1.  Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of having a car.  

Sample Answer

Nowadays, as roads are becoming more and more crowded, people are considering both the advantages and disadvantages of having a car before they buy one.

The main advantage of the car is that it gives the freedom to travel when and where you want, without being limited to fixed routes and timetables. What is more, you can carry several passengers and as much luggage as you like, at no extra cost. In addition to this, you can travel in comfort in a car, with a seat to yourself and the possibility of comforts such as a music system and air conditioning.

On the other hand, owning a car is very expensive. As well as the price of the car, the cost of tax, insurance, petrol and repairs must also be considered before buying. Moreover, the increase in traffic means that drivers are spending more and more time stuck in traffic jams. Perhaps the major disadvantage of cars in general is the huge damage that they do to human life and to the environment, and all motorists much accept that they are making a small contribution to this.

To sum up, provided you have access to an efficient public transport system, then buying and running your own car could be considered an expensive luxury.

 (213 words)

2.  Research indicates that the characteristics we are born with have much more influence on our personality and development than any experiences we may have
in our life.
Which do you consider to be the major influence?

Sample Answer

Today the way we consider human psychology and mental development is heavily influenced by the genetic sciences. We now understand the importance of inherited characteristics more than over before. Yet we are still unable to decide whether an individual’s personality and development are more influenced by genetic factors (nature) or by the environment (nurture).

Research, relating to identical twins, has highlighted how significant inherited characteristics can be for an individual’s life. But whether these characteristics are able to develop within the personality of an individual surely depends on whether the circumstances allow such a development. It seems that the experiences we have in life are so unpredictable and so powerful, that they can boost or over-ride other influences, and there seems to be plenty of research findings to confirm this.

My own view is that there is no one major influence in a person’s life. Instead, the traits we inherit from our parents and the situation and experiences that we encounter in life are constantly interacting. It is the interaction of the two that shapes a person’s personality and dictates how that personality develops. If this were not true, we would be able to predict the behavior and character of a person from the moment they were born.

In conclusion, I do not think that either nature or nurture is the major influence on a person, but that both have powerful effects. How these factors interact is still unknown today and they remain largely unpredictable in a person’s life.

 (249 words)

3.  Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?
A person should never make an important decision alone.
Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Sample Answer

From my everyday experience and observation I can claim that discussion of an important decision with other people bring many benefits. In the following paragraphs I will give my reasons to defend this statement.

First of all, different people have different opinions. In order to make the right choice people should discuss every possible decision and its consequences. Making an important decision alone can bring many negative aspects. For instance, a person can reveal his selfishness or impatience and the consequences of that decision can affect many people in the future. I think that a good and wise decision can be born only in discussion because people can share their knowledge and experiences a look at the problem from different sides and aspects.

Second of all, I think that making decision alone is unacceptable especially for a company. Imagine that a chief makes the decision about increasing a production line without discussing it with his employees. In this case a part of company’s profit will be spending on extended purchase of raw materials. So, share holders will be left without dividends. This decision may lead to getting rid of company’s shares and as a result of this declining the value of a company as a whole.

To sum up, I think that a person should always consult his relatives or colleges when making an important decision to avoid possible mistakes.

 (230 words)

4.  You have decided to give several hours of your time each month to improve the community where you live.
What is one thing you will do to improve your community? Why?
Use specific reasons and details to explain your choice.

Sample Answer

I think the question what would I do if I had a chance to improve my community is difficult. I have in my mind many things, the improvement of which will make our community better place to live but they all require the participation of many people and, moreover, they require investments, which I can not provide. For example, my community is quite noisy. We have the huge mall just in front of our community, so traffic jams are very common for this place. I think that the construction of a few pass-by roads will benefit all people who live here as well as people who drive by every day.

Unfortunately, the question is what I can do for my community giving a few hours of my time every month. I think I can not do much, but I still can help someone in my community. For example, I can baby-sit. I know a couple of families with little children, who can not afford to spend much money on the baby-sitter. One of these families is a single mom with a little girl. Julia, this is her name, is a waitress in a restaurant. She is a great person and we became close friends. So, sometimes I offer her help with her child when she has to work in the evenings. Another family has two funny little twins. One time their parents asked me to babysit their children because they had to attend an unexpected presentation.

I think this kind of help brings many benefits to my community. First of all, people become friendlier. For example, those families, which I mentioned above, became friends after I introduced them to each other. Second of all, people get to know each other and feel more secure in their houses and apartments. Finally, I am ready to help those people because I am sure that they will help me too. One time I lost the keys from my car and Julia offered me her car for a while.

To sum up, I believe that baby-sitting is a great way to help my community in many aspects.

 (353 words)

5.  If you could change one important thing about your hometown, what would you change?
Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

Sample Answer

If I could change one thing about my hometown, I think it would be the fact that there’s no sense of community here. People don’t feel connected, they don’t look out for each other, and they don’t get to know their neighbors.

People come and go a lot here. They change jobs frequently and move on. This means that they don’t put down roots in the community. They don’t join community organizations and they’re not willing to get involved in trying to improve the quality of life. If someone has a petition to put in a new street light, she has a very hard time getting a lot of people to sign. They don’t feel it has anything to do with them. They don’t get involved in improving the schools because they don’t think the quality of education is important to their lives. They don’t see the connection between themselves and the rest of their community.

People don’t try to support others around them. They don’t keep a friendly eye on their children, or check in on older folks if they don’t see them for a few days. They’re not aware when people around them may be going through a hard time. For example, they may not know if a neighbor loses a loved one. There’s not a lot of community support for individuals.

Neighbors don’t get to know each other. Again, this is because people come and go within a few years. So when neighbors go on vacation, no one is keeping an eye on their house. No one is making sure nothing suspicious is going on there, like lights in the middle of the night. When neighbors‟ children are cutting across someone’s lawn on their bikes, there’s no friendly way of casually mentioning the problem. People immediately act as if it’s a major property disagreement.

My hometown is a nice place to live in many ways, but it would be much nice if we had that sense of community.

 (331 words)

6.  A foreign visitor has only one day to spend in your country.
Where should this visitor go on that day? Why?
Use specific reasons and details to support your choice.

Sample Answer

Traveling is a good way to find out more about different countries with different traditions and customs. Some travelers prefer to spend in one country just a few days or one day and then leave for another country. This way of traveling allows people to visit more countries in fewer days. Unfortunately, in this case such travelers have to hurry in order to visit more places.

I am from Saint-Petersburg, Russia. So, if a foreign visitor has only one day to spend in my country I think I would advice him to visit the “Hermitage” – the most well known and amazing museum in Russia. The “Hermitage” has 3 floors and more then 100 halls. It is really amazing to visit that place. Many people from all over the world every day enter its walls. Some of the rooms devoted to the history of other countries. Others devoted to the art of a famous painter and the history of his life. However, most of the halls conclude many things such as paintings, royal belongings, sculptures from Russian history.

Some people say that it is impossible to feel deeply and see all these amazing historical values for one visit. I have to completely agree with this statement. When I first visited the “Hermitage” I was 14 years old. It impressed me so much that I was back next day to see what I had not been able to see the day before.

The “Hermitage” is an impressive and beautiful museum. I think it is worth to spend there a whole day and I believe that after that a foreign visitor can claim with a proud that he or she saw Russia.

 (280 words)

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