Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Essay comments: Consider the view that water is more important than oil.

I haven't been able to save the original essay, but reading the comments, you should be getting a fair idea of it. 


If I were you, I would have discussed more which of the two are more important for human survival, in all the fields like you rightly had in mind.

General Paper is a paper designed to test your general knowledge about the world you're living in. Examiners keep that in mind while phrasing the essay questions.
Because the world resources are scarce, today, more than ever, people are fighting for water and oil. I would suggest you make more reference to that.

Water was explored before oil. It is the very first mineral found on earth. Water makes anything on this world alive and feels fresh. There are many factors that can be listed and elaborated later on on this essay which will consist of five different categories such as: Health Benefits, Environmental factors, Affect on Earth, Hygienic terms. Further more, It is going to be explained and compared why is water more important than oil. It has a transparent colour yet with so many benefits.

It's true that you have to announce the subject of your discussion in the introduction... but honestly, for me, the part in bold is a very unprofessional approach.

My teacher often tells us to start from general to specific... You could start by talking about resources, then natural resources, their depletion, etc. And then you come to oil and water, which are the two most important resources (since civilization). Also talk about the recent crises... About the depression of 2007-08, about depletion of currency reserves, etc. Consider the possibility: is there likely to be a trade-off between these two resources given the fact that they are indispensable in many fields? Nations are already fighting with each other for water and oil, even if they do not use the traditional means of doing so (i.e. weaponry, etc). Will they now be fighting between oil and water as financial resources get scarce?

You maybe will be thinking that in my suggested approach, there talks of economics and politics most. This is something you have to identify. Every essay will not necessary be covering all the umbrella terms, at the extreme, most of them. You would of course be talking about the scientific and technological, and social aspects as well... that will come later, in your paragraphs. The examiner can identify that-- you don't have to bring it out to him. Remark, you could have as well written "I am going to write an essay about..." You'd accept that in a GP paper?

Now... after your introduction is ready, come to the main focus.

I feel you are in serious need of research-- which is of prime importance in GP.

Before tackling any subject matter, do some research please. It's wrong to assume that your knowledge about it is sufficient. You will need to be persuasive-- not assertive.
Persuasive means that you can come up with enough solid arguments and sufficient illustrations and real life examples to convince the examiner about your stand. It's like someone calling at your door and telling you you are a terrorist-- you will want to know the basis on which they made the statement.

In GP, you will have to show a wide expanse of general knowledge: of history, science, politics, and everything else human has got to do with.


Read this blog too. Regularly. Because you are homeschooling, it will be helpful as a teacher. And you do not have much time, so please, select some themes to build up research on. Try to see trends in past examination papers. Usually examiners phrase titles about recent events, so that they can give the examinee a well-calculated opportunity to compare contemporary happenings with those of the past, and derive implications from them.
A body has approximately 75% of water. You loose most of the water in Urine and Sweat. Therefore we need to drink water to compensate this loss.  H2o moisturises the skin and feeds the roots and the ends of the hairs from drying. Also it helps the skin of the body from getting wrinkled in an early age. Moreover, the kidneys needs at least  a litre of water a day for its proper functioning.

Main focus: Water is more important than oil.

The above quoted paragraph that you wrote is, I'm afraid... completely out of subject. You give the examiner the impression that you have limited knowledge about what you are discussing and just include this first paragraph to 'fill up pages' and 'bunch marks', which of course, will not be the case.

Water was explored before oil. It is the very first mineral found on earth. Water makes anything on this world alive and feels fresh.

This is acceptable as a start for your main focus.

But you have to write about the importance of water RELATIVE to oil. You are expected to be constantly comparing those two resources. On a regional/ national/ international basis, all three of them to get higher marks. Analyze the fact that water is essential for survival of any organism, whereas oil on the contrary can-- and does-- inhibit life. Talk of the oil spills to illustrate, which show that even salty water is more important to life than oil is. Go on elaborating... You rightly picked environmental concerns in your paragraph, but you included no comparison with oil. Don't try to be too superfluous in your explanation though, i.e. don't add unnecessary details. Your writing should be concise and form a pleasant flow.

Ah, and this is very important. Every paragraph should deal with a different content point, which you do know as a rule, but not in practice. Your introduction, first, second and third paragraphs of the body, all dealt with the environmental aspect of the subject. You have to try to cover as much of the umbrella terms as is possible.

