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Janice glanced worriedly at her wrist watch. The time was already ten past seven. She had twenty minutes to make it to school on time. The sky was overcast. A slight drizzle rained down like a mist. It started raining cats and dogs as Janice reached the bus stop. She had ignored her mother’s advice to take an umbrella with her. She wondered how she was going to make itto school in the rain.

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Essay Topics

Best essay topics for 2023 in singapore.

As Singapore continues to advance as a leading nation, navigating the ever-changing essay topics for 2023 will be paramount. From economics and technology to current affairs and media trends, staying ahead of the curve may require an expert eye on this dynamic landscape. Our experts have carefully curated ideas that can help you craft essays with precise clarity in order to stay up-to-date on some of today’s most pressing issues!

The topics are in the form of questions which can be answered and used as a title to define an essay depicting reasons. Always keep in mind that the three essential skills for writing an essay are research skills, writing skills, and analytical skills.

Essay Topics

Singaporean writers have a unique opportunity in 2023 to take advantage of the wealth of essay topics available. From cultural influences and national developments, to economic growth and technological advances, there is an abundance of intriguing subject matter for authors to explore. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or searching for debate-sparking ideas, this list provides endless possibilities that promise captivating stories worth reading.

Essay topics by category:

Controversial argumentative essay topics:

It consists of a wide list of topics that are very fascinating to discuss with:

Simple essay topics related to the proposal:

The idea behind choosing a proposal essay topic for writing is to execute it in practice:

Informative essay topics for college students:

It aims at providing relevant information on the important trending issues:

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Compare and contrast essay topics for grade 8 scholars:.

The idea is to make a comparison between two issues and things and come up with a significant result:

Narrative essay topics for kids of all level:

Make your own story on the topic by using your own thoughts and experiences:

Cause and affect English essay topics:

The idea to write the causes and effects of certain problems trending in the society or country:

Trending Persuasive essay topics:

Latest Argumentative essay topics 2023:

Essay topics by the level of education:

Easy essay topics for college students:.

College is the last step of study life, so the requirements get increases. Students have to write a high level of college essays to show their presence:

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Free list of high school essay topics:.

When it comes to high school students of Singapore, there are never-ending topics to write about:

Few more topic ideas on Elementary and middle schools essay topics:

Sometimes the grades of the students depend on the level of the topic they select to write. You can ask us for more topic ideas by our expert writer’s team:

Essay topics by subject:

Art, music, and movie essay topics for singapore students in 2023:.

Travel relates essay topics:

New Essay topics on health issues:

Science and technology essay topics ideas :

Social media essay topics list:

Easy essay topics on High school life:

Essay topics on the field of education :

Top 10 Funny and interesting essay topics:

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Writing discursive compositions (secondary level) (part 1): differences between discursive and argumentative essays.


I am going to start a series of blog posts on discursive writing at the secondary level, beginning with this post on the differences between discursive writing and argumentative writing.

I hope that this series of post will benefit secondary school students in Singapore who have a strong interest in penning such essays but lack the technical and/or  logical reasoning skills to write a remarkable piece of writing. Please note that discursive essays are at times known as “expository essays”, although I prefer to use the term “discursive”, and will be using this term for this blog.

Discursive and argumentative essays are very different.

For starters, let’s look at the obvious differences and defining signatures of discursive and argumentative essays in typical test and exam questions (Note: please click on the image for an enlarged, clearer version):

Discursive and Argumentative essays2

To better illustrate the differences between discursive and argumentative essays, let’s take a look at some essay questions:

Discursive essays:

The ideal goal.

“Life is not fair.” Discuss.

“Kindness begets kindness.” What are your views ?

What are your thoughts on introducing ebooks to the young?

What can we do in order to live healthy and fulfilling lives? ( Note: This type of questions usually ask for the writers’ solutions and their reasons for such solutions. The other alternative voice would be to live unhealthy and/or unfulfilling lives,which is not logical or moral. Hence, this is a type of discursive question that moves in only one direction. Another example would be “What are the possible solutions to eliminate or reduce haze in Singapore?” )

Argumentative questions:

“Teachers should always trust their students.” Do you agree?

“Teenagers should be closely supervised by their parents.” Do you agree?

