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KEY LEARNING POINTS

Main Points
Tips: Relevance
They should be of significant importance to the title (neither trivial or too
vague) (Practice 7)
Organisation
Points should be neatly organized within the essay (Practice 1, 8 &9)
Each paragraph should be focused on one point. i.e. there should be
organization within the paragraph.
Adequacy
These should consider the title from different perspectives (political,
environmental etc) (Practice 1 & 10)
Maturity
The points should include a consideration of opposing views (the
However) but does not have to agree with them. They may be rebutted,
qualified or conceded. (Practice 2)
Practice1
Organisation/Adequacy
Consider all angles to a title. Categorize the points in the following past year
GCE essay questions using one or more of the categories provided below.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7

What would you miss most about your country if you were obliged to live
abroad permanently?
What can be done to alleviate suffering in the world?
Far too little attention is paid to the needs of the handicapped? Discuss.
How do you measure success in life?
What do you consider to be the purpose of education?
Neither a borrower nor a lender be Should we follow this advice in our
lives today?
How can we as individuals become more healthy?
SOME SUGGESTED CATEGORIES

Political
Economic
Social
Cultural

Physical
Psychological
(shortened form of 3)

International
National
Individual

Advantages
Disadvantages

Physical
Intellectual
Emotional
Spiritual/Moral
Social

Material
Non-Material

Cultural

Practice 2
Maturity:Balance
For each of the following argumentative topics, only one side of the argument is
given. Try to find as many points as you can for the other side of the argument.
Begin with the suggested phrase.
1

Setting up a casino in Singapore is necessary. It would provide us with


another avenue for generating revenue. Many jobs will be created.
Besides the money spent on gambling, the tourists who come in for this
purpose would also need to spend on other areas such as
accommodation.
However, checks need to be put into place to ensure that the dangers
associated with gambling do not aversely affect society
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In the field of medicine, some traditional practices are distinctly harmful to


health. For instance, certain traditional home cures among the Chinese,
Malays and Indians also, the traditional belief that evil spirits are
responsible for sickness the patient is taken to a bomoh or temple
medium, instead of being given proper medical or psychiatric help.
However, traditional medicine should not be cursorily dismissed. If
ones aim is to prevent or reverse a slowly progressing disease in
the long term, traditional medicine does have plenty of wisdom to
share.
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3 Gay marriages should not be allowed, as it is perverse. God made men
and women and it is only natural that a man should marry a woman. Men
and women have complementary qualities both of which are necessary for
a marriage and for the raising of children. Besides, gay marriages will not
result in the birth of children, unless of course cloning is allowed. This will
exacerbate the problem of under population in many developed countries.
However, in denying gays the right to get married, another set of
problems emerges.
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4 The private ownership of cars should be restricted. Vehicle pollution has
resulted in many environmental problems. In addition, resources are
wasted as large quantities of metal etc are required for the production of
cars and of course, the oil that is used up cannot be replaced. The
economic cost is also worrying. The hours lost in traffic jams result in the
loss of productivity and this may also lead to health problems, including
stress related diseases.
However, the political, economic, social and cultural advantages of
the motor car cannot be denied.
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Evidence
Tips
Must be accurate, the source stated and plausible
The evidence should match the point it is used to substantiate e.g.
general points must be matched with general examples and evidence.
Use a range of examples (approx 3) to make a general point
Use a more detailed example to make an in-depth point
Avoid logical fallacies e.g. sweeping statements, false claims etc
(Practice3 -6)

Practice 3
MATURITY
Avoiding logical fallacies
Read through the types of logical fallacies and how to qualify them.
Types of logical fallacies
Hasty generalizations
Canteen food is always tasteless
School is boring
Stereotypes
Girls with long hair are very feminine
All men are male chauvinist pigs
Women drivers cannot be trusted
Westerners are sexually permissive
Oversimplification
Whats wrong with this place? Just one thing. Everything is so competitive.
There is only one thing wrong with him. He is a good for nothing.
False authority
Dr x has a PhD. Therefore, he would be a good president.
Person A: What makes you say that Western Culture is decadent?
Person B: Its in the newspapers!
False use of statistics
Super Slim Artificial Yogurt will help you lose weight because it has only
50 calories per ounce.
Irrelevance
Crime and delinquency are on the rise. Therefore we had better abolish
the income tax.
Cause and effect
The crime rate has increased. This is because there are more violent
shows on television.

