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Summary of Consultation : Is a single example good enough to represent a large group or society ?

Sometimes all we know is a single example to support a particular point.

Is that example good enough to reflect society ? Or is it a just a one-off case ? Will the reader or marker think that you are going down a slippery slope, or exaggerating, with this single example ?

The answer is : It depends on how you phrase it.

Here are just a few pieces of sample writing that show how single examples can actually be phrased sensibly.

Sample 1 : If you know enough, please use iconic or quintessential / typical examples, rather than obscure ones. As always, present your paragraph from general explanations to your specific example, then return to the general point smoothly.

The Singapore government is more appreciative of the arts than it has ever been. It has invested hundreds of millions worth of dollars to build infrastructure, attract world-class acts and groom talent from among its people. One of its most significant developments in the last decade is the Esplanade, Theatres-by-the-Bay. Besides its unique, durian-like design that is part of the evolving city panorama, it is sufficiently equipped to meet the logistical and technical demands to stage internationally-acclaimed performances like Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. It has studios for smaller scale performances and jamming sessions too, suitable for local artists who need this platform. The Esplanade is representative of the work the government has put in, and is among many other on-going initiatives to support the arts scene in Singapore.

Sample 2 : Show that the example, although extreme, is reflective of a growing trend / significant development. There is still a need to return to show how that one example is linked to larger society, hence making your point convincing.

Young people today are bold. This is not so much because they have become braver than their predecessors, but because technology has created a new way for them to release that impulse to face challenge. Technology is especially valuable because it is a domain that fewer older people (their parents) have more knowledge about than the young themselves. The perception of greater liberty, less control and more privacy emboldens them further. We see this in the case of the infamous sex blog of a law school scholar in Singapore. When found out, he came across as unremorseful in his online exchanges with other netizens. While his case appears extreme, and not all young people film or upload pictures of themselves in compromising situations, we cannot deny that this is probably just the tip of the iceberg. Many other young people use social media to push the boundaries of right and wrong in society in their own way – some for constructive purposes, others just to satiate narcissism.


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