Writing a good General Paper (GP) essay is no different from any other piece of writing. The skills that you will pick up from your GP classroom are skills that you will require when you move on to the university. Thus learning to write a good GP essay is simply learning to write well in any context.
In every GP essay, we need to craft an introduction. This can be a tedious and frustrating process, especially in an examination setting. A good introduction can make or break an essay. The 3 main things you need to do to create a good introduction are:
- to set the CONTEXT of your essay
- to DEFINE the question
- to state your STAND in relation to the question
1) Set the CONTEXT of your essay
This is an opening statement. You can use this opening statement as a selling point or for your essay. If you intend to do so. then this first line has to attract readers to want to read on. For example, if the question were:
‘Computers and mobile phones have turned us into poorer and not better communicators’. Do you agree with this statement and why?
Then your selling point opening statement could sound something like this:
We could argue that the first computer was the abacus or its descendant, the slide rule, invented by William Oughtred in 1622. However, the first computer to resemble the ones we have today was invented by Charles Babbage somewhere between 1833 and 1871. The first mobile phone, the DynaTAC by Motorola, was introduced in 1973. Since the first models of the computer and mobile phones, subsequent reiterations have seen significant improvements… …
As you can see, you will require a large amount of general knowledge to pull this off. If you are unable to come up with this opening statement, you can come up with something simpler but just as effective in setting the tone for your essay.
It is extremely true that computers and mobile phones have reduced the need for people to interact on a personal level. In the past, you would require days or even weeks to send someone a message via traditional mail. Today, a simple email or message over the mobile phone network will suffice.
2) DEFINE the question
Simply put, it is where you paraphrase the question and show the examiner that you understand the question. Be mindful that you should only explain the key words in the question. For example, if the question were:
‘Euthanasia is murder’. Discuss
Then you should show the examiner that you understand the term euthanasia and touch on the definition of murder. You could define the question as such:
Euthanasia, or mercy killing, is often a controversial subject in many societies. Some view it as murder, or the premeditated intent to kill.
This shows your understanding of the term euthanasia and also you clearly defined the term murder. This sets you up for an essay whereby you can discuss what constitutes mercy killing and your essay should touch on the consent of the patient and how this differs to a victim in a murder crime.
3) State your STAND in relation to the question
Some may refer to this as the thesis statement. It lets the examiner know which side of an argument you are about to take in the body of your essay. For example, if a question were to ask:
‘Violence in the world has increased and is largely the media’s fault’. How far do you agree?
You can write something like:
I agree to a large extent with the statement. Violence has indeed increased and in most cases, the media is to blame.
In conclusion, writing a good introduction is important to a good GP essay. However, do not be too overly concerned with having all your introductions turn out in the same structure which I have just mentioned. Remember that your writing should be natural. Good essays are clear and concise in their arguments and you should think of the introduction as a prelude to the main body of your essay.