TOEFL Independent Writing - Sample 1


People work for money, tenure is just incidental.” Do you agree with this view about careers? Discuss. (At least 300 words)

Sample Answer

Worklife is an indispensable part of an individual’s journey. Millions of people working in thousands of entities depend upon corporate employment for income and sustenance. Employment is also a key macroeconomic factor indicating a nation’s growth and economic health. There are many aspects of employment that are studied as part of research across the world. Motivation is one such factor that is studied endlessly, and fresh perspectives are published regularly. Money versus quality of corporate life is a common topic in this respect. However, career choices could be largely independent and personal. Sometimes the freedom to exercise them may be suppressed due to external factors, but people will not be confined forever, since most lives are driven by a variable combination of ambition and philosophy.

At an individual level, the impetus to join work or to continue with a company varies. Yet there are some common motivations associated with employment. Money is among the important ones and it governs a significant part of a person’s career graph. This is because of obvious reasons - initially at the start of employment, it is almost the only motivation. Freshers look forward to financing their own needs and growing out of parental support. People at initial employment years look for means to fulfil their day-to-day necessities and sustain their families. A lot of the time, people in the initial years have loan burden and rents to pay, and start with no lump sum to back them up. Money thus becomes the only driving force behind on-the-job performance. So, during the initial period of the career graph, the first part of the topic is definitely true, and it continues to be so for those who do not get enough to cover their basic needs, despite working for years. But for others who grow in their profession, motivations change with time as they keep hitting milestones of achievement.

Generally, the middle part of a person’s career is the phase when they look for stability. This is the phase when teams and managers contributing to a healthy workplace atmosphere motivate people to continue in the familiar set-up. This takes a lot of the job burden away and makes room for less stress. If careers ended with this satisfaction, it no doubt would become very simplistic. There are other motivators that come into play and govern a lot of career choices at a mature stage. Most important among them is the power motivation along with personal ambition. An individual’s perception of their abilities and contribution towards job role, compared to growth opportunities and rewards available in an organization, are heavily weighed options impacting decisions. Moreover, there are several external factors such as the prevailing economic situation, and job market dynamics that may be instrumental in career decisions. Examples of such situations could be the economic recession of 2007 and the COVID-19 pandemic that triggered global lockdown. Thus we may conclude that there are many facets of career and employment decisions, several motivators and compulsions, all of which play important roles for different individuals in different circumstances. Narrowing them down to consider only a few does not do justice to a holistic understanding of the concept of employment.


The above essay has been analysed using basic techniques that are characteristics of a well-written essay. These categories are also a part of the IELTS marking system just like they are used by examiners of TOEFL for scoring. The analysis gives an in-depth perspective to candidates regarding the essay, and these can be used by them for evaluating their own version written on the same topic.



  • The candidate does not categorically state the answer to “do you agree?”, but develops the idea using examples and instances to come to the conclusion that conveys, “I do not agree.”

  • The essay offers a broad perspective to the concept of careers and attempts to analyse it realistically upon a timeline of progression, which is interesting.

  • The essay could have been brief; however, that would require it to have been re-written with a specific aim to summarise it.


  • The essay has been written using simple words, and sentences can be read with ease.

  • The candidate gradually builds upon his/her idea after hinting at the direction of the course taken in the introductory paragraph.

  • Paragraph breaks are logical and follow basic essay structure.

Some lexical observations:

  • because of obvious reasons - We would always advise employing economy of language where possible, i.e. saying the most with the least amount of words. In this example, we would suggest saying ‘for obvious reasons’

  • initially at the start of - Here we see an example of redundant word(s), where ‘initially’ and ‘at the start of’ mean the same thing. Our advice would be to remove the word ‘initially’: “…at the start of employment…”

Language Use

  • Using the gerund - In this example, “Freshers look forward to financing their own needs and growing out of parental support”, note the use of the gerund verb form (of the verbs ‘to finance’ and ‘to grow’), where they are used as a noun. You might think of them in this case as a constant state of being, or a consistent action. Some more examples are: “Do you mind me asking?” “Are you going running at the weekend?”

  • Conditionals - Here is an example from the candidate’s answer of a conditional in use: “If careers ended with this satisfaction, it no doubt would become very simplistic.” Visit our page on How to Use the Conditional Tense in English for more on this often misunderstood aspect of English Grammar.


  • Moreover - a concise way of saying ‘further to this’ or ‘as well as this’, indicating your intention to supply supplementary information

  • holistic - an approach that considers the subject as a whole, rather than focusing on specific (component) parts

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