Notes on GCSE Question 6

Question 6 (24 marks, 35 min, 400-450 words)

You will be asked to argue/persuade on the topic given. Similarly to the question 5, your first step is to identify: the purpose, the audience and the form. 
You may be asked to write a letter, an article/blog entry or a leaflet. 

Writing to argue
  1. Spend a few minutes to decide on your position. You may completely agree, completely disagree or partially agree. 
  2. Draw a spider diagram to find reasons behind you point of view, including counterpoints.
  3. Decide which points you are going to use, how to group them together and how to order them. 
  4. Write the plan of the essay:
  • Introduction - comment on the topic and give your firm opinion about it.
  • Counter- argument - this will show that you considered the other point of view and dismissed it because your point of view is stronger. 
  • Your point of view - a few points why you agree/disagree.
  • Develop your point of view. Reflect on wider, moral implications of the topic, such as the moral or social issues. 
  • Conclusion. 
You may choose to combine your argument and counter-argument throughout the response but it is a more challenging approach. 

Think about the tone you are going to adopt. Depends on the topic and your point of view your choice of vocabulary, choice of tone should invisibly help you convey your thoughts. You may be: angry, mocking, sarcastic, ironic, serious, light-hearted, reassuring, enthusiastic, disbelieving, cautious etc. Give your feelings to the topic and you will find the right words easier and faster.

Now it is time to prepare the language tools.
  1. Choose the tone of your essay.
  2. Prepare evidence: opinions that sound like facts, facts, statistics and anecdotes - you may invent your own 'facts and statistics' but they need to sound believable. 
  3. Similarly to the question 5 - note down some language features to use, the strong language which help you convince your readers. 
  4. Write an engaging opening sentence and the first paragraph. 
  5. Remember to include discursive markers such as, however, although, similarly, in addition to, next, moreover, therefore, on the other hand, nevertheless etc.
  6. Vary your sentences, use paragraphs correctly and include your choice of the effective vocabulary.
  7. Write the whole piece and have fun!
  8. Proofread it. 

Writing to persuade

The preparation for writing to persuade are very similar to writing to argue, although the emphases focus on different techniques. 

  1. First the tone should be more passionate, emotional and direct.
  2. Usage of imperatives, direct address, questions and rhetorical questions. Sentences with 'you', 'we', 'you have to' belongs to the persuasive language. Here the link to a pdf file with more about it.
  3. Repetition of words and phrases is very useful.
In general, to be convincingly persuasive the author must appeal to one of many audience's needs.

Appeals to:
  • Emotions
  • Fears 
  • Desire to seem intelligent 
  • Need to protect their family
  • Desire to fit in, to be accepted, to be loved
  • Desire to be an individual 
  • Desire to follow a tradition 
  • Desire to be wealthy or save money 
  • Desire to be healthy  
  • Desire to look good 
  • Desire to protect animals and the environment 
  • Pride in our country 

Often other persuasive techniques can also involve an appeal.  

Inclusive and Exclusive Language: Inclusive language such as 'we', 'our', 'us', and exclusive language such as 'them' can persuade by including the reader, or by creating a sense of solidarity or a sense of responsibility. The reader may think that it is written directly for him. Desire to be an individual, and desire to seem intelligent.  Example: 'People like you and me don't want to see this happen.' 

Before you start mocking or criticise any group, flatter the reader, and make sure that he is absolutely on your side. First use carrot and then a stick :)

Rhetorical Questions: Rhetorical questions are questions that do not require and answer and are asked for effect only. They engage the audience and encourage them to consider the issue and accept the author's answer, or imply that the answer is so obvious that anyone who disagrees is foolish. Example: Do we want our children growing up in a world where they are threatened with violence on every street corner? 

Rhetorical questions force the audience to think.
Some question starters… How could you (we) possibly…, Do you really think…, Do you want to be part of…, Could your conscience cope with…, Is it really worth…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



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