Are children from rich families always happier than those from impoverished families?

Is technology definitely beneficial to the young?

( Note: the third and fourth questions above use “absolute terms” such as “always” and “definitely” to compel writers to write only in a specific direction reinforcing a specific stand.And because it needs to be persuasive, these are argumentative questions, and not discursive questions. )

Up till this point, one can observe that discursive and argumentative essays can easily be differentiated with markers such as “discuss”, “what are your views”, “do you agree” etc.

However, sometimes, the questions cannot be differentiated into discursive and argumentative writing that easily. 

For example, consider the following questions:

1. Are leaders born or nurtured?

2. Is it necessary to control the media?

3, Are experiences on a job more important than paper qualifications?

4. Is youth an advantage or disadvantage?

5. Is it better to have one long school vacation than to have a few short ones?

For the five questions above, students have the flexibility to write a discursive essay stating both sides of the arguments, or an argumentative essay with strong emphasise on the students’ stand.

As to which is a better choice, it is actually a personal choice of students, assuming that they have the ability to write both types of writing well.

In my next blog post, I will be focusing on the rationale of writing discursive essays . 

Stay tuned.

Author’s background:   Patrick Tay is an English Writing Specialist who lectures in various polytechnics in Singapore, and coaches students in English as a private tutor. His professional services can be found here . 

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2 thoughts on “ Writing Discursive compositions (Secondary level) (Part 1): Differences between discursive and argumentative essays ”

Just curious, the writer may agree or disagree with the statement ” Life is not fair”. Why is this then a discursive essay rather than an argumentative one or one that can be both?

If the writer puts forward a strong opinion to support a side to this statement, does that not make the essay an argumentative one?

Like Liked by 1 person

You are right. Thanks for the question.

And apologies for the delay in my reply.

Do look out for the question after the quote then.

If the question is “Life is not fair. Discuss”, then a discursive essay is probably expected.

If the question is “Life is not fair. Do you agree?”, then we are probably looking at an argumentative essay.

I hope that this clarifies.

Warmest Regards, Patrick

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In Need of Argumentative Essay Format and Samples? We Got You.

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Writing argumentative essays is one of the most common requirements most students encounter in school, however sometimes it may be hard to write therefore, an argumentative essay format to guide you can come in handy.

Writing argumentative essays requires certain standards to reflect a student’s critical thinking on a given topic.

So here I will provide you the best argumentative essay guide, which gives you the important things you need to know about writing argumentative essays.

First, what is an argumentative essay ?

Argumentative essay is an essay wherein arguments are presented, usually both arguments for and against a given topic. In this type of essay, usually, a stand on the topic is provided and also counterarguments.

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WAIT! You may want to click on other helpful blog articles below!

5 tips to improve critical thinking skills in academic writing, writing academic essay: here are 4 easy steps, here’s the general argumentative essay format or argumentative essay outline:.

argumentative essay questions singapore


Although most students think introduction is the easiest part of writing argumentative essays, there are still some who fail to write introductions correctly. So…

Do not commit these common mistakes when writing introductions:

While this is the correct content of introduction:

Always include topic sentences which indicate the main idea of your paragraph.

Tip: Topic sentences most often contain signposting words or phrases that allow the current paragraph to transition well from the previous paragraph.

Example of signposting words or phrases: on the other hand, however, consequently

Not only that, your topic sentence should be followed by supporting information in order to elaborate your topic sentence. These information should contain details, facts, reasons, incidents and evidence that support your topic sentence.

  Tips on how to write conclusion correctly:

Here are 30 argumentative essay sample instructions and how to answer them:

argumentative essay questions singapore

Account for

Explain the reason for or cause for something.

Break an issue into its constituent parts. Look in depth at each part using supporting arguments and evidence for and against as well as how these interrelate to one another.

Weigh up to what extent something is true. Persuade the reader of your argument by citing relevant research but also remember to point out any flaws and counterarguments as well. Conclude by stating clearly how far you are in agreement with the original proposition.

Literally make something clearer and, where appropriate, simplify it. This could involve, for example, explaining in simpler terms a complex process or theory, or the relationship between two variables.

Comment upon

Pick out the main points on a subject and give your opinion, reinforcing your point of view using logic and reference to relevant evidence, including any wider reading you have done.

