Superior Essays Contain Examples

note pen pencil

Examples are vital to creating a superior essay on the second task, the independent essay, in the TOEFL writing section. To create strong writing, you need to insert quality content with solid reasons on the topic and clear examples. Each example may be different since the topics are varied. Use a particular example from one of these below depending on which question you encounter on the exam day. Here are some samples of what types of examples you may integrate into your body paragraphs to give stronger support to your argument.

Your own experience

The majority of independent essay arguments can come from your own experience since your viewpoint is something you can grasp readily when you are in a time crunch. For example, you may consider referring to your family, friend, neighbor, classmate, boss, peer, or elder. If you have an independent (task #2) question that asks about family, community, children, school, education, work, career, or life, you can easily draw from your own experience to respond to the question and stay on topic. It saves time in planning your argument, and it makes your development more personalized with your experience. For structure in your example, keep the same main subject throughout a body paragraph for consistency.

Sample preference question

  • Some people prefer to live in places that have the same weather or climate all year long. Others like to live in areas where the weather changes several times a year. Which do you prefer?

Subject knowledge

Of course, you will not need any previous expertise on the subject to answer an independent question on the TOEFL. However, if you know something about the topic that is listed in the question, they you can use your subject knowledge to help you develop your argument. If you have a question related to social issues or politics, for example, it is useful to use subject knowledge for those types of questions.

Sample agree/disagree question

  • Agree or disagree? Technology has made the world a better place to live.

Someone famous or a global situation

Aside from using your personal experience or knowledge, you can use a global example. For instance, consider what renowned person you could write about as an example. Some questions may be a topic about time, about history, or about a country.

Sample independent questions:

  • If you could go back to some time and place in the past, when and where would you go? Why?
  • If you were asked to send one thing representing your country to an international exhibition, what would you choose? Why?

When giving evidence in the body to substantiate your claim, it is quick and helpful to illustrate an example from your own experience or knowledge, or from a well-known person or situation. Using those types of examples is effective in the body paragraphs, depending on which topic the question asks you.

If you liked this post, try reading the article: The TOEFL Independent Task Five-Paragraph Essay Structure.

Why Am I Not Improving English?

Woman Writing in Daily Planner

Avoid translating

  1. You are translating from your native language into English. That’s a big “no-no.” Avoid translating from your first language into English. You can speed up your progress in English if you simply focus on listening to English and catch the words you understand. Use the context to guess understanding. For instance, if someone says, “There will be a big shin dig this Friday night.” Imagine you don’t know the word shin dig. Don’t translate it. Just imagine what those words could mean in terms of happening on Friday night: a feast, a reception, a get together, a dance, or a dinner party.


  1. You are not practicing enough English speaking with a native. Dedicate enough study time to make advancements. Don’t expect to study English only a half hour per week and improve rapidly. Intensive language learning of a few set hours every weekday can expand your progress. When you do have a set study session in-person with a native speaker, don’t forget to speak. Sometimes, when you are conversing with someone in another language, it’s easy to just listen, but you won’t learn English faster if you don’t practice participating more in the conversation. So, the more you converse, the more you will learn to communicate better in English. If you spoke English just one time today, next time or tomorrow, try to speak two times. Of course, the more often you practice speaking, you can improve your confidence and your fluency in the language.


  1. You lack confidence in your English abilities. How can you improve in the language if you do not believe in yourself? Be confident that you are learning, and you will acquire more language skills day by day. Avoid saying, “Sorry,” if you don’t feel confident using English fluently yet with a native speaker. If you come across a new word/phrase/express, you can always ask a native speaker, “What does (~phrase) mean?” Just because you may not be familiar with idiomatic expressions or advanced vocabulary, you don’t need to apologize if you are not at the highest level. Remember that you are trying. Give yourself a break because you are learning a language. Keep trying your best, be confident that you will learn more and more. No doubt, you will learn more vocabulary as you progress to a higher level.


  1. You are not listening to a sufficient amount of English daily. Perhaps you do not understand enough of what you listen to. Let’s say that you comprehend only about 65%. This is particularly a concern if you live in a foreign country (a non-English speaking place) and do not have access to listening to speakers of English face-to-face. Solution: get a native trainer online or in-person, or listen to English on the web. Practice listening to English every day to train your ears to focus on words you already know in English and listen for word chunks, phrases, which you may be familiar with to comprehend the context. Avoid listening just for grammar. You won’t be able to attain fluency by picking apart a conversation through grammar points. Stop trying to catch single words. Neither will you be capable of advanced fluency if you are concentrating only on individual words in a dialogue. You need to listen for how phrases are grouped together in a pattern. You can listen to music, television, or movies to gain more fluency and understanding. Tell your ears they must listen to English phrases, understand English in context, and capture the bigger picture, the overall meaning.


  1. You forgot what you already studied in previous lessons. If you are not remembering your intake, then taking notes on what you learned during your study sessions will help you review and keep the knowledge fresh. For example, keep an English notebook for acquiring more information. In your journal (digital or paper,) you can take note of phrases that are new that you can learn. Then, try to use these new groups of words if you think of it in context. If you write down only the vocabulary word, you may not understand in the future how to use it in context, so try to catch an entire phrase. Later, when you review your notebook, the whole phrase will serve as a reminder of the meaning in context. Consequently, it will be much easier to recall. Furthermore, it will be a base for you to move up to the next level.

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