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Had a review with some J2s. Here’s the summary…

1) Don’t trivialise the interpretation of important words in the question.
Sometimes, a well-thought through interpretation can help generate points / ideas / arguments

e.g. Consider the effects of having a vibrant society.

”Vibrant” is an important word, but if you trivialise it, you may end up referring to a vibrant society as “lively and colourful” (which seems like a description of a person/personality). This sort of interpretation does not help you develop focussed arguments.

So, what to do ?

If you have an idea of what a vibrant society is, then visualise the various aspects of that society. Put your vision into clear writing.

You could end up with something like this :

A vibrant society has a “buzz” or energy about it. There is creativity and openness. As a result, there is a culture of innovation and enterprise, as well as a thriving appreciation for the arts. The people are culturally-diverse; its economy is dynamic, and political participation and debate is encouraged.

2) Go from the General/Broad to the Specific within the paragraph.

e.g. To what extent has environmental-awareness changed the lifestyle of people in your country

It is such a disappointment to read a main point/topic sentence that sounds like this :
We know that our lifestyle has changed because people use  fewer plastic bags … (the rest of the paragraph describes our efforts to bring our own bags when we shop)

This is just a small fraction of a bigger picture. So, again visualise larger trends that result in many smaller actions/outcomes in different areas of life.

You may end up with a broader point such as this :
We know our lifestyle has changed because our consumer habits have changed … (the rest of the paragraph analyses different aspects of life & illustrates with a wider variety of examples including reducing the use of plastics, buying recycled paper products or driving a fuel-efficient vehicle etc.)

3) Help your examiner “see” your answer better.

e.g. Consider the effects of … / Examine the impact of … / Is _____ more harmful and good ? (and other pros-and-cons questions)

Vary your vocab AND ensure you raise different ideas/insights

Some simple POSITIVE words :
adds to
allows us to
empowers us to

Some simple NEGATIVE words :
stops us from
denies us the chance to

Each time you vary the active positive/negative verb, you can use it as a mental prompt to say something else/new that is relevant to your point
Click here for an example 


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