Identify the similarities and differences between two or more phenomena. Say if any of the shared similarities or differences are more important than others. ‘Compare’ and ‘contrast’ will often feature together in an essay question.

Similar to compare but concentrate on the dissimilarities between two or more phenomena, or what sets them apart. Point out any differences which are particularly significant.

Say what you think and have observed about something. Back up your comments using appropriate evidence from external sources, or your own experience. Include any views which are contrary to your own and how they relate to what you originally thought.

Critically evaluate

Give your verdict as to what extent a statement or findings within a piece of research are true, or to what extent you agree with them. Provide evidence taken from a wide range of sources which both agree with and contradict an argument. Come to a final conclusion, basing your decision on what you judge to be the most important factors and justify how you have made your choice.

To give in precise terms the meaning of something. Bring to attention any problems posed with the definition and different interpretations that may exist.

Conclude through examination of evidence.


This is to simply show how and also provide examples to illustrate.

Provide a detailed explanation as to how and why something happens.

Essentially this is a written debate where you are using your skill at reasoning, backed up by carefully selected evidence to make a case for and against an argument, or point out the advantages and disadvantages of a given context. Remember to arrive at a conclusion.

Write about a statement or a quotation that is part of the question; explain the statement or quotation in more detail and then state you point of view.

See the explanation for ‘critically evaluate’.

Look in close detail and establish the key facts and important issues surrounding a topic. This should be a critical evaluation and you should try and offer reasons as to why the facts and issues you have identified are the most important, as well as explain the different ways they could be construed.

Clarify a topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurs, or what is meant by the use of this term in a particular context. Your writing should have clarity so that complex procedures or sequences of events can be understood, defining key terms where appropriate, and be substantiated with relevant research.

Adopt a questioning approach and consider a variety of different viewpoints. Where possible reconcile opposing views by presenting a final line of argument.

Give an account of

Means give a detailed description of something. Not to be confused with ‘account for’ which asks you not only what, but why something happened.

Determine what are the key points to be addressed and implications thereof.

A similar instruction to ‘explain’ whereby you are asked to show the workings of something, making use of definite examples and statistics if appropriate to add weight to your explanation.

Demonstrate your understanding of an issue or topic. This can be the use of particular terminology by an author, or what the findings from a piece of research suggest to you. In the latter instance, comment on any significant patterns and causal relationships.

Make a case by providing a body of evidence to support your ideas and points of view. In order to present a balanced argument, consider opinions which may run contrary to your own before stating your conclusion.

Convey the main points placing emphasis on global structures and interrelationships rather than minute detail.

Look thoroughly into a subject. This should be a critical assessment and not merely descriptive.

Present, in a logical order, and with reference to relevant evidence the stages and combination of factors that give rise to something.

To specify in clear terms the key aspects pertaining to a topic without being overly descriptive. Refer to evidence and examples where appropriate.

Give a condensed version drawing out the main facts and omit superfluous information. Brief or general examples will normally suffice for this kind of answer.

To what extent

Evokes a similar response to questions containing ‘How far…’. This type of question calls for a thorough assessment of the evidence in presenting your argument. Explore alternative explanations where they exist.

There’s more! Here are important and useful rules in writing argumentative essays:

argumentative essay questions singapore

There you go! Remember to follow the general argumentative assay format and outline I provided, the guide on how to answer respective argumentative essay instructions, and the important argumentative essay writing rules!

Feel free to comment below and share to your friends on social media!

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Overview of economy of singapore country, the role of social class in singapore today, my studying experience in singapore, land use allocation beyond 2030 singapore’s strategic planning, racial harmony in singapore, the problem of parking policy in singapore, four things you can do today to secure your family’s financial future, the public support for the death penalty in singapore, the problem of high unemployment rates in singapore, economic report on singapore international airlines, from studying abroad to immigration - chinese students who came to singapore, the issue of national kidney foundation management in singapore, sustainable population for a dynamic singapore, the rise of the singapore police force, hot and humid climate of singapore, my views on singapore’s history after visiting the modern colony exhibition, singapore's population at "demographic turning point", housing affordability and homelessness in the us and singapore, india - the force source search for guest landings in the journey portion for singapore, singapore's strategic significance during the different periods, the ideas of collective conscience and ‘anomie’ regarding stress experienced by teenagers in singapore, my four years in singapore, a detailed overview about the people of singapore and its culture , art spaces in singapore, an analysis of the overall status of social workers in singapore, psychedelic drug therapy adoption in singapore, economy of singapore and singapore's tax system, developing women’s football in singapore by implementing developmental teams , singapore’s healthcare system, some key takeaways from the "modern colony" exhibit in the national museum, feeling stressed about your essay.

