TOEFL Writing Prompts

Responses to the official TOEFL writing prompts test are graded by human raters usually professionals in the TESOL or ESL field. Extensive description of how the essays and spoken responses for the independent writing and speaking tests will be evaluated can be found at The writing prompts we offer also come with free resources to help analyze and evaluate student writing.

J. McKay
ELL Specialist / Resident Blogger

TOEFL Writing Prompts Analysis

Here are some tips for responding to this week’s TOEFL prompts. As with all prompts it’s important to identify the topic (the ideas and language you will use to respond to the prompt) and the task (how you will organize and present those ideas).

TOEFL Writing Prompts Topic: The future world and how it will compare to our current situation and surroundings.

Task: This is a ‘defend your choice’ task. You are asked to describe the world as you expect it to be in 100 years and then make the judgment that that future ‘place’ is better or worse than the current ‘place’. It is expected that you won’t be able to talk about all ‘the world’ so selecting a small subset of characteristics (environment, peace, technology, world health, education) and describing how you expect it will change and consequently change the world is a good way to make your writing more specific and powerful.

Why is this TOEFL Prompts task easy? There are so many different options that you could explore with this task. It’s one of the few prompts where I feel that most students could be equally persuasive in arguing either side. While there are cultural trends towards optimism or pessimism, students from all backgrounds have seemed to be comfortable thinking critically about the future world.

Why is this task hard?Probably the single greatest difficulty students have in writing this topic is avoiding making their argument confusing because of their desire to talk about how the world will both be better and be worse. Obviously this is the most likely scenario: somethings improve, somethings do not. However for the sake of being clear and accurate I tell students to commit to a side. If they really need to in the introduction they can address the counterargument.

From a grammar perspective discussing the future requires in many cases using conditionals and other cause and effect structures. Also students will need to be clear and careful to use clear markers to indicate shifts between talking about future and current situations. Also depending on what direction they take i.e. environment, peace, technology, world health, education, students can quickly exhaust the topic specific vocab that they have particularly if they are expanding and developing their ideas.

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