a life-long friend. That would truly be shame.

95. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? People are never satisfied with what they have; they always want something more or something different. Use specific reasons to support your answer.

I think it’s probably true that people are never satisfied with what they have. They always want something more or something different from what is theirs. This just seems to be part of our human nature. Look at a toddler, Give her a toy to play with and she’ happy—until she sees something else. Then she wants that other toy to play with. If she and her brother are each given a cookie, she’ll look to see whose cookie is bigger. She’ll protest loudly if she thinks her brother is getting more.
“The grass is always greener” is an old expression, but it’s a good expression of how many of us feel. We’re always striving for a better job, a nicer place to live, a fancier car, or more expensive clothes. Part of this reaching for more and better is because we care about what other people think and want to impress them. Part of it is trying to make ourselves feel successful. But there’ also something in our nature that tells us we can do better and reach higher.
This isn’t always a negative quality. There’s another saying: ”A man’s reach should excess his grasp. Or what’s a heaven for?” It’s a good thing to be constantly pushing ourselves and looking for something different. If we don’t try for more and different things, we begin to stagnate, like a pool that doesn’t get any fresh water.
The problem comes when we won’t let ourselves be satisfied with anything we have. If we have a comfortable life and still feel as if something ‘s missing, then we need to look inward. The something that’s missing may be in our spirit.

96 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? People should read those books that are about real events, real people, and established facts. Use specific reasons and details to support your opinion.

The Importance of Fiction
How could anyone suggest that people should only read about real events, real people, and established facts? For one thing, that means people wouldn’t be reading half of all the great books that have ever been written, not to mention the plays, short stories and poetry. For another, it would mean that people’s imaginations would not develop as children and would remain dulled throughout their lives.
Reading stories as a child helps develop our creativity by reaching us a lot about how to use words to create mental images. It open our world up, exposing us to other times and different ways of living. Reading histories of those times would serve kind of the same purpose, but it probably wouldn’t stick in our minds as sharply. Reading an essay about poverty in Victorian England is not the same thing as reading in Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist. The images of a small boy being sold are more horrifying than simply reading the statement, “children were sold into labor “because a novel makes that small boy seem real to understanding fiction makes a more lasting impression on our minds and emotions.
Besides, storytelling is an emotional need for human beings. From earliest times, humans have taught their children about life, not by telling them facts and figures, but by telling them stories. Some of these stories show what people are like (human nature),and help us experience a wide range of feelings. Some make us think about how we should act. Telling a child that it’s wrong to lie will make little impression, but telling him the story of a little boy whose grows longer every time be tell a lie will make a big impression.
Fiction is too important to our culture, our minds, and our emotions. How could we ever give it up?

97 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? It is more important for students to study history and literature than it is for them to study science and mathematics. Use specific reasons and details to support your opinion.

I think it’s more important for students to study history and literature. these subjects help us understand the human race and feed our spirits and our imaginations. That’s more important than understanding how to split the atom or do algebra.
People talk about a crisis of spirit in our country. They mean we’ve forgotten how to believe in and understand our own better natures. I think part of this is because we’ve become too excited about facts and not enough about things we can’t see and measure. Reading books from our own culture helps us understand our roots. Reading books from other cultures helps us understand the way other people think and react to situations. It also teaches us that we’re not so very different from others, and that leads to better relations between cultures.
Reading literature also feeds our spirits. Even when the material we’re reading is about terrible sadness and hardship, it still brings us in touch with our inner selves. It makes us think about issues other than new car we want to drive or how much money we’re making.
Studying history gives us more information than just who died when or who won which war. It tell us about how human beings have related to each other at different periods in our development. It gives us the big picture. So often, when international crises occur, we only see the problem of the moment. We have no idea how something that happened twenty years ago was the beginning of this current problem. Without that information, we can have only a shallow understanding of ? going on in the world.
Both history and literature are necessary subjects for students to prepare for more than just careers. These subjects prepare students for the way they want to live their lives.

98 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? All students should be required to study art and music in secondary school. Use specific reasons and details to support your opinion.

I agree that all students should be required to study art and music in high school. I’ve read that young children who study art and music in grade school do better in their other studies. That argument aside, we should study art and music for its sake alone. We should study art and music to learn more about ourselves, our culture, and our world.
Both art and music feed students’ imaginations and help them express themselves. There’s a reason our ancestors in caves drew on the walks and make music with drums. Wanting to express ourselves is natural. It gives us an ? for our emotions and fears. It may not always be music other want to hear or art others will appreciate, but the activity itself is enjoyable. It shouldn’t matter if the end of result isn’t perfect. In the process, we learn what we like and dislike.
Studying art and music means more than drawing or playing an instrument. Student usually go to art galleries and concerts, too. By studying the pictures on the museums walls or by reading the program notes at a recital, students will learn what society has decided is worthy of praise. They learn what is important in their own culture.
Students may also learn about other cultures by looking at art and listening to music from other countries. When they do that ,they ‘ll see similarities and differences with their own. They’ll learn about what is important in other societies. Student will also learn how the art and music of other societies. Students will also learn how the art and music of other cultures affect our own.
By studying art and music in high school, students begin to understand themselves as well as their own culture and other culture. What could have more value than that?

