GP Essays: Common mistake #1 (absolute terms)

13 02 2011

It is usually easier to argue against (disagree with) terms like “always”, “never” and “nothing”. Conversely, it is usually easier to argue for (agree with) terms like “ever”.   In other words, you should always disagree with the absolute stand. This is because the abovementioned approach merely requires you to identify one instance which proves the point.

To illustrate:

Arguing against (disagreeing with) terms like “always”, “never” and “nothing”:

‘Nowadays, the pleasures of reading can never compete with the pleasures of visual entertainment.’ To what extent do you agree? (2008)

Disagreeing is fairly easy – disagreeing means that you just need to prove one reason why the pleasures of reading can compete with the pleasures of visual entertainment.

Agreeing is more challenging –  it means that you need to convincingly prove that in every single possible circumstance, the pleasures of reading cannot compete with the pleasures of visual entertainment.

Arguing for (agreeing with) terms like “ever”:

Can the media ever be relied upon to convey the truth? (2003)
Agreeing is fairly easy – agreeing means that you just need to prove one instance in which the media can be relied upon to convey the truth.

Disagreeing (arguing that the media can never be relied upon to convey the truth) is more challenging – it means that you need to convincingly prove that in every single possible circumstance, we cannot trust the media to provide us with the truth.

 

Thus, due to the different demands of each stand, most people find it easier to convincingly argue against the absolute stand. However, it must be noted that if you manage to argue for the absolute stand, that would be one impressive essay!


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3 responses

24 03 2011
13 01 2012
The double absolute « read, think, write.

[…] with an absolute term, because that typically makes for a more convincing essay (explained here and here). However, I used to get stumped by this absolute […]

13 01 2012
(1) The ABSOLUTE question [Analysis of 2000-2010 GCE 'A' Level questions] « read, think, write.

[…] these posts – [1] [2] – for tips on how to approach absolute […]

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