It’s my point of view that you should have TWO main points to support your argument for prompt one. You may wonder if this is necessary. For scoring, it is NOT necessary. You are allowed to have one reason and develop it, and you are allowed to tell a story.
So why do I recommend two reasons?
This is because, from my experience, people who only develop one reason run out of words and things to say at about the thirty second mark. Then, they only have fifteen seconds (or worse, ten seconds) to talk about a second reason. Inevitably, the test taker will panic and start saying something that does not make sense or fit with the prompt. The other problem is that having only one reason means there will be repetition. Consider this answer from a student.
The prompt: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?
Children should do homework every night.
“I agree that children should do homework every night, because it helps them learn. There are a lot of subjects for children to study, such as math, science, and history. There is not enough time in the school day for children to learn all of these topics, and so homework can help them a lot. They must learn so much about so many things, and when they are children that’s the time they learn the most… many children and parents say the school day isn’t long enough… so it’s important for them to learn and home…. and their parents can help them, and they can study together and this will help them bond.. so they need to learn at home, too. I did a lot of homework when I was a child... and I liked it...."
This answer has far too much repetition to be given a score of 4/4. The test taker has been very repetitive with words like “learn,” “parents,” “time,” “school,” and so on.
Also, what is the point of saying, "I did a lot of homework when I was a child, and I liked it?" This is something that was clearly said in a panic, and does not answer the question and is not relevant.
You will receive a lower score if you are repetitive or say things that are not relevant.
Now, read this answer with the same prompt:
"I agree that children should do homework every night, for a couple of reasons. First, there is not enough time in the school day for children to cover all the topics they require. When I was in school, we had to study math, history, science, and English. Therefore, my teachers gave us work to do at home every night in order to extend our study hours. What is more, homework will keep children out of trouble because it will keep them occupied. If they have to do several hours of homework after dinner, they will not have the opportunity to go out and engage in negative behavior. For instance, my nephew started smoking because he was bored, as he did not have assignments to do at night. If he had been busy with school work, he would not have started this bad habit. That’s why I agree with this statement."
TIME: 44 seconds
As you can see, there is a wider variety of vocabulary in this answer. What is more, the fact that I have two reasons allows me a greater opportunity to use transitions such as “therefore,” “What is more,” “For instance,” and so on. Those transitions will increase your score.
Is a conclusion a good idea?
Yes. ETS likes a conclusion, so if you have time, say: “That’s why I agree with the statement,” or at least, “That’s why I feel this way.”
Do not say, “That’s why I believe this way,” as this is not an expression used in American English.
I hope this helped you in your studies. Good luck on your test!
Kathy, HOUSE OF TOEFL