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TOEFL Writing Task 2 Question with Model Answer

Today, we’re going to look at a TOEFL Writing Task 2 question, with a model answer. From there, we’ll analyze an important dimension of TOEFL Writing Task 2 responses: grammar, with a focus on the often important use of “if” clauses. Finally, we’ll look at how the model answer– which is fairly well written as-is– can be revised to be even stronger, with greater grammar variety.

Table of Contents


 

Sample TOEFL Writing Task 2 Prompt

So, let’s get to work! Here is the sample TOEFL Writing Task 2 question:

  • Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? The Internet causes people to interact with each other less than they did in the past. Use specific reasons to support your answers.

Before you look at the sample response below, you may want to write your own practice response to the prompt, which you can then compare to the model response below. If you do decide to practice with this prompt, you can make your practice especially authentic by giving yourself the same 30-minute time limit you’d get on test day. (But if you’re not ready to write that quickly just yet, untimed practice is very valuable too!)

And now, here is an example response that uses “if” statements (with the word if in bold). In this model answer, I’ve chosen to agree with the statement in the task prompt.


 

TOEFL Independent Writing Model Answer

TOEFL Writing Task 2 Internet

Internet technology has revolutionized the way we live. Now, more than ever, we have so much information and media at our fingertips. The ability to look up any information, watch any TV show, or listen to any music from the comfort of our own homes actually has some disadvantages. I agree with the idea that the Internet is causing people to be less social.

One of the reasons the Internet causes us to interact with others less is that it makes many public gathering places obsolete. Libraries used to be popular places for community events. But if people in a community can find entire books online in PDF, they won’t interact with each other at libraries as much anymore. Schools and workplaces are moving onto the Internet too. More and more, people get online degrees or use their Internet connections to work from home. If people take this Internet route to work and school, they miss out on the friendship and human interaction they’d normally get in class or at their jobs.

Some could argue that the Internet allows people to meet and interact electronically. But this is still less social than non-Internet meetings. If people stay at home and use the Internet to try to find a date for instance, they no longer look for love in truly social environments, like coffee shop or public park. Also, if most of your interactions with your friends are online, you don’t get to hear your friends’ voices or see their faces nearly as often.

Ultimately, the Internet leads people to isolate themselves from others, staying at home instead of going out. Moreover, human interaction on the Internet is not as personal as face-to-face meetings between people. The Internet has some benefits, but it really does cause us to be less social.


 

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A Closer Look at “If” Statements” for this Prompt

In TOEFL independent writing, statements with “if” in them are often useful. “If” statements can help you give good supporting details for your opinions.

How “if” statements work in general

In English, the word “if” is used in statements called conditionals. There are a few different possible grammar structures for conditional if statements. You can go over these structures in Kate’s review of conditionals if you want. But for this post, all you need to know about if statements is that they demonstrate cause and effect. To give one very simple example, I can tell you that if you read this post, you will learn something new about TOEFL Independent Writing. (Reading this blog post is a cause, and learning something new is the effect.)

How “if” statements work in TOEFL Independent Writing

In TOEFL Independent writing, you’re asked to express and support an opinion about a social issue. One of the best ways to support an opinion about society is to talk about what must be true if you are correct.

Suppose, for instance, that you strongly feel that governments need to make regulations to reduce pollution. You could say that if governments don’t make good laws, pollution will increase. On the other hand, you might feel that individual people need to make better decisions that reduce pollution. In that case, you could support your opinion by making a statement such as “If  people make more of an effort to recycle and if people are more willing to use public transportation, we can have less pollution.”

In short, by using “if” to support your opinion, you encourage your reader to imagine situations that demonstrate your points.

Examples of if statements in a TOEFL Independent Writing response

Now, let’s look at some if statements that could be used in a response to the actual TOEFL Task 2 question you saw at the beginning of thi post. Let’s take another look at this TOEFL Writing Task 2 prompt:

  • Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? The Internet causes people to interact with each other less than they did in the past. Use specific reasons to support your answers.
  •  

    Like many TOEFL Independent Writing questions, you are being asked to take a side on an issue. No matter which side you take, you can use “if” statements to give examples that support your argument. Below are some possible statements for the agree and disagree options.

    Agree:

    • If people didn’t spend so much time in their rooms on the Internet, they would spend more time with their family and friends.
    • If you meet other people in a public place like a coffee shop or the mall, you have more chances for memorable social interactions, compared to the Internet.
    • Before the Internet was invented, if people were bored, they were more likely to leave their house and do things with other people.

    Disagree:

    • If we didn’t have the Internet, it would be a lot harder to chat with people from different parts of the world.
    • If you go to an Internet cafe, you can actually meet people and make new friends while you’re doing your homework or playing computer games.
    • If people who are not very social don’t have the Internet, they will still choose to do other things alone, without being social.

    Using “if” statements in a full TOEFL Writing Task 2 response

    These examples can help you think about how you might respond to the question above. Try writing your own answer to this Independent Writing question. Use the word “if” to give cause/effect details that support your opinion. You saw this grammar form many times in the model Task 2 esssay above. But wait, there’s more! Read on to see how the model essay I initially showed you can be made even better with more grammar variety.


     

    Revising this Model Essay: It’s All About the Grammar!

    Varied grammar is one of the important TOEFL Writing features, as listed on ETS’s official TOEFL Writing rubrics. Today, we’ll look at ways that you can add grammar variety to your TOEFL essays.

