How an Explanation Essay is Easy to Write

8.31.15Have you ever had to write an explanation of an event?Taking the TOEFL exam, the writing section is divided into two tasks, one of which is the independent writing. You may get an explanatory writing question. In this category of topics, you will be required to present a specific viewpoint or perhaps write about a particular situation. Be sure to explain your standpoint or viewpoint of the situation in detail. In an explanation essay, it is different than an argument, since you will analyze. You may give analysis through comparison/contrast or by definition/example. Get to know the explanation topic list below in order to know the topic that you might face come test day.

Explanation Prompts:

164 People attend college or universities for many different reasons. Why do you think people attend college or universities? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

165 Nowadays food has become easier to prepare. Has this change improved the way people live? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

166 How do movies or television influence people’s behavior? Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

167 Many people visit museums when they travel to new places. Why do you think people visit museums? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

168 A person you know is planning to move to your town or city. What do you think that person would like and dislike about living in your town or city? Use specific reasons and details to develop your essay.

169 Choose one of the following transportation vehicles and explain why you think it has changed people’s lives. Automobiles. Bicycles. Airplanes. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

170 What are the important qualities of a good son or daughter? Have these qualities changed or remained the same over time in your culture? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

171 People work because they need money to live. What are some other reasons that people work? Discuss one or more of these reasons. Use specific examples and details to support your answer.

172 Some people believe that success in life comes from taking risks or chances. Others believe that success results from careful planning. In your opinion, what does success come from? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

173 Your city has decided to build a statue or monument to honor a famous person in your country. Who would you choose? Use reasons and specific examples to support your choice.

174 Describe a custom from your country that you would like people in other countries to adopt. Explain your choice using specific reasons and examples.

175 If you could ask a famous person one question, what would you ask? Why? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

176 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 more valued by your society? Give specific reasons to support your answer.

177 You need to travel from your home to a place 40 miles (64 kilometers) away. Compare the different kinds of transportation you could use. Tell which method of travel you would choose. Give specific reasons for your choice.

178 If you could invent something new, what product would you develop? Use specific details to explain why this invention is needed.

179 What do you consider to be the most important room in a house? Why is this room more important to you than any other room? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

180 You have the opportunity to visit a foreign country for two weeks. Which country would you like to visit? Use specific reasons and details to explain your choice.

181 People remember special gifts or presents they have received. Why? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

182 People do many different things to stay healthy. What do you do for good health? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

183 You have decided to give several hours of your time each month to improve the community where you live. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

184 You have decided to give several hours of your time each month to improve the community where you live. What is one thing you will do to improve your community? Why? Use specific reasons and details to explain your choice.

185 Many students choose to attend schools or universities outside their home countries. Why do some students study abroad? Use specific reasons and details to explain your answer.

186 People listen to music for different reasons and at different times. Why is music important to many people? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.

187 Groups or organizations are an important part of some people’s lives. Why are groups or organizations important to people? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.

188 When students move to a new school, they sometimes face problems. How can schools help these students with their problems? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.

189 Every generation of people is different in important ways. How is your generation different from your parents’ generation? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.

190 Holidays honor people or events. If you could create a new holiday, what person or event would it honor and how would you want people to celebrate it? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

191 The 21st Century has begun. What changes do you think this new century will bring? Use examples and details in your answers.

192 What are some of the qualities of a good parent? Use specific details and examples to explain your answer.

193 Movies are popular all over the world. Explain why movies are so popular. Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

194 Films can tell us a lot about the country where they were made. What have you learned about a country from watching its movies? Use specific examples and details to support your response.

195 If you could change one important thing about your country, what would you change? Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

196 What are some important qualities of a good school teacher? Use specific details and examples to explain why these qualities are important.

213 Which is the best way for students to make new friends: playing sports, traveling, or joining a volunteer group?

If you like this blog, you will enjoy TOEFL Writing Independent Task: Preference Essay.

