在托福写作实战中，rhetorical question的使用能够起到很好的加分作用。为了说明rhetorical question的加分作用，请看托福Official Guide评卷人对一篇题为Dishonesty Kills Reliability的满分作文的点评。下面是点评中关于language的comment：
The writer's language is fluent, accurate, and varied enough to effectively support the progression and connection of ideas. There is a variety of sentence structures, including rhetorical questions.
那么，何谓rhetorical question?Rhetorical question会不会很难?
我们先来看在托福Official Guide里备受评卷人赞誉的rhetorical question实例。在原文第四段中，为了说明honesty的重要性作者是这样写的：
In any relationship of mine, I would wish that first of all, the person I'm dealing with is honest.Even though s/he thinks that s/he did something wrong that I wouldn't like,s/he'd better tell me the truth and not lie about it. Later on if I find out about a lie or hear the truth from someone else, that'd be much more unpleasant. In that case how can I ever believe or trust that person again?How can I ever believe that this person has enough confidence in me to forgive him/her and carry on with the relationship from there.……
A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question thatis asked to make a point rather than to elicit an answer. Though a rhetorical question does not require a direct answer, in many cases it may beintended to start a discussion or at least draw an acknowledgement that thelistener understands the intended message.
A rhetorical question is asked just for effect or to lay emphasison some point discussed when no real answer is expected.
那么，rhetorical question为什么能够收到评卷人的赞誉而得到加分?这就要从托福作文的评分标准说起了。托福Official Guide里面对于高分作文的要求(Scoring Rubic)描述如下：
*Effectively addresses the topicand task
*Is well organized and well developed, appropriate explanations, exemplifications, and / or details
*Display Unity, progression, and coherence
*Display consistent use of language,demonstrating syntactic variety, appropriate word choice, and idiomaticity
从上面的评分标准可以清楚看出，rhetorical question能够帮助我们满足实现评分标准第四条中的“demonstrating syntactic variety”。这也正是官方指南中评卷人的点评。
其实，除了体现“句型变化”，合理使用rhetorical question还能帮助我们满足评分标准第一条的要求“effectively addresses the topic and task”。事实上，rhetorical question不仅能够有效的回应主题，还能强调作者的观点从而获得读者的认同。rhetorical question的这种强调作用最著名的范例可能算是雪莱《西风颂》Ode to the West Wind的结尾了：
“O Wind,If Winter comes,can Spring be far behind?”
另外，问句，尤其是设问的合理使用还能起到很好的衔接作用，也就是评分标准的第三条“Display Unity, progression, and coherence”。因此，有学者把rhetorical question的篇章作用总结如下：
• Emphasize a point
• Persuade powerfully
• Influence subtly
• Provoke thinking
• Help smooth transition
限于篇幅，对这些作用就不一一举例了。顺便说一下，rhetorical question后面的标点并不一定总是question mark，有时也可以是句号或感叹号。
Some people prefer to ask others for help; others prefer to solve the problem with their own knowledge. Which is your choice?
Such is human nature that everyone longs for happiness in our life. Unfortunately, on the path to pursue happiness, we are likely to face various problems. How to solve them? Should we rely on ourselves to remove the obstacle or turn toothers for a cure?From my perspective, it is more reasonable to ask others for help.
Admittedly, always hinging on others to solve problems might be irrational in some cases. For example, if you ask an acquaintance with whom you haven’t a close tie to lend you a hand, he might be reluctant, because most of us have our own care and concern. Besides,some people are unwilling to shoulder the responsibility for the advice they offer. It’s not a rare case when we ask our friend for advice on what major to choose only to get a reply: “Well, it’s really hard to say. Who knows what your real interest is? Who knows what major will be popular when you graduate?”
In spite of the points mentioned above, I still cling to the idea that we should depend on others for the following reasons.
First of all, asking others for help can save us much valuable time, time that we can use for other purposes. As is known to all, most people in contemporary society are always burdened with endless stress and strain. To be admitted to prestigious universities, schoolchildren have to burn midnight oil to out do their peers in exams; likewise,university students can do nothing but to work against the clock to lend themselves an edge over others in the talent market so that they can land adecent job. Given the quickening pace of life, how can we expect us to remove all the obstacles only by ourselves?
In addition, turning to others for help is an efficient way for us to enlarge our circle of friends. It is not a rare case that friendship might be formed after we ask others for help. Take myself as an example. After helping me find a cure for my personal health problem, one of my colleagues has become my best friend. Now, when in trouble,he also asks for my advice. No wonder some even state that it is an efficient way to find friends by “bothering” others for their help.Sounds surprising?It is a discovery revealed inrecent research conducted by a group of leading experts.
Most importantly, it is the only choice to call for help when the solution to a problem requires expertise. Itis known to all that today’s society differs greatly from what it was before. Even a century ago, most folks could be self-sufficient: they grew grain on their own land and wove cloth on their own looms, which seems unimaginable in modern society. Unlike the “good old days”, modern society is a huge complex machine in which each person can serve only as a tiny part.For example, City dwellers depend on farmers for grain while farmers rely on factory workers for industrial products; in the same way, factory workers may temporarily drown our worries in soap operas shown on the screen while film-makers cannot have a film produced, however talented they might be, without the talents of play wrights,directors, photographers, actors or actresses.
Why not ask others for solution when necessary?Good or bad, this might be the best choice left to us.