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Secondary 3 English Singapore: 2 Absolute Best Practices To Write A Persuasive Essay

Table of Contents

Argumentative and expository essays will form the main part of your composition writing syllabus in Secondary 3 English.

You will discover that:

A) You need actual content and not a figment of your imagination

B) You need to organise your content into concise portions – Main point and counter-argument and rebuttal point.

I will discuss 2 Steps in this blog. 

The first is, how to gather content and the second is the organisation part.

How To Gather Content For Secondary 3 English Essay

The dos and don’ts of gathering content, i) do not simply turn to google and look up a topic that matches your question. .

Most Secondary 3 English students will blindly copy the main points from there. 

If you are going to add your own views to the main points, that will be fine. 

Do not only use the points which you see there. 

Some of them may have been updated a long time ago and will no longer be applicable.

argumentative essay questions singapore

II) Be in tune with current or trending topics

Do this instead. 

If you read the newspapers, Hurray! 

If you do not, watch the latest bulletins on the news channels. 

Alternatively, go straight to Youtube and look at the dates of the news posted.  

Look out for the latest speeches or updates pertaining to your Secondary 3 English topic. 

Then match it with other news which will be in the drop list below.  

Sift through it and find something which you understand and can write. 

This will create more interest in your Secondary 3 English essay. 

You will find that your marks will definitely increase as your arguments will have more weight.

The best way to gather content over a long-term period.

I will prefer the newspapers or the news channels. 

Breaking news reports on the internet only report the most urgent and current news. 

There are several news bulletins which the internet does not cover.

Read Popular Topics such as climate change, environmental hazards, lifestyle changes, travel restrictions, health topics relating to COVID19 and etc. 

Choose your favourite topics if you do not really have a reading habit. 

I do not want to pile on the entire world’s news on you. 

All that I wish to do is to get you to select your favourite topics. 

Choose 2 areas. If you prefer technology and AI, then read those.

All of the topics listed above are very popular Secondary 3 English exam topics.  

If you prefer sports, then read that but that is not always in exam questions. 

The most popular are lifestyle topics and you will have that human-interest topic which asks you questions like ‘Why do people prefer to eat out than cook at home?’ 

This is a lifestyle topic and this means that you will have to think about what people are doing today.

Discuss modern trends and how people spend money and time. 

All these are very important. 

I will discuss next how you can organise your points into the Main Points, Counter Argument and Rebuttal. 

I will explain what this means in detail.

Organising Your Points

In Secondary 3 English, you will be doing argumentative and expository topics. 

Though narrative and reflective essays will still appear in your Secondary 3 English exams, your syllabus will focus mainly on these.

argumentative essay questions singapore

What you need to know

Firstly, as mentioned earlier, you need Content.  

That means facts, the stuff you read in the papers, etc.

Next, you need to organise this in Points.

Question: Do people prefer to eat out rather than at home?

This is an argumentative question. You need to mention peoples’ tastes.

You may organise this into 3 Main Points.

Example of Organising Main Point

Main Point 1 – People prefer to eat out as they do not have a choice. Most of us lead hectic lifestyles and we need to take our meals in between work and courses. Lunch is definitely eaten outside and some of us need to do that for dinner too as there is no time to go home and eat.

(The point here stresses on lack of time. That is the reason for people to eat out as they work.)

Main Point 2 – Many people prefer to eat out as it saves time cooking. Cooking requires someone to buy groceries from the market, cook it and then clean the kitchen. Many households comprise of working couples. There is no time for doing all of these as they will prefer to eat, do their work and rest.

Main Point 3 – The allure of fast food. Many families prefer to buy fast food. It is cheap and has packages for everyone in the family. Children prefer fast food like McDonald’s and it has great business even during Covid.

