Tuesday 17 January 2012

Writing Part 2 - Essays

In this post, we'll be looking at how to write a good essay.  An essay is often an option in Part 2 of Paper 2, the Writing part of the exam.  There are 4 questions, numbered 2 to 5 from which you choose ONE option and write 120 and 180 words.  The options are:
•    Formal/Informal letter or email
•    Essay
•    Report
•    Review
•    Story
Question 5 is based on a book.  At ELI, most centres don't study the book so it's a good idea to ignore question 5, unless you've studied it with your teacher.

You should choose your question based on the vocabulary you know, and the type of writing you are best at.  Before you start, make sure you understand the question properly so that you can answer it.  Underline the key words in the question to help you focus, and to start thinking of ideas to write about.

Writing Essays
There are different types of essays and you need to read the question carefully to decide what you are being asked to do.  Here are two example questions:
1.    You have been discussing transport in your English class. Your teacher has asked you to write an essay giving your opinions on the following statement.
            Because cars are so convenient public transport has no future.

2.    You have been discussing society in your English class.  Your teacher has asked you to write an essay discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the following statement:

            Living in the city is better than living in the country.

In the examples, you are asked to do different things.  What types of language will you need to use in both examples?  See below for ideas.

Before you start writing your exam essay, plan what you are going to write.  You can write notes before you start writing the main essay then put a line through the notes when you have written your essay:
•    Brainstorm ideas and vocabulary relating to the topic
•    Brainstorm phrases and expressions
•    Start Writing
•    Write your introduction
•    Write at least two paragraphs to develop your arguments/opinions, etc.
•    Give reasons for arguments/opinions
•    Use a variety of linking words and phrases
•    Don't use contractions
•    Write a conclusion that reflects your arguments/opinions in the main part of the essay

Finally, check your work!  Some common basic mistakes include:

•    Not answering the question
•    3rd person singular
•    Spanglish
•    Spelling of common words
•    Missing words
•    Verb tenses (especially present perfect!)
•    Position of adverbs

Useful Expressions
Presenting two opposing views:
•    on the one hand, on the other hand

Expressing Contrast:
•    nevertheless
•    even so
•    even though
•    however
•    in spite of
•    despite
•    but
•    although

Giving examples:
•    such as
•    like
•    for example
•    for instance

Expressing results:
•    because of this
•    therefore
•    thus
•    as a result
•    for this reason
•    consequently

Expressing Personal Opinion
•    Personally, I think
•    I (strongly) believe
•    In my opinion
•    I think (that)…

Expressing the opinion of someone else
•    some people say
•    some people say that
•    many people say
•    many people say that
•    people often say
•    it is said
•    it is said that
•    according to

If you would like to look at other students' writing, and do some exercises, click here


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