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Monday, October 27, 2014

Tips for MUET Writing exam

Hi all.. I'm back to help you with this year's 2014 MUET exam. I'm sure everyone's knees are turning to jelly now because the countdown is ticking faster than you expected and your heart is racing like a speeding bullet. No fear, I am here.. haha.

Ok.. let's talk about why it is so hard to score in the writing component. Let's focus on the academic essay as I have blogged a lot about report writing in the past (check my archives for samples and discussions.)

Unbeknownst to most, there is usually TWO sections the essay question. I shall name it Part A & Part B.

This is the trial exam question I used in my school:
"Young people are becoming more materialistic because they want a better quality of life. How far do you agree with this statement? Give your opinion. You should write at least 350 words."

Can you spot the Part A & the Part B?
Part A = more materialistic
Part B = better quality of life
Hence, if the student just focuses on the factors or effects of materialism, they have not answered the question because they have failed to link to the concept of 'better quality of life'.

Same goes for this actual MUET exam question some years ago which reads:
"In an arranged marriage, the choice of the husband or wife is made by parents or elders. What do you think of this practice in today's society? Discuss. You should write at least 350 words."

Has your ability to spot Part A & Part B improved?
Part A = choice made by parents or elders
Part B = appropriate practice in today's society?
Thus, to answer the question well, you would need to not simply focus on 3 reasons to agree or disagree with the practice but LINK CLEARLY to how important is this practice in TODAY'S society. The line of logic should be clear.
Here are 3 sample points for 100% disagree.
Pt. 1: Education - in the past women stayed at home and did not have access to a good education, therefore they did not work. These days women have more opportunities to contribute to society and meet different people. In the old days the elders were a more reliable source to determine who should be married because women had a lesser role in society due to poor education.
Pt. 2: Technology - in the past women had almost no social interaction because they mostly stayed at home. With modern technology like handphones, emails and various social networking, youths today have a larger network and are able to communicate with their peers and choose their own spouse which is more compatible than a spouse chosen by elders.
Pt. 3 Love vs. Stability - Society today places more emphasis on the concept of love and loving a person before getting married. In the past, elders assured that love would come later and what was more important was to find a spouse that could offer stability in marriage. There have been many cases where arranged marriages ends up in unhappy unions and even divorce so it is better to make a love match these days to avoid these negative outcomes.

Can you see the LINK between Part A & Part B?
If the student just talked about 3 points but did not compare past and present practices, then it would be hard to give Band 5 or 6 for task fulfillment, therefore pulling down the overall marks.

Right, my last tip is to show you my ex Form 5 student's (Nazri, tq for your permission to blog your essay) valiant effort to keep writing essays and coming to visit me in school to get my opinion. Here is a sample of his writing and later I will show you how to add info & modify sentences to create a LINK to parts A & B of the question so you may score higher in the writing component.

"People commit crimes for selfish reasons. Discuss. You should write at least 350 words."
FYI, Nazri was trying to use my suggested template of I+A1+D1+A2+D2+C
(Intro + Agree 1 vs Disagree 1 + Agree 2 vs Disagree 2 + Conclusion = 6 paragraph format)

Nazri's Intro:
      In this globalization era, murder and kidnap are one of the heavy crimes people most commit. In addition, according to the articles I have read, these rate of crimes are increasing drastically all over the world. Women and children are the most common victim of the heartless criminals because they are weak or they look fragile. Do people commit crimes for selfish reasons? I agree to a certain extent that people commit crimes for fun and greedy, however, crimes may be committed because of financial problems and lack of parents' love.

Edited version:
      In this globaliSation era, murderS and kidnapPING are SOME of the heavy crimes people MAY commit. In addition, according the articles I have read, the rate of crimes are increasing drastically all over the world. Women and children are the most common victimS of the heartless criminals because they are weak or look fragile. Do people commit crimes for selfish reasons? WE HAVE CERTAINLY READ CASES OF HUSBANDS KILLING THEIR WIVES TO CLAIM THE INSURANCE MONEY AND VICE VERSA BUT THERE ARE ALSO INCIDENCES OF CRIMES THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH SELFISHNESS SUCH AS MURDER COMMITTED IN A RAGE OF JEALOUSY. IN MY HUMBLE OPINION, I ONLY agree to a certain extent that people commit crimes FOR SELFISH REASONS BECAUSE IN SOME CASES SELFISHNESS IS NOT THE MAIN CONTRIBUTING FACTOR WHY CRIMES HAPPEN.

