TOEFL Section 4: Writing
This section is now a standard part of the TOEFL iBT. Previously, a writing test was administered as a separate test (TWE) from the paper and computer based TOEFL. The iBT writing section is divided into two parts: Integrated Writing and Independent Writing.
Integrated WritingWriting Based on Reading and Listening
Here you will read a passage about an academic topic. Then you will listen to a lecture about the same topic. You are permitted to take notes while you read and listen. You will be asked a question that relates to both the text and the listening. Your response should be 150-225 words. Hint: Look for three many points that are related. Your score will depend on the quality of your writing as well as how well you answer the question. After you have heard the lecture you will have twenty minutes to plan and write your response.
In a vote that took place at the International Astronomical Union Conference on August 24th, 2006, Pluto lost its status as a planet in our solar system. Pluto was originally discovered in 1930 when scientists were searching for something that was interfering with Uranus's orbit. Though Pluto was estimated to be similar in size to Earth, it was later discovered that it was even smaller than our own moon, as well as many other moons. It is now known that there are thousands of planetary objects similar to Pluto, including Eris which is slightly larger than Pluto. Choosing to reclassify Pluto to a dwarf planet honors the fact that science is about making new discoveries. While it was a sad day for Pluto lovers, people in general have accepted the idea, and the next generation of children will grow up knowing only eight planets and thinking nothing of it. As Mike Brown, the astronomer who discovered Eris, noted following the IUC's decision, "science is self-correcting."
Next you will listen to part of a lecture on the same subject.
Summarize the points made in the lecture, explaining how they cast doubt on the points made in the reading passage.
Sample ResponsePluto lost its status as a planet in our solar system at the International Astronomical Union Conference in 2006. The decision has been wrapped in controversy ever since.
The reading suggests that the decision was generally accepted and was based on the new scientific information that has been learned since Pluto's original discovery. However, the lecture refutes this idea, suggesting that the astronomy community was not fairly represented in the vote to demote Pluto to dwarf status, and that many people disagree with the decision.
According to the reading, Pluto was demoted due to its size. However, the professor points out that the reason Pluto was demoted was because it doesn't fit the new definition of a planet. According to the new definition, a planet must clear the neighborhood around its orbit. While Pluto does not, neither do other planets including Earth. Technically speaking, many planets have asteroids as neighbors, therefore, they do not clear their orbit.
Finally, the reading implies that people will soon forget that Pluto was ever a planet. In contrast, the professor talks of petitions and special ways that citizens are honoring the beloved planet Pluto. While the reading notes that children will not know any differently when they grow up without Pluto in their solar system, the professor claims that the lost planet will always have a place in children's hearts as it did from the very beginning.
Transcript of lecture:
Independent WritingWriting Based on Knowledge and Experience
This section of the test asks you questions about common experiences. You will be asked to give your opinion and provide reasons and examples. You will not be required to have any previous knowledge on a topic. You will have 30 minutes to prepare an essay in response to the question provided.
Sample Question types:
Read the example of a student's brainstorming session and essay. When you are finished reading the example look at the checklist and find out why this student deserves a perfect score of 5
Some people prefer to settle down and start a family in a rural area. Other people prefer the convenience of the big city. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.
Does this scenario sound familiar to you? A young couple meets and falls in love in the city. Later they get married and decide to move to a rural area. They plan to start a family. This may have been the case years ago, but today more couples are choosing to settle down in the city. In my opinion a city has more to offer a new family than a rural area. These things include jobs, institutions, and support systems.
There are more work opportunities for young couples in a city than in a rural area. Unemployment is much lower in urban centers. One reason for this is that many jobs in rural areas are seasonal. It is more common for large companies to be based in the city. Even though the cost of living is higher in the city than it is in a rural area, people who work in the city tend to have much higher salaries. Furthermore, financial stress is a leading cause of divorce and leads to the break up of families.
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