Have you taken the TOEFL test several times with the goal of scoring 24 points or higher on the writing section of the exam only to find out that you missed your goal by 2 or 3 points? “Why did I score so low?” you think. Then you read the official ETS score report which does not really help you to understand what went wrong. Keep reading this short article so that you can find out a common problem that many students face when they complete the independent writing task.
Consider the following writing prompt and how you would organize your writing:
Some people believe that it is very important to make large amounts of money, while others are satisfied to earn a comfortable living. Analyze each viewpoint and take a stand.
Here is an actual response to this writing prompt:
Each person has their own personality and every person has freedom of taking a decision about their life. I do have the experience of people who wants to run in their life to earn huge amounts money for survival and they are some people who are happy with some amount of money and still be happy in their lives. I feel present day situations influence a lot in a person’s thought process. Present day world determines a person’s ability based on the economic status. So, I feel earning more money will give exalted life. I feel this way because of two reasons. Money is a need in present day society and second is being ready for the surprises in life.
First of all, money is a need. It’s a need not only for living but also for good education and good food. As a parent, it’s my responsibility not only to feed the children but also to give access to a maximum number of sources to my children. For instance, if my child wants to study a course, as a parent I have to make her dream come true. I have to pay her tuition fees too. My thought process would not end with just joining her in the favorite school but also helping her to join in the top schools, which makes her career smooth. If I don’t earn more money it is not possible to provide her with a good education. So, I feel that earning a lot of money will help my child to choose whatever she/he wants.
Second, accidents don’t with a notice in life. We have to ready to face anything in the world. For example, what if I suddenly met with an accident or have been affected by a deadly disease and have to take rest or bedridden for years. I need money not only for food but also for my medicines. So, earning more money when I am fine and saving or investing them at proper places will help me to come over the sudden surprises in life.
Till now, I have discussed the first point of view regarding the statement, coming to the next point, earning enough money with a comfortable life. I have seen these kinds of people who have small goals in life and earn the little money, still be happy with their families. They don’t face much stress and be happy with whatever they want. However, what if a sudden life changing thing happens to them, they have to look for options like home loans or borrowing money. From then they have to start working a lot to pay these bills. So, end up with more stress.
In conclusion, I feel earning huge amount will help and give a better life, with the reasons mentioned above.
How do you think the student scored on this writing practice test? As one of my Online TOEFL Course students, this student paid me $50 to read and error correct her essay. I gave her writing a score of 2.5/5.0 or 17 points out of 30. Even though this student wrote 468 words, on closer inspection, you will see that she did not organize her essay around the writing prompt. Instead of analyzing each viewpoint and taking a stand, this student argued why she preferred to earn large amounts of money. The student failed to analyze both viewpoints first. To analyze both viewpoints, the student should have objectively discussed both viewpoints, and then, in the last paragraph, she should have explained why she preferred to earn large amounts of money. Simply put, this student’s essay did not match the organization of the writing prompt.
Therefore, I made an error correction video explaining to her how she should restructure her essay so that she could score higher. Below is my edited version of her essay:
People have their own personalities and thus have the freedom of making decisions about their lives. For example, they have to decide where they will live, what schools their children will attend, and even what kinds of cars they will buy. Of course, to afford home mortgages, tuition fees, and car payments, some people want to earn huge amounts money to sustain a high standard of living, whereas others are happy making enough money to live comfortable, non-extravagant lives. Each of these views toward money have advantages. Personally, I prefer to make a lot of money.
First of all, some people want to earn large amounts of money so that they can sustain a high standard of living. To them, money is needed, for example, in order for their children to get a good education. If a child wants to study an accounting course at Harvard University, parents are responsible for making his/her dream come true. Therefore, these parents will have to pay their children’s tuition fees which may cost up to $100,000 annually. Because these parents earn lot of money, they will be able to send their children to top schools which will help these future college graduates get high-paying, prestigious jobs.
Second of all, others prefer to earn a comfortable living because they do not feel the need for expensive, extravagant lifestyles. People with this mentality are satisfied with making just enough money to get by. For example, even though these parents can not afford to send their children to top schools, they will still be able to provide partial support for their children should they decide to go to college. In these cases, the children may even need to work while they attend college and may even decide to take out a loan to help pay college expenses such as tuition, books, room, and board. These challenges, according to these parents, will help prepare their children for the real economic challenges that will confront them after graduating from college.
Finally, one of the reasons I prefer earning a lot of money in my life isn’t because of the high cost of heath care in the United States. For example, with my current health care plan, I have a $15,000 deductible, which means I will have to pay the first $15,000 in medical expenses should anything happen to me or my family. My monthly payment for this health care plan is $550 monthly, so, to be able to afford the monthly health care premiums and to be able to afford coming up with a large amount of money in the event that my family are I get infected by a deadly disease, I will need to be making at least $150,000 annually to afford this type of health care insurance. Conversely, those who do not earn a lot of money will not be to get satisfactory health care coverage for their families or themselves, so I definitely believe that it is important to make a lot of money.
Follow the link to the error correction video that I did of the student’s essay: https://youtu.be/ZH-HLN7WoHE
To conclude, decoding and directly addressing the writing task is an important strategy to help you score higher on the independent writing task.