Editor's notes:
You will lose your ground as a Band 5/6 student if your grammar is inconsistent. Nazri's first sentence itself is controversial because he uses the word 'most'. Along with 'all', 'never', 'always' and 'everyone', these words must be avoided at all costs as it draws generalisations and sweeping statements that make the reader feel that the writer lacks critical thinking and maturity. Instead, use 'some', 'often', 'may', 'might', 'usually' etc..  He could also have improved the introduction by outlining some crimes that are driven by selfish reasons and some that are not as seen in the edited version. Finally, the thesis statement must clearly outline that you are going to discuss both sides of the coin.

Nazri's 1st Point:
     First and foremost, people commit crimes just for fun that may drag them to a world without humanity. Why do I say so? One of the reasons is they love to see when people are suffering. They steal something that is valuable in someone's life to entertain themselves or to get a revenge. For instance, these heartless criminals especially men like to take women's pride by raping them and ignoring their tears and some of the unfortunate victims may get killed when they try to escape. Thus, people who commit crimes are selfish because someone's suffering is the happiness for them.

Edited version:
       First and foremost, SOME people MAY commit crimes just for fun SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY ENJOY OTHER PEOPLE'S SUFFERING that may drag them to a world without humanity. Why do I say so? One of the reasons is they love MAY HAVE SELFISH REASONS TO MAKE people suffer. They MAY steal something that is valuable in someone's life to JUST TO entertain themselves or to get revenge. For instance, THERE ARE CASES OF heartless criminals especially men like WHO HAVE BEEN ARRESTED FOR TAKING women's pride by raping them and ignoring their tears and some of the unfortunate victims may HAVE EVEN BEEN killed when they try to escape. Thus, people who commit crimes are selfish because someone's suffering is the happiness for them.

Editor's notes:
Here you need to be really careful when making sweeping statements so I have modified the sentences using words that can temper the effect. Using informal sentences are also not advisable such as 'just for fun' especially when you cannot prove specifically that men rape others 'just for fun' because they 'enjoy' it. At all costs too, avoid sentences that declare 'people love to ...' or 'people like to ...' as these statements are not well quantified and examiners will usually have a huge frown because you did not provide concrete proof highlighting your own opinions just doesn't cut it. Try to back up your points with some evidence of reading such as 'there have been cases that../a local newspaper recently reported that../from a study done on...', all of which will make your essay more credible rather than picking out lines from thin air.

Nazri's 2nd point:
     On the other hand, crimes may be committed because of financial problems. The high cost of living makes them desperate to look for money or to feed their family. They do not have enough money to buy some food or their needs as the prices are increasing. So, they tend to do crimes such as snatch or robber to earn some money by selling the stolen items back at a higher price. For example, a rich person's house will be the target of the criminals to break into and steal expensive items such as jewelleries and handphones. Therefore, poverty or desperation in life can lead people to commit crimes.

Editor's version:
     On the other hand, NOT ALL CRIMES ARE COMMITTED SIMPLY BECAUSE PEOPLE ENJOY THE SUFFERING OF OTHERS BUT because of other issues such as financial problems. The high cost of living makes them desperate to look for money to feed their family SO INSTEAD OF BEING SELFISH, THEY ARE ACTUALLY COMMITTING CRIME FOR SELFLESS REASONS WHICH IS TO SUPPORT THEIR FAMILY. They MAY not have enough money to buy some food or their DAILY needs as the prices are increasing. So, they tend to do crimes such as snatch THEFT or ROBBERIES to earn MAKE some money by selling the stolen items at a higher price. For example, SOME PEOPLE ARE DRIVEN TO DO CRIMES LIKE STEALING FOOD AND EVEN MILK POWDER FROM SUPERMARKETS BECAUSE THEY CANNOT BEAR TO SEE THEIR FAMILY STARVE. Therefore, poverty and desperation in life AND SELFLESSNESS TO SACRIFICE THEMSELVES TO SAVE THE PEOPLE THEY LOVE, can lead people to commit crimes WHICH IS THE OPPOSITE OF COMMITTING CRIMES FOR SELFISH REASONS.

