Today we examine this essay written by one of my ex-students. It is a “Discuss 2 sides plus give your opinion” type of question. You are instructed to discuss and explain both the views mentioned. And also asked to state your opinion on the matter. Like in every essay, the Introduction will paraphrase the background lines and state your opinion. Preferably with reasons in brief. The two body paragraphs will discuss the views mentioned in the essay question. And the conclusion will rephrase the answer that has been already stated in the introduction.
I had marked my student’s essay quite strictly, as is my wont. Thankfully, however, she learned from the mistakes pointed out, and did quite well in the actual exam. This essay clearly points out some of the mistakes that students often make. I hope that after going through it, you will be able to bring about the necessary course correction.
My comments in the paper should be self-explanatory. Nevertheless, I make some observations here that may help to throw further light on the matter:
The Introduction paragraph
The introduction does paraphrase the essay background lines, though the language and the sentence structure are rather stilted. The main problem, though, is the fact that your opinion is stated in the vaguest of terms and does not help to clarify the matter in any manner. The essay question asks your opinion, but you do not give it. There are several factors that should be analyzed to reach a final verdict, you say. Of course, you should examine the various contributing factors. But what is your opinion? The introduction is silent about it. And that is your first mistake. Because the introduction must not only state your opinion but also provide us with reasons as to why you think so.
The Body section
You should always try to follow the sequence suggested by the question itself. Here the first view mentioned is about a fixed quota of punishment for different types of crimes. There is, we are told, a group of people who support this view. Therefore, your first body paragraph should ideally elaborate on this opinion. You should clearly lay down the advantages of doing so. After all, there must be solid reasons which convince a section of the society of its rightness.
The 2nd body paragraph, too, suffers from certain flaws in the writing. The language is vague, and the meaning unclear at times. Also, there are places where understanding is impeded. What do you mean by “. . . to dig it one might be successful. . ..” Or take “. . .loose the people with same motivation. . .”. Finally, we must point out the wrong usage of words (“jurisdiction”) and a relatively high frequency of other minor errors.
The concluding paragraph, thankfully, has only a couple of errors. It is my considered belief that the in a paper liberally sprinkled with such basic errors, “To recapitulate” sounds suspiciously like the candidate having learnt that phrase by heart. It would perhaps have been more natural to begin thus: “Thus, to conclude. . .”.
Always strive to be natural. Do not try to use fancy vocabulary and expressions that are not a part of your everyday vocabulary. Remember, you will never be able to fool the examiner if your command of the English language is somewhat limited. Using a “difficult” word will only make it stand out like a sore thumb. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, and it is not easy to achieve that ease. But try you must. . .
For that way lies success.