TOEFL Essay Writing Lesson: The Concluding Paragraph

Practice writing an essay a day!

The other day we studied how to write a body paragraphs for the independent essay question on the TOEFL exam. Today, let’s move finish our essay by looking at the next two body paragraphs, and the conclusion. As you recall, we had the following question, and we wrote the introductory paragraph and one body paragraph:

Some people prefer living in a big city. Others may prefer to live in the countryside. Which area would you prefer to live in? Give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Some people feel that living in a big city is exciting and comfortable. Big cities have all of the conveniences of life in one small area. Others may think that life in the countryside is ideal, because the air is clean and it is generally quiet. I believe that living in the countryside is better than living in a big city. While city life might be more convenient and provide opportunities for enjoyment and recreation, cities can be uncomfortable places to live because of noise, poor air quality, and congestion.

The air quality in the countryside is much cleaner than that of a big city. Compared to a city, there are few cars and busses in the countryside, so the amount of exhaust fumes is less. Since there are no factories in the countryside, there is less industrial pollution there than there would be in a big city. Additionally, there are many trees and plants in the countryside, which make the air seem fresher.

Now, let’s finish the essay. In the introductory paragraph, I mentioned noise and congestion as two reasons I prefer living in the countryside. Here are two paragraphs that develop those ideas:

Since the city had many people and attractions, it can tend to be noisier than the countryside. We can here the sounds of car horns and sirens all day and night. There is often noise from building construction or roadwork as well. In addition, commercial traffic in the city creates a good deal of noise. The countryside has few or none of these sources of noise, resulting in a more peaceful and quite living situation.

Finally, big cities attract a lot of people. Not only are there many people living and working in the city, but also there are usually a good number of tourists. For example in New York City, neighborhoods such as Times Square are generally crowded with tourists. The countryside has fewer residents and workers, and hardly any tourists, so it is much less congested than a big city would be.

Now, I will write the conclusion. This final paragraph should restate the topic and your opinion and summarize the points you made in the body paragraphs.

While it is true that big cities have a number of points that make them attractive places to live, the disadvantages significantly ought weigh them. Thus, life in the countryside can be much quieter, and more secluded than life in a big city. Furthermore, the clean air associated with life in the country can give us a more enjoyable and healthier way of life. In conclusion, life in the countryside is much more desirable than life in a big city.

Well, there you have a complete TOEFL essay for the independent writing section of the exam. If you are preparing for the TOEFL, be sure to practice writing no less than one essay every day until the day of the exam. The ETS website has a list of TOEFL essay questions you can download for free, so get writing today!

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TOEFL Essay Writing Lesson: Body Paragraphs

The other day we studied how to write an introductory paragraph for the independent essay question on the TOEFL exam. Today, let’s move on to the body paragraphs. As you recall, we had the following question, and we wrote the following introductory paragraph:

Some people prefer living in a big city. Others may prefer to live in the countryside. Which area would you prefer to live in? Give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.


Some people feel that living in a big city is exciting and comfortable. Big cities have all of the conveniences of life in one small area. Others may think that life in the countryside is ideal, because the air is clean and it is generally quiet. I believe that living in the countryside is better than living in a big city. While city life might be more convenient and provide opportunities for enjoyment and recreation, cities can be uncomfortable places to live because of noise, poor air quality, and congestion.

Now it is time to write a few paragraphs to explain our opinion. Each paragraph should begin with a statement of one of our reasons, and contain at least two sentences that support that reason. Here is an example:

The air quality in the countryside is much cleaner than that of a big city. Compared to a city, there are few cars and busses in the countryside, so the amount of exhaust fumes is less. Since there are no factories in the countryside, there is less industrial pollution there than there would be in a big city. Additionally, there are many trees and plants in the countryside, which make the air seem fresher.

