Getting the magical 30/30 on the TOEFL Independent Writing Task: It isn’t as hard as you think!

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One of my Online TOEFL Course students wrote a response to the following writing prompt:

Students at universities often have a choice of places to live. They may choose to live in university dormitories, or they may choose to live in apartments in the community. Compare the advantages of living in university housing with the advantages of living in an apartment in the community. Where would you prefer to live? Give reasons for your preference.

Here is what he wrote:

Becoming a university student englobes a great number of changes, one of this changes is choosing where to live. Some students  may prefer to live in the university’s dormitories while others may choose to rent an apartment in the nearby community.I am of the opinion that is best to a young adult to live in the university campus because is easier to go to classes, you can focus more on your studies, and also it can be cheaper due some financial help that many schools offer.

First of all, these days traffic is a major concern in most of the cities, thus living nearby where your study is a great advantage.Issues such waking up late can be easily overcome when the classes are just a short walk away.I used to live in an apartment when I went to college, although it was only 4 miles away from campus, traffic was awful and the buses were usually running late, so it took me sometimes 45 minutes to get to classes.

In addition to the location, living in an educational environment will ensure that you will focus more on your studies, so achieving your goals can be easier. You are surrounded by students, professors and researchers, everything relates to what you are doing. Opportunities such as internships are easier to obtain. One friend of mine heard about an internship during a conversation with some of his acquaintances on the dormitory corridors. He might have lost this opportunity if he was living outside the school.

Finally, money is a big issue to a freshman. Renting an apartment is very expensive and also, there other payments that you have to consider such as the bond and the utility bills. You may have to take a part-time job to pay for what you need, then losing some of your focus on studying.On the other hand, many institutions offer subsidies that help you to pay for your boarding, so you won’t struggle as much to pay for other things

By way of conclusion based on the arguments explored above, I am of the opinion that in most cases is actually more beneficial for the student to live in the university dormitories. Attending university is an important period on a young adult’s life, which will have a fundamental role on it is future thus, everything that helps the student to focus on his studies is of utter importance.

After reading and evaluating his score, I scored it at 2.75/5.0 or 18/30 pts. The following video will explain why he received the score he did:

After listening to my video comments, my student followed my restructuring suggestions and resubmitted the below version of his essay:

Becoming a university student englobes a great number of changes, one of this changes is choosing where to live. Some students  may prefer to live in the university’s dormitories while others may choose to rent an apartment in the nearby community.I am of the opinion that is best to a young adult to live in the university campus because is easier to go to classes, you can focus more on your studies, and also it can be cheaper due some financial help that many schools offer.

First of all, these days traffic is a major concern in most of the cities, thus living nearby where your study is a great advantage.Issues such waking up late can be easily overcome when the classes are just a short walk away.I used to live in an apartment when I went to college, although it was only 4 miles away from campus, traffic was awful and the buses were usually running late, so it took me sometimes 45 minutes to get to classes.

In addition to the location, living in an educational environment will ensure that you will focus more on your studies, so achieving your goals can be easier. You are surrounded by students, professors and researchers, everything relates to what you are doing. Opportunities such as internships are easier to obtain. One friend of mine heard about an internship during a conversation with some of his acquaintances on the dormitory corridors. He might have lost this opportunity if he was living outside the school.

Finally, money is a big issue to a freshman. Renting an apartment is very expensive and also, there other payments that you have to consider such as the bond and the utility bills. You may have to take a part-time job to pay for what you need, then losing some of your focus on studying.On the other hand, many institutions offer subsidies that help you to pay for your boarding, so you won’t struggle as much to pay for other things

By way of conclusion based on the arguments explored above, I am of the opinion that in most cases is actually more beneficial for the student to live in the university dormitories. Attending university is an important period on a young adult’s life, which will have a fundamental role on it is future thus, everything that helps the student to focus on his studies is of utter importance.

This time I scored his essay at 3.5/5.0 or 22/30 pts. However, Guil needed to score higher than 27/30 pts, Therefore, I rewrote his essay to show him what he needed to do to score higher than 27/30 pts.  Below is the revised version of his essay:

Becoming a university student involves a great number of changes, one of which is choosing where to live. Some students may prefer to live in the university’s dormitories while others may choose to rent an apartment in the nearby community. Both places have their particular advantages.

Some students prefer to live in dorms because it can save time and money. These days traffic is a major concern in most cities; thus, living nearby makes it easier for students to get to classes on time even if they wake up late. For example, if students have an 8:00 am class and if they wake up at 7:30 am, they will still have time to get to the class if they live in a dorm since the dorm will be no more than a 5-10 minute walk from where they are living. Furthermore, living in dorms can help students save money because they will not have to worry about paying for transportation. To illustrate, a bus ticket can cost up to 5 dollars a day to get to and from campus if students live in apartments. Therefore, it could cost them close to $150 a month to pay for bus tickets and perhaps even more if these students choose to buy cars or take taxis to school each day.

On the other hand, despite the location issue, living in an apartament also has its advantages in that it is more peaceful and quieter than living in the university dormitories, thereby ensuring that students will focus more on their studies; therefore, achieving academic goals can be easier. For instance, students living in apartments can choose whether or not they will live with roommates. If they choose to live with roommates, these students can choose people with whom they will be able to live peacefully. In many cases, students living in apartments will not have a lot of noise from roommates or from other tenants in the building and hence experience a quieter and more productive studying environment.

To sum up, in most cases living in apartments is more beneficial for students since there is less noise and distraction. For example, I used to live in my university dormitory, and it was a party most of the time. In fact, I could not focus on my studies because of all the noise and distractions. When I had exams early in the morning, trying to sleep was a real problem. As a result, I had to move to an apartment because all the noise and distraction made it hard for me to prepare for exams in my classes. Attending a university is an important period in a young adult’s life, which will have a fundamental role in his/her future. Thus, everything that helps the student to focus on his/her studies is of utter importance, and living in an apartment will help in part to accomplish this goal.

To help him understand how to do better, I created an error correction video showing Guil why I  made the changes I did. In addition, near the end of the video, I recommended specific lessons that Guil work on so that he could improve his writing during the actual TOEFL exam.