Editor's notes:
      His 2nd point seems inconsequential because there is no clear LINK why he is introducing his opposition point. Basically, to make this clear, you need to write a topic sentence that clearly links to the first point introduced earlier. This shows the contrast with the opposition point so you may argue contrary to the first idea introduced. When contrasting ideas, the right vocabulary works best whereby SELFISHNESS is contrasted to SELFLESSNESS, which makes it clear to the reader that you are still on track discussing the LINK BETWEEN PART A & PART B. Furthermore, I had to modify the example to show a high degree of selflessness and sacrifice because the example of a rich man's house being burgled does not highlight the concept of selflessness. Lastly, the summation sentence needs to really LINK back to the concept of selfish or unselfish reasons in order to make the argument crystal.

Nazri's 3rd Point:
     Apart from that, I do agree that people get involved in crimes because of selfish reasons such as greed especially. They want to get rich in the easiest way instead of work hard to accomplish their mission. People receive money as bribe, are hired to do a dirty job. Moreover, this white-color crime is committed in the whole world. Money is powerful enough to make people lose their sense of humanity as they can kill a person if they are asked to do so as long as the reward is money.

Editor's version.
     Apart from that, I STILL DO agree that people get involved in crimes because of selfish reasons RELATED TO greed. THEY ARE SELFISH BECAUSE THEY GREEDILY want to get rich in the easiest way instead of WORKING hard to accomplish their mission. SOME people receive money as bribeS OR are hired to do dirty jobS BECAUSE THEY SELFISHLY WANT TO MAKE A PROFIT FROM COMMITTING CRIMES. Moreover, THESE white-color WHITE COLLAR crimeS ARE committed ALL OVER THE WORLD AS WE SPEAK BECAUSE SELFISHNESS TO MAKE money is powerful enough to make SOME people lose their sense of humanity as they can EVEN kill a person as long as the reward is money. THEREFORE, SOME PEOPLE DO INDEED HAVE VERY SELFISH REASONS TO COMMIT CRIMES ESPECIALLY IF THEY CAN MAKE A HUGE PROFIT FROM IT.

Editor's notes:
   When introducing the 2nd point to agree with the statement, you should outline it clearly in the topic sentence which is the very first sentence in each paragraph. Greed is a factor on its own so the LINK to selfishness must be made very clear, otherwise you may veer out of topic. The terms used also should be accurate as seen in white color vs white collar crimes. He also forgot to close the paragraph with a summation where in the edited version, rounds off the argument clearly that crime is indeed linked to selfish reasons including greed for profit.

Nazri's 4th Point:
     Nevertheless, people also commit crimes because of lack of parents' love and guidance. When the children is not the priority of parents, moral values will be hardly instilled in their children themselves. They fail to differentiate what is good and bad for them. As a consequence, they may get involved in social problems and crimes because of lack of parental guidance.

Editor's version:
     Nevertheless, people also commit crimes because of OTHER FACTORS SUCH AS lack of PARENTAL love and guidance SO IT IS CLEAR THAT WE CANNOT SIMPLY BLAME SELFISHNESS AND GREED FOR CRIMES COMMITTED. When children ARE not the priority of parents, moral values will hardly be instilled in their children. THESE CHILDREN MAY EVENTUALLY fail to differentiate what is good and bad for them. As a consequence, they may get involved in social problems and crimes SUCH AS DRUG ABUSE, THEFT, ABORTION, BABY DUMPING AND SO ON. HENCE, IN THESE CASES, CRIMES ARE COMMITTED NOT FOR SELFISH REASONS BUT because of lack of parental guidance, THE NEED TO GET PARENTS' ATTENTION OR OTHER EXTERNAL FACTORS.

