Sunday, March 19, 2017

Common Mistakes on the Integrated Writing Section

Here is an example of common mistakes that students make on the integrated writing portion of the TOEFL exam.  Please study this carefully. This is an essay from one of my students with my corrections.

The reading passage provided 3 ways to protect frog populations from decline and the lecturer criticized the practicality of those three proposals.
The student's essay with corrections:

The reading and lecture are both about protecting the frog population from extinction. 

NO!!!!!!! This first sentence is not true. The reading proposes three initiatives to stop the frog population from declining and the lecturer addresses whether each of these initiatives will be possible or practical. 

To say that both the reading and lecture are about ‘protecting the frog population from extinction', therefore, does NOT cover what is really happening. You have to be PRECISE on this exam. If you are sloppy or imprecise, you will NOT score high.

The author of the reading proposes three methods to deal with the declining population of frogs. The lecturer casts doubt on the methods mentioned by the author and believes that none of them will work. 

This STILL isn't good enough.  The lecturer does not say these methods won't work. She says these methods are, generally, impractical. These methods, in fact, DO WORK.

My suggestion for an intro: 

Protecting frogs and their habitats is essential for us since frogs help to eliminate harmful insects from human environments. Yet, just how to protect frogs is debatable. For example, in the reading passage we get three proposals as to how we can preserve frog populations. The practicality of these proposals is impugned, however, in the lecture.

First of all, the author points out that pesticides have a great impact on the declining population of frogs. It is mentioned that pesticides affect the nervous systems of frogs and lead to their deaths. It is also claimed by the author that if harmful pesticides are banned in the areas close to frogs the population of frogs can be protected from being harmed. The lecturer casts doubt on this claim. 

No she doesn’t!!!!!! She does NOT cast doubt on this claim. She does NOT say that pesticides do not kill frogs. She admits that pesticides DO kill frogs BUT she says it isn’t practical to stop using them. If they are not used, farmers will lose money. 

She thinks that prohibiting farmers from using pesticides would result in economical disadvantages. That is, if farmers do not use pesticides the amount of their crops will drop and they will not remain successful in a competitive market.

Secondly, the author suggests that anti-fungal treatment on a large scale should be used to deal with fungal infections in frogs. The author mentions that a fungus contributes to a declining frog population by dehydrating them. The lecturer rebuts this argument. 

No she doesn’t!!!!!!!! The argument is sound – if you use the anti-fungal treatment, you will cure the frogs. The problem is that this solution is also impractical to the lecturer. 

She argues that it is not practical to use such a treatment on such a large scale. Instead, the treatment would have to be given to one frog at a time, and this is absurd. She elaborates on this by mentioning that even if treatment is applied to the frogs, the offspring will not be affected; therefore the problem will still exist. 

Finally, the author states that we can protect frogs from extinction by protecting their habitats from specific human threats like excessive water usage. The article establishes that wetlands and water areas are the main habitats of frogs and they lay their eggs there so these areas must be protected from overuse by people.

The lecturer, on the other hand, posits that the draining of wetlands is not caused by people but it is a consequence of global warming. She puts forth the idea that we cannot slow down the declining population of frogs by protecting their habitats from human development but only by combating global warming.

Yes, the final two paragraphs hit the nail on the head and ring the bell. They are right on target. That's how to write for this test.

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