Does anyone know? (recognizing the compare/contrast TOEFL essay)


I am confused about recognizing the compare/contrast essay. Sometimes it is clearly mentioned in the essay “Compare/Contrast” sometimes not but still one is expected to write the same.

Can anyone tell me how to be confident about recognizing the essay prompt.
What do you think about this one…?

[color=blue]You have been told that dormitory rooms at your university must be shared by two students.Would you rather have the university assign a student to share a room with you,or would you rather choose your own roommate?Use specific reasons and details to explain your answer.

TOEFL listening discussions: A conversation between two students in a chemistry class

My gut feeling says that it requires a persuasive essay (requiring one’s opinion). What do you guys think?

Hi Tabby

I don’t think this topic is really asking you to persuade. Rather, it asks for your preference. You should state that and then explain. I certainly can imagine comparisons and contrasts being used since your explanation would likely focus on what you perceive to be the advantages and disadvantages of each.


Hi Amy,
Is it possible that in cases where I have even a little doubt,I can write a compare/contrast cum expository essay?Stating my preference alongwith advantages and disadvantages of both the prespectives?


When you do that (compare/contrast two or more options), you will, at the very least, add body to your piece.

The questions specifically asks you to make a choice and to explain/defend that choice.

Here’s how I’d do it:

Explain option A
Explain option B

Compare option A and option B
Contrast option A and option B

Choose option A or option B and draw on the compare/contrast sections to explain your choice.

When the question asks you to list the reasons for your choice… it is asking you to defend/justify your choice. Because the reasons for your choice should be something other than “because I just like this one better” if you know what I mean.