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The final task of your TOEFL exam is to write and complete an independent essay within a 30 minute time frame. By this point in the test you will be somewhat exhausted from the last three hours, and to make it worse, you are not given a choice of essay topics. That is, you will only receive one option for the essay question.
With this one essay question you are required to write at least 250 words using your own knowledge and background. In my experience, TOEFL works around four key topics areas for the independent essay question.
What factors make an effective leader?
For many people, genuine happiness is difficult to achieve in life. What do you believe true happiness means? In your life, what factors influence happiness?
Advances in sciences have been a great success for society. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Technology has greatly improved the way we communicate with our friends and family through social networks. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Social Concerns -
Education is a pillar stone for any society, what factors contribute to an effective education?
What are the requirements needed for a society to grow sustainably?
What does a university need to provide to keep their students satisfied?
Should universities conduct lessons in discussion format, lecture format or tutorial format? Why?
Now when you read the question you need to figure out what type of question format they are using in order to understand how to best answer the question. Furthermore, pay attention to the tense they want you to use in your essay response. This may all sound a little confusing, so I’ve listed below each type of question format.
If/What – For this hypothetical question, you need to discuss what you would do in a certain scenario.
Agree/Disagree – This states an opinion or statement. Then asks you to take a side and explain the reasons for your stance.
Describe – Give a detailed account of the question topic.
Prefer – The question lists two options and asks you to take a side and explain the reasons for your stance.
Finally, make sure you spend some time at the beginning of this task to truly understand what the question is asking you to write about. What really helps is to plan effectively before you start to write, constantly making sure your points/reasons directly address the question at hand.
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