For the test of Written English (TOEFL), you will write an essay that answers a question. The parts of an essay are much like the parts of a paragraph. The essay begins with an introductory paragraph which tells the reader what the essay is about, just as the topic sentence tells the reader what the paragraph is about. The body of the essay is made up of paragraphs that support the introduction, and the concluding paragraph completes the essay.
To write an introductory paragraph for an essay that answers a question, follow these procedures. First, introduce the topic in general. Then narrow the topic down to focus more on the question. Restate the question in your own words and in statement form. The concluding statement of the introduction is the thesis statement and indicates the controlling idea of the essay.
The body of your essay should consist of at least two developmental paragraphs. Each developmental paragraph should have a topic sentence that supports the controlling idea mentioned in the thesis statement of your introduction. All the ideas in each paragraph should support their topic sentence.
To end the essay you need to write a concluding paragraph. For the essay question your concluding paragraph will: (1) restate the thesis statement; (2) restate the topic sentences from developmental paragraphs; (3) state your opinion or preference, make a prediction, or give a solution; and (4) conclude with a statement that sums up the essay.
Source: J. Gear, Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL Test
Here is an example of a well-structured TOEFL-essay.
You have been told that dormitory rooms at your university must be shared by two students. Would you rather have the university assign a student to share a room with you, or would you rather choose your own roommate? Use specific reasons and details to explain your answer.
The period of university studying is one of the unforgettable times in life of every student. Dormitories in the universities are also a part of their campus structure. Some students prefer to choose their roommates, while others like having the university assign a student to share a room with him or her. As far as I am concerned, I would rather have the university assign a student because of the following advantages.
First of all, in the room of dormitory, being unknown person who I have no information about him is important for many reasons. A new person may have some characteristics which I have never seen before. For instance, if he is from a different country like Japan, I can have a chance to gain knowledge about this nation and I can learn from this person how Japanese people live, what they like to eat mostly, what kinds of traditions they have and many things that I want to interest. In addition, sharing my room with a completely strange individual makes my life funnier. Trying to learn strange words from his language, especially, can be more enjoyable. Besides, if he is hard-working person, when I see him sitting in front of his desk will affect and provoke me for studying. Therefore, I would rather have the university assign a student for my room because of the mentioned reasons.
My opponents would say the advantages of having a student assigned also bring some difficulties. They think that one of the difficulties you encounter with is not to recognize your roommate. There can be serious questions about his attitudes. What kind of person is he? Are there any bad habits such as stealing things, speaking loudly or drinking a lot of alcoholic beverages? They emphasize that I am not aware of these handicaps. However, the possibility of facing such a person in the same room looks like being in a plane which is about to fall. I have traveled many times by plane but it has never crashed so far and this means that this risk can be ignored. If we consider the details of life too much like that, we cannot find a place to live in this world. In addition, if I go through this experience, I can ask the dormitory officials to change my roommate.
In conclusion, having the university assign a student for my room have satisfactory aspects. There will be a lot of beneficial reasons and less adversity when I stay with a person who is not chosen by me because of the more neutral conditions of co-living. Taking into account all these factors, I believe that a roommate who I live with should be determined by university management rather than be my choice.
Key words: TOEFL, essay, introductory paragraph, thesis statement, developmental paragraphs, topic sentences, concluding paragraph
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