Okay, now, come back to water and oil. For your next paragraphs (the number will depend on the word range you are allocated) you will have to carry out some research.

Mention the use of water in industries-- everything hydro-. Even oil has substitutes now: wind, solar, natural gas, etc. while before oil was indispensable. This shows that in the long-term oil will be less important than water.

Do your research and come up with more ideas.


After you have completed with your main focus, you will need a sort of a balance to tell the examiner that you are not a narrow-minded thinker, and that you can critically and judgmentally analyze every aspect of the question he gave you.

Now, talk about why oil is more important than water, or is equally important, or cannot be replaced in some fields. Try to come up with other ideas that will give another dimension to your essay. You will automatically get them as you start your research work.

This is something difficult to do... I think the most difficult because some writers carelessly tend to auto-refute what they have mentioned in their main focus to strike the balance between the two-- an approach that is wrong. You need to convince him throughout. You will need to consider the opposite situation, and give relative weight to that consideration.

One way to avoid getting yourself in the trap, which I am personally very fond of, is to criticize your arguments within the paragraph you mentioned them. If you can work to be a higher order level student in the time span that you have got left, you can choose to completely eliminate the main focus and its balancing, and condense everything in a single paragraph under one broad umbrella term (that you do not have to make mention of to the examiner. NO "I am going to talk about the political aspect of this essay now".).

Also, for these kind of questions, try to avoid personalizing your essay... (Eliminate use of 'I'). Best approach for this one: put yourself in the place of a reputed international newsletter. Think that if you are going to be biased, you will be put in jail for 20 years.

Brief example:

     Water is vital for the existence of life, but none can deny that oil is equally essential for the life of an economy-- at least, for our contemporary world.

"Water is vital for the existence for life [...]" --> My main focus.
"[...] but none can deny that oil is equally essential for the life of an economy [...]" --> My balance.
"[...] at least, for our contemporary world." --> And I have criticized my balance.
In one paragraph, and then, you add facts and illustrations to support.

N.B. This is my suggestion. If you feel you are more comfortable with any other presentation that is well balanced, adopt the one you can cope with.

If you want, you may wish to talk about other related aspects of the question.
Like you might want to talk of something that is more important than both oil and water for an economy. For example, the financial resources and technology needed to obtain those two resources, which some countries lack, e.g. Nigeria has some of the world's richest oil deposits but no technology to exploit them. Mauritius gets sufficient rain throughout the year, but is inhibited by its poor water collection system.


The last part: your conclusion.

There are several techniques to tackle this part. You can sum up, give recommendations, etc.

The most scoring way of ending your essay is to give an evaluation.

"As a GP student you are expected to evaluate the different aspects of the topic, such as its pros and cons, merits and demerits, advantages and disadvantages, benefits and losses, and so on.

Evaluation means to juxtapose the arguments, weigh them and decide which one is stronger and more credible. For a good evaluation you should allocate weight or the rank the points on the basis of their importance and relevance. Discuss about the most important point in the beginning, a little less significant below it and so on."


You will find helpful resources there. But please, do not be too influenced by them. It is too easy to go personal in writing, this represents no critical analysis.

You gave:

In conclusion, Oil is only important for getting vast income which enhances the countries wealthiness. Oil can be substituted with gas and has different alternatives like Dieasle which is a low quality form of fuels. It has a big role of why vehicles are mobile because it is used as a fuel called petrol. Technology it self is engaged with oil and plays  a big role in it. Back in the years, scientists clarified that oil is formed from dead animals buried under the ground for many years for it to form oil and is called fossil fuels in its scientific term. In my point of view, without water nothing could be made! 

You introduced many points, implicit in the essay title; you should have discussed those thoroughly in your paragraphs, before coming to a conclusion.
"Oil is only important for getting vast income which enhances the countries wealthiness." --> Have you backed your statement with evidence? If you'll take the example of Saudi Arabia, is it rich because it has oil, or because it has both oil and water? Then, why is it not the most powerful economy in the world?
Note that in a conclusion, you cannot advance nor support any other new argument related to the title (or else it would not be a conclusion), that is why I asked you to include that in your body.

To get an interesting conclusion for this title, you can try to forecast a world without water, and one without oil. Say which one will be more dreadful (depending on the arguments you have advanced in the body of your essay).


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