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Class Supplement, TOEFL Essay, the invention that had the biggest impact on society in the last century

2011年6月17日

Writing Topic
What invention in the last century do you think has had the biggest impact on society?

Let’s Think
The questions of the same type as today’s topic are as follows:
♦The twentieth century saw great change. In your opinion, what is one change that should be remembered about the twentieth century? Use specific reasons and details to explain your choice.
♦What discovery in the last 100 years has been most beneficial for people in your country? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.
(Note: The difference between discovery and invention is that you discover something that has existed all the time but you did not know it was there till then, while you invent something that has not existed. Thus, Newton discovered gravity while Bell invented a telephone.)

It is rather easy to think of the answer for this type of question. For today’s question, you can easily come up with inventions like cell-phones, jet planes, or computers. Probably the difficult part is to explain why. But remember, the hints are in the questions. In this case, they are the words “change” and “most beneficial.” They are related to great moments in history: the story of before and after the invention/change/discovery. What is expected in your essay is probably the description of how great something is, in other words, in what way and how much it has changed society, human life, or the environment.

☆Your short response:
I think … has had the biggest impact on society in the last century.

Before the invention of it,

However, since the advent of it,

Sample short response:
I think the atomic bomb has had the biggest impact on society in the last century.

Before the invention of it, the number of war casualties was at most tens of millions in total.
However, since the advent of it, the total destruction of one city by a bomb has become possible. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed 100.000 to 150,000 people in 3 months, half or one-third of the total death toll of WWI. Also, the effect of radiation will affect not only the life of the survivors but also the next generation.

Also, the superlative, “the biggest impact” requires you to show why you think a particular invention is more important than the other inventions. One way to do this might be to point out the phenomenon it has had that the others have not.

☆Your short response:
… has changed our society in terms of…

Its impact on our society was so great that …

Sample short response:
The atomic bomb has changed our society in terms of the concept of war, especially wars between big powers. We are forced to live under the threat of total extinction of human race.
Its impact on our society was so great that many movies related to atomic war crises or nuclear disasters have been made. No invention other than nuclear weapons/power has been taken up so often in movies.

Ideas and Expressions
the computer
speed, huge memory, accuracy, versatility (calculation word processing, internet search, etc.), ubiquity, decentralization of society

the cell-phone
handy, has many functions, changed our way of communication

the commercial airplane
accelerated our life (travel, order from abroad, etc.)

the television
changed our ways of gathering information, selling products, spending free time

the atomic bomb
a great effect on politics and security

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