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Class Supplement, TOEFL Essay, L 18, 2011


Writing Topic 1
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Grades (marks) encourage students to learn. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Let’s think
Everyone might have both experiences of being encouraged and discouraged by grades. If the grades are high or higher than before, we are happy. If we keep getting lower grades, we might decide we are not apt for the subject and stop making efforts, or start cursing the system, or even get lost in paranoia that something strange is going on in this world. When you can think of both merits and demerits of a statement, you might want to use words like “mostly agree”, “partly agree”, or “cannot totally agree” in your main idea. If your stand is clear, you could use entirely, totally, etc.

Your short response:
I totally /mostly /partly agree / disagree with the statement that grades encourage students to learn because

It is true that



Ideas and Expressions
For the statement:
1) Students can see objectively how much they have or have not made progress.
2) Students can set the next goal by grades.
3) Competition makes students study harder.

Against the statement:
1) Some students get discouraged by repeatedly being told that they are not good.
2) Grading force teachers to focus on making students get higher scores on tests. This will lead to rote learning, causing academic indifference.

Sample short response:
I cannot totally agree with the statement that grades encourage students to learn because there are people who are discouraged by competition. Grades make students compete against each other. There are two kinds of people who dislike this situation: those who are always at the bottom and those who just do not like to see themselves competing against their classmates. Both types can lose interest in study the moment they become aware that they are being made to race their classmates.
It is true that competition raises levels of achievements on the whole and grading is a way to provide students with objective means of reflection about their jobs.
but learning is primarily a personal activity, which is stimulated by pure interest in the subject whether you have rivals or not. A student whose urge to defeat someone is motivating him to learn would lose interest in learning if his target leaves his school. Students need more fundamental motivation to learn.
Thus, I think it is important that teachers grade in reference to individual’s previous grades based on absolute standards, not relative to other students.

Essay for Ideas and Expressions
(Barron’s, Writing for the TOEFL iBT, pp.285-286)
Grades are very important for students. Without grades, students don’t know how well they are doing in class. They don’t have a goal to study for. They don’t have anything to show their parents. Students need grades to help them be motivated to learn.

Grades show students their progress in class. A student might work very hard to write a report. Without a grade, how does the student know if the report is good or bad? Without a grade, how can a student know if she is improving?

Grades give students a goal. A good grade is like a reword. If a student receives 100% on a test, he feels like all his hard work was worthwhile. If a student gats a bad grade, he will study harder next time so he can improve his grade.

Grades give students something to show their parents. Students want to please their parents. They want to work hard so they can show them good grades. When parents see good grades, they know their children are studying and learning. If the grades aren’t good, the parents know they have to give their children extra help and support.

Grades are an important part of education. All students want to get good grades, so they will study hard to get them. Grades show students their progress, present them with a goal, and give them something to show their parents. Grades motivate students to learn.

Writing Topic 2
It is generally agreed that society benefits from the work of its members. Compare the contributions of artists to society with the contributions of scientists to society. Which type of contribution do you think is valued more by our society? Give specific reasons to support your answer..

Let’s think
This writing topic consists of three parts: a premise, an instruction, and a question. The first sentence is a premise that any job is beneficial to society in general. By the second sentence, you are instructed to compare contributions of two types of people: artists and scientists. Because of the premise, you are saved from discussing if either or both of these two occupations are not necessary. The third sentence asks you to judge which job is valued more by our society. Thus, what you are supposed to do is 1) compare contributions of artists with those of scientists and 2) write which job you think is valued more.

It just happens that contribution to society is not always valued by society, so it does not matter if your answer to the question doesn’t comply with the result of your comparison of contributions of these two jobs. For example, you think artists contribute to society as much as scientists, but you could conclude that society value scientists more than artists for some reason.

Ideas and Expressions
♦Contributions of artists to society
1) They help us develop our emotions and sense for beauty.
2) They cultivate our imagination and creativity.
3) They ease our soul.
4) They increase our knowledge about the world and humans through expressions.

♦Contributions of scientists to society
1) They protect and develop our life.
2) They help us save our future.
3) They increase our knowledge about the world and humans through R&D.

♦Decisive factors on which type of contribution is valued more by our society
1) money paid for their work (e.g. salary, government funding)
2) tokens of respect they receive (e.g. permanent resident status)
3) the way they are treated in the education system (e.g. the number of subjects, lessons, teachers, and universities)
4) whether most parents want to see their children become artists or scientists

Essay for Ideas and Expressions
(Barron’s, Writing for the TOEFL iBT, pp. 304-305)
Artists and scientists make very different types of contributions to our society, and the contributions of both are valuable. Although the contributions of both are important, however, our society seems to value the contributions of scientists more.

Artists lift our spirits and show us who we are. A painter or writer shows us in pictures and words what we’re like as a people. Performing artists entertain us. Artists take our minds off our troubles and remind us of the beauty of life. Artists also help keep society mentally and emotionally healthy, because they provide us with a s means of expression. Art of all types is necessary to the human spirit.

Scientists make contributions to our material lives. The cars we drive, the computers we use at school and work, the appliances we use to clean our houses, are all results of the hard work of scientists. We can grow more food, and cure more diseases, and live healthier lives thanks to scientific research. Scientists have helped improve our material lives in many ways.

Artists make valuable contributions to society, but society seems to value scientists more. Scientists are more often rewarded with money than artists are. They generally earn higher salaries, and it is easier for them to get government funding for their work. They have more social prestige and are generally considered to be smarter people than artists. There are always exceptions, of course. Some scientists struggle to earn money. Some artists are very rich and have a great deal of prestige, but they are few. Overall, scientists have a better position in society.

The contributions of both artists and scientists are valuable to our society. They each contribute to different aspects of our lives. Unfortunately, artists don’t always get the recognition they deserve.

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