For the past few weeks, we have looked at the four types of essays that are typical of the Directed Writing section. This week, we will look at some useful pointers on how to tackle this section successfully.
1. Every question at the SPM level is designed in such a way that all of the basic information a student could possibly need to answer the question can be found in the question itself. As such, the first and most important thing to do is READ THE QUESTION CAREFULLY.
In Directed Writing, the question will tell us what type of essay we are supposed to write. Look out for the phrase “write a …”. This will then determine the format of our essay. Once we have decided on this, we can start searching for the other information we need.
Sample question:You are the Head Prefect in your school. You have been asked to give a speech on the importance of having good discipline during the school assembly. Write your speech based on the points given.
From the line “Write your speech…”, we know that we are supposed to write a speech. A speech has 4 elements in its format: greetings, role, topic and ending. For greetings, look for where the speech is supposed to be presented. In this case, the speech is meant to be presented “during the school assembly“. Therefore, we must include people such as the Principal, teachers and students in our greetings. For role, look for phrases that suggest a position. In this case, it would be “Head Prefect“. For topic, look for what our speech is supposed to be about. In this case, the speech is about “the importance of having good discipline“.
Weak students sometimes cannot really remember the requirements for different types of essays. Not to worry because all you have to do is look out for this part of the question:
When writing your speech, you must:
- greet your audience
- state the purpose of your speech
- thank your audience at the end of your speech
- include all the points given
This section is usually found at the very end of the question and it reminds us that 1) we are writing a speech and 2) a speech must include a greeting, a topic and “thank you“.
2. The “When writing your … , you must:” section is also important for another reason: the final point, “include all the points given”. Do exactly that, include ALL the points given. The total amount of marks allocated for Directed Writing is 35 and out of the 35 marks, 12 marks are given for content, all of which are already provided in the question. Our job here is just to take those points and use them.
When I say “use” the points, I mean to take the points given (they are often given in short phrases) and make full-length sentences with them. For example, a question on the advantages and disadvantages of the Internet may have the following points:
- vast information
- online shopping
In order to gain marks for these content points, we must make sentences along the lines of “One of the advantages of the Internet is the vast amount of information.” or “Another advantage of the Internet is online shopping.” Both of these sentences would have been awarded 1 mark for content.
“lifting” or stringing together the phrases to make them look like a sentence will not work. For example, “Advantages, vast information, online shopping and free entertainment.”
Also, for each of the points, make sure to add some elaboration. This is important to secure your content marks as well as to boost your languagemarks (20 out of 35). The elaboration doesn’t have to be very long or even extremely detailed (unless your student is a very good writer). Any additional information that is relevant to the point is good enough.
For example, if we refer to the example given above, it is said that “One of the advantages of the Internet is the vast amount of information.” Examples of elaboration that we can include are “We can find information on education, travelling, health and many more on the Internet.” (types of information) or “All we have to do is look for the information using websites like Yahoo and Google.” (how to find the information).
To help students learn how to expand points, what you can do is give them lots of sample questions and ask them to brainstorm for elaborations based on the points given. This can be done either individually or even in groups. Have them share their elaborations with the class so that the others can add on to their ideas. Actual essay writing can be pursued at your own discretion but the main aim of the activity is for students to practise quick and accurate note-expansion.
Tagged directed writing, english, paper 1, spm, spm english paper 1
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