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TOEFL COURSES --> TOEFL iBT Lesson --> Writing Section

Integrated Writing

For this task, you will read a passage about an academic topic and you will listen to a lecture about the same topic. You may take notes while you read and listen.

Then you will write a response to a question that asks you about the relationship be-tween the lecture you heard and the reading passage. Try to answer the question as completely as possible using information from the reading passage and the lecture. The question does not ask you to express your personal opinion. You may refer to the reading passage again when you write. You may use your notes to help you answer the question. Typically, an effective response will be 150 to 225 words. Your response will be judged on the quality of your writing and on the completeness and accuracy of the content. You should allow 3 minutes to read the passage. Then listen to the lecture. Then allow 20 minutes to plan and write your response.  

Altruism is a type of behavior in which an animal sacrifices its own interest for that of another animal or group of animals. Altruism is the opposite of selfishness; individuals performing altruistic acts gain nothing for themselves.   Examples of altruism abound, both among humans and among other mammals. Unselfish acts among humans range from the sharing of food with strangers to the donation of body organs to family members, and even to strangers. Such acts are altruistic in that they benefit another, yet provide little reward to the one performing the act.   In fact, many species of animals appear willing to sacrifice food, or even their life, to assist other members of their group. The meerkat, which is a mammal that dwells in burrows in grassland areas of Africa, is often cited as an example. In groups of meerkats, an individual acts as a sentinel, standing guard and looking out for predators while the others hunt for food or eat food they have obtained. If the sentinel meerkat sees a predator such as a hawk approaching the group, it gives an alarm cry alerting the other meerkats to run and seek shelter.   By standing guard, the sentinel meerkat gains nothing—it goes without food while the others eat, and it places itself in grave danger. After it issues an alarm, it has to flee alone, which might make it more at risk to a predator, since animals in groups are often able to work together to fend off a predator. So the altruistic sentinel behavior helps ensure the survival of other members of the meerkat's group.
Summarize the points made in the lecture you just heard, being sure to specifically explain how they cast doubt on points made in the reading. You must finish your answer in 20 minutes.
Count: 0 word(s)
Listening Script
The following is the script of the lecture that you heard and were asked to summarize.
You know, often in science, new findings force us to re-examine earlier beliefs and assumptions. And a recent study of meerkats is having exactly this effect. The study examined the meerkat's behavior quite closely, much more closely than had ever been done before. And some interesting things were found... like about eating habits... it showed that typically meerkats eat before they stand guard—so the ones standing guard had a full stomach! And the study also found that since the sentinel is the first to see a predator coming, it's the most likely to escape... because it often stands guard near a burrow, so it can run immediately into the burrow after giving the alarm. The other meerkats, the ones scattered about looking for food, are actually in greater danger.
And in fact, other studies have suggested that when an animal creates an alarm, the alarm call might cause the other group members either to gather together or else to move about very quickly, behaviors that might actually draw the predator's attention away from the caller, increasing that animal's own chances of survival.
And what about people—what about some human acts that might be considered altruistic? Let's take an extreme case, uh, suppose a person donates a kidney to a relative, or even to a complete stranger. A selfless act, right? But... doesn't the donor receive appreciation and approval from the stranger and from society? Doesn't the donor gain an increased sense of self-worth? Couldn't such non-material rewards be considered very valuable to some people?
Topic Notes
You should understand the meaning of altruism and altruistic acts. The definitions are given in the reading: altruism describes behavior that is the opposite of selfishness; it is behavior that benefits another individual or the group with no reward. The lecturer questions whether the examples meet the definition.
A high-scoring response will include the following points made by the lecturer:
(i) Point Made in Reading:
+ Human organ donors gain nothing from their action.
+ Sentinel meerkats go without food to stand guard.
+ Sentinel meerkats place themselves in danger from predators.
(ii) Contrasting Point from the Lecture:
+ The donors receive appreciation and approval from the rest of society.
+ Sentinels actually eat before the other meerkats.
+ Sentinels are actually the first to escape the predators.
Responses scoring 4 and 5 discuss altruistic/non-altruistic aspects of the three points in the table: human organ donation, meerkat sentinel eating behavior, and meerkat sentinel ability to escape.
Sample Responses with Raters' Comments Score 5 Essay
The lecture completely refutes the passage. It is said in the lecture that, the perceived acts of altruism are nothing more than sneaky methods of gaining advantage for one's self.Contrary to the belief in the passage that sentinels risk their lives for the cause of the whole group, the professor says that the meerkat sentinels are in fact less prone to outside threats. The alarm sentinels give off causes to group to move rashly which draws the predators attention towards them, thus drawing away the attention from the sentinels. The lecture refutes the fact that these meerkats are altruistic in the sense that they gain nothing in exchange of their services. In fact, researches have shown that they have a full stomach as they perform this "altruistic" duty and have a better chance of escaping from danger because they witness it ifrst Proffesor also offers a different underlying motivation that causes people to believe that acts such as donating an organ or sharing food with someone in need are altruistic. She says that people gain appreciation as a result of such acts, which may be deemed by some much more important than materialistic gains.
Rater's Comments
This answer meets all the criteria for a Level 5 response to an integrated task. The writer does a good job of selecting, framing, and interweaving points from the lecture and reading, explicitly and fluently presenting accurate connections between the relevant points. All three points made by the lecturer are included. Language is used accurately and effectively, and the overall piece is well-organized.
Total: 4 page(s)
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