GP Essays – Common mistakes
#1 The “absolute term” trap: “Is is ever justified to __________.” Agreeing means that you just need to prove one instance in which ____________ is justified. Disagreeing (arguing that ____________ is never justified) means that you need to convincingly prove that in every single possible circumstance, ____________ is not justified. In other words, most people find it easier to convincingly argue that they “agree”, because to disagree places a much higher burden on yourself. Although if you manage to disagree convincingly, that would be one impressive essay! So the opposite would apply for a question that goes, “Do you agree that it is neverjustified to _____________?” Other absolute terms: always #2 Avoid example-driven essays. Examples are crucial, but they’re meant to support your argument – avoid using lengthy case studies as replacements for argument #3 Pay due attention to additional terms or any embedded context in the question. Examiners put such terms/phrases there for a reason – they aren’t simply there to make the question longer or to give you extra information; they need to be dealt with. With this in mind, it might be helpful to ask yourself: 1) What would I argue if the additional terms / embedded context were absent? Once you have an answer, ask yourself: 2) How would I modify my argument to show an awareness of the additional terms /embedded context? If you find that your argument is the same for both questions 1 and 2, it is likely that you’re missing part of the question requirements. For example: In a world where borders are vanishing, is it futile for Singapore to persist in building a national identity?
First, ask: 1) What would I argue if the additional terms / embedded context were absent? In other words, if it read: “Is it futile for Singapore to persist in building a national identity?” In this case, you might argue that no, it is not futile because there is value in Singapore persisting in building a...
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