Essay Writing Tips: Organising Paragraphs and Writing Rebuttals

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General Paper (GP) tuition & O-level English tuition specialists

GP Tuition & O Level  English Tuition Classes: Essay Writing Tips 

The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner.

Due to changes in the O Level English syllabus, students are now expected to write expository essays for their Paper 1 instead of narratives. The A-level General Paper tests this at a higher level; requiring the student to write a clear and well-supported essay based on a strong thesis relevant to the question.

There are several components in writing a strong Paper 1 essay. Our GP tuition and O Level English Tuition classes will help develop the student’s familiarity in each of these areas from analysing the question, being alert to key terms, writing a clear and nuanced thesis statement, crafting a chain of coherent points, having an impactful conclusion and so on.

This section offers just a brief outline on organising the essay and how to write rebuttals / counter-arguments

 

Step 1: Organise the Essay 

There are several ways to arrange the different arguments in your essay:

  1. Give one argument that you do not support first, followed by one that you do support and which either refutes or concedes the previous argument. Repeat this process until all the major counter-arguments are either refuted or conceded. This is often taught in schools as the point-counterpoint structure. After that you can proceed with your supporting arguments
  2. Give all the arguments you do not support first, followed by all the arguments you do support and which either refute / rebuts the arguments in your first half of your essay. After which, you can proceed with your supporting arguments. (there is a difference between a supporting argument and a counter-argument. Our GP tuition and O level English tuition classes will clarify)

Stage 2: Organise the paragraph

Each paragraph should only contain one argument and should ideally have the following elements: Topic sentence; Elaboration; Example; and reiteration of the Topic sentence. You should be able to remember these elements with the acronym TEET. This is also commonly known as PEEL – Point, Elaboration, Example, Link

Example 

Essay Q: “Technology has made our lives busier, not better.” How far do you agree with this statement?

Where are the topic sentence(s), elaboration, example and reiteration of topic sentence in the following paragraph? Underline and mark each part ‘T’, ‘E’, ‘Ex’ and ‘T’ in the following paragraph:


The frenetic pace of our lives today is largely due to technological advancement and this has not proven to be better for us in certain respects. As a result of improved communications technology, people are easily contactable round the clock. This greater connectedness often means that work can be done anywhere, anytime – which in turn, often means a reduced quality of life for the worker who ends up having less time for himself or his family. For instance, the Internet, mobile phone, and the laptop have all become indispensable gadgets for the working professional today. It does not matter if he is on vacation or at home: if a work-related task has to be undertaken immediately – or else, says the boss – the worker does not have a choice. Hence, ironically, technology does not seem to have reduced our workload but increased it by making it easier to do more within a shorter time. In other words, our busier pace of life has worsened our quality of life in some respects. 


Sample Answer:

Topic sentence: The frenetic pace of our lives today is largely due to technological advancement and this has not proven to be better for us in certain respects.

Elaboration: As a result of improved communications technology, people are easily contactable round the clock. This greater connectedness often means that work can be done anywhere, anytime – which in turn, often means a reduced quality of life for the worker who ends up having less time for himself or his family.

Example: For instance, the Internet, mobile phone, and the laptop, have all become indispensable gadgets for the working professional today. It does not matter if he is on vacation or at home: if a work-related task has to be undertaken immediately – or else, says the boss – the worker does not have a choice.

Reiteration of topic sentence: Hence, ironically, technology does not seem to have reduced our workload but increased it by making it easier to do more within a shorter time. In other words, our busier pace of life has worsened our quality of life in some respects.

copyright: Calvin and Hobbes

Stage 3: Writing your counter-arguments

There are two ways to write your counter-arguments:

  1. Refutation: Present one argument first and explain why this position is false, misleading, irrelevant, or weak; discredit it in some well-reasoned way.

For example:

Advocates of the death penalty argue that every individual has a right to life and death and that the death penalty disrespectfully wrests that right from the criminal. However, one must realize that the criminal did the same to the victim and the only way to respect the victim’s right by returning that right to him or her is by wrenching it from the criminal. …

 

Do note that for H1 General Paper, students are still expected to write about and clarify the opposing argument first before they refute it!

 

  1. Concession: Recognise the merit of an argument and so concede that point or a feature of it.

For example:

Although I also believe that life is sacred and murder is wrong, I do not think that ending the life of a brain-dead person is equivalent to murder since in the true sense of the word “life”, this patient is not living. …

 

The rest of the pointers will be covered in greater detail in our GP tuition and O Level English Tuition classes.

Knowledge Skills – Subject Specialists for GP Tuition and  O-Level English Tuition

For inquiries about our tuition programmes, please feel free to contact us.