Editor's notes:
     Again, the topic sentence needs to clearly state that there are other factors that lead to crimes being committed other than for selfish reasons, especially greed (as stated in the previous paragraph - it is important to LINK the previous idea to a contrasting new idea so that the flow of logic is not impeded). Notice the use of the word 'MAY' to indicate probability and avoid generalisations. Adding 'social problems' is not a good idea because the focus is on crimes, but do add examples of crimes that happen due to other factors such as lack of parental guidance etc. Also, the final sentence should conclude the point eloquently.

Nazri's Conclusion:
     In conclusion, people commit crimes are not only for selfish reasons but also because of other motivation such as environmental factors. Most of them commit crimes because of narrow minded and do not have enough money to bear the cost of living. Therefore, our government with the help of relevant authorities should increase the safety at a place where crimes often occur and help poor family. Besides that, parents should spend more time for their growing children.

Edited version:
     In conclusion, IT IS CRYSTAL CLEAR THAT THERE ARE TWO FACES TO A COIN WHEREBY people commit crimes not only for selfish reasons but also because of other FACTORS such as their ENVIRONMENT AND UPBRINGING. Most SOME of them commit crimes because of NARROW-MINDEDNESS OR THEY do not have enough money to bear the cost of living, AMONG OTHER ISSUES. I STILL ABSOLUTELY BELIEVE THAT SELFISH REASONS ARE NOT THE MAIN CONTRIBUTING FACTOR AND THAT THERE ARE MANY OTHER REASONS FOR CRIME TO BE CONSIDERED. OUR government HAS A ROLE TO PLAY IN ENSURING the relevant authorities increase the PUBLIC'S safety at placeS where crimes often occur. THE SOCIAL WELFARE DEPARTMENT MAY ALSO LOOK INTO STRATEGIES TO help poor FAMILIES SO CRIME CAN BE AVOIDED FROM THE GRASSROOTS. Besides that, NATIONAL CAMPAIGNS SHOULD ALSO BE CARRIED OUT TO EDUCATE parents ON SPENDING QUALITY TIME WITH THEIR CHILDREN AND ENSURING A SOUND MORAL UPBRINGING. THEREFORE, WE WILL BE ABLE TO PRODUCE A FUTURE GENERATION THAT STEERS CLEAR AWAY FROM CRIMES OF ALL KINDS AND INSTEAD CREATING YOUTHS THAT CAN CONTRIBUTE PRODUCTIVELY TO OUR NATION'S PROSPERITY.

Editor's notes:
   A good conclusion should have 3 parts, ie repeat the points in a more creative way, repeat your stand from the introduction and outline some recommendations for this issue. It is also wise to end on a high note because the conclusion gives the reader and examiner a lasting impression so you might as well end with a bang!


Phew... so much typing and editing... I do hope you appreciate my effort in providing you with some samples. I think it is crucial to write essays and as a teacher, add spice to enhance the students' compositions so that you can help upgrade their writing style starting at their level. One mistake teachers often make (and I have made myself) is to use essays from reference books wholesale. This means that you copy and paste the texts and expect the students to magically be able to write like the authors of textbooks. This is not only wrong, it is cruel and demoralising. Therefore, I would strongly suggest that you pick one essay at a time (doing too may will demoralise you instead), fix it up prettily by adding all the yummy spices, and re-serve the essay to the student and share with the class. It is not enough to correct errors at MUET level, but to demonstrate step by step how the student MAY improve his Highter Order Thinking Skills (HOTS is a hot topic these days) and Creative Thinking Skills.

Anyway, a final say from me is, keep ploughing. If you don't get down to writing and the business of editing, no one can benefit. Keep ploughing, slowly and steadily, and you WILL create a field of wonder in the end. Teachers, make a difference in your students' lives. Students, strive to make a difference in your own life so you may change the destiny of your family for the better. Today's keyword: LINK. Link Part A & Part B, and the story of life will all make sense in the end... and you may reap the seeds you have sown.




Monday, October 6, 2014

Latest on MUET Marking

Heya... allow me to congratulate MPM on the great job of adjusting the marking for Speaking AND Writing.