I have 3 Main Points, but I need counter arguments for each one.

argumentative essay questions singapore

How To Write Counter Argument Points

First main point – people have no time to come home and eat, counter argument 1.

The counterargument is that some people may pack their food and eat it at school or work during their break. This is useful especially when people have an acquired taste for home-cooked food. Home-cooked food can be refrigerated and heated up for them to take to work.

Second Main Point – It saves time cooking and cleaning

Counter argument 2.

Though many people prefer to eat out, it can become boring after a while due to a lack of choices. There are recipes for microwave cooking where cleaning up takes only 5 minutes. And cooking is a matter of seasoning and microwaving.

Third Main Point – The allure of fast food for families

Counter argument 3.

Though families prefer to eat at fast food outlets as their children like it, it may not be the best choice for adults. Most adults will not like McDonald’s food as it has processed meat. This is not healthy even for children. And this will not be a good idea on a daily basis.

The Counter Argument shows the Flip Side of each main point. 

That is all you need to do in Secondary 3 English. If you can do this, you are set to move on to the rebuttal point.

Rebuttal Point

You may have just one Rebuttal Point which has a strong point about why people will prefer to eat at home instead of going out. 

And it should not repeat the counterarguments.

Example of Rebuttal

Home-cooked food is usually traditional food. It comprises family recipes handed down from mother to daughter or son. Every family will have its own collection of favourite family recipes and they will prefer that to eating out as it will be more delicious. It is an acquired taste. And there is more variety now with internet recipes where many exotic menus can be downloaded for free during the Covid times. Home-cooked food is also cheaper if you take into account that groceries can be kept for a week.

This is the way a rebuttal should be done in Secondary 3 English. 

By the time you have finished it, it should be clear that though most people will prefer to eat out, some will eat at home.

Your Stand is that people will prefer to eat out as your 3 Main Points have already proven it.

These are the techniques you will need to learn and practice in Secondary 3 English. 

By the time you reach Secondary 4, you should know it by heart. 

It takes a bit of practice to get it right but your Secondary 3 English standard will improve. 

It is a bonus for those of you who do not like narrative and reflective writing. 

Just make sure that you are well informed and observe what is going on in your society. 

And apply the Secondary 3 English strategies I have discussed. 

You will reach your goal in no time. Good luck!

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[O levels] Argumentative essays

argumentative essay questions singapore

im taking my o’s this year and i need any help/advice i can get. generally, my argumentative essays has always been my weakest point and i’d usually score anywhere from 15-19 while a discursive essay would score me 18-21. its not so much the format that’s troubling me but more of the content needed to write an argumentative essay. my teacher said to read up on news articles consistently everyday but are there other tips that i could use to brush up on my content? any help would be appreciated!

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Train yourself to think well...argumentatively. What I mean is, always think about how your opinions on smth can be countered by other people, and how theirs can be countered by you.

(Skip the next 4 paras if its too much, they aren't very helpful) Additionally, try to give unique arguments. Like if the question is Discuss how the education system in Singapore negatively affects students, sure you can go on the typical bad cuz omg stress, omg too much focus on acads, but good becoz yay meritocracy.

But if you read up about the issue, you can talk about how its bad because it favours the upper class who can afford to move to locations near good primary schools and afford expensive additional tuition/cca training for their kids, and how its actually good because it offers multiple pathways to the workforce, unlike say China, where you'd just be relegated to the factories.

And then think about how everything you say can be challenged. Like does more tuition correlate to higher results always? But does it need to be always for us to say that the rich are privileged? And does offering pathways like NT->ITE benefit the academically weaker, or does it just pigeon hole them into certain kinds of jobs based on what they scored for psle?

Like there are always soooo many ways to think about something! So develop that questioning mind and like don't trust blindly anything anyone says. Also, a piece of general advice, if your essay uses examples and arguments that sound like they're from the social studies tb, pls throw it out cuz that shit be biased as hell and you need more perspectives than that.

