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WRITING THE INTRODUCTION

Introductions are very important. Cambridge examiners write a comment next to


introductions and language errors in introductions are heavily penalized (because
candidates are supposed to be still fresh and at their linguistic best!)

Tips:
Define ambiguous and vague key terms (avoid defining commonly understood
words/concepts)
Qualify or recognize the danger of absolute terms. If you agree with a sweeping
statement, your essay is inherently flawed.
Define the task(s) the title sets and the issues this/these task(s) involve(s).
However, avoid obvious statements such as In this essay. Im going to discuss.
Open up the question for discussion. Avoid merely restating the question.
May include general background information where this is relevant to the points
above. Giving a brief historical outline, ending with the present situation would be
useful for questions that emphasize today, modern society or some form of
contrast with the past.
Background information must lead back to the question to maintain relevance.
Lead into the approach to be taken in the body of the essay.
Keep introductions brief.

Practice 1:
1 Assess whether the following definitions meet the above requirements.
E.g.
a) Should drugs be legalized?
According to the Collins Dictionary, drugs can be termed as chemicals given to an
individual in order to treat or prevent a particular illness or disease. But drugs can also be
termed as substances that are illegal in many countries, which some people smoke or
inject into their blood system to cause a stimulating effect as they are addicted to it.
(Definition of ambiguous term) Therefore before discussing the above issue, it is
essential that we distinguish between the two categories of drugs. (Defines task/opens
up question)
b) Terrorism is the greatest threat today. How far do you agree with the statement?
Terrorism, in my opinion, is a great though not the greatest threat today. (
). The
menacing nature of terrorism is very real as the terrorists are not unwilling to resort to all
manner of violence to put their point across. This results in political instability and a low
morale in the country, which in turn adversely affects economic development. (
)
However, I feel that terrorism is not the greatest threat today as there are other threats
that may be as dire as that posed by the terrorists. (
)
c) Examine the factors which have contributed to the changing role of women in
society.
In Stone Age times, women played second fiddle to men because brawn was necessary
for survival. So Stone Age man protected his mate who in return kept cave for him:
cooking, sewing clothes and rearing children. Thus with mans brawn and womans
domestic role, civilization advanced. But as early as the 18 th century, women realized that
in a civilized world they need not play second fiddle, all the time but could also play a few
solo pieces. (
) In 1972, Mary Willstoneham wrote a short treatise
entitled Vindication of Womens Rights. It was one of the first harbingers of the end of
male supremacy.
(
)
1

d) Discuss the possibility of the outbreak of a nuclear war.


Jonathan Schell in his book The Fate of the Earth wrote, The machinery of destruction is
complete, poised on a hair trigger waiting for some misguided or deranged human being
or some faulty computer chip to send out the instructions to fire. (
) It
is certainly true that a nuclear war could start by accident, for example, sparked by a
terrorist incident; politicians may miscalculate or momentarily confuse their own or their
nations destiny with that of mankind and start a war without reason; or a computer mixup(
)
e) Terrorism is a major threat in the modern world. Discuss.
It was another vibrant night in Bali. The pubs were filling up. Suddenly, just after 10
oclock, explosions ripped through the crowded pubs. In the horror and confusion, many
people lay dead and many more were injured. It was an Al Jemaiah bomb attack. (
)
Such are the dramas of terrorism which are flashed on to our television screens and
headlined in the newspapers throughout the world. It is not just the violence which shocks
the world, but the fact that this violence is used so indiscriminately. (
)
Terrorists threaten not only the lives but the way of life of us all. (
)
Practice 2
Explain the flaws in the following introductions and how they are likely to lead to essays
that are narrow in scope, logically flawed or irrelevant.
Money is the root of all evil. Do you agree? (GCE 1991)
Money is a form of exchange for goods and services. It is essential for the worlds
economy to function. It is indeed true that money makes the world go round. Evil are the
wrong deeds that people do. I agree that money is the root of all evil.
Is sport too closely linked to money these days? (GCE 2001)
Sport has evolved from a substitute for hunting to a recreational activity to an economic
venture today. Sport is intricately linked to money in many ways, whether it be through
sponsorship of sporting events, product endorsements, media revenue or other ways.
Thus, the link between sport and money is indeed very close.
Young people are slaves to fashion. Discuss. (GCE 1992)
Young people can be defined as teenagers between the age of eleven and twenty. Young
people like to be trendy and will try to keep up with the latest fashion to remain popular.
Fashion can be defined as wearing clothes that are seen as keeping up with the times. It
can also include accessories such as bags, shoes and earrings. There are many reasons
why young people are slaves to fashion.
Is the idea of having one partner for life still a realistic one? (2001)
A partner is a person who accompanies a person throughout his or her life. A partner can
be a marriage partner or even a business partner. The great religions of the world all
advocate having one marriage partner for life. Having one partner for life is more moral
and should be the option taken.

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