Why am I happy with this?
For Speaking, simply because MPM has recognised that speaking is an essential component that students really lack prowess in. Presumably, the emphasis on speaking is because many of our graduates today have very poor command of spoken English and are unable to be competitive candidates for positions especially in international companies. This is a recurrent testimony from many friends in the industry and first hand knowledge from working pro-bono with Petronas for the past few years. The resounding alarm is that our graduates lose the competitive edge because they cannot speak well in English.

There is another level of complexity to this issue because the division of marks is no longer as straightforward as in the previous calculations. Now there is a bigger range of 6 marks for Band 1 (0-6), only 3 marks range for Bands 2-5 and  ONLY 2 MARKS FOR BAND 6 (19-20).

Speaking:

Task Fulfilment (20) + Language & Organisation (20) + Communicative Ability (20) = 60 marks

For each band:
B1: 0-6
B2: 7-9
B3: 10-12
B4: 13-15
B5: 16-18
B6: 19-20



What are the implications?
1. Students will find it much harder to achieve the Band 3 minimum target because of a bigger B1 & B2 range. (Need to get at least 10/20 marks)
2. Students will find it even harder to get a Band 4 as the minimum is 13/20. This will affect all the science optionists, TESL students and subjects like International Relations in universities.
3. Band 6 will be the epitome of excellence as the mark range is just two, 19 and 20. This will definitely differentiate the the good and average from the distinctions.
4. The long term impact is that the command of spoken English is likely to improve, we may get more fluent graduates and the quality of Malaysian graduates will improve as a whole.
5. The long term repercussions is that more people will likely NOT achieve band 3 and consequently will not graduate until a point where they pass MUET (and for some people, they have taken this exam up to 7 or 8 times before managing to pass it). Therefore, prepare more than RM101.00, maybe even RM505.00 unless you actively start improving your English skills NOW!!


As for writing...

The marks have also been adjusted accordingly. This is actually a good move because it better reflects the banding system because if you pay close attention Band 1 has a huge range (0-99) compared to the other bands (range of 40 marks per band).

Writing:

Report Writing:

Task Fulfilment (20) + Language & Organisation (20) = 40 marks

For each band:
B1: 0-6
B2: 7-9
B3: 10-12
B4: 13-15
B5: 16-18
B6: 19-20

Academic Essay:

Task Fulfilment (30) + Language & Organisation (30) = 60 marks

For each component:
B1: 0-10
B2: 11-14
B3: 15-18
B4: 19-22
B5: 23-26
B6: 27-30

Logically speaking, it should be easier to achieve Bands 3 & 4 now because as long as you have completed your essay with at least 5 paragraphs with understandable English and relatively good ideas and justification, you should get 15/30 per category. Perhaps this will make the quantity of Band 3s increase and overall results may improve with this new grading system. I hope at the end of the day, students will benefit from these changes particularly if they will strive harder to improve their English language proficiency in the process.

Ok, once again, let me re-emphasise that I'm just blogging on my own, no insider information from MPM and I have no say in the overall proceedings. These are just my opinions, do not take it as concrete facts set in stone. DO make up your own mind based on the latest exam and let's all pray that it will benefit our future generation if not the immediate one. Happy teaching!!


Friday, September 5, 2014

Hooray to my July'14 batch Majakirians!

Soooooooooo proud of Franky, Asnaini and Fadillah... my band 4 students.. we did it! They are the top students in the whole of Papar district... All the practices we did really did pay off. You know.. you can say what you want about kampung kids, but if u give them the right chance and the right motivation, anything is possible! Tq Franky espcially for letting me share your essays with the whole of Malaysia through my humble blog. :) May you guys have great futures ahead!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

MUET July 2014 Report Writing Sample Answer

In general, the academic essay question for July 2014 was difficult but luckily the report writing question was a clone of a question that came out in the past (about radio stations and the promotional activities they did, if I remember correctly). Therefore, it is hoped that many people will gain some marks here even if their essays were less than perfect.

A) Title
B) Introduction sentence.
(What are the stimuli?)
C) Overview/Trend 
(What is the most outstanding idea that LINKS all stimuli?)
D) Key Features 
(Most outstanding features as opposed to listing down the obvious features)
E) Conclusion sentence.
(Similar to Overview but just written from a different angle.)

Based on the format given, you could easily write 150 - 200 words.