He drank essence of chicken yesterday. Therefore he will do well in


todays test.

To avoid logical fallacies, use plenty of qualifying terms e.g. tends to , correlated
to , seems to, possibly, largely, probably, is likely to etc. Avoid absolute terms.
Qualify the following statements:
e.g.

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15

Logical Fallacy:
Canteen food is always tasteless
Qualified Statement: In my opinion, canteen food tends to be
tasteless/Sometimes, canteen food can be tasteless.
Working conditions could be improved if women workers did not take
so much time off for sick leave.
She couldnt sleep last night, so she failed the quiz this morning.
The United States, in formulating and applying its future foreign policy
must choose between a return to strict isolationism and total global
commitment.
People are either good or bad.
Caucasians have better physical features than Asians.
Use Impulse perfume and every man will fall at your feet.
Women are weaker than men.
Everyone who works for Microsoft is rich; the median salary is
$100,000 a year.
Women are either pretty or intelligent but never both.
Behind every successful man is a woman.
The law is a good one because President X introduced it and he is a
good and honest man.
Ban aerosol sprays or well all die of skin cancer.
America is a land of easy-spending millionaires, sexy blondes,
fabulous Park Avenue apartments and easy morals. How do I know? I
watch American movies!
Members of race X are all stingy.
X had an affair with his secretary. Therefore he will not make a good
president.

Practice 4
Write a short paragraph of about 250 words on Junior College Life. Make sure
that your paragraph does not contain any logical fallacies. Qualify all your
statements.

Practice 5
Bring newspapers to class. Pick out logical fallacies in newspapers, especially
advertisements and qualify them.
Practice 6:
Most dramatic student in the class to read out passage. Group work: Pick out
fallacies and rewrite a qualified version and present. Explain your qualifications.
1
Women in the past they were not at all well educated. And why was this
so? Ill tell you why! The reason is the prejudice of the men the male chauvinist
pigs who looked down upon women and consider themselves so much superior
than women. (No basis at all for this, as we all know!) The universities were
reserved only of the men and the women had to stay at home as domestic
servants. Even those who were very intelligent and capable of going to the best
universities, they were deprived of this opportunity whereas the men, those who
wee not so intelligent they could go into the university. Now is this fair, I ask
you?
2
The government should watch out for foreign elements that do harm to
the country. They are disgusting in their moral behaviour and have no sense of
morality whatsoever. They do not think twice about all sorts of sexual sins! They
indulge in orgies and bring with them drugs and filthy magazines and so our
young people join them in this terrible mess of corruption!
3
Many countries fail to co-operate with others because they only think of
their own interests and are very selfish and self-centred, not caring for what
happens to other countries as long as they themselves are doing well. They will
even wage war against another country and drain it of its last ounce of blood and
make thousands of people suffer. Down with these utterly selfish countries!
Taken from The General Paper by Catherine Lim

Additional Exercises:
Practice 7
Relevance
Which of the three paragraphs is of significant importance to the title i.e. relevant.
What makes it relevant?
Title: If life were one long holiday, would leisure then become as tedious as
work?
Paragraph 1: Sometimes people feel useless and unimportant when they do not
work. This is this is because work increases ones self respect and self-worth.
When we work, we usually put into use our skills, talents and ideas. This will help
us derive a sense of satisfaction and achievement. We can also be proud that we
are contributing in our own special way to the progress of society.
Paragraph 2: If life were one long holiday and people do not need to work, the
more active ones will surely go around looking for something to do to occupy
their time. This may increase the number of people, especially youngsters getting
into all sorts of mischief. They may go around damaging public property, drinking
or fighting. As the saying goes, an idle mind is the devils workshop. Therefore
work is important as it prevents people from getting into mischief.
Paragraph 3: If life were one long holiday, there is the danger that people may
find leisure increasingly boring and unchallenging. Yet another day of leisure may
present itself as something tedious rather than exciting or relaxing. One may
actually miss the excitement of meeting deadlines, clinching deals, improving the
performance of ones company or even the satisfaction of having done a job well.
On the other hand, a day of leisure may not give the same challenge and
excitement as one knows full well that the consequence of not performing at a
friendly game with friends or having to cancel a high tea appointment does not
have an economic impact on oneself or ones country.

