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Present Your Perspective on an Issue

The content has been written for students who are planning to sit IELTS, TOEFL, TWE and GRE exams.

Patterns of Development

Just as there is no universal answer to every question, there are many ways to write a persuasive Issue essay. There are specific strategies that you can use to more effectively respond to different types of Issue topics. These strategies, or methods, are called patterns of development.

There are three main patterns of development namely, Comparison – Contrast, Cause – Effect and Definition. Let’s examine them now so we have a better understanding of how to apply them. For each, we will discuss clues in an Issue question that prompt the use of a particular pattern of development, we will look at an example of such a question, and we will determine what your job as a writer will be in applying this method.

Comparison – Contrast

An Issue question that commands the use of the Comparison – Contrast pattern of development:
  • will use words that suggest similarity or difference.
  • will seek to persuade the reader that one item is superior to another.

Example: “American cars are better than foreign cars.”
The author uses the word than to compare the two cars, and he seeks to persuade the reader that an American car is a wiser choice than a foreign one.

Your job: By employing the Comparison – Contrast pattern of development, you will portray similarities and differences between two items to prove which one is superior, either in agreement or disagreement with the author’s opinion.

Cause – Effect:

An Issue question that requires the use of the Cause – Effect method of response:
  • may include an “If…then” statement.
  • may lack an effect.

Example (if…then):
“If college and university faculty spent time outside the academic world working in professions relevant to the courses they teach, then the overall quality of higher education would greatly increase.”
The author argues that if a certain action is taken, a desirable effect is achieved.
Your job: In your essay, you must prove that a particular cause results in a particular effect, either in agreement or disagreement with the author.

Example (lack of effect):
“More restrictions should be set on teenage drivers.”
In this “call for action” statement, the author offers no effects that will result if the action is taken, but surely it is implied that, if the author feels the action should be taken, he assumes something positive will result.
Your job: In your responsive essay, it would be your responsibility to support your position in agreement with this statement or against it, thus proving the implied effect.

Definition

An Issue question that dictates the use of the Definition pattern of development:
  • will attempt to show that, by definition, a particular idea or concept is of great value.
  • may portray a very limited definition of an idea or concept.

Example (great value): “Patriotism breaks down the walls of division.”
The author believes that a concept can do a great thing.
Your job: Define the idea or concept and show that, because of its attributes and qualities, it has value or it lacks value.

Example (limited definition): “A person’s generosity can be determined by examining what he or she has given to charity.”
In this example, the author seeks to provide a very limited definition of a particular concept.
Your job: Support the author’s definition with evidence, or show that the definition is much broader.

Seven Steps to Writing Your Issue Essay

Now that you are familiar with the different methods you can employ to write your essay, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of organizing your thoughts by using these patterns of development. we will introduce you to seven simple steps, that will help you to write a clear and concise evidence to support your view.

  • Step 1 – Understanding the Issue

    In order to properly present your perspective on an issue, you must first understand the issue you are being asked to discuss. Understanding the issue allows you to fully develop your position, presenting your evidence in a way that is most effective and appropriate for the topic. There are two steps that will help you understand the issue.

    First, take a couple of minutes to read the given question carefully. Second, ask yourself the following questions:

    • What does the statement mean?
    • What is the issue at hand?
    • What is implied by the statement?
    • What is the writer’s stand on the issue?
    • What, if any, evidence does the writer use to support his position?
  • Step 2 – Choosing Your Pattern of Development

    Keeping in mind our discussion of the three patterns of development, look for the necessary criteria in your question. If you think the question requires more than one method, choose the one you think works the best. On a timed writing assignment, your essay will be fairly short and therefore you cannot adequately utilize two methods.

  • Step 3 – Developing Your Thesis

    The next, and perhaps the most important, step is to develop your thesis. Your thesis states the purpose of your essay. Without a thesis statement, your reader does not know what you are setting out to prove. And without a thesis statement, it would be very difficult to organize your essay with clarity and coherence. Don’t be intimidated by the task of formulating what is to be the crux of your essay. It can be quite simple. Just use the examples below:

  • Step 4 – Understanding Counter Arguments

    Have you ever been in an argument and find that you’re just not getting very far very fast? This could be because you are failing to see things from the other person’s point of view. Being able to see the “flip side of the coin” can go a long way in proving your point and disarming your opponent’s objections. By showing that you are aware, though perhaps not understanding, of the opposing side you are adding credibility to your argument because it is clear that you have viewed the issue from all angles. To write an effective position essay, you must present your knowledge of a counter argument. In other words, you must show that you have considered the other side of the argument.

  • Step 5 – Organizing Your Thoughts

    Now organize all of our information so that writing the essay will be quick and simple.

  • Step 6 – Writing Your Essay

    Now that you have organized your thoughts and support, it is time to write! The best strategy under the pressure of a time restraint is to just begin writing—as quickly as you can while still being careful. The key to successful timed writings is to reserve a bit of time at the end so that you can go back and proofread and add finishing touches that will make your essay flow well and that will present your ideas clearly.

  • Step 7 – Revising Your Essay

    Because you have written quickly, you must spend some time, about 3-5 minutes, at the end of the section reviewing your essay, making necessary changes to enhance the clarity, coherence and grammatical accuracy of your writing. You must look for misspellings and mechanical errors while at the same time keeping in mind the following questions:

    • Is my introduction captivating?
    • Is my thesis statement concise?
    • Do my body paragraphs clearly support my thesis?
    • Have I used logical transitions that help the text flow smoothly between sentences and between paragraphs?
    • Have I maintained a formal tone and diction throughout my essay?
    • Have I maintained consistent use of person (i.e., first, second, third)?
    • Is there a word, or are there words, which I have employed too often throughout the essay?
    • Do my sentences vary in length and structure?

    As you ask yourself these questions, make the necessary changes. If you still have time left after you have completed the initial revision, go back and read your essay again. A writer makes many, many revisions to his manuscript before it is ready to be published, so you can never proofread too many times!

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