(okay actual help starts here)

I'd recommend that you read articles on Rice Media about significant issues, and then go on to the straits times or cna (pick either one, they generally have similar stances) to read about the same issue. This way you get multiple perspectives on certain things, and you start being able to question stuff more. You also get examples to use. For specific topics, google like "Rice Media education" or "Straits times Environment" to get articles about common topics. However, O's tends to ask more philosophical questions nowadays and asks for an opinion, so you must read widely to have examples for this.

TLDR: read widely and question EVERYTHING, and do not be afraid to have a hella controversial stance

thanks for your advice! i’ll remember this when i write an argumentative essay again.

hi this may not be a popular opinion, but the general rule in my sec school (which produces high distinction rates for english each year in Os) is to avoid argumentative if you cannot write it. initially, i disagreed with this perception throughly as well but here's the rationale argumentative essays follow the PEEL structure- hence examples are crucial in securing a good grade of >24/30. however, reading widely may not be enough to allow you to cite relevant examples in your national exams because based on recent trends, the o lvl argumentative essays have been really weird and unpredictable. this is just my opinion and that of my school- it's not worth to memorize/ internalize tons of examples that you won't end up using, especially when you will be sitting for your humanities papers in the next few days. focus your energy on improving and learning more descriptive phrases, for eg, if you're good at descriptive essays. but if you really want to give it a shot, read the guardian- the writing is also excellent so you can learn from that as well atb!

i think the rule is quite reasonable. even my teacher recommended that we should do what we’re most prepared for. i want to brush up on my argumentative essay so that i could be a jack of all grades. though i’ll probably be more comfortable writing a discursive essay, having an argumentative essay as a resort to fall back on would give me some peace of mind.

I can teach you how to craft an argument in general (but works better for argumentative, i think), if you'd like. Drop me a DM and we can plan a Zoom session?

Step by step stuff. Not vague, random nonsense.

And no, im not charging. Just killing time, really.

hi. news articles may or may not help as much, bc what i mainly get from those is the evidence part to support my points. however, the bulk of my marks come from my elaboration on my said point. While doing that, it's not a write as much as i can type of thing, it's like writing as much as i feel is enough as long as it answers the question. you can stray away a bit from the factual style of writing, like giving examples and stuff, though it will help, but also try using your own words to support your point, because you dont need any evidence for that, and can help you for any essay type. oh yea, and the best way to improve at essays is to read other ppls' good essays, like good good. this is where the hard part is, because it is very hard to find those, you're not gonna find them in some popular store. schools like st nics publish books with their students essays but only for their students and it's hard to get your hands on. try to get your teacher to give you sample essays from your school, or outsource them, ask your friends from other schools as well. (samples should be a1 essays)

i’ve never thought of reading model essays before. i’ll definitely give it a go. thanks!

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7 Essay Types at the O Level

Hello everyone! I’m Mr Ng Guo Liang, an English Language Curriculum Specialist and Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty.

When I was still teaching in a secondary school, I often had to address many questions — from both parents and students alike — about the different composition or essay types being tested in the O Level examinations; chief amongst which were:

– What composition or essay types will appear in the O Level examinations? – What is the difference between a discursive essay and an argumentative essay? – What is the difference between a recount and narrative essay? – What is the difference between a descriptive and reflective essay?

There were (and are) of course, many other questions pertaining to composition writing for the O Level. The ones above however — those concerned with conceptualising the types of compositions — are the ones I have had to address the most. In this blog post therefore, I will list the various types of compositions that could be tested in the O Level English Language Paper 1, and attempt to very briefly describe each of them.

Before I continue, I must make a disclaimer. This post is not meant to be a comprehensive set of notes or guide detailing and explaining each individual essay type, their features, and nuances. I must make it very clear to my readers that what I write and elaborate on in this post should not be taken as the absolute and definitive word on the various essay types; we should note that different teachers, authors, publishers, and reference materials describe, explain, and conceptualise the various essay types differently (and very possibly with different terminology). That being said, the descriptions I’ll make in this post are meant only as a very brief explanation of the various types of essays so that you can better understand what they generally require students to address in the examination.

Should you wish to enquire about and discuss the individual essay types at a more comprehensive and deeper level than that provided in this post, you can do so with your English teacher in school, or contact us and we shall endeavour to address your queries!

