Yesterday a student told me that on a recent TOEFL the first two speaking questions were:
1) Do you prefer to listen to lectures or do you prefer to self-study?
2) Which place would be more difficult to work in: a hospital, an office or a police station?
Here are sample answers to these topics using the method I developed:
Conclusion (beginning with "Although")
1. Self-study or lecture?
I would prefer self-study for two basic reasons. First, active learning is more effective than passive learning. For example, when I sit in a classroom and listen to lectures, I have a hard time remembering things. But when I am motivated to learn, I remember almost everything. Second, with self-study I can move at my own pace. I tend to learn quickly and lectures bore me. I've noticed that I tend to learn faster and cover more material when I study by myself. Although I understand that the professor is an expert and that I would be wise to attend and listen to lectures which are offered, I still feel that I need to learn actively and can learn faster by doing this.
2. More difficult: hospital, office or police station?
Of these three locations, I would say working at a hospital would be most difficult for two basic reasons. First, when we see people suffer, we are affected by this. For example, even if I did not know a patient well, just seeing him/her in pain would make me feel a great amount of empathy and sadness. At a hospital this might be my daily experience. Second, doctors, nurses and administrators all seem to work extra long hours. For example, my roommate is a nurse and she regularly works 12 hour long shifts. So, even though (or although) office workers and police officers work overtime and face challenges, I do not think these challenges match seeing people suffering and dying on a daily basis coupled with the constant overtime.