Practice 8
Organisation (within the essay)
The following points for the topic Animals in the Service of Man are all
mixed up. Re-arrange the points in 3 or 4 paragraphs.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12

Source of food for men, for instance, cows give beef, sheep mutton.
Elephants are used in Burma to draw heavy logs of wood from the
timber forests.
Horses have been very useful to men as means of fast transportation;
history full of examples of war fought on horseback.
Hides from cows are used for leather goods such as shoes and bags;
wood from sheep is used for clothes, carpets and rugs.
Dogs, cats, birds are valuable as pets and companions, especially to
children and old, lonely people
In the very difficult terrain of the Andean mountains, sure-footed
animals such as he yaks serve as beasts of burden.
Without the camel, transportation and communication in the sandy
deserts would not have been possible.
Animals are also used in scientific research and experiments
invaluable to man in this way- save him from fatal diseases- monkeys,
guineas pigs, rats often used in medical research.
In the cold, ice-bound lands of the north, the Eskimos move about in
sleds drawn by large dogs called huskies.
Monkeys have been used in space research.
The fur of animals such as the ermine and chinchilla are very beautiful
and rank highly in the world of fashion.
Water buffaloes, oxen and horses have been used in farming from time
immemorial.

Taken from The General Paper by Catherine Lim

(Practice 9)
Organisation within the essay
In the following essay question, For what purposes might the developing nations
reasonably expect to receive financial help from the more developed? the points
have been neatly arranged in paragraphs. However, the order of the paragraphs
could be better. Discuss and re-arrange the paragraphs, giving your rationale.
First paragraph:
A developing country may need a large sum of money to develop its culture and
to instill in its people a sense of national pride. May not have the money therefore depends on financial assistance from the more developed countries.
Second Paragraph:
In times of national catastrophes, such a natural disasters, developing nations
can reasonable expect financial help-large amounts of money needed to help
victims and repair damage caused.

Third Paragraph:
When a developing country needs to build up its defence system. Threats of
aggression from a neighbouring country.
Fourth Paragraph:
When capital is required for necessary industrialization programmes and the
developing country does not have this capital, for instance programmes to build
hydroelectric power stations.
Fifth Paragraph:
When the developing country is dependent on agriculture and needs money to
increase its agricultural productivity, as through the building of canals, fertilizer
plants etc.
Taken from The General Paper by Catherine Lim

Practice 10
Adequacy: Ensuring a wide range of points
The following is a summary of points contained in an essay written by a student.
The question was What schemes for ensuring an adequate water supply have
been, or might be put into operation in your country? The essay, though
satisfactory in its expression and organization, was given a low grade because of
inadequacy of points. Can you explain why this essay was inadequate?
Do an essay outline that is relevant and which covers a wide scope.
Introduction

Some sentences describing the necessity of water to life


for drinking, washing, cooking also for agriculture,
industries

First paragraph

Detailed description of Singapores water supply its


reservoirs details and statistics about location and
reservoirs

size of

Second paragraph Description of problem of shortage of water dry season,


little rainfall in addition, wasteful habits of some
people in
their use of water
Third paragraph
drinking
Fourth paragraph

Description of a reservoir in Singapore Kranji its


capacity steps taken to ensure that water is fit for
even without being boiled.
Description of governments measures to make people use
water economically e.g. Save Water Campaigns

Taken from The General Paper by Catherine Lim