Question: 
Study the chart and table below. Using only the information provided, analyse the sales of three fast food outlets in the first quarter of 2012. In your answer, you are to link the information presented in both visuals. You should write a report withing 150 - 200 words. 



A) Title: 
Sales of Three Fast Food Outlets in the First Quarter of 2012

B) Introduction:
The stimuli present a line graph on the sales of three fast food outlets in the first quarter of 2012 and a table on their promotional activities. 

C) Overview/Trend:
In general, the sales of fast food outlets increases in direct relation with the amount of promotional activities. 
OR
In general, Ken Burger recorded the highest amount of sales especially when they carried out promotional acitivities.  

D) Key features:
ANALYSIS (within each stimulus)

LINE GRAPH:
* According the the line graph, among the three fast food outlets, Ken Burger is the most popular choice followed by Mario Pizza and Ray's Fish & Chips. 
* The highest recorded sales was by Ken Burger in April as it rose sharply from RM3000 to more than RM4000 in sales. 
* Sales for Ken Burger dipped between February and March to an all time low of below RM1900.
* Mario Pizza achieved its highest sales of RM1500 between February and March before dropping to less than RM500 at the end of April.
* Ray's Fish & Chips was the least popular among the three fast food outlets selling less than RM500 for all four months. 

TABLE: 
* Ken Burger and Mario Pizza both carried out two promotional activities in the first quarter of 2012. 
* Ray's Fish & Chips carried out the least number of promotional activities which was to give a free drink in March. 

SYNTHESIS (Linking between stimuli)
* Ken Burger's sales increased when they carried out promotional activities in January (free drink) and April (gift voucher) whereas sales dipped when no promotions were carried out. 
*Similarly, Maria Pizza's sales also increased in February and March due to the two promo activities they held during that period. 
* Ray's Fish & Chips  had poor sales throughout the first quarter as they rarely had promotional activities. 
* Furthermore, Ray's Fish & Chips only offered a free drink in March and this resulted in only a slight increase in sales. 
(A friend kindly explained that my synthesis examples are not accurate because it lacks data so here are the examples given. Thanks a million to helpful people who are willing to share, otherwise we will keep groping in the dark!) 

"As for the Synthesis, just add in the data into the sentence as u hv done for the Analysis. When u link the visuals u have to do it with the data....For example,
1. (Among the 3 outlets), KB had the highest sales from January to April ranging from around RM1900 when it offered a 50% discount on (the) next item in March and RM4200 in April, when it gave away Gift Vouchers. 
2. In (the beginning of) January, Free drink by KB raked in the highest sales of RM2500 while RFC saw its lowest sales of RM350 as it had offered nothing
3. The highest sales of MP were in mid-Feb (RM1550) when it gave 50% discount on next item while its lowest (sales) were towards/at the end of April (RM380/RM400) when no activities were promoted."


E) Conclusion:
In conclusion, attractive promotional activities organised by fast food outlets can positively affect their sales. 
OR
In conclusion, fast food outlets sales are boosted when they carry out promotional activities which are attractive to customers such as offering gift vouchers or discounts. 

Basically, as I have mentioned before, a high band answer will have more synthesis than analysis because it is stated very clearly in the instructions/rubrics that you should ANALYSE the results of the survey and LINK the information presented in the two visuals. You will still get marks if you analysed the visuals correctly, but if you were to relate the data using a month to month explanation this would not award you many marks as you are merely stating the features. Therefore, a good MUET student would be able to identify which points ARE THE MOST OUTSTANDING ideas you can get from LINKING the visuals rather than merely retelling the data which everyone can see for themselves. I do hope you know the difference between FEATURES and KEY FEATURES by now.

Therefore, teachers, the challenge is for you to make students realise the difference between Key Features vs Features and Analysis vs Synthesis. Easier said than done,right?! Hence the need for higher critical thinking skills.

So, does anyone want to submit a sample answer for this report? Good luck!


Friday, July 4, 2014

July MUET Writing 800/4 paper

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!

I have just taken a look at the exam paper for writing and the report looks fine but the essay... OMG.. the essay is a KILLER!!! Even I am having a hard time trying to think of valid points... my poor students...

