The example TOEFL paragraph(s) that I will include here will show the typical problems that advanced English proficiency students have. Last week, some students using my Online TOEFL course submitted example paragraphs. Then I provided feedback to help them understand their weak points. After seeing the example TOEFL paragraph(s) in this lesson, you will improve your TOEFL and academic writing.
Table of Contents
TOEFL example paragraph: Thesis, topic sentence, lack or precise words, grammar, and development problems
Students’ example TOEFL paragraph:
Universal Studios Hollywood is a film studio and theme park located in Los Angeles. It attracts people from all over the world because of the events that occur there.
Harry Potter is one of these events that is held there. Moreover, experiencing this event with dazzling lights and music cast can make joy to who ever witnesses specially in spectacle. Last month, I went with my family and my son chosen a magic wand from many different magic wands. In addition, it allowed my son to cast spells and to create amazing magical experiences throughout Hogsmeade. He waved his wand, recited the spell and watched as the magic unfolds.
Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood was one of the most wonderful moments that we enjoyed as a family particularly for my son who has won with a magic wand.
Edited example TOEFL paragraph:
Universal Studios Hollywood, a film studio and theme park located in Los Angeles, attracts people from all over the world because of the magical Harry Potter exhibit.
First, I recommend that tourists visit Universal Studios (US) because of the Harry Potter attraction. My family and I were able to attend the Harry Potter attraction while we attended US. We witnessed the dazzling lights, and the music cast brought us joy. My son, in fact, chose a magic wand from many different types. In addition, the cast allowed my son to cast spells and to create amazing magical experiences throughout Hogsmeade, a small town outside of Hogswart. Excited to become part of Harry Potter’s magical world, my son waved his wand, recited the spell, and watched as the magic unfolded. As he moved his wand, real objects such as a music box and books would seemingly defy gravity and move around in the air on their own.
Visiting US, therefore, was one of the most wonderful moments that we enjoyed as a family, particularly for my son who became part of Harry Potter’s world by using his magical wand.
Video feedback on the example TOEFL paragraph:
TOEFL example paragraph: Topic sentence, focus, and lack of precise word problems
Students’ example TOEFL paragraph:
Visiting calm places where you can only hear the sound of waves means a lot for me. If I had a chance to visit Sunset resort which is located in Maldives, I would never hesitate to spend my holiday there it is a peaceful resort.
There are no more activities after the sunset, however, you never feel bored at the tropical resort. All the activities are related to nature. I prefer waking up from the early morning, having my breakfast, heading to the ocean to swim in the purest ocean I have ever seen in the world. In addition, living in immaculate comfortable villa in a tropical utopia keeps me relaxed and happy in my residence. My dream is to try scuba diving even though I am coward. One of the most attractive things which makes me avid to go there is because I am morning person.
We need to feel free for a few days from our work and pressure. Nowhere will be perfect for me except a luxurious resort in a calm island.
Edited example TOEFL paragraph:
Visiting calm places where I can only hear the sound of waves means a lot for me. If I had a chance to visit Sunset Resort, which is located in Maldives, I would never hesitate to spend my holiday because of the serene atmosphere, B, and C.
First of all, I recommend that tourists visit this resort because of its peaceful environment. In fact, my friend Sahar was able to visit this resort last year. After having an all-you-can-eat breakfast, with an array of eggs, waffles, cereal, toast, omelets, fruits, juices, and coffee, Sahar rested on a hammock between two palm trees. She told me that there were no sounds other than the waves gently rolling in from the ocean. In addition, while resting on the hammock, she watched the fluffy white clouds pass by against an azure sky. At that moment, she said she had never felt peace like that any where else on the planet. Therefore, I would also like to experience that same serenity, which is why I also want to visit Sunset Resort.
Second of all, reason B
Third of all, reason C
To sum up, all of us need to feel free for a few days from our work and pressure. Nowhere will be perfect for me except a luxurious resort on a calm island in Maldives.
Video feedback on the example TOEFL paragraph:
Example TOEFL paragraph: Undeveloped, grammar errors
Students’ example TOEFL paragraph:
It has been a long-time dream for me to visit Disneyland since I saw a commercial on T.V. when I was 14 years world, so I can meet Disney princesses.
Firstly, I would visit Disney land so I can meet Cinderella. Cinderella was the first story I fell in love with. I remember when I used to watch the movie repeatedly. Then, I found out there is a place that I can meet Cinderella in person and see her face to face I was dazzled. Although, I’m grown up now but the idea of childhood dream getting to be fulfilled hunts me till this day. It would be delightful to check this from my bucket list.
On the whole, Disney land is the happiest place on earth. Giving a chance to be a child again and doing it all over is a wonderful opportunity, so I can meet Cinderella and the other princesses.
