Essay In Brief

Introduction – CONTEXT & THESIS

General statements: contextualising and engaging the issue (what is happening today? what’s the controversy with regards to the issue?) An immediate engagement with the topic and the key issue helps to give an overview about why this question is being asked.

“In light of the urgent rush for resources often masked under the guise of foreign aid

Other ways of starting: With a significant quote (which you will unpack and express its relevance to the QUESTION!), a key perspective taken on the issue/Q, a short but vivid description of an event directly (and obviously) related to the issue/Q,


Should include general reason(s) for your stand or setting out a clear criteria for deciding on your stand. Therefore, you MUST know what are your points/what your plan is before stringing together your thesis.

Your thesis/stand should also include your ‘limitations’/balance/acknowledgements. This in NO WAY means that you are switching stands – you are merely recognising that your stand may not hold true for all/under all circumstances, or that you recognise the available counter arguments opponents are likely to throw at your stand,

Aim for more complex thesis especially for the stronger writers

1. I agree that the word ‘failure’ should never be used in education because

2. While the word ‘failure’ appears to have many negative connotations, there is a limited place for its usage, particularly when…/during…

3. Certainly, the word ‘failure’ should be used in education to provide a much needed reality check, or to speak the truth (giving general reasons) , but this must be tempered with sensitivity and used only under appropriate contexts or situations. 


Structurally – the opening few lines should contain the main POINT or CLAIM which you proceed to SUSTAIN with reasons and evidence to further your argument. The opening lines of a paragraph can also introduce an alternative point of view (remember to ‘distance’ yourself by signalling that this is the view held by someone else.)

E – always aim for explanations of your claim that are as dense as possible. The reason why your point is true is not merely based on 1 explanation, but often a few threads. Consider beefing it up through looking at different perspectives, examining the impact or implication (how widespread? how severe?), considering if it is long term or short term

E – Examples must reinforce the point and as a rule of thumb, 2-3 examples will certainly boost the strength of the argument. Not every one has to be specific. One could highlight a pertinent case/incident and explain in greater detail how the example SUPPORTS the point. The next example could simply express a broad trend with the important names/facts in place.

Ask yourself – are your examples 1)Relevant 2)Adequate 3)Mature?

L – The link is often misunderstood as a simplified ‘therefore’ sentence e.g ‘therefore, clean energy should not be a priority for all countries‘. You instead need to show the examiner how the examples provided indicate clearly supports your argument. This is important since evidence/examples themselves only tell us what ‘IS’ not what ‘OUGHT’ to be, should be, or what it INDICATES.


You can add balance to your essay in a variety of ways. Take, if you may, the anaolgy of a kung-fu bout where two pugilists face-off.  A series of advancements made by you (your arguments, moving your stand forward) must eventually come into contact with your opponents’ parries/moves.

You will then need a series of ‘blocks’ and ‘counter-moves’ in order to ward him off and continually advance.

Balance can thus be added by

1. Including counter-arguments/alternative views (claims, arguments made by critics, proponents of a different view etc) before a sustained rebuttal is given (explain why their view is less/invalid, weak, flawed etc)

2. Allowing for exceptions (your stand may not hold true under specific conditions, or in certain countries) and acknowledgments (while governments are ultimately more responsible for ensuring diseases are kept at bay within the country, individual responsibility of maintaining good health also plays a part)

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