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1 September 2023

5 minutes read

TOEFL Writing: A Guide to Compare and Contrast Essays in 2023

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Introduction

The TOEFL writing section can be intimidating for many test-takers, especially when it comes to writing compare-and-contrast essays. This type of essay is common in the TOEFL independent writing section, and it’s crucial to understand its structure and requirements.

In this guide, we will focus on the compare and contrast essay, TOEFL writing questions, and essay topics, and provide writing samples and test resources to help you prepare for your TOEFL test in 2023.

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What is a Compare and Contrast Essay in TOEFL Writing?

Defining the Compare and Contrast Essay

A compare and contrast essay is a type of essay that requires you to identify the similarities and differences between two subjects or ideas. In the TOEFL writing section, particularly the TOEFL independent writing part, you’ll often find this type of essay. It requires analytical thinking and a well-structured format to convey your understanding effectively.

Importance in TOEFL Writing Section

The TOEFL writing section has two main tasks: integrated writing and independent writing. The compare and contrast essay mainly appears in the TOEFL independent writing task, where you need to form and articulate your own thoughts.

Mastering this type of essay is vital because it not only your writing skills but also your ability to think critically and compare various elements while presenting a cohesive argument.

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Structure of a Compare and Contrast Essay

Understanding the structure of a compare and contrast essay is paramount for a good score in the TOEFL writing section. Here are the key elements:

  1. Introductory Paragraph: Introduces the two subjects to be compared and contrasted and contains the thesis statement.
  2. Body Paragraphs: Discuss the similarities and differences.
  3. Concluding Paragraph: Summarizes the main points and restates the thesis in a new light.

A Deep Dive into the Introductory Paragraph

The introductory paragraph is like a roadmap for the reader. It sets the stage for what’s to come. In the TOEFL essay, your introduction should not only present the subjects to be compared but also articulate a clear thesis statement.

The thesis statement usually comes at the end of the introductory paragraph and gives the reader an overview of what to expect in the body paragraphs. It should be specific and clear to guide the reader through your argument.

Body Paragraphs: Point-by-Point vs. Subject-by-Subject

There are two main ways to organize the body of your compare-and-contrast essay: point-by-point and subject-by-subject.

  1. Point-by-Point: This method involves discussing one point of comparison or contrast at a time, alternating between the two subjects. For example, if you are comparing and contrasting two cities, you might first discuss the cost of living in each city, then move on to compare their climates, and then their cultural scenes.
  2. Subject-by-Subject: This method involves discussing all the points of comparison or contrast for one subject first and then moving on to the other subject. For example, you might discuss all the points about one city first and then move on to the other city.

Both methods are acceptable, and you should choose the one that you feel most comfortable with and that best suits your essay topic.

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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay for TOEFL

Analyze the Essay Topic

The first step to writing a great compare and contrast essay for the TOEFL is to analyze the essay topic thoroughly. Reading the essay prompt carefully is crucial to understanding what is being asked.

TOEFL essay topics for compare and contrast essays can range from comparing cities, jobs, schools, ideologies, or virtually any subject under the sun. Understanding the essence of the question can give you an upper hand in drafting a compelling essay.

Plan Your Essay

Once you have a good understanding of the essay topic, the next step is planning. A well-planned essay is like a well-executed game plan in sports; it sets you up for success.

Outline the main points you want to discuss and the examples you will use to support your points. You may also want to decide whether you’ll use a point-by-point or subject-by-subject structure for the body paragraphs. Planning will save you time and make the writing process much more straightforward.

Use Specific Reasons and Examples

The TOEFL writing section expects you to use specific reasons and examples to support your answer. This means that your essay should be grounded in concrete facts and not just abstract ideas.

For instance, if you are comparing two policies, it’s not enough to say that one policy is better than the other; you must provide concrete examples and reasons why one is better. This could be statistics, historical events, or any other factual information that supports your argument.

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Sample Essays and Writing Samples

Where to Find Sample Essays

Sample essays can be invaluable resources for preparing for the TOEFL writing test. They provide insights into the essay structure, the type of language used, and the level of detail expected.

You can find these resources on the ETS website, which is the organization that administers the TOEFL test. Other test resources for sample essays can be found in TOEFL preparation books, online forums, and educational websites focused on TOEFL preparation.

How to Use Writing Samples Effectively

Just finding writing samples is not enough; you must know how to use them effectively. When you look at a sample essay, don’t just read it passively.

Instead, analyze its structure, the thesis statement, the topic sentences, and the types of supporting details and examples used. Then, try to apply these insights when you write your own essays. Practice makes perfect, and the more you write, the more natural it will become.

Mastering the TOEFL Writing Section in 2023

Updated Test Resources for 2023

The TOEFL test evolves over time, and so do the test resources. In 2023, new types of questions and topics may be introduced. Always make sure you’re using the most current test resources to prepare for the TOEFL writing questions. You can keep up-to-date by visiting the official ETS website or following reputable TOEFL preparation websites and online forums.

Leveraging Technology for TOEFL Preparation

The modern world provides several digital tools that can aid your TOEFL preparation, particularly in mastering compare and contrast essays. Various mobile apps can guide you through the entire process of essay writing, offering real-time feedback.

Moreover, there are online courses solely focused on TOEFL writing, providing a detailed walkthrough of each type of essay, including compare and contrast essays.

Conclusion

Writing a great compare and contrast essay for the TOEFL test is both an art and a science. It requires a good understanding of the essay structure, impeccable writing skills, and the ability to think critically.

By analyzing the essay topic, planning your essay, using specific reasons and examples, and revising diligently, you can master this type of essay. With focused effort and the right resources, you can improve your TOEFL writing score in 2023.

FAQs

What is a compare and contrast essay?

A compare and contrast essay is a type of essay that requires you to identify the similarities and differences between two subjects or ideas.

What is the structure of a compare and contrast essay?

A typical structure includes an introductory paragraph, a body paragraph, and a concluding paragraph.

How can I practice writing compare and contrast essays for the TOEFL test?

You can practice by analyzing sample essays and writing your own. Online platforms and TOEFL preparation books are excellent resources for this.

What are the latest test resources for TOEFL writing in 2023?

Always make sure you’re using the most current test resources, which can be found on the official ETS website and other reputable TOEFL preparation platforms.

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