Edited example TOEFL paragraph:
It has been a long-time dream for me to visit Disneyland since I saw a commercial on T.V. when I was 14 years world, so I could meet Disney princesses.
Firstly, I would visit Disneyland so I could meet Cinderella, the first story I fell in love with as a young child. Cinderella, a daughter from a peasant family who was mistreated by her sisters and mother, eventually has a dramatic change of fortune as she meets a prince at a ball at a royal palace. I remember when I used to watch the movie repeatedly with my family and how I longed to have something like that to happen to me. Then, I found out there was a place that I could meet Cinderella in person and see her face to face. I was dazzled. Although I’m grown up now, the idea of a childhood dream getting to be fulfilled haunts me till this day. Hence, it would be delightful to check this off my bucket list.
On the whole, Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. Giving me a chance to be a child again and doing it all over is a wonderful opportunity so that I can meet Cinderella and the other princesses.
Video feedback on the example TOEFL paragraph:
Qualities of a good paragraph
An example TOEFL paragraph will have several important qualities:
- A clearly marked topic sentence which restates a key point mentioned in the thesis from the first paragraph
- 1-2 developed details which are clearly relevant to the topic
- Cohesiveness from one sentence to the next by using one of the following devices: transition words, determiners and pronouns, repetition and rephrasing, and parallel structures
- Good control of both basic and advanced grammar and vocabulary, including consistency among verb tense and point of view
Example TOEFL Paragraph Quiz
In each question, you will see an example writing prompt. Choose the example TOEFL paragraph that you think clearly addresses the writing task and has a more coherent organization.
1. Do you agree or disagree with this idea? Give some examples and reasons to support your point of view. “High school children should be required to wear uniforms.”
A. First, uniforms for secondary students will create fewer distractions since everyone will look the same. To illustrate, I attended an academy when I was in high school which required uniforms. We wore neatly pressed navy blue plants, white shirts, black shoes, and dark socks. Instead of having to worry about which students were in sync with the latest fashions, we focused on our academic classes. Moreover, in my biology class, for example, it did not seem that the teacher was playing favorites based on looks or clothes when he was asking questions since he was not distracted by the clothes that we were wearing. Conducive to learning, therefore, our uniforms promoted more equality in a distraction-free teaching-learning environment.
B. Normal clothes can be quite costly; however, uniforms are cheaper since they can be ordered in masse. The schools can actually order the uniforms and then charge the students reasonable prices. These uniforms are also pretty comfortable to wear, maybe even more comfortable than tight jeans and t-shirts that many students would wear if they didn’t wear uniforms. If students get to choose their own clothes, they would have to spend a lot more money since they would want to wear the trendy clothes that they see in ads on television and in magazines. Having uniforms will eliminate all of those unnecessary expenses.
2. “Changing your job frequently will have a very positive effect on your life.” Do you agree or disagree with this idea? Give some examples and reasons to support your point of view.
A. Workers should in one job for most for their lives. I know that some people like to move around with their jobs. “The grass in greener on the other side,” someone once said. But I still think that staying in a job will give workers more stability. I for one disagree with the statement that changing jobs will positively affect workers’ lives. What about someone who changes jobs? How secure will that new job be a few years down the line? If workers are already in a certain job, they should try to stay happy with that job and not think about changing. As workers get more experience and as other workers in their companies retire, workers will get chances at moving up in their companies. As a result, there is no need for workers to change jobs in search of better or more promotional opportunities.
B. Changing jobs will allow workers to get better promotions. For instance, for three years, I worked at a tech company in Northern California in which I was paid $5,600 monthly. Mostly, I worked in the management and sales division. Part of my job required that I travel overseas to Asia 2-3 times annually. It was a stressful work environment, so I began applying to new jobs to see if I could find another job in a higher position with better pay. After 6-7 months of interviewing, I accepted a new job as the director of the marketing division in a different tech company. Not only did my new job give me a promotion from what I did previously, my new job paid me $8,900 monthly, which was considerably more money than I was making from my previous job. Had I not changed, I would not be in the position I am in now with my new company.
3. Everyone likes to learn new things. Some of these people like to learn by doing. Others prefer to learn more by reading. Compare these two methods of learning. Then explain which form of learning you prefer. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
A. Some prefer to learn by doing because they can use the trial and error approach. For example, when a user opens the box to a new generation I-Phone, he may neglect to read the operating instructions and plug in and turn on the device. Once the phone is on, the user can begin touching and swiping the phone in order to learn new functions. Most phones come with some applications (apps), and these software programs are intuitive to learn. There is no need to spend a lot of time reading the instructions for most apps. For instance, if a phone user attends Disneyland with his family and installs the Disneyland app, he/she can quickly learn how to use so that s/he can pay for food online, get fast passes for rides, and see to what activities are happening at Disneyland. As a result, using a new phone and learning new apps all by learning by doing without having to spend any time reading is an effective way to learn new things.