In the O Level examination, the following essay types could be tested:

1. Narrative 2. Personal Recount 3. Descriptive 4. Reflective 5. Discursive 6. Argumentative 7. Two-Part Essays

1. Narrative Essays

7 Essay Types at the O Level

Narrative essays, as the name suggests, are essays that narrate a story. Most students reading this post should, by the end of primary school, be familiar with narrative essays as this is perhaps the essay type that they see the most in primary school and in creative writing classes. These essays are generally fictional in nature, and adhere to how narrative stories are developed in terms of their plots (beginning —> build up —> climax —> events that lead to a resolution —> a resolution —> and a coda/conclusion). Although these essays are generally fictional, that is not to say that students cannot use their own experiences to address the question. As long as the experience is relevant to the question, and features a rising plot which leads to a resolution, students are free to use their own experiences to inspire the narrative essay.

Sample questions:

– Freedom. – A challenge. – Write a story about kindness. – ‘It was my proudest moment.’ Write a story based on this.

2. Personal Recount Essays

7 Essay Types at the O Level

Similar to a narrative essay, a personal recount essay retells a series of events that should be written in a linear and sequential manner. A personal recount essay is not to be confused with a narrative one. Narratives are often fictional in nature, and generally adhere to a rising plot development structure (most often with a climax and resolution). Personal recounts however, are not fictional in nature, and often relate to an event or experience which is meaningful or memorable to you (in other words, you should have personally experienced or witnessed this event or experience taking place.) Depending on the question asked, it can, of course, include a plot structure with elements similar to a narrative. However, unlike narrative essay writing, it does not require students to adhere strictly to a rising plot structure.

Personal recount essays, by nature of the questions given, typically require students to include an element of reflection. This usually focuses on the impact and significance that an event or experience have on them, and their thoughts, feelings, changing beliefs and attitudes as the series of events unfold. Such reflections should be interspersed and woven in and between the paragraphs of the essay. This is different for narratives, where reflections typically appear in the coda.

– Write about an interesting day out with your family. – Write about a mistake you regret making. – Write about how you conquered one of your fears. – Write about a task which turned out to be more difficult than you initially thought. – Write about a time a great act of kindness took place.

3. Descriptive Essays

7 Essay Types at the O Level

Descriptive essays contain and emphasise descriptive elements. That is to say, such essays are written to appeal to the five senses, and should create vivid mental images for the reader when it is being read. This genre goes beyond describing physical attributes, but abstract ones as well (e.g. feelings, ideas, or a situation), and often involves reflecting on why something or someone is special or important. Unlike narrative essays, descriptive essays do not require a plot structure or storyline. This essay type most typically require students to write about and describe in detail one of the following topics:

1. An object 2. A person 3. A place 4. An event or incident 5. An experience

– Describe an individual who has had a great influence on you. – Describe a memorable celebration. – Describe your typical day in school. – Describe an object which you hold dear.

4. Reflective Essays

Reflective Essays

Essays of this genre require the students to reflect on themselves. Despite the reflective element, this is not to be confused with a personal recount. Personal recounts require students to recount and reflect on an event or experience which actually took place. Reflective essays however, are not about an event or experience, but are more about the students themselves.

Reflective essays typically require students to reflect on and make observations about their own personality and character. As such, it is more philosophical and insightful in nature.

Sample Questions:

– What would you consider to be your best and worst qualities? – What is your idea of a perfect day? – What are the type of books you enjoy reading? – Write about some of the things you value most in life.

Expository Essays: Argumentative and Discursive Essays

The next two essay types fall under the category we call ‘expositions’. An expository essay is one that explores and considers in depth the different aspects and perspectives to a particular topic or subject matter. We typically see two types of expository essays appearing in the O Level examination: argumentative and discursive essays.

5. Argumentative Essays

Argumentative Essays

In an argumentative essay, students are typically given an issue, topic, or subject matter on which they are supposed to take a clear stand, and argue for that stand they have taken. This essay type is ‘biased’ in that regard, and the aim of the essay is to persuade the reader, with the strength of their points and arguments, that the stand taken in the essay is the right one.

