Hi! I am trying to do well essay on TOEFL but it looks like I need some advice. What do you think of this one?
Some people wish to ban smoking in public places. Others don't agree. What is your opinion?
Use reasons and specific examples to support your opinion.
Your Answer: 324 words
I am not sure whether to agree or not with ban of smoking in public places. Why do not I know where I stand on this matter?
Firstly, it depends on how public places are defined.The problem is, that public areas in most projects on smoking ban are very widely defined so ihis category includes workplaces, restaurants, bars, etc.
I agree that there are public places we have to attend with no choice and non smokers who are exposed to smoke are in some way victimised by those who smoke freely and abundantly in these areas. I do believe that people on train stations, airports or bus stops should not be allowed to smoke but there are other public places, like restaurants, where choice whether to ban smoking or not should be left to owners as opposed to public administration. I do believe in customer choice and freedom so, if there is a demand for places where one can eat and smoke why devoid people of this pastime? Others, who do not like smoking always can choose restaurant where smoking is not allowed. I am not sure about offices but I do not see anything harmful in allowing people to smoke in isolated and well aired areas (I mean rooms,as opposed to toilets where they smoke anyway be it banned or not) allowing workers to smoke on their lunchbreak. I do believe that smoking should be defined as harmful and thus those who smoke do not necesarrily have to enjoy all the privileges non smokers do, for example they have to put on with having to smoke in isolated areas but I never hears of smokers defying that!
And what about city parks? What about little Paris outside caffes where people enjoy morning coffee, and well, a little fag? This subject is too complicated to come with the conclusion yet ban on smoking in all public areas seems a bit too harsh to me.
As a basic point, I would say that it would read better if you sharpened the focus of your opinion. You come to the conclusion that you don't really know, but you do actually give an opinion- you support a partial ban, not a total one, and making this clear would answer the question better. If you did this, then the first and last paragraphs would work better. Also, you end the first paragraph with a direct question, which I would avoid in written texts- I can't answer it, so an indirect question would be better IMO.
Now, look at the third paragraph and look at the start of the sentence- I do believe (three times), in fact, most of the sentences begin with I. Given that people are looking for coherence and a structured argument and development, this kind of repeated statement is not going to win much praise from examiners. You should aim to provide more variey and use better connection/contrast (furthermore, etc, would work for these statement here). The repetition might well work in a speech, but this isn't a speech, to try to show some more variation
BTW As this is TOEFL, an American test, you might want to change the word 'fag', which has a different meaning in the States, though as a BrE speaker, I liked it.