Transitions and Structure Create a Smooth Flowing TOEFL Essay

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One of the essential keys to a well-written essay is integrating transitions into your essay, whether that be the integrated task or the independent task on the writing section of the TOEFL exam. Transitions and transitional phrases are words or groups of words that connect ideas between or within sentences. When you write a paragraph, you should present ideas that flow; consequently, connector words or phrases are useful to make the paragraph cohesive. By inserting smooth connections, ideas can relate more logically so that no gaps exist. If you are able to connect your thoughts in a manner which leads the reader through your essay, you will effectively paint a clearer argument. For this reason, though you may already have presented a strong argument and supporting details, your opinion, reasons, examples and support need to also connect with transitions in order to make your persuasion seem stronger to any reader. Proper selection of transitions makes your written passage much more enticing to read

Moreover, you will need to decide which transition word or phrase to use in a particular spot in your writing. So, examine your essay overall. Look at the organization. When you give ideas that build on one another in the same way, use ‘like meaning’ transitions. If you have presented ideas which are opposing, then you would insert transitional phrases that are contrasting meaning. Sequential words also help to delineate the organization of time in paragraphs and keep sentences in clear order.

Sample transitions

SEQUENTIAL WORDS–First, at first, initially, first of all, in the first place, second, secondly, in addition, as well, next, later, after that, now, recently, at the same time,

EXAMPLE WORDS: for instance, for example, to illustrate, to exemplify, to demonstrate, to show,

EMPHASIS WORDS–in particular, specifically, even, especially, in fact, no doubt, doubtless

LIKE WORDS–similarly, like, as, likewise, in the same way, in addition, plus

CONTRAST WORDS—but, yet, however, nevertheless, yet, still, on the other hand, despite, although, though, even though, while, whereas

CONCLUSION WORDS–In conclusion, in summary, lastly, consequently, finally, hence, therefore, thus

Sentences example without a transition and with transitions

  • I built a house. It was one story. [no transition]
  • For instance, I built a house; initially, it was one story. [two transitions for smooth flowing logic]

Not only are transitions vital to your writing on the TOEFL, but also a solid structure makes your essay more convincing to the reader. The structure of an essay commences with an introduction, an initial paragraph which starts off with catching the attention of the reader with a lead-on on the topic. For instance, you begin with a general statement or question on the topic to entice a reader. The introduction moves from general to more specific: at the end of the introductory paragraph, in the last sentence, you state your thesis statement. A thesis is the main idea of your essay. Whatever main purpose you have (your argument,) you would mention that viewpoint to control the thesis and add your reasons why.

To follow the introduction, you would have a body of a few paragraphs which explain the support of your reasons why. In this way, your reasons each have concrete examples and details, which become more and more detailed to make a convincing argument. Each body paragraph follows a similar structure. You begin with a transition to refer back to the previous paragraph or move forward to a new idea. Thus, your writing will not jump from one idea to the next without logical reasoning. The first topic sentence of each body paragraph contains a controlling idea and one reason, which refers back to one reason stated in the thesis in the introduction. After proposing your reason, you give an example or evidence to support the topic. Following an example, you can include numerous details, which become more concrete as you move through the body paragraph. Those ideas support the argument, reason and example. If you wish to conclude the body paragraph, you may want to rephrase the topic sentence in other words to emphasize the point you are making.

The final part of the structure of an essay is to restate your thesis and express why that is important. In that concluding paragraph, you would start with an ending transition such as “In conclusion,” or “In summary,” or “To sum up.” One of those transitions smooths your writing so that moving from the body to the conclusion is not jumpy. To follow would be a short summary of your opinion and the reasons paraphrased with new word choice. Your concluding line should end strong. It would be a recommendation or suggestion on topic or a universal call to action. Be sure not to introduce new ideas in the conclusion or that would weaken the ending.

Of course, by using both the proper transitions in the correct location within your writing and by organizing your essay structure according to the standard set above, you can impact the reader positively. He/she will be able to readily comprehend your argumentative viewpoint and capture supporting points clearly to give you a better TOEFL writing score.

If you liked this post, try reading the article Writing a TOEFL Independent Essay with a Story as an Example.