With only 40 minutes to read the question, get ideas, plan your essay, write the essay and then proofread your work, you need to be quick getting ideas.
Here are some useful methods of getting ideas:
This simply means thinking about anything that is connected to the topic. It doesn’t matter whether or not the idea seems good at the time; the aim is to get your brain thinking about the topic and writing notes on the question paper. When you have finished brainstorming, you will find that some of your ideas don’t relate to the topic so need to be rejected, but at least you have a place to start.
If your Task II title was ‘Should parents be responsible for the criminal actions of their children?‘ you might think of the following ideas:
- underage crime
- bad parenting
- crime rates in developed countries
- young / busy parents
- the child’s friends
- TV and video games
Then when you look again through the list, you need to reject the ideas that are not directly relevant to the questions. In the example above, you would reject the idea about ‘crime rates in developed countries’, as this does not directly relate to parents or children. Then look again and see which ideas would be difficult to support or argue in 250 words / 40 minutes, and would probably reject ‘society’ as it is a very wide area.
Another method of getting ideas is to think about who is affected by the topic raised in the question. If you are thinking about ‘Should parents be responsible for the criminal actions of their children?‘, then the people involved would be:
- the police
- the victims of crime
- other criminals
Then you need to think about how each of the affected groups of people may react. Victims of crime, for instance, might want to see the parents punished as the child is arguably too young for prison. The police might also want parents to be responsible for the same reason.
Applying the questions words
A third useful method of getting ideas is to use the question words – who, what, where, when, how etc. In the example we have used so far (Should parents be responsible for the criminal actions of their children?‘), you could think about the following questions:
- How could parents be punished?
- What actions should the parents take responsibility for?
- When is a child old enough to take responsibility themselves?
Here’s another example of applying question words:
TITLE: Everyone should be made to learn English. Do you agree or disagree?
You could consider aspects such as:
- why should everyone have to learn?
- what would happen to non-English people’s native language?
- where would people study?
- how would this be controlled/regulated?
- who should pay for it?
- when would many people find a use for English?