Writing a GP Essay

What you should be doing in your essay (if you’re not already doing so)

A strong & logical argument is the means of achieving a good result.
It does not matter what the examiner’s views are as long as the candidate is able to impress him with strong arguments supported by mature English.

What you should do:-
a) Begin with a plan
b) create a good impression with your opening paragraph by:-
• stating the particular aspects of the topic you plan to discuss
• defining/clarifying ant important terms in the title
• therefore, you have to identify the focus (or narrow it down if the question is very general) and guide the reader
c) captivate the reader’s interest by:-
• making a strong statement about the topic
• giving an example from one’s own experience
• presenting a hypothetical/imagined situation
• appealing to reader’s past experience
• making an appropriate analogy
d) the technique chosen depends on the type of question you’re attempting
e) be succinct but yet relevant in your writing
f) feel free to use more than one of these techniques

What you should not do:-
a) Misinterpret one/more words of the question
b) suggest that you do not possess the knowledge to provide an adequate answer to the question
c) spend too much time over it
d) waste unnecessary words and space on it
e) wander off the point/go off tangent
f) evade answering the question asked
g) make language errors

What you should do:-
a) It is essential to write in clear paragraphs
b) restrict yourself to ONE distinct idea:-
 present the main idea in a clearly identifiable topic sentence
 this can occur at the beginning of the paragraph
 or, the paragraph can build up progressively towards it – i.e., place it at the end
 occasionally it can occur in the middle
 when all the topic sentences are combined they should present a neat summary of the essay
c) use the rest of the paragraph to devoted to developing that same idea in some way
d) ALL sentences should have a direct bearing on the paragraph
e) Keep sentences within the bounds of your capability – be in control
f) Ways to indicate paragraphing:-
 Indent from the left margin
 Leave a line between paragraphs

* actually, the trick is to write your introduction after you’ve finished the rest of the essay so that you know exactly what it should be leading the reader towards!

The aims of the Development
a) Express your ideas such that the reader is both interested and convinced by:-
 Directing the focus on the content (see below)
 Using linguistic techniques – i.e., your choice of language
b) use clear interesting paragraphs (see above)

Useful ways in which you can develop/elaborate your paragraphs
(a) Provide illustrations/examples of the general points made
(b) Drawing an analogy to illustrate an abstract idea
(c) Using a credible quotation to lend force to the point made
(d) Pointing to a contrast to highlight a point being made
(e) Modifying/refuting a statement/point of view
(f) Defining a concept to be dealt with
(g) Listing to enumerate details
(h) Justifying a view through a presentation of a set of arguments
(i) Rephrasing/repeating something in order to give it added emphasis (for conclusion)

Therefore, paragraphs fulfil the following functions
 Classification
 Comparison
 Contrast
 Cause and effect
 Time
 Procedure
 Conclusion (to be dealt with later)

At least, your Development should contain paragraphs with this structure:-
Well-developed paragraph = main idea + [details + examples/illustrations]
 
the topic sentence the rest of the paragraph

Ensure that your examples are relevant to the question
• remember: situations differ from country to country, place to place, context to context
• it might be more prudent to restrict your examples to a particular context, or
• at least clarify it (e.g., Singapore)

How to conclude on a strong note:-
a) Merely sum up what you’ve presented earlier
b) re-assert your stand
• Emphasise the most important point of your essay
• Especially if the question requires you to indicate one
c) come to a general consensus
d) provide unity to your essay

Please don’t try to:-
a) State anything new
• this should never be your goal even if you know more than what the scope of your essay covers
b) never write a long dreary conclusion – please spare the reader the agony
e) avoid language errors – the reader will remember them
f) avoid irrelevance to the question
g) avoid contradicting your introduction and main body
h) Avoid stating the obvious
i) Avoid detail in your summary of main points
j) Avoid introducing a complex new argument
k) Avoid coming to an abrupt halt.

Ensure that the sentences and paragraphs connect well to each other or one another
a) avoid separate and disjointed sentences – your job is to lead the reader along a logical progression of material – there should be continuity
b) utilise connecting words and phrases – use word links
c) to create continuity between sentences:-
 ensure proper development of the main idea (refer to above)
 add appropriate discourse markers (refer to table)
d) to create continuity between paragraphs:-
 create word links/lexical chains – use a key word from the last sentence of the previous paragraph in the next one
 add appropriate discourse markers (refer to table)

Purposes---------Appropriate linking words
Adding & amplifying information ----Moreover, furthermore
Comparing-----Similarly, compared to
Talking about consequences-----Therefore, consequently
Sequencing information-----firstly, next
Expressing contrast------However, nevertheless
Concession-----Admittedly, although
Emphasising-----Indeed, above all
Giving examples for instance, as an illustration
Restating & defining-----in other words, that is (to say)
Summarising & generalising----in conclusion, all in all


ben lily said...

thanks for sharing your knowledge

Anonymous. said...

Thumbs up, very useful notes :)

Al Parillon said...

:h: great stuff. Many thanks

claudia said...

This has been f great use, guys!

:a: :b: :c: :d: :e: :f: :g: :h: :i: :j: :k: :l: :m: :n:

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