My third post: TOEFL integrated essay


#1

Hi, I would be grateful if someone could rate my integrated essay.

Here’s the reading passage:

Communal online encyclopedias represent one of the latest resources to be found on the Internet. They are in many respects like traditional printed encyclopedias: collection of articles on various subjects. What is specific to these online encyclopedias, however, is that any Internet user can contribute a new article or make an editorial change in an existing one. As a result, the encyclopedia is authored by the whole community of Internet users. The idea might sound attractive, but the communal online encyclopedia have several important problems that make them much less valuable than traditional, printed encyclopedias.

First, contributors to a communal online encyclopedia often lack academic credentials, thereby making their contributions partially informed at best and downright inaccurate in many cases. Traditional encyclopedias are written by trained experts who adhere to standards of academic rigor that nonspecialists cannot really achieve.

Second, even if the original entry in the online encyclopedia is correct, the communal nature of these online encyclopedias gives unscrupulous users and vandal or hackers the opportunity to fabricate, delete, and corrupt information in the encyclopedia. Once changes have been made to the original test, an unsuspecting user cannot tell the entry has been tampered with. None of this is possible with traditional encyclopedia.

Third, the communal encyclopedias focus too frequently, and in too great a depth, on trivial and popular topics, which creates a false impression of what is important and what is not. A child doing research for a school project may discover that a major historical event receives as much attention in an online encyclopedia as, say, a single long-running television program. The traditional encyclopedia provides a considered view of what topics to include or exclude and contains a sense of proportion that online “democratic” communal encyclopedias do not.

Listening Transcripts

<The communal online encyclopedia will probably never be perfect, but that’s a small price to pay for what it does offer. The criticisms in the reading are largely the result of prejudice against and ignorance about how far online encyclopedias have come.

First, errors; it’s hardly a fair criticism that encyclopedias online have errors. Traditional encyclopedias have never been close to perfectly accurate. If you’re looking for a really comprehensive reference work without any mistakes, you’re not going to find it on or off-line. The real point is that it’s easy for errors in factual material to be corrected in an online encyclopedia. But with a printed and bound encyclopedia, the errors remain for decades.

Second, packing; online encyclopedias have recognized the importance of protecting their data from malicious hackers. One strategy they started using is to put the crucial facts in articles that nobody disputes in a read-only format, which is a format that no one can make changes to. That way you’re making sure that the crucial facts in the articles are reliable. Another strategy that is being used is to have special editors whose job is to monitor all changes made to the articles and to eliminate those changes that are clearly malicious.

Third, what’s worth knowing about; the problem for traditional encyclopedias is that they have limited space. So, they have to decide what’s important and what’s not. And in practice the judgments of the group of academics that make these decisions don’t reflect great range of interests that people really have. But space is definitely not an issue for online encyclopedias. The academic articles are still represented in online encyclopedias. But there can be a great variety of articles and topics that accurately reflect the great diversity of user’s interest. The diversity of news and topics that online encyclopedias offer is one of their strongest advantages.>

Q Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they oppose the specific points made in the reading passage.

Answer: The lecturer explains how communal online encyclopedias provide a rich source of information for people. He explains how the information mentioned in the passage is very different and somewhat inaccurate compared to what happens in real life.

First of all, the passage mentions how contributors to online encyclopedias often lack academic credentials thereby creating somewhat correct or false information. This point is refuted by the lecturer. The lecturer explains that all encyclopedias (whether there are traditional or from the internet) have errors. It is difficult to correct traditional encyclopedias once they are printed and published. However, communal online encyclopedias can be corrected easily and quickly online.

Furthermore, the passage explains how hackers can delete and corrupt communal online encyclopedias. Subsequently, it makes it difficult for an unsuspecting user to identify if the information is false or has been tampered with. The professor challenges this point. He states that there are precautions in place to prevent malicious hackers from hacking these articles. Communal online encyclopedias are in read-only- format, which prevents anyone from tampering with it. If any changes are made in the articles, they are checked by special editors, who will eliminate any information they believe is incorrect.

Finally, the passage mentions how these encyclopedias focus too much on popular and unnecessary information (eg. long-running television programs). This point is rebutted by the lecturer. He explains how traditional encyclopedias have limited space and therefore experts only include the most relevant topics. It is not diversified and does not cater to topics of everyone’s interest. Communal online encyclopedias, on the other hand, have unlimited knowledge and can thus provide all kinds of articles that appeal to a larger number of readers. (280 words)


TOEFL writing practice- Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Teachers should be paid according to how much their students learn
#2

Hi, please see my comments below:


#3

Hi Luschen,

Thank you so much for your feedback!

However, I have a question about this. Your introduction is good, but the question is about summarizing points in the lecture and explaining how they oppose specific points in the passage.

If I start my intro stating points made in the passage would it seem like I am diverting from the question and focusing too much on the reading passage.

I shall be eagerly waiting for your reply.

Regards,
Anaam


#4

Hi anaam819, that is a great question. You are correct that this essay type should focus on the lecture. That is a key point that many learners have not picked up. This is actually more of a listening exercise, testing how well you understood the lecture and your ability to record and rephrase the key and secondary points made by the speaker. My response is that remember in an essay, the last sentence of the introduction, the thesis statement, is the most important and should summarize as well as prepare the reader for the arguments you will make in the body paragraphs. With that in mind, here is your thesis:

He explains how the information mentioned in the passage is very different and somewhat inaccurate compared to what happens in real life.

and here is mine

The lecturer disagrees, saying they provide a rich source of information for people and rebuts each of the points given in the passage.

I wish I had stated “online encyclopedias” instead of using they, but still I would argue that my thesis statement is more clear and prepares the reader better for what to expect in the rest of the essay. I guess what I am saying is that I feel my introduction more clearly introduces the topic by mentioning the passage, but for the most important sentence, the thesis, I focus on the lecture, indicating that is what the essay will be about.

In fact, there is no single “template” or “boilerplate” introduction that is best. If you want to talk only about the lecture in your introduction, that is fine too, as long as you make it clear exactly what the topic is and how the lecturer disagrees with the reading. Your intro was good on this point, except it was unclear to me what “compared to what happens in real life” really meant, and it would be nice to be alerted that there would be three main points of difference.


#5

I understand now. Thank you!


#6

I also wrote a new essay today. If you have time, can you please check it out and rate it?

Here’s the link:


#7

Hi Luschen,

I was thinking of using this intro, would it suffice?

Here’s the intro:
The lecturer talks about how online communal encyclopedias provide a rich source of information. He disagrees with the reading passage and rebuts each of the specific three disadvantages provided in the passage.

Regards,
Anaam


#8

Yes, this seems a lot more clear. You might want to give a short explanation of what an online communal encyclopedia is though.

"The lecturer talks about online communal encyclopedias, websites where contributors can submit and edit entries on any topic, and states that they provide a rich …


#9

I’ll do that. Thanks