99 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? There is nothing that young people can teach older people. Use specific reasons and details to support your opinion.

Many of us believe that young people have nothing valuable to teach older people. However that is not always the case. Young people can teach older people about technology, young culture, and young-related social issues.
Young people are usually better at using new forms of technology than older people can learn to use computers from young people. This is true of other technology too. For example ,I taught my grandparents how to use a video cassette recorder when I was thirteen years old. They didn’t know what it could do? Showed them. Now they use it regularly.
Older people are usually not familiar with youth culture, and younger people can help here too. This is important because it can help older people live a more enjoyable life. For example, popular music is generally youth oriented, and older people don’t always listen to it. However, when young people teach them about it, they may come to enjoy it. My
Grandmother, for example never listened to popular music before I introduces her to it. Note she and I listen and dance all the time. I plan to teach her about another piece of youth culture —rollerblading—-very soon!
Of course, there are more serious issues about which younger people can teach older people. As with computer, today’s children have grown up knowing about AIDS and school violence. That is not true for older generations. Here, again, children can teach older people about things that are important to everyone.
I know there are people who would say “you can’t teach an older dog new tricks.” However, it’s plain to me that the young have plenty to teach the old if they take the time to try. When they do, I think both gain a new appreciation for each other.

100 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Reading fiction (such as novels and short stories) is more enjoyable than watching movies. Use specific reasons and examples to explain your position.

Reading fiction, such as novels and short stories, is more enjoyable than watching a movie. Of course the images in a movie are much more vivid, because you’re seeing them on a large screen in a dark room. The images you “see” in a novel are only as strong as your own imagination. But the more you read, the stronger your imagination becomes. Reading exercise your imaginative powers. Watching a movie dulls them. Imagination like a muscle needs to be used. Otherwise it can disappear.
When you read, you’re an active participant in your own enjoyment. That’s one reason reading develops the imagination. You’re reading the words on the page and translating them into images in your mind. When you’re watching a movie, you’re a passive viewer. The movie is giving you everything. Nothing comes from you except your reaction to what you’re seeing, and even that can be given you by the movie. Some movie plots are so simple, you can predict what’s going to happen before it does.
Reading fiction also develops your storytelling skills. The more reading you do, the better you become at creating plots and characters. The plots and characters in movies are often very simple, because the emphasis is on action rather than on language or character development.
Still, going to the movies is a great community experience. Sitting in a large theater with a lot of other people is fun. You experience the same reactions to what you’re seeing together. Reading is a one-person experience. It’s a chance to go into an imaginary world by yourself. Both experiences can be fun and rewarding, but I think reading fiction is more enjoyable.


101 Some people say that physical exercise should be a required part of every school day. Other people believe that students should spend the whole school day on academic studies. Which opinion do you agree with? Give specific reasons and details to support your answer.

While physical exercise is important, I do not believe that it is the school’s responsibility to provide physical training for its students. That is something that everyone can take care of on his or her own.
Many students get plenty of physical exercise as part of their daily life or recreation. A student who bicycles ten miles to and from school does not need more exercise. A good physical education program must take a student’s outside activity into consideration. Otherwise, some students will spend valuable class hours repeating physical exercise.
If a school offers such activities, it also suggests that students will be graded on them. The range of possible physical activities is great: football, swimming, weight lifting, ballet, ballroom dance, yoga, skiing, horseback riding, and golf are just a few. However, the number that a school could offer is small. Some students could get bad grades in physical education simply because the school could not provide an activity they enjoy or do well. This seems unfair. Research suggests that participation, not excellence, in these activities determines the physical benefits the body will get.
Another issue is economic. Many schools do not have the money to provide gym facilities, playing fields, and athletic equipment for their students. Other schools are located in cities where that kind of space just isn’t available. A few schools would rather keep money for academic purposes.
Schools can certainly encourage physical activity. They can provide space for notices about activities, events, and classes for physical activities. They can encourage students to plan time away from academic studies to get some exercise. However, I think that providing exercise should not be the school’s responsibility.

102 A university plans to develop a new research center in your country. Some people want a center for business research. Other people want a center for research in agriculture (farming). Which of these two kinds of research centers do you recommend for your country? Use specific reasons in your recommendation.

