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ANALYZING THE TITLE

Tips:
Pay close attention to the qualifiers: what aspect(s) of the topic do they focus on?
Remember! Misunderstanding of the qualifiers is the single biggest cause of
irrelevance in essays.
Practice 1
To make sure you understand the qualifiers, what is the difference between the following
titles? (Note that there is a change in the qualifiers in the second title).
E.g.
Title
1. The only worthwhile form
of discipline is selfdiscipline. Discuss. (GCE
2003)
2. Self-discipline is a
worthwhile form of
discipline. Discuss.

Difference
1. Only self-discipline is
worthwhile. Other forms of
discipline are not.

Points
Support: Only self-discipline
is worthwhile.
Counter: Self-discipline is
not the only worthwhile form.

2. Self-discipline is
worthwhile. (Assumes that
other forms of discipline are
also worthwhile although
this is not central to the
question)

Support: Self-discipline is
worthwhile.
Counter: Self-discipline has
its limitations.

Title (GCE 2004-set a)


Difference
1a To what extent are the
young in Singapore
favoured at the expense of
the elderly?
1b To what extent are the
young in Singapore
favoured?
2a Are the poor an inevitable
feature of any society?
2b Are the poor a feature of
society?
3a Can small countries have
a significant voice in world
affairs?
3b Can small countries have
a voice in world affairs?
4a Advertising encourages
a desire for products which
people do not actually need.
Discuss.
4b Advertising encourages a
desire for products. Discuss.
5a How far is recycling the
answer to the problem of
waste?
5b Is recycling the answer to
the problem of waste?

Points

For the following two questions, there is no change in the qualifiers but the difference in
wording also leads to different requirements. State the difference in requirements and the
points.
Title GCE 2004 (set a)
6a Far too much attention is
given to beauty products
and treatments. Do you
agree?
6b Discuss why far too
much attention is given to
beauty products and
treatments.
7a Discuss the importance
of religion in society today.
7b Religion is important in
society today. Discuss.
Tip:

Difference

Points

Define vague and/or ambiguous terms.


Give brief definitions only.
Generally, give the common understanding of the term first. Give other possible
definitions as additional points. If you give the other angles first and the common
definitions last, your points may be awkward.
Avoid defining commonly accepted words/concepts.

Practice 2
1. Define the following highlighted terms.
E.g.
Title
The conflicts of the next
decade are ready to erupt
and are unavoidable. Do
you agree?

Title (GCE 2003 & 2002)


1 How far can the needs of
minorities be met in
modern Singapore?
2 To what extent are small
businesses preferable to
large ones?
3 A good leader must

Definition
Not limited to conventional war
Includes areas of unrest
and arenas of terrorism
Note: If you did not include the above points but
concentrated on say, conflict between the opening up
of economies through globalisation and protectionism
you are not wrong but your points may seem awkward
because you missed out on the obvious points.
However, if you include this point as an additional
point to the first three points above, then your essay is
acceptable.
Definition

always look beyond the


needs of his or her country.
Do you agree?
4 Was life for young people
in Singapore better in the
past than it is today?
5 If people become ill it is
largely their own fault. How
far do you agree?
6 Do you agree that city life
is becoming increasingly
unattractive?

Tip:

Directional terms. Terms such as discuss, comment, do you agree etc are
used to vary the phrasing of the questions and do not read too much into them.
They do not necessarily indicate whether the essay is expository (no need for
counter points) or argumentative (counter points are absolutely necessary!).
Give counter-points when it is possible to agree or disagree with the title (i.e.
argumentative essay)

Practice 3:
1 State whether the following titles are expository or argumentative essays and whether
you need to give counter-points.
E.g.
Title
Expository or
Counterargumentative? points
necessary?
Discuss the reasons for crime among young people
Expository
No
and the ways in which they can be encouraged to
behave differently? (GCE 1993)
Title (GCE 2002 & 2004)

Expository or
Argumentative
?

Counterpoints
necessary?

1 Conformity should be the main aim of all schools.


How far is this true?
2 Is friendly rivalry ever possible?
3 Discuss the appeal and value of fantasy stories
and films.
4 Discuss the importance of religion in society today.
5 A work of art can never be valued just in financial
terms. Discuss.
6 Do the past and present offer any guidance for the
future?

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