B. Others choose to read when they are learning new things. They believe that reading helps them to get the basic understanding of things and how they operate before trying to get something to work. Reading works since they can learn how it works and what they should do to operate. Understanding by reading really is the best to learn. Those who learn by doing do not really understand. Each time they do something, they figure it out by luck or even by mistake. Therefore, there is no way for them to be really effective in doing things. Actually, these people do not really know what it is that they are doing. But people who read about things first have a deep understanding about things. That way they can really learn their stuff better.
4. Many people enjoy reading as a hobby. Some people, therefore, like reading nonfiction books (news events, documentaries, and biographies). Others, however, like reading fiction (short stories and books). Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of reading nonfiction and fiction books. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
A. Reading fiction books have advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, reading fiction books are helpful because they help the reader escape reality for a while which can help to reduce stress. For instance, someone reading a Harry Potter book can delve into the fantasy world of Harry Potter land and not have to worry about the stresses of his or her job. On the other hand, reading fiction books will not help the reader learn about history or current news events. Fiction books may write about fantasies or pretend romances, so they will not, for example, help the reader to learn about climate change and what society needs to do to reduce this threat to the human race. Nor will these fiction books help readers learn about problems in our society such as poverty, healthcare, gun control, and immigration.
B. If you read non-fiction books, you will benefit and learn new information about events that have happened in our society. Maybe I can get more knowledge that I had by reading true books. But maybe nonfiction books are boring, and I may want to go to sleep when I read them. They do I admit open my mind and may help me at school when I write research papers. I may read a book about history, and this stuff will help me in my history class by helping me learn more about something more deeply. Non-fiction books may be hard to understand because I may not know very much about the subject matter. Then I may not finish reading the whole book because it is too difficult for me. So, you can say these types of books can be good and bad.
5. Some students like to attend lectures in which the professor does most of the talking. In contrast, other students like to attend classes which are more student-centered classrooms. In student-centered classrooms, students do most of the talking. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both types of classrooms. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
A. Student-centered classrooms are productive. They help students talk to each other about the course. Professors cannot just talk the whole time because students will not be able to absorb all of the important points. You can say also that there may be trouble with classrooms centered on students. Students will not always get all the content that they need to understand the course objectives. If professors focus more on their students on not on their lectures then students will get bits and parts of the lesson without seeing the whole lesson. Sometimes, when students work in groups, they will not stay on task and will talk about unrelated topics.
B. The advantage of a lecture-style class is that professors can teach the most important parts of their course without being interrupted by questions or group activities. Students, therefore, will understand what they need to know in order to master the lesson for their quizzes, presentations, or writing projects. However, too much lecture can be overwhelming to students who will not be able to ask questions or participate in class discussions in order to learn the material. Students’ notes may not be completely accurate, so, if these pupils are not allowed to participate through questions, group, and pair discussions, there is no way for them to verify whether or not they are understanding the class content completely and accurately.
6. There are many problems in the world such as war, environmental issues, hunger, crime, unemployment, and so on. What is one world problem that you would like solved? Explain how solving this world problem would benefit everyone on Earth.
A. Allowing everyone to get an education will help them to find gainful employment. For example, I know of an immigrant here in Southern California who was offered financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships. Because of that aid, she completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting two years ago. Shortly thereafter, she studied hard for the Certified Public Accounting exam and passed it. Now qualified as an accountant, she interviewed at several companies. Eventually, she was hired by a firm and is now making about $7,300 a month. Had my friend not been allowed to get her education, she would not have been able to find a job that would pay for her living expenses.
B. Water in many parts of the world is dirty and unsafe to drink. Countries should clean this water for everyone. I drink water almost every day, and my friends also drink water. We also like to shop for groceries at the end of every week so that we can get fresh vegetables and fruits. However, it is quite expensive to buy organically fresh foods. That is another problem in the world too. Making sure food is cheap enough for those who live in underprivileged countries will decrease the number of people who die from starvation. It is not acceptable for children to be dying because they have nothing to eat when there is so much in developed countries. Let’s just make sure everyone has water, food, shelter, and a good job at the very least.
7. What type of music do you like to listen to? Explain why you enjoy listening to this type of music so much. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
A. Pop music is A-OK by me. Do you ever listen to this type of music? I do not like the harder, faster rock and roll music. Do not get me wrong. Those musicians are talented, but that type of music doesn’t float my boat–if you know what I mean. Some slower pop music from some of the current pop artists settles me down. Also, music brings back memories to me of events that I experienced in the past. Since my life is centered around music, I have often completed events with music in the background. Hence, I associate the music with certain memories. I will play pop music when my friends come over to visit, and I will play that music when I am driving around town for sure. Check out this music. You will not be sorry.