"The imbalance between the number of boys and girls pursuing university education creates social problems." To what extent is this statement true? Discuss. You should write at least 350 words.

Step 1: Understand keywords and brainstorm
Imbalance: more girls now in uni compared to boys
creates: causes
social problems: problems related to society such as ???
Stand?? Do you agree or disagree as to what extent is this statement true?

OMG... I can foresee the quality of MUET results for this session plummeting to an all time low. Sighs...

THE PROBLEM as usual is that students will immediately jump into describing the advantages or disadvantages of an imbalanced gender scenario. THE PROBLEM is also that they will describe POSITIVE EFFECTS.
If you did any of this WITHOUT LINKING TO SOCIAL PROBLEMS... then you have NOT FULFILLED THE TASK, ie you have gone out of topic. Boohoohoo.. judging form the comments below, I can see that most of you have only touched the surface of the issue.

Right, how should this question be tackled.
A simple way would be to totally agree or totally disagree (5 paragraphs minimum).
A high band essay would agree/disagree to a certain extent and try to discuss both pros and cons.

If you were to completely AGREE that the statement is TRUE, here are my suggested stand and points. 
Stand: Completely agree that some social problems can be attributed to the imbalance of genders in university.
1. gives rise to the LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transsexuals) trend which is a serious social problem although there seems to be not much concrete evidence to support this stand. 
2. minority gender would feel oppressed or discriminated which leads to social problems like depression, eating disorders, obesity, alcoholism, drug abuse or even suicide.
3. upon graduation, the influx of graduates of a certain gender may create an imbalanced workforce that may lead to social problems like inequality, unemployment in the short term and poverty in the long term. 

If you were to completely DISAGREE that the statement is TRUE, here are my suggested stand and points.
Social problems cannot be directly linked to the imbalance of boys and girls pursuing a university education as there are a number of other external factors.
1. Imbalance cannot be directly linked to social problems like free sex, baby dumping and abortion as these problems happen in society regardless of the balance or imbalance of gender composition, therefore, social problems are not gender specific.
2. Rather than create social problems, more female uni students than males leads to the empowerment of women and recognising them for their abilities therefore breaking stereotypes and creating more women leaders in entrepreneurial and management positions. 
3. Rather than create social problems, more male uni students than females leads to the increase of skilled manpower, increased opportunity for innovation and creative thinking in a predominantly patriarchal society.

As mentioned earlier, if you want to get a high band, you should be able to discuss both sides while justifying to which side you are leaning more towards. If I were a candidate, I would definitely first agree with the statement to some extent before leaning more towards DISAGREE with the statement. Hope this makes sense.

Before I end my post, I'd like to say that even for me it took some time to generate these ideas so this clearly indicates that this July writing paper is indeed extremely challenging. The only silver lining I can share with you is that they MIGHT, just might, lower the bell graph down so that the marks can be adjusted accordingly. All you can do is keep your fingers crossed!!!

Now who would like to submit a sample essay?? Good luck!

MUET Reading 800/3 July 2014 Suggested Answers

Hi.. my students took the exam so I have a copy of the reading paper.. again, I emphasise, these are just my own answers and are up for discussion.

Here goes!

