How to Analyze a GP Essay

May 31, 2024

It is important to have an A Level GP essay that is structurally sound and riddled with high-quality content. As a continuation of the article on approaching essays at the A Levels, this one, brought to you by the top JC tuition center in Singapore, aims to go in-depth into the intricacies of how you can go about analyzing an A Level GP essay.

Types of essay structures

There are two main essay structures tested at the A Level GP exams. The first kind of essay tests you on, in the first half, arguing for a given stand, and then in the second half, purely refuting it. The second kind of essay demands that you support a given stand, but instead of refuting it in the second half, provide limitations to prove how the given stand is indefensible. In essence, an A Level GP essay is asking either for an opposing refutation, or opposing limitation. To elucidate what refutation or limitation essays can look like, refer to the explanation below.

Fig 1. Examples of A Level GP questions and their associated essay structures

With R and L referring to refutation and limitation question types respectively, we can become more adept at identifying them from Fig 1. above. Generally, refutation structures are used when the question poses a general statement. For instance, question 1 asks us to ‘consider the claim that…’ Question 6 asks us ‘should’, a conditional statement, while questions 7 and 10 state ‘is this true…’ and ‘do you agree…’ respectively. All of these mean that the questions are prompting us to disagree with the given stand. Therefore, a refutation would be most suitable here.

On the other hand, limitation structures come about when the question poses an absolute or encompassing statement. For instance, question 2 which states the term ‘real influence’, which is a strong term. For question 9, it states ‘always’, thus, it can be considered as a sweeping statement. Questions 8 and 12 are more straightforward, asking us for the level with which we agree with the statement, using ‘how far’ and ‘to what extent’ respectively. It is important to keep in mind that for limitation questions, we cannot purely disagree with the given stand. Instead, we must demonstrate the magnitude to which our disagreement extends to.

That being said, some common question types are classified as follows:

Limitations: To what extent, how far (Question asks specifically for a degree)

Refutations: Should, consider (Question poses a general statement)

To dive deeper, we’ve chosen 2 examples to analyze further.

1. Should people be allowed to enjoy greater freedom when they are unwilling to shoulder responsibility?

This is a refutation question, whose approach can be given as follows:

Part A: Explain why you believe that people should still be allowed to enjoy greater freedom despite them being unwilling to bear responsibilities for their actions.

Part B: Show why it is not tenable to allow people who shirk their responsibilities to enjoy greater freedom.

Part B serves to refute Part A to contradict its given points. It seeks to deny the claims laid out in Part A as false.

The second kind of essay structure, as identified by the best GP tuition in Singapore, is obtained as follows:

2. Do international organizations have real influence over global affairs today?

This is interpreted as a limitation question. That is because you cannot say that international organizations do not have any influence over global affairs. Instead, this question is asking for the degree of influence international organizations may seem to have:

Part A: While international organizations may seem to be able to influence global affairs,

Part B: In reality, the limitations that they face constrains their ability to assert real influence.

Additionally, Zenith wishes to remind students to include examples and explanations relevant to the local context should a question include the term “in your society”.

Identifying keywords

Being able to pick out keywords from your A Level GP essay is a crucial skill that our top JC GP tuition programme constantly emphasizes on. Keywords provide the structure in which your essay is built upon, and set the boundaries of what you can or cannot write. We start off by defining the keywords in question 1. To recap:

1. Should people be allowed to enjoy greater freedom when they are unwilling to shoulder responsibility?

Should – Consider the desirability, obligation, wisdom (right or wrong) of granting greater freedom to this group of people.

Greater freedom – This refers to the greater number of individual liberties people enjoy today and the greater protection given to these liberties.

Shoulder responsibilities – To be ready to account for the consequences. In this case, as implied in the question, this group of people has no intention of shouldering any burden.

For question 2 which is on international organizations:

2. Do international organizations have real influence over global affairs today?

International organizations – An organization with an international membership, scope, or presence. These can include International Governmental Organizations (IGOs), made up primarily of sovereign states. For example, the UN, ASEAN, EU, and NATO.

On the other hand, it could also refer to International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) or Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that operate internationally. Examples include Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Real – Whether international organizations have actual/significant/tangible influence over global affairs.

Influence – Power; the ability to alter or affect the outcomes of global affairs.