B. First, I like classical music because it helps me relax as I work on my homework assignments for my college classes. To illustrate, last year when I was preparing for a biology final exam, I began playing Handel’s musical masterpiece called the Messiah. Violins, cellos, pianos, harps, tubas, saxophones, and other instruments created a beautiful symphony of relaxing music that I could play in the background as I was preparing my study guides. At certain parts of Handel’s music, the tempo is upbeat with a faster rhythm, but most of his music is gentle, slow, and relaxing. While I listened to this classical music, I created three study guides to help me learn the following topics for my final exam preparation: photosynthesis, mitosis, and meiosis. Once I completed these study guides, I began memorizing the terms even when the music playing in the background.
8. Suppose you could travel back in time to experience a different period. Which period of time would you like to travel back to? Explain why you would like to experience that time period. Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.
A. Traveling back to the 60’s would give me a chance to see the Civil Right’s movement. During that period, many people, not just people of color, marched on the streets in the South demanding equality for black Americans. Of course, if I lived during that period, I would be able to take part in this movement, and I might even be able to meet Martin Luther King, Jr, who, after giving his powerful “I Have a Dream” speech, won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature. It would be so exciting to watch, listen, and take part in one of Dr. King’s speeches. According to many historians, Dr. King is considered one of the greatest orators in American history. Experiencing the 60’s time period would give me the chance to see one of the most conflicting periods of time, but it would also let me see how people of color fought so hard in order to give us the rights that we often take for granted today.
B. I would like to go back to the late 1700’s so I could see how our country was founded. Most people today do not know much about our history. In fact, I talked to one of my friends the other day who did now even know who the first president of the United States was. Another period of time I would like to see is 1860-1870 when the United States was torn apart by the Civil War in which more than 800,000 Americans died. A great leader and president named Abraham Lincoln rose to power, ended the war, and helped the nation heal. Like me, you might want to listen to one of Lincoln’s great speeches which would inspire you to do good. It is hard to think of a time period to visit, right? There are so many interesting periods of time that would entice me to want to visit.
9. Choosing a university is an important selection that students must make. In your opinion, what is the most important quality that you must consider? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
A. Professors should have a publishing reputation. This may attract students to that school. Some professors research areas that they like, and then they can share their knowledge with their students. I think one day I may also decided to teach because I want to be able to share my ideas with others. That will be a good thing for everyone. If I attend a university, I would definitely want my professors to he leaders in their research. Studying at that school will benefit students. These students can say to others that they studied at that prestigious school. There also needs to be a learning environment for students. This must start with the library, so they school must make sure the library is stocked with articles and journals that students can use for research.
B. The location of the university is an important consideration because it will determine how safe students will be during their academic studies. For instance, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) is located in the downtown district in the City of Angels. Unfortunately, this area is unsafe for students. In fact, over the last two years, two students have been murdered near campus, and another student was run over by a motorist who didn’t bother to stop after the accident. In addition, my friend Jacob tells me he always asks for campus police to escort him back to his dorms after his evening classes because he does not feel safe walking alone. Like my friend, many of the students who feel unsafe at UCLA also find it difficult to focus on their studies due to the dangerous environment.
10. While students attend universities, they will have to complete a large number of homework assignments. What is the most important strategy for completing these challenging and time-consuming assignments? Use specific reasons and examples to explain why your homework strategy is so important.
A. One benefit of using note-cards is that they will help me memorize a lot of important terms from my classes. For instance, two years ago, I had to memorize a lot of terms in my geology class. I knew that in three weeks I would be taking a quiz that would concentrate on the many different kinds of rocks found in the Earth’s soil. Hence, I started taking each type of rock and wrote its name on one side of my note-card. Then on the other side, I wrote how the rock was formed and any other identifying information. I repeated this process 150 times until I had all the important definitions and types of rocks written onto note-cards. Then I used the important strategy of reviewing the note-cards until I was completely familiar with all the terms. Finally, I took the exam and scored 96, so I believe that this study strategy was important for helping me perform well.
B. Take all the assignments you have and write them into a calendar. I remember one time, I had some busy classes in a 15 week semester. So I tried to study for all of my tests coming up. I could not figure out what I needed to do first since every test was important. So I just stared at all my notes from all my classes. Maybe you have also had something like this happen when you were studying. I had everything to do but I did nothing. In other cases, I might try to study with someone else. Together we can share notes and prepare example questions and answers to what might appear on the exam. I did some things like this once, and I think that I was kinda prepared for the test because I scored 83%. I think my score might have been lower had I not studied like I did.
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