1. C (no data on 'most')
2. A (2010-1 billion, 2015 - 2 billion)
3. A (It is not enough to concentrate on Gucci n Merc etc)
4. B (graph after 2010 shows a sharp increase)
5. B (spikes in near future - 2011, 2012)
6. B (affluent means rich, so the statement is false because they need to attract all levels of consumers inc. the poor)
7. C (no mention of expenditure and how many percent spent on R&D)
8. B (not the 'only' form as they also use horses and 'chiva')
9. B (not the 'main' source majority of families run subsistence farms)
10. C (no info who rears cattle or if the villagers use for own consumption)
11. C (hospitable is more appropriate than generous, because it indicates that they are being good hosts)
12. B (yes, he was confident)
13. C (definitely have to be imported and locals don't grow them, no mention of difficult to transport)
14. A (hope because if something is done, the rest of the forest could be left to grow once again)
15. A (a single reef shark can contribute almost $2 million USD)
16. A (quantified the economic benefits of shark-diving)
17. A (they bring much more money... sharks with the golden eggs which means they will bring in $$)
18. C (14% is more than 10%)
19. C (work together includes creating shark sanctuaries and ban possession, sale or distribution of shark fins)
20. A (Priceless resource because it focuses on the high economic value of sharks esp in tourism)
21. A (a solution because it lists actions taken to protect sharks)
22. A (man's capacity to alter climate is not mentioned until paragraph 4)
23. A (para 2 addresses the 'how' question, not when or why)
24. C (focus on the main point, overpopulation and industrial revolution are sub-points)
25. A (the main purpose is to describe how much man has changed the covering of the planet, up to 75%)
26. A (profound, ie, significant changes to the geology)
27. C (definitely a warning)
28. C (the writer describes the causes first then the effect to mankind if we do not replenish or use less)
29. C (use less = use sparingly, replenish is mentioned but definitely no mention of 'striking a balance')
30. B (there is a link between our intelligence and technology)
31. A (to avoid thinking things fully when there a short cut is available)
32. B (can be changed quite radically without people noticing)
33. C (minds that naturally incorporate new tools, ideas and abilities)
34. B (they would quietly divide the work up between them)
35. D (you also can rely on the people tools around us which are equally important)
36. A (enlighten is to give more information/knowledge)
37. A (I feel that the whole passage is focusing on the relationship the brain has with technology, cyborgs, change blindness and misers seem to me as sub-points only)
38. B (focus on rapid growth)
39. B (done so in a very different way from other countries. That is in large part the result of the government's historically repressive approach towards information and entertainment.)
40. D (anaphoric reference: electronic retailing is in its infancy...)
41. B (the limitation refers to the internet being so tightly controlled by govt but popularity has increased, not decreased)
42. D (by contrast, the Internet fills gaps and provides what is unavailable)
43. D (options A, B and C are clearly wrong)
44. A (regardless means if you disregard the above facts on Baidu, piracy is starting to worry the govt)
45. B (the availability of free foreign content is holding back [hamper] the development [growth] of the domestic media industry [market])

* Apparently, based on the responses of candidates, my answers r 4 questions wrong meaning i scored 41/45... as i have emphasised, these r MY own answers and even I admit that it is really tricky. A friend has come up with alternative answers, you may cross check with them here below: 
I agree with most of ur answers to the reading paper except the following: 5.A (After 2012, GDP will shrink, look at the date of the report) 9. B ( No crop is said to be the main source of income. So, it's not stated. To be false it must be said that coffee is not the main source of income, but sthg else. The statement must contradict sthg in the passage. Besides, rice and corn are also planted and that is explicitly stated for consumption - line 20. 'The vast majority of families run subsistence farms' is too vague to make the statement false.Also, the writer organised seminars on coffee plantation diseases - line 17... a hint that coffee could be a source of income for some ) 17. C (At first i thought it is A but as a whole, the para seems to mainly suggest the idea of the need to not kill the 'goose' that lays the golden eggs. The monetary and economic benefits are also stressed in paras 4, 6 and 8.) 19. A (line 47 is self-explanatory. Only Palau has made its waters a sanctuary...while te others have banned the fin trade.No clear mention of working together of the island republics) 20. C. It is a priceless resource even for its fins. But here the Palau experiment/study and therefore experience makes it more lucrative as a tourist attraction. 37. B. We are 'natural born cyborgs' and naturally incorporate tools (technology, Google etc,) ideas and abilities(mental division of work). Line 44 - 46 ...technology is just a small part of the whole theme of the passage, it is used to show how we operate as 'natural born cyborgs'). Besides, 'Technology' in 'A' is too wide. To be specific, the kind of technology referred to here is limited to online tools, lines 2-4). And yes 42 is D. I had thought it was B.

Anyway...
You will need to score:
(A)   21/45 – Band 3
(B)   27/45 – Band 4
(C)   33/45 – Band 5
(D)  39/45 – Band 6
(BTW this is just a forecast, you still need to do well in other papers to achieve your forecasted band)

Ok.. so how did you do? Good luck and you are free to leave a comment below.