    In TOEFL Independent Writing, it’s especially important to vary your grammar when you describe cause and effect. Cause and effect statements make for great supporting details in your TOEFL Independent Essay, because they help your reader picture situations that illustrate your claims.

    Paraphrase if statements with varied grammar

    The easiest way to describe cause and effect is by using “if.” For example, in a TOEFL essay about whether or not kids should be allowed to play computer games (as seen in Official TOEFL iBT Tests, Volume 2), you could say something like “if kids play educational computer games, it can get them more excited about learning.”

    Now, it’s possible to write a good TOEFL Writing Task 2 essay by using lots of “if” statements. But you increase your chances of writing a truly great essay–and getting a top score–by using more varied grammar.

    The trick is to think of alternatives to the “if” phrases. This is really a form of paraphrasing. And below, I’ll show you how this kind of paraphrasing can work. I’ll give you a paraphrased version of the TOEFL Writing task 2 model answer I recently showed you.

    In my original model answer, I used two if clauses in each body paragraph. In my revised essay below, I have paraphrased every “if” clause, so that all the ifs are gone. This paraphrase is a bit extreme–in your own TOEFL Independent Writing, you don’t need to get rid of every if. After each body paragraph, you can see the if clauses that appeared in the original essay. Compare these originals to the revisions to see different ways of paraphrasing if statements.

    TOEFL Independent Writing Model Response–Revised (no ifs for cause and effect)

    Question:

    • Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? The Internet causes people to interact with each other less than they did in the past. Use specific reasons to support your answers.

    Internet technology has revolutionized the way we live. Now, more than ever, we have so much information and media at our fingertips. The ability to look up any information, watch any TV show, or listen to any music from the comfort of our own homes actually has some disadvantages. I agree with the idea that the Internet is causing people to be less social.

    One of the reasons the Internet causes us to interact with others less is that it makes many public gathering places obsolete. Libraries used to be popular places for community events. Because community members can find entire books online in PDF, people don’t interact with each other at libraries as much anymore. Schools and workplaces are moving onto the Internet too. More and more, people get online degrees or use their Internet connections to work from home. This causes people to miss out on the friendship and human interaction they’d normally get in class or at their jobs.

    • If statements from the original essay:
      • But if people in a community can find entire books online in PDF, they won’t interact with each other at libraries as much anymore.
      •  If people take this Internet route to work and school, they miss out on the friendship and human interaction they’d normally get in class or at their jobs.

    Some could argue that the Internet allows people to meet and interact electronically. But this is still less social than non-Internet meetings. People who use Internet dating services, for example, just message people one at a time. This isn’t as social as trying to find a date in a  coffee shop or at the park, where there are lots of people. And in Internet-based friendship, you don’t see a person in reality, and often communicate with them only in writing. As a result, people experience less personal interactions, even with their friends.

    • If statements from the original essay:
      • If people stay at home and use the Internet to try to find a date, for instance, they no longer look for love in truly social environments, like a coffee shop or public park.
      • Also, if most of your interactions with your friends are online, you don’t get to hear your friends’ voices or see their faces nearly as often.

    Ultimately, the Internet leads people to isolate themselves from others, staying at home instead of going out. Moreover, human interaction on the Internet through  is not as personal as face-to-face meetings between people. The Internet has some benefits, but it really does cause us to be less social.


     

    The Takeaway

    Often, taking a side on a TOEFL Independent Writing issue is all about demonstrating cause and effect. You want to show the problems–or good things–that are caused by some kind of behavior or some social force. In the essay above, I described bad social effects that all have the same cause: the Internet.

    I used “if” statements frequently in my writing, but in the conclusion, I summarized all my ifs in a different way. Instead of using an “if…then” structure, I described cause and effect by saying “the Internet leads people to isolate themselves from others.” This is an if statement without the if; it means the same thing as “if people use the Internet, they will isolate themselves from others.”

    As you practice using cause and effect statements in your TOEFL Independent Writing, you should think of ways to show cause and effect both with and without if. Grammatical variety will make your ideas more interesting, and it’ll boost your TOEFL score. “If” clauses are one of the easiest grammar forms to use in cause and effect. So you could use “if” as a starting point for creating cause/effect statements in English. Then paraphrase some of your if statements so that you describe cause and effect in a variety of ways.

    Follow-up TOEFL Writing Practice Activity

    Write down a list of if statements. They don’t necessarily need to be ones you’d use in a specific TOEFL Independent Writing response. Then, after each if statement, write one or two paraphrases of the statement, getting rid of the word “if.” This exercise will help you describe cause-and-effect relationships in a variety of ways, and increase your chances of a top score in TOEFL Independent Writing.

    Then, to study more sample TOEFL Task 2 responses, check out Magoosh’s complete guide to TOEFL model essays. And to practice woth some additional Task 2 prompts, check out Magoosh’s collection of TOEFL Writing topics.

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    2 Responses to TOEFL Writing Task 2 Question with Model Answer

    1. Mark September 11, 2017 at 3:05 am #

      Header says “integ” but it’s “indep” 🙂

      • David Recine
        David Recine September 15, 2017 at 8:15 am #

        Good catch, Mark! And what a silly mistake on my part. I just corrected the header, and thank you for bringing that to my attention!


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