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TOEFL IBT Writing practice #28

 Writing -1

Reading passage:

The sea otter is a small mammal that lives in waters along the western coast of 

North America from California to Alaska. When some sea otter populations off the 

Alaskan coast started rapidly declining a few years ago, it caused much concern 

because sea otters play an important ecological role in the coastal ecosystem. 

Experts started investigating the cause of the decline and quickly realized that 

there were two possible explanations: environmental pollution or attacks by predators. Initially, the pollution hypothesis seemed the more likely of the two. 

The first reason why pollution seemed the more likely cause was that there 

were known sources of it along the Alaskan coast, such as oil rigs and other 

sources of industrial chemical pollution. Water samples from the area revealed 

increased levels of chemicals that could decrease the otters' resistance to lifethreatening infections and thus could Indirectly cause their deaths. 

Second, other sea mammals such as seals and sea lions along the Alaskan 

coast were also declining, indicating that whatever had endangered the otters was 

affecting other sea mammals as well. This fact again pointed to environmental pollution, since it usually affects the entire ecosystem rather than a single species. 

Only widely occurring predators, such as the orca (a large predatory whale), could 

have the same effect, but orcas prefer to hunt much larger prey, such as other 


Third, scientists believed that the pollution hypothesis could also explain the 

uneven pattern of otter decline: at some Alaskan locations the otter populations 

declined greatly, while at others they remained stable. Some experts explained 

these observations by suggesting that ocean currents or other environmental factors may have created uneven concentrations of pollutants along the coast

Listening transcript:

Track 51 Transcript:


Now listen to part of a lecture on the topic you just read about.


Well, ongoing investigations have revealed that predation is the most likely cause of sea otter decline after all.

First, the pollution theory is weakened by the fact that no one can really find any dead sea otters washing up on Alaskan beaches. That's not what you would expect if infections caused by pollution started killing a lot of otters. On the other hand, the fact that it's so hard to find dead otters is consistent with the predator hypothesis: if an otter is killed by a predator, it's eaten immediately, so it can't wash up on the shore.

Second, although orcas may prefer to hunt whales, whales have essentially disappeared from the area because of human hunters. That means that orcas have had to change their diet to survive, and since only smaller sea mammals are now available, orcas have probably started hunting those. So it probably is the orcas that are causing the decline of all the smaller sea mammals mentioned in the passage, the seals, the sea lions, and the sea otters.

And third, the uneven pattern of otter decline is better explained by the orca predation theory than by the pollution theory. What happens to otters seems to depend on whether the location where they live is accessible to orcas or not. In those locations that orcas can access easily, the number of sea otters has declined greatly. However, because orcas are so large, they can't access shallow or rocky locations. And shallow and rocky locations are precisely the types of locations where sea otter populations have not declined.

The question:

Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they respond 

to the specific points made in the reading passage.

My writing response:

The reading passage and the professor discuss about decline numbers of sea otter at North America for the last few years. It seems there are two contrast hypotheses why this occured, the declining numbers might be caused by pollution or predators. While the reading passage persuades of polution hypothesis, on the other hand the professor argues the predators were the major factor. Here are the contrasting hypotheses side by side that implied from the reading passage and the professor.

According to the reading passage, oil rigs and other sources of industrial chemical pollute the sea, then infect sea otters, hence weaken sea otters ability from threating infections. This leads to deaths of many sea otters. However, the professor has different perspective about this hypothesis. He presents the fact that there were no dead sea otters on the beach had been found. So he believe, sea otters decline was caused by predators.

Secondly, the reading passage gives the fact that the declining was occured not only to the sea otters, but also to seals and sea lions. This fact leads to assuming all the environment was hazardous to those mammals. Morever, the reading passage rejects if ocras could eat the mammals because ocras prefer hunt larger prey such as other whales. But, the professor arguing this theory by explaining that ocras could change their diet habit into smaller prey, since they on dangerous circumstances that haunted by humans.

Lastly, is about uneven decline scatter pattern of sea otters. The reading passage explain this was happen because some areas has highy polluted and some was not. However, the professor believe the uneven pattern was caused by the ocra find the most accesible condition in order to make their hunt easy. He emphasizing more by the fact that the most decline place of sea otters is at shallow and rocky place, which is easy for ocra to catch sea otters or other mammals.

ChatGPT Assessment, based on TOEFL iBT rubrics in scale out of 10 for each rubric (Delivery, Language Use, Topic Development), then give me better modified version of my answer (max 400 words):

Delivery: 8.0/10 - Your response is well-structured and addresses all points from the lecture. However, you could improve your clarity by avoiding run-on sentences and repeating key points more succinctly.

Language Use: 7.5/10 - Your language use is fairly proficient, but there are a few errors and awkward phrases that obscure meaning. For instance, the phrase "decline numbers of sea otter" should be "decline in the numbers of sea otters."

