Stop the panic (Paper 2)

The wait (dread? anticipation?) is finally coming to an end tomorrow. Countdown to GP promos is less than 24 hrs. So what should you do?

Well, what you should NOT do is panic. It is alarming how students,even the most competent of students, get themselves buried in negative self-talk when exams are looming. Panicking leads to self-doubt, which then leads to confusion, which then leads to anxiety, which then sometimes leads to self-pity. Most importantly, panicking leads you to forgetting that you are armed with solid arguments and that you are well-prepared for the topics you have chosen to study :)

You should also NOT be dwelling in self-pity at this stage. Studying for GP is not a last-minute affair! Also, take the ‘advice’ given on Facebook/ Twitter/ student blogs with a dose of healthy skepticism. Some of the responses to this are laughable; some are downright harmful.

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Anyway, after looking through your responses to the AQ practice, here are some tips for the Paper 2 AQ:

1. Read the lead-in to the AQ. Try to use the key terms, because this signals to the marker that you are meeting the requirements and answering the question. For example:

The author believes that competition is a hindrance to man’s progress rather than a stimulus. To what extent do his arguments apply to your society? Support your answer with reference to your society’s experience with competition

Well, your answer should naturally contain the terms ‘hindrance’ and ‘stimulus’. The lead-in (a good lead-in anyway) usually hints at what you should focus on.

2. Do not look at one line/ phrase in isolation; instead, look at how the author develops this line of argument in the paragraph. This should ensure that your Ex (explanation) of the claim/view/argument is accurate. For example:

The emphasis on competition in modern life is connected with a general decay of civilized standards.  Men and women appear to have become incapable of enjoying the more intellectual pleasures.The art of general conversation, for example, was a very exquisite art, bringing the highest faculties into play for the sake of something completely evanescent.  But who in our age cares for anything leisurely?  The knowledge of good literature, which was universal among educated people in the past, is now confined to a few professors.  All the quieter pleasures have been abandoned.  What use would such knowledge be?  It could not add to anybody’s income. (Taken from the practice Paper 2)

If you decide to evaluate the view that competition has led to a “decay of civilized standards”, you should explain what the author means by this. In this paragraph, the author’s relates civilized standards to intellectual pleasures – intellectual standards of conversations and ‘good literature’. Also, explain that he believes the reason for this decay is that we simply do not care for ‘intellectual pleasures’ anymore because they do not fatten our bank accounts.

So it is not okay to isolate the line “decay of civilized standards” and interpret that to mean a decline in manners. Look at the line in the context of the paragraph.

3. If you are quoting from the passage, use inverted commas.

4. Always show balance. Setters of the paper will choose passages and questions that lend themselves towards the possibility of a balanced response. You will be able to find points that are applicable/ not applicable to your society, or points that you agree/ disagree with.

5. In your evaluation, go for trends. Show that your examples are not isolated, but instead, are commonly-observed trends in your society.

6. Avoid quoting excessively.

7. Do not end your paragraph with an example/ statistic. Remember, statistics are neutral and you have to make the LINK back to your Stand and to the Question.

Best of luck, dear students!

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