Sample OPI/TOEFL Questions Requiring Background Knowledge
- Many governments around the world spend significant amounts of taxpayer money on space exploration. Is this appropriate?
- Every year multiple countries around the world experience devastating natural disasters such as typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. How and to what extent should other countries provide help?
- Are there any disappearing industries you think should be saved?
- What jobs do you think will disappear in the next 10 years and what impact do you think this will have on individuals and society?
- Do you think the government should pay for healthcare?
- In the past century, leaders like Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy made important contributions to the people of the United States. Who is another world leader you think is important and why?
- How much emphasis do you think governments should put on enforcing patents, trademarks, and copyrights?
- Governments of European nations and the U.S. have spent large amounts of money bailing out banks and other major companies to fight national recession. Do you think this is appropriate?
- In 1970, many of the so-called rich nations of the world agreed to give 0.7% of their gross national income to international development. Do you think this decision has impacted the world we live in today primarily positively or primarily negatively?
- Describe what you think are the greatest impacts of poverty on health.
- The Internet has become the primary forum for “free speech” globally. Yet governments and organizations around the world censor a wide variety of websites, perhaps most commonly YouTube and Facebook. What do you think is appropriate censorship and what do you think is inappropriate censorship?
- Military exercises, frequently called “war games” in American English, are part of military training in many countries. However, war games have sometimes been the spark that sets fire to already tense political situations, for example on the Korean peninsula. In such situations, do you think “war games” are appropriate?
- An increasing number of people internationally are choosing to buy organic food products even though they are more expensive than non-organic foods. Do you expect this trend to continue and if so, how do you expect it to impact food-related research and industries?
- Some people believe that Google and other companies with substantial Internet presence have access to far too much information about their users which, in the future, either they or national governments putting pressure on such companies are likely to use to cause hurt to certain users. Do you think this concern is valid? Why or why not?
- Many countries around the world struggle with drug traffickers who operate within their national borders. How and to what extent do you think drug trafficking should be addressed internationally (via organizations such as the U.N. or via cooperation between affected nations) vs. nationally or locally?
- Some people argue that annual flu shots are actually more dangerous than the flu, pointing to situations in which children and elderly individuals have died from the shot and to evidence that vaccines and drugs can cause flu viruses to mutate into more dangerous strains. To what extent do you think national health boards should take into consideration such concerns and evidence?
- Some people believe the food industry spends substantial amounts of research money on engineering ways to (legally) addict consumers to their various (generally unhealthy) food products. To what extent do you think this concern is valid and what, if anything, do you think should be done about it?
Questions 2-5 have been adapted from:
Sharpe, P. (2006). Barron’s TOEFL iBT (12th ed.). Hauppauge, New York: Barron’s Educational Series.