Guiding questions for GP&R Written Paper

Question 1

  • use bullet points according to the number of points in the task
  • do not include extra answers (only the first few according to the required number are graded)
  • no need to paraphrase anything
  • you can only get 5 points for this question and the answers will be clearly stated somewhere in the texts. Do not start reading to find those answers as you will focus on the content too much and it is going to waste your time. Instead, focus on the argument when reading the text. Start reading the text required in question 2 annotating anything you can use for evidence and argument evaluation. By the time you are ready to answer question 2, you should come across the answer for the relevant first question. Repeat with the second text before you answer Question 3.

Question 2

  • Continuous prose (not bullet points and not just lists)
  • Focus ONLY on the text you are asked to analyse
  • Identify types of evidence (primary – secondary; quantitative – qualitative)
  • Facts or opinions? How confident does the author sound?
  • Is the evidence even relevant?
  • Is the evidence selective? (does it include the important parts? is the sample size big enough for any conclusion? does it have enough variety while still being relevant?)
  • Is the evidence significant in the argument (has the best possible evidence been chosen under the given conditions?)
  • Does it look like the author is cherry-picking the evidence? (only choosing what clearly supports what they want you to see)
  • Are the examples typical or use some unusual context/sample group to support the argument?
  • Is the person providing the information qualified and even related to the field? Is the author or the source biased? How about vested interest?
  • Are statistics specific, or are the numbers too vague with estimated and roughly rounded numbers?
  • Is there enough context for the quantitative data? e.g. giving a percentage of the population without giving the total of the population
  • Do statistics lack significance or do they show a reasonable change in trends? (a change of 1% might be not significant enough)
  • What is the motive to be accurate? e.g. the journalist wants to preserve the reputation of the magazine/website they write for
  • Is there any synthesis of sources or they are just juxtaposed (happen to be next to each other without any relation)?
  • Is the evidence outdated or up-to-date?
  • Is there first-hand experience or the author has no personal relevance?
  • Is it easy to understand the evidence and what it means in relation to the argument? Does it make the reader confused at times?
  • Does the evidence contradict itself at times?
  • Do the authors set historical context? Is it helpful or even relevant?
  • Are there any unsupported claims?
  • Is there any counterevidence to make the evidence presentation balanced?

Question 3

  • Continuous prose (not bullet points and not just lists)
  • There is no pre-determined answer of which text has a stronger argument; depending on your evaluation and intermediate judgements, the conclusion should be made
  • As this question gives you up to 25 out of 45 points, you should allocate about half of the exam to this question
  • Do not repeat what you wrote in Question 2, just summarise briefly for your comparison with the other text in terms of evidence
  • Consider the provenance of the authors
  • Global and local perspectives (how it affects the argument? normally, global is better while readers may better respond to the texts with local relevance
  • One-sided or balanced argument? (we are looking for a balanced argument, with counterarguments)
  • Appeal to the reader = how the writer tries to persuade the readers: authority = ethos e.g. I am a dentist and you should use this toothpaste because it’s the best
    emotion = pathos e.g. our government spends the tax money we earn with sweat, blood and tears on […]. Did I choose it? No? Did you choose it? No! Don’t we deserve better for us and our families with the money we have earned?
    logic = logos – use logic, and proper evidence and build towards your conclusion using relevant info – this makes an argument
  • Use of different themes (culture, economics, politics, ethics, environment, technology, science) – the more sides, the more well-rounded and fair argument you can hope for BUT check that it’s actually relevant
  • Provenance (what’s the author’s background? does it make us trust them more?)
  • What does each author start with? Do they have clear assumptions or expectations from the beginning?
  • What does each author conclude?
  • Do the authors provide examples or back-up their points?
  • Is the structure of the argument clear? Are the conclusions logical and clearly stated? or do you need to read between the lines to find the conclusions?
  • Do the texts even focus on the same issue? If the topic is the same, they may be analysing quite different sides of the topic
  • Is the general outlook positive (solutions, improvements, optimistic prospects) or negative (punitive measures, limitations, restrictions – will be less popular with the public; therefore, less convincing)?
  • Which text is more convincing? (it might be weaker as an argument but be more convincing to a wider public for different reasons)
  • Is any of the perspectives more practical (esp if there is a search for a solution)? Is there a balance between realistic and idealistic views?
  • Is there a gender balance in perspectives? (important for social topics)
  • Which author sounds more confident? What in their language shows certainty or uncertainty?
  • Are there any logical fallacies in the argument? e.g. sweeping generalisation, red herring, false dilemma, slippery slope, bandwagon fallacy, causal fallacy, etc.