Global affairs – Significant political, economic, or social events that are of interest to other countries.

Building a high-quality body

Now that we know what to build our essay around, we move on to its body. At the top GP tuition center in Singapore, it is essential that the points, examples, and explanations in your body paragraphs are detailed and comprehensive. For instance, for question 1’s Part A, Zenith argues that:

Point: Liberal democracies view freedom as a constitutional right, one that cannot be repealed by human laws.

Explanation: Freedom is often perceived as a natural right of any thinking individual. Thus, making it conditional is a violation of a person’s dignity. The abolition of slavery, for instance, is a demonstration of society’s belief that people are born free and should remain so. Placing the condition that freedom must be relative to the degree of responsibility a person is willing to bear negates the true meaning of freedom and its role as an inalienable right.

Example: As stated in the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, the right to keep and bear arms is fiercely defended by American citizens who believe that armed citizens take responsibility for their own security. In light of contemporary gun-control debates, the right to arms goes beyond trading their liberty for an illusion of security. Many elite opponents of gun control raise their voices against infringements of their rights of self-defense, which is the core principle on which their liberal republic was founded.

Subsequently, more paragraphs of different topic sentences and examples will be required to bolster Part A. Moving on, we refute Part A with Part B, by describing how:

Point: When people have no intention of taking charge of their responsibility, there is no obligation to grant them more freedom as they have forfeited their right to it.

Explanation: The willingness to shoulder responsibility is a prerequisite for enjoying greater freedom. People in any society are parties to a social contract, where each person agrees to follow the laws of the state on the condition that everyone else does the same. People are thus obliged to give up some of their personal freedom to be accountable to the larger society’s well-being. This way, people are all relatively safe from one another and we all benefit from the other social goods as a result.

Example: The freedom of speech should not include the freedom to offend. Ultimately, an individual’s right to respect and dignity should never be undermined to protect someone else’s right to freedom of speech. In Singapore, it is important to note that apart from race and religion being sensitive issues, minority groups such as the elderly, the LGBT community, and foreign domestic workers are equally at risk of being at the receiving end of verbal abuse and discrimination. Words matter and everyone should be mindful of what they say out loud. It is one thing to disagree, dislike, or even dissent, but another to offend, humiliate or insult.

Add on one or more paragraphs of different topic sentences and examples to bolster Part B.

Moving on to question 2’s Part A, Zenith argues that:

Point and Explanation: International organizations having a large membership, maintain the ability to amass a significant pool of resources such as funds, manpower, and supplies, enabling them to assert their influence when intervening in crises around the world.

Example: The IMF, EU, and European Central Bank came together during the 2009 Financial Crisis with bailout packages totaling 289 billion Euros, to rescue Greece from certain financial ruin. This enabled Greece to remain as a member of the Eurozone and avert the possibility of financial contagion. As part of its loan conditions, the IMF was also able to force Greece to implement austerity measures, structural reforms, and privatization of government assets.

Subsequently, more paragraphs of different points, elaboration, and examples will be required to bolster Part A. Moving on, we limit/curtail Part A with Part B, by describing how:

Point and Explanation: The power that international organizations are able to exert is dependent on the willingness and consensus of states in accepting their jurisdictions. Countries still reserve their right to assert their sovereignty and reject actions taken by international organizations to meddle in their affairs when it does not fit their strategic interests.

Example: China, which claims 90% of the South China Sea, rejected the Hague Tribunal’s 2016 ruling of there being no legal basis for her to claim historic rights to resources within the sea, proceeding to vehemently continue land reclamation despite international condemnation and pressure.

Similarly, more paragraphs of different topic sentences, examples and elaborations will be required to bolster Part B.

The above, taken from the best JC GP tuition programme in Singapore, demonstrates Zenith’s systematic and methodological method for analyzing A Level GP questions. In all, we start by identifying the essay type, defining keywords, and then setting out a two-pronged approach of Part A and B. We then fill up the parts with informed and well-elaborated paragraphs of content, each containing a topic sentence, relevant examples, and a detailed explanation.

Follow the above tips and ace your A Level GP essay with ease! Click here, if you’re keen on joining the best JC GP tuition programme in Singapore! You may also visit our testimonials page to find out more or jump straight to contacting us for a free trial today!