The importance of agricultural and business research centers cannot be underestimated. Success in farming and success in business each can improve a country’s standing. I think that agricultural research tends to improve the quality of individual citizens’ lives, whereas successful business practices improve a country’s economy in relation to other nations. Choosing between an agricultural and a business research center is a difficult decision. However, I believe that the agricultural research center would be most beneficial because its benefits are more widespread.
Business practices in the United States already serve as a model for many other countries. While we certainly have much to learn, the U.S. already has fairly solid economic basis. Further, businesses are already well-connected internationally. They have the advantage of the Internet and other means of electronic information transmission. I think that a business research center would really only help a few directly. Businessmen would get richer. For the rest of the country’s people, there might be little obvious benefit.
On the other hand, an agricultural research center would help all people. No country can survive without adequate means of food production. While the U.S. is able to produce or import enough food now, that may not remain the case if current trends continue. Natural resources are eroding, and more and more American farms are closing. Farmers need to build stronger networks across the country and internationally, much as businessmen already have done. Ultimately, better systems for farming will help all people. For example, food prices can be reduced as farmers discover more effective means of food production.
Morally, I believe that it is best to do what will benefit the most people. I believe that the university’s decision to build an agricultural research center could do just that.

103 Some young children spend a great amount of their time practicing sports. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Most kids love to play sports. It’s important to them, but for the majority, it’s just one type of activity out of many that they do. For a small number of kids, though, a sport becomes their whole life. They spend almost all their time and energy practicing. This has both advantages and disadvantages.
Sports are good for young children in many ways. Kids who enjoy sports are likely to have better health. They develop good habits of daily exercise that will keep them healthy as adults, too. Today, many children and adults are overweight, but those who love sports stay in shape. Plus, by developing their physical abilities, they will learn how to work hard towards a goal. Their achievements in sports will make them feel good about themselves. They’ll also make friends and learn teamwork. Sports, whether a little or a lot, can have positive effects.
We admire the talent and dedication of young athletes, but we also wonder if they’re losing something. Their focus is very narrow. If they devote most of their time to sports, are they neglecting schoolwork? What about other interests? Children should try out many different activities. In addition, many young athletes are pressured by parents or coaches to succeed. Kids whose drive comes from inside usually do okay, but others can be unhappy and have health and emotional problems. So sports, like anything else in excess, can have negative effect too.
When I was young, I liked books and hated sports. I saw other people who loved sports and hated school. Now that I’m older, I’ve found a better balance. People have to figure out what’s right for them. Is there such a thing as too much sports? There is no right answer, because there is no “right amount.” Everyone is different.

104 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Only people who earn a lot of money are successful. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Many people believe that a large income equals success. I believe, however, that success is more than how much money you make. Some of those measures of success include fame, respect, and knowledge.
Most people assume that famous people are rich people, but that isn’t always true. For example, some day I would like to be a famous researcher. Few scientists are rich by today’s standards. Still I will feel myself to be successful if I am well-known. Additionally, there are many famous humanitarians who are not rich. Mother Theresa was one. Certainly, no one would say she was not successful.
I also believe that being respected by coworkers indicates success. Without that respect, money means little. For example, I once did some work for a top attorney in a law firm. He made a very good salary, but he wasn’t a nice man. No one ever did work for him willingly. He orderd everyone around, and we didn’t respect him. In contrast, however, I had a wonderful band director in high school. He had to take extra jobs just to make enough money to support his family. However, his students had great respect for him and always listened to what he said. As a result, we were a very good band. In my opinion, my band director was more successful than the attorney was.
Finally, I think one of the most important indicators of success is knowledge. Wealthy people don’t know all the answers. For example, in the movie Good Will Hunting, the only person who could solve some complex problems was the janitor. He knew a lot, and decided what he wanted to do with that knowledge rather than just think about money. In my opinion, he was extremely successful.
When we think of history, there are few people that we remember simply because they were rich. Overall, we remember people who did something with their lives - they were influential in politics, or contributed to science or art or religion. If history is the ultimate judge of success, then money surely isn’t everything.

105 If you could invent something new, what product would you develop? Use specific details to explain why this invention is needed.

If I could invent something new, I’d invent a device or pill that could put people to sleep immediately and would have no side effects. The proper amount of sleep is important for our concentration, mental health, and physical health.
Getting enough sleep is a vital human need. For one thing, without sleep our concentration is strongly affected. We’re easily distracted, we can’t remember things, and we don’t notice what’s happening around us. For example, a lot of car accidents are caused by tired drivers. When we get enough sleep, our powers of concentration are sharper. We’re more focused on what we’re doing. We perform better.
Mental health is also affected by lack of sleep. It’s easy to tell if people don’t get enough sleep. They’re on edge, cranky, and out of sorts. They lose their tempers easily and over-react to situations. In fact, experiments have shown that lack of sleep over a long period of time can cause a complete mental breakdown. When we get our proper rest, we’re more alert and responsive. Our outlook is positive, and we’re much easier to get along with.
Our physical health shows the strain of sleeplessness, too. We have less energy, and everything seems like a major effort. Over a long period of time, we become slow and unresponsive. The wear and tear on the body from lack of sleep can be a very serious health problem. Every doctor will tell you that getting enough sleep is a basic factor in maintaining good health.
Wouldn’t it be great to go to bed every night knowing you’d have no problem getting to sleep, no matter what’s going on in your life? Getting enough sleep is always going to be an important part of how you respond to your situation. I think this device would be very helpful to all of us.