Writing Essays for the TEM 4 http://krigline.com/Write_Essays.htm In 2005, students have 45 minutes for the writing portion (35 minutes for the essay plus 10 for the note). The essay is to be around 200 words; the note 50-60 words. This is worth 25% of the test grade. Success comes from imitating the English-style structure: Writing a clear topic sentence and giving support. You do not necessarily have to provide brilliant development, but it is important that your support has to do with your topic sentence…the STRUCTURE and GRAMMAR are the most important.
Format Introduction (2-3 sentences introducing the subject and giving a preview/outline of the essay) bullet Topic sentence + support Topic sentence + support (plus additional support paragraphs as needed) bullet Conclusion (restate your subject and summarize the support; sometimes this paragraph is incorporated with the final support paragraph)
Example Subject: Studying Abroad With the development of china’s economy, parents have become more willing to send their children to study abroad. Some people believe that studying abroad has some disadvantages, like a great expense and loneliness. However, others think studying abroad has far more advantages.
<ul><li>First of all, studying abroad can broaden students’ minds and open their eyes. Students go abroad to study different cultures, advanced knowledge and various views. All of these help students to learn about the world by a new way. </li></ul><ul><li>In addition, studying abroad can also improve students’ English. Students are in an ideal environment to improve their English. The native speaker can help them with their pronunciation and grammar. The most important thing is that English will surround students most of the time during their studies. </li></ul>
Example Finally, studying abroad can help students to form an independent character. Since students study abroad alone, they have to decide everything by themselves; although they will be more or less homesick, they will gain a lot. Studying abroad can help students broaden their minds, open their eyes, improve their English and form an independent character. Therefore, many parents in China believe that studying abroad is important for their children’s future.
Issues while writing… 1. Things to avoid a) “In my opinion” “I believe…” b) I/me/my writing (academic essays should not have personal references)
Issues while writing… 1. Things to avoid c) sexist language (don't write he when you mean he/she--or change the sentence so you can write they; write salesperson instead of salesman, etc.) d) “and so on” “etc.” and other lazy/vague ways to end a sentence; remember that “such as” or “for example” already tell the reader your list is incomplete, so you don’t need “etc.”
Issues while writing… 1. Things to avoid e) overstatement, such as “everybody knows that…” or “it is universally understood…” or “everybody respects an honest man”
Issues while writing… 1. Things to avoid f) some Chinglish is used so often in Chinese that you might want to use it on the exam (if you think the grader expects it). For example: --Sounds awkward to me: With the carrying out of the policy of reform and opening up, China has… --Slightly less awkward: Due to the policy of reform and opening up, China has… --Better: Due to the policy of reform and openness, China has…
Issues while writing… Tricky verb tenses: a) With the development of China’s economy, a father becomes more willing to send… With the development of China’s economy, fathers have become more willing to send…
Issues while writing… c) Today, studying abroad becomes a common topic of conversation… Today, studying abroad has become a common topic of conversation… Today, studying abroad is a common topic of conversation…
Issues while writing… d) The library is a good place to study. BETTER: The library provides a good study environment. OR …a good place in which to study. OR …which is used for studying. OR …a good place to do one’s studies.
Issues while writing… Common structures and words that are vague (and thus should be avoided): 1) the word “good” can usually be replaced with something more specific. 2) any sentence that starts with “It is,” such as “It is good to study abroad.” BETTER: “Studying abroad can provide many opportunities, such as…”
Issues while writing… 3) any sentence that starts with “There are,” such as “There are two advantages to studying abroad.” BETTER: “The two major advantages of studying abroad are…” 4) “in many ways” or “in two ways” (etc.), e.g., “Studying abroad can help students in many ways.” BETTER: “Studying abroad can help students by giving them broader insight and more knowledge.” or “Studying abroad can give students broader insight and more knowledge.”
Issues while writing… Avoid the word “may.” “ If you are honest, a boss may want to hire you.” “ If you are honest, a boss will want to hire you.” “ A boss is more likely to hire an honest person than a dishonest person.” or “If you are honest, most bosses will want to hire you.” The plural of person is people , not persons.
Issues while writing… Using MAKE Honesty doesn’t make you have success or friends (but it can help you make friends). Flour doesn’t make noodles (people make noodles, and noodles are made of flour). --Trees and flowers don’t make up the scenery—they are part of the scenery. --Protection and helpfulness don’t make up the important similarities between NPU and the military (they are two of the important similarities…)
Issues while writing… Avoid Rhetorical questions. It is alright to say one, but asking questions often leads the reader away from your topic.
Issues while writing… Regarding “in addition” vs. “besides” Use IN ADDITION or FURTHERMORE to indicate that you are adding a new point. BESIDES means more of the same, or indicates that what is about to be said ties logically into what has already been said. In addition and besides are NOT interchangeable, even though they sometimes can be used in the same way! Besides and what’s more are interchangeable, though what’s more is particularly informal (I advise students to avoid it when writing). (Also note that "beside" does not have an "s" when it is used as a preposition to mean “next to”; e.g., beside the bed.)
Issues while writing… IF and WHETHER ► “ No matter ^ it is sunny or rainy, soldiers stand guard.” (WRONG) --No matter IF it is sunny or rainy, soldiers stand guard. --Whether it is sunny or rainy, soldiers stand guard.
Issues while writing… Using WILL can make the reader think you are only talking about the future. Use the present tense for annual, continuous or automatic things in the present AND future. ► “ Students will throw away empty bottles, creating pollution.” (it is a continuous activity, not a future one) ► “ This website will offer you free greeting cards.” (This can mean they DO NOT offer these NOW.) --Better: This website offers you free greeting cards (i.e., cards are offered now AND in the future).
Issues while writing… not only…but also This implies that the reader already understands your first point, so it would be hard to use it to start your first support paragraph. Also note the following rules about how to use these words, depending on where they are in your sentence (esp. note what the verbs come before/after):
Issues while writing… subj + V + not only + adjective, but + (optional pronoun+V) + also + adjective… Students are not only young, but they are also open-minded. Students are not only young, but also open-minded. (they are is optional) subj + not only + (V+adv) but + (optional pronoun) + also + (V+adv)
Issues while writing… Kids not only play hard, but they also study hard. Kids not only play hard but also study hard. (the comma drops when they is omitted) Not only + V + subj + adj, but (required pronoun+V) + also + adj… Not only are students young, but they are also open-minded.
Issues while writing… WRONG: Not only are students young, but also open-minded. WRONG (this sentence needs they are) Not only + V + subj + (V+adv), but (required pronoun) + also + (V+adv)… Not only do kids play hard, but they also study hard. WRONG: Not only do kids play hard, but also study hard. WRONG (this sentence needs they)
Issues while writing… How to end an essay: In conclusion, … (the is the best ending if you are concluding) In short,… (OK, but I don’t like it) Therefore,… (this is the best ending if the cause and effect is clear) So,… (weak; avoid it)
Issues while writing… In a word,… (don’t use it) To conclude,… ( it sounds funny to me) In summary,… (OK I suppose) To summarize,… (I think this sounds a little better than “In summary” IF you are really summarizing!) In sum,… (don’t use it)
Practice Topic: Honesty Write 200 words explaining the importance of honesty.