Topic Development: 8.5/10 - You have done a good job of developing the topic and comparing the two contrasting points of view from the reading passage and the lecture. However, some details could be more accurately represented. For instance, the professor's point about orcas changing their diet is presented as a possibility, not a proven fact.

Modified Answer:

The professor in the lecture challenges the reading passage's hypothesis about the causes of sea otter population decline along the western coast of North America. The reading suggests that environmental pollution is to blame, due to the presence of oil rigs and industrial chemicals that could lead to infections in otters. However, the professor counters this theory by noting the absence of dead otters washed ashore, which is inconsistent with pollution-induced fatalities. Instead, this absence aligns more with the predator hypothesis, as killed otters would be eaten and thus not wash ashore.

The passage also mentions the decline in other sea mammal populations, such as seals and sea lions, attributing this to the broad ecosystem impact of pollution. It dismisses the idea of orcas being responsible since they traditionally hunt larger prey. The professor disputes this point, suggesting that orcas may have adapted their diet due to the decrease in larger prey due to human activities. This could explain the decline in smaller sea mammal populations.

Finally, the reading interprets the uneven pattern of otter decline as a result of varying pollution levels. Conversely, the professor posits that this pattern could instead reflect orcas' hunting grounds. He suggests that otters in locations inaccessible to orcas, such as shallow or rocky areas, would naturally show less decline, fitting the predator hypothesis better than the pollution theory.

Writing - 2

The Question:

Playing computer games is a waste of time. Children should not be allowed to play them.

My writing answer:

Personally, I disagree with the statement. I would say playing computer games for children is not waste of time, as long as on certain tolerable amount of time. To support my opinion, here are some reasons on the folowing paragraphs.

Since mostly of computer games interface are in English, it could be a fun way for children who are not English native to learn English language. I do remember when I was a kid, I played games called Ragnarok, the role was to kill and hunt monsters. All the monster's names are made up from real animal name, thus because of this I learnt animal names and today it still stuck in my mind. Despite seeing play computer games as waste of my time, I believe it was a very enjoy acitivity to learn English.

Secondly, the fact that today there are many people playing games for a living, I think it is an open opportunity for any child in the world to become a professonal gamer. Furrthermore, the games itselves are made by human, obviously people who has interest in playing games has advantage to become a game makers or programmers. I have a friend who work in Electronic Arts, one of the largest games company today, he makes a good amount of money from his job. I could not imagine he could afford the job if he was not a gamers. So I believe, games is an industry that many people depend on it.

Lastly, common people will see that chilren who playing games more likely are not good on their grades, however the facts are not. When I was undergraduate students, I have many friends that spent their time a lot on playing computer games. I knew their habit was built since they were kids. Surprisingly, most of them have good grades, even better than me who rarely playing computer games.

To conclude, in my own perspective, I do believe playing compter games is not wasting children's time. It is very possible, because they playing computer games it could make their future brighter. To be note, spent too many hours for playing computer games and become addicted would contra-productive for children. I think 3 to 4 hours per day is acceptable.  

ChatGPT Assessment, based on TOEFL iBT rubrics in scale out of 10 for each rubric (Delivery, Language Use, Topic Development), then give me better modified version of my answer (max 400 words):


Delivery: 7.5/10. The essay expresses clear viewpoints but includes some minor grammatical errors. Also, a more organized structure of thoughts would help in a smoother delivery.

Language Use: 7/10. The language is quite good, but there are some awkward sentences and small grammatical errors that could be improved.

Topic Development: 8/10. The essay develops the argument effectively, providing several supporting examples and evidence, although a deeper analysis or more facts could be used.

Modified Answer:

While some may argue that computer games are a waste of time for children, I personally disagree. In fact, I believe playing computer games in moderation can offer significant benefits for children, and should not be wholly discouraged.

For starters, computer games can be an engaging way for non-native English speakers to learn the language. I can still recall how I learned various animal names in English while playing a game called Ragnarok during my childhood. Thus, contrary to the notion that gaming wastes time, it was a fun and effective method of language acquisition for me.

Secondly, the gaming industry has evolved to provide viable career paths. Today, many people play games professionally, earning a substantial living from it. Similarly, those interested in playing games might have an advantage in developing skills towards becoming game creators or programmers. For instance, a friend of mine who works at Electronic Arts, a major gaming company, owes his career to his early interest in games.

Contrary to the belief that children who play games perform poorly academically, this isn't necessarily the case. Many of my college friends, who had a history of gaming since childhood, consistently performed well academically, often outpacing those who rarely played games.

In conclusion, it is my belief that computer games do not equate to wasted time for children. In fact, they could potentially pave the way for a bright future, provided the time spent on gaming is kept within reasonable limits. However, it's crucial to emphasize that an excessive amount of gaming can be counterproductive. A balanced approach, perhaps 3 to 4 hours per day, might be an appropriate guideline.

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