1. The key features of an effective argumentative essay are: 2. There must be a very clear stand taken on the topic/subject matter given in the question. 3. Points/arguments given are supported by facts, statistics, observations or examples. 4. Points/arguments appeal to logic and emotion. 5. Using a persuasive tone and register. 6. Considering the opposing views and being able to rebut or refute them – this makes an argumentative essay the most persuasive and effective.

–  ‘People can only be happy if they feel they are treated fairly.’ Do you agree (2019 O Level 1) –  Do you agree with the view that students should never engage in part-time work? –  ‘Social media has destroyed communication.’ What is your opinion? –  Who has more problems to deal with — adults or youths?

6. Discursive Essays

7 Essay Types at the O Level

Like argumentative essays, a discursive essay focuses on and concerns itself with one particular topic or subject matter. Unlike the argumentative essay however, one is not required to take a stand on the subject matter. Rather than pushing for and validating only one particular perspective, students are required instead to discuss and explore the multiple perspectives regarding the subject matter in an unbiased manner.

What is important to note is that students can state a preference for a particular perspective or viewpoint at the end of the essay, but the tone and register of the essay should not be a persuasive one (i.e. the way the essay is written should not dominantly favour one particular perspective or viewpoint over others). It should be written in a manner which reflects that all the perspectives and viewpoints you discuss in the essay are equally valid (even if you do eventually state a preference for one at the end) — in essence, an effective discursive essay is one that achieves balance .

–  What are the advantages and disadvantages of social media? –  What are the qualities a good leader should have? –  Discuss the implications of making home-based learning a permanent mode of education. –  Discuss your views on discipline.

7. Two-Part Essays

7 Essay Types at the O Level

As the name suggests, two-part essays are essays which could comprise features and elements of two different essay types. What you will typically see is a question which explicitly has two distinct and separate parts students would have to address. For instance, the question would not only require students to describe something or someone, but also require them to reflect on that particular thing they are describing in the essay; such that the essay becomes a ‘mixed-genre’ essay.

For two-part essays, students need to ensure that they address both parts of the question, and do not make the common mistake of devoting too much time and too many words to the first half of the question and neglecting the second half of the question.

– Write about a mistake you regret making. What lessons did you learn from it? – Describe an individual who has had a great influence on you. Why is this person so special to you? – Describe an object which you hold dear. Why is this object so important to you? – Write about a time you were misunderstood by others. How did you feel?

This brings us to the end of this blog post. Although there is much more to the respective essay types regarding their features and styles, I hope that I have managed to provide you with brief but lucid explanations that will make it a little easier for you to understand the various essay types that could be tested in the O Level.

Until my next post, and on behalf of the Lil’ but Mighty family, stay happy, stay safe, and stay healthy!

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Ace Your Essay Writing (O-Level/IP) Argumentative, Discursive

Ace Your Essay Writing: Argumentative, Discursive & Expository Essays is a compilation of 50 model compositions that are carefully curated and closely aligned to the Secondary, GCE O-Level and Integrated Programme (IP) English Language syllabus and curriculum.

This book is an excellent resource for all students who aspire tO write better essays by providing quality content knowledge, ideas for sound arguments, and the mastering of excellent vocabulary phrases for a more sophisticated writing style.

Commonly Tested Topics & Themes The essay questions in this book have been carefully curated and modelled closely after past-year GCE O-Level examination essay questions, as well as commonly tested Secondary and Integrated Programme (IP) schools' composition examination questions.

Real-world, current and trending examples , as well as case studies, are discussed in the essays to expose students to relevant content knowledge. The essays are also carefully organised into commonly tested themes.

Essay Planning & Writing Techniques Study notes on how to write excellent essays are provided to guide students on how to plan and write organised and well-written essays. The essays in this book are presented in varied writing styles and difficulty levels to cater to a wide range of students with different abilities.

Students can also draw reference to the essays as a guide to address the requirements of essay questions effectively. Easy-to-use writing frameworks are also shared to help students structure their essay content effectively.

Comprehensive List of Vocabulary Phrases for Writing Excellent Essays A recommended list of vocabulary phrases for essay writing has been compiled for students' easy reference and revision.

Excellent vocabulary phrases are weaved into the essays to help students visualise how these phrases can be used suitably in the correct context. This way, they will be able to adopt more sophisticated writing styles and learn to use better languaging in their essays.

ISBN: 9789814863568

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