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TEACHER’S
NOTES
2015 ISSUE FOUR & FIVE

THE ESSAY ISSUE

Secondary variables expand or specify the scope of examples. and formulate points for their essays. It may be useful to list down the defining characteristics of the given context(s) during the planning stages of writing. ‘should’ and ‘must’ help generate two opposing responses to the question (i. the more assumptions there are to be addressed – and thus the more complex the argument required. The main variable is identified by its direct association with the polarity word and hence constitutes the main tension or debate in the question. and so on). ‘can’. does/does not. and they change the tone of the question and the extent to which one’s point of view need to be argued. Constants can also appear as given context(s). INTRODUCTION 02. and some questions contain multiple constants. ‘does’. There are usually multiple variables in a question: a main variable and other secondary variables. They can be the contexts of time (‘nowadays’. As a general rule of thumb. The purpose of this framework is to help students break down the questions into key terms or clauses. is/is not. Variables: Variables are words that determine the scope of the argument. and conditions that are relevant to the discussion. while arguing that it has. Not all questions contain constants. ‘has’. Questions phrased as statements may need to be paraphrased so that the polarity word (and the main variable) can be identified in these statements that are central to the question. ‘today’s world’).e. PVC FRAMEWORK For the teacher’s notes of this essay issue. has a future aspect to it. The main variable is either the key issue that needs to be resolved or the key value that needs to be established by the end of the argument. ‘never’. We believe close analysis of the wording of questions will aid students in understanding the tension. space (‘Singapore’. or does. Some commonly seen constants are ‘only’. We term questions without constants ‘basic polarity questions’. Questions that contain specified context(s) require students to answer the question within the parameters of that context(s). scope and demands of the debate they are engaging in. contexts. understand the questions’ requirements. Constants: Constants are terms that change the meaning of the question by introducing specific assumptions or additional requirements that need to be addressed in the argument. Arguing about what should be or must requires considering why it is ideal or what creates the imperative. Students must answer the question they have selected based on the polarity. . or will. as this will ensure relevance of their responses. Here is a review of the PVC Framework: Polarity: Every argument begins with a basic polarity of two sides. ‘your society’) or a combination of both. focuses on the present. ‘will’. ‘really’.NOTES 01. Arguing that something can. the more constants there are in a question. Words such as ‘is’. or ‘ever’. These contexts highlight where the debate is most relevant and helps to generate insightful points or perspectives. we provide you with the question analyses of the 2014 ‘A’ level GP essay questions using the PVC (polarity-variable-constant) Framework.