TOEFL Essays 3 and 4

3. Nowadays, food has become easier to prepare. Has this change improved the way people live? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

The twentieth century has brought with it many advances. With those advances, human lives have changed dramatically. In some ways life is worse, but mostly it is better. Changes in food preparation methods, for example, have improved our lives greatly.
The convenience of preparing food today is amazing. Even stoves have gotten too slow for us. Microwave cooking is much easier. We can press a few buttons and a meal is completely cooked in just a short time. People used to spend hours preparing an oven-cooked meal, and now they can use that time for other, better things. Plus, there are all kinds of portable, prepackaged foods we can buy. Heat them in the office microwave, and lunch at work is quick and easy.
Food preparation today allows for more variety. With refrigerators and freezers, we can preserve a lot of different foods in our homes. Since technology makes cooking so much faster, people are willing to make several dishes for even a small meal. Parents are more likely to let children be picky, now that they can easily heat them up some prepackaged macaroni and cheese on the side. Needless to say, adults living in the same house may have very different eating habits as well. If they don’t want to cook a lot of different dishes, it’s common now to eat out at restaurants several times a week.
Healthful eating is also easier than ever now. When people cook, they use new fat substitutes and cooking sprays to cut fat and calories. This reduces the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol. Additionally, we can buy fruits and vegetable fresh, frozen or canned. They are easy to prepare, so many of us eat more of those nutritious items daily. A hundred years ago, you couldn’t imagine the process of taking some frozen fruit and ice from the freezer, adding some low-fat yogurt from a plastic cup and some juice from a can in the refrigerator, and whipping up a low-fat smoothie in the blender!
Our lifestyle is fast, but people still like good food. What new food preparation technology has given us is more choices. Today, we can prepare food that is more convenient, healthier, and of greater variety than ever before in history.

4. It has been said, “Not every thing that is learned is contained in books.” Compare and contrast knowledge gained from experience with knowledge gained from books. In your opinion, which source is more important? Why?

“Experience is the best teacher” is an old cliché, but I agree with it. The most important, and sometimes the hardest, lessons we learn in life come from our participation in situations. You can’ learn everything from a book.
Of course, learning from books in a formal educational setting is also valuable. It’s in schools that we learn the information we need to function in our society. We learn how to speak and write and understand mathematical equations. This is all information that we need to live in our communities and earn a living.
Nevertheless, I think that the most important lessons can’t be taught; they have to be experienced. No one can teach us how to get along with others or how to have self-respect. As we grow from children into teenagers, no one can teach us how to deal with peer pressure. As we leave adolescence behind and enter adult life, no one can teach us how to fall in love and get married.
This shouldn’t stop us from looking for guidelines along the way. Teachers and parents are valuable sources of advice when we’re young. As we enter into new stages in our lives, the advice we receive from them is very helpful because they have already bad similar experiences. But experiencing our own triumphs and disasters is really the only way to learn how to deal with life.