Monday, March 4, 2013

Nov 2012 MUET Writing 800/4 Academic Essay question

Women make better leaders than men. Do you agree? Discuss. You should write at least 350 words. 

Well the question above seems simplistic but the reality is that most of the students who took this exam last Nov, failed. Why did they fail when it would seem like a very debatable topic? It's not as if they had no idea at all as was the case with the 'arranged marriages' question.  After some research, I've come upon the main reason and this, I have to emphasise here, is entirely my own opinion, not MPM's.

So what is the main reason? Well.. simply put, lack of critical thinking skills. MUET teachers out there, I implore you to teach your students these 3 key concepts.

1. Argument, counter-argument and refutation.
2. Differentiating fact from opinion.
3. Quantifying overgeneralisation/sweeping statements.

The first two are relatively simple to teach as there are countless resources you can find... I remember blogging about No. 1 so you may be able to find it here, in fact... just click on the link HERE.

As for the third item, let me elucidate using this essay question.

Most of the candidates were unable to present mature arguments because they simply ended up with statements that are not based on fact but opinion. To make matters worse, they did not quantify the statement with the correct adverb of degree (some, a few, many, most etc) instead they used words like all, always, never. They also misused other adverbs such as too, very, every etc. Therefore the validity of the essay is seriously affected. It is therefore better to use modals like may, might and could to mediate your sentences to make it more acceptable and believable. A MUET examiner is able to spot a sweeping statement a mile away and you can be sure Bands 5 & 6 have flown out the window!

Let me show you some examples.

Women make better leaders than men.
Samples (a) are over-generalisations and (b) has been mediated to sound more credible.

1a) Women are too emotional so they will always make the wrong decision.
  b) Some women are very emotional so they may make wrong decisions.

2a) Men are very intelligent but women always never use their brains and cry all the time.
 b) Surveys have shown that men are more intelligent than women and can handle stress better.

3a) Men are better leaders because they invented all the things in the world.
  b) Men could make better leaders because they are intelligent enough to create most inventions.

(3a is a poor sentence because it is over-generalised as well as having faulty logic. 3b is better because it adds 'intelligent enough' thereby linking the two ideas to make it flow more logically.)

Basically, to write this essay well, one needs to be objective, neutral to an extent and able to discuss both the pros and cons before coming to a mature decision. So, would anyone like to submit an essay before I post a sample?

:) Happy penning!


  1. Before we write an academic essays there are lot's of thing that we should have to consider to write an high quality like doing good research, reading news paper, video etc.

  2. i want to ask something..if we write an essay less than 350,it is ok or it can affect the marks.

  3. May i have the sample essay please