In the above paragraph, I started with one of my reasons for preferring life in the countryside, clean air. I then gave three examples to support my idea that the air quality is better in the countryside than it is in a city. This is then the first body paragraph. Here is the essay so far:

Some people feel that living in a big city is exciting and comfortable. Big cities have all of the conveniences of life in one small area. Others may think that life in the countryside is ideal, because the air is clean and it is generally quiet. I believe that living in the countryside is better than living in a big city. While city life might be more convenient and provide opportunities for enjoyment and recreation, cities can be uncomfortable places to live because of noise, poor air quality, and congestion.

The air quality in the countryside is much cleaner than that of a big city. Compared to a city, there are few cars and busses in the countryside, so the amount of exhaust fumes is less. Since there are no factories in the countryside, there is less industrial pollution there than there would be in a big city. Additionally, there are many trees and plants in the countryside, which make the air seem fresher.

There should be two more paragraphs in this essay to support my other two opinions that the countryside is quieter than a city, and is less crowded than a city. Next time, we will look at those paragraphs, and the concluding paragraph. Thanks for studying today!

How about studying English with me? I am available for private English lessons in New York, and online via Skype. Also, check out my newest book & audio podcasts, 109 Phrasal Verbs

TOEFL Essay Writing Lesson: Introductory Paragraphs

Writing the introductory paragraph is key to a good essay!

The TOEFL exam presents you with many situations that you can not control. However, did you realize that the independent essay is one of two sections of the exam that you have complete control over? In this section of the exam, you are asked to write an essay giving your opinion on a particular topic. The topics are general, and require no previous knowledge. In other words, they might ask you if you prefer living in a big city or in the countryside. They will not ask you to explain how photosynthesis works. You have complete control here. You can choose the vocabulary and grammar! And if you can answer the question in a clear, coherent way using good English, you will get a great score on this part of the exam.

A good essay for this section of the exam will have an introductory paragraph, a body containing two or perhaps three paragraphs which provide reasons and support for your opinion, and a conclusion. Today, we will look at the introductory paragraph, so let’s begin by studying a sample question:

Some people prefer living in a big city. Others may prefer to live in the countryside. Which area would you prefer to live in? Give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

When you read the question carefully, you’ll see that it is giving you two options. You’ll need to choose one option and state why you chose it. Let’s say you prefer living in the countryside. In the introductory paragraph, you need to do two things. First, you have to restate the question in your own words. I suggest that you write at least two sentences about each of the options you are given. For example:

Some people feel that living in a big city is exciting and comfortable. Big cities have all of the conveniences of life in one small area. Others may think that life in the countryside is ideal, because the air is clean and it is generally quiet.

In the above sentences, I have restated the question by presenting opinions on both options. The next step is to write your thesis statement. Your thesis statement is your opinion and it will become the basis on which you will write the rest of your essay. Here is an example of a thesis statement:

I believe that living in the countryside is better than living in a big city.While city life might be more convenient and provide opportunities for enjoyment and recreation, cities can be uncomfortable places to live because of noise, poor air quality, and congestion.

Here, I state my opinion and provided some detailed arguments for and against living in a city. I will then focus the body of my essay on the noise, poor air quality, and congestion of a big city, and how life in the country is quieter, had cleaner air, and fewer people. Here is the whole introductory paragraph:

Some people feel that living in a big city is exciting and comfortable. Big cities have all of the conveniences of life in one small area. Others may think that life in the countryside is ideal, because the air is clean and it is generally quiet. I believe that living in the countryside is better than living in a big city.While city life might be more convenient and provide opportunities for enjoyment and recreation, cities can be uncomfortable places to live because of noise, poor air quality, and congestion.

Now it is your turn. Try writing an introductory paragraph for this sample question: Some people believe learning by experience is better than learning from books. Which do you think is better? Give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

How about studying English or preparing for the TOEFL with me? I am available for private English lessons in New York, and online via Skype. Also, check out my newest book & audio podcasts, 109 Phrasal Verbs