Thursday, March 13, 2014

March 2014 Writing 800/4 Essay Question

Question 2: 
The trend today among youths is to own the latest technological gadgets such as mobile phones and other devices. Is this a healthy development among young people? Give your opinion. You should write at least 350 words.

This question looks easy, right? Just write about the pros and cons of the latest technological gadgets.
After all, most of us can't live without handphones and tablets and what not.


It just LOOKS deceptively easy.
I am quite certain that MPM WILL MARK DOWN
if the candidate merely states the benefits and drawbacks of owning the latest gadgets because
which it or is it not a HEALTHY DEVELOPMENT?

Basically, to get a high band, you must specifically answer the question whether you think it is a healthy development among young people or not. It is myopic and short sighted to simply discuss the negative and positive aspects without relating it to your opinion on the key issue. It is also a narrow minded view to focus on the pros and cons to individuals without considering this development's effect to society and the nation as a whole.

If you answered YES, it IS a healthy development, then your points would center around the fact that:-

* students would have information at their fingertips, access to internet and diverse research capabilities
* young people would be able to connect and communicate more efficiently across all platforms
* clerical work especially study or work related data processing can be done faster, neater and more effectively
* the purchase of technological devices would strengthen the country's commerce through the supply and demand of gadgets
all of which would lead to a strong economy and a more productive society hence it IS a 'healthy development' among youths.

If you answered NO, it is NOT a healthy development, then your points would center around the fact that:-

* owning the latest technological gadgets is a wasteful trend as their money could be better used for study purposes rather than buying the newest devices.
* these devices when not used with proper discipline may lead to various addictions such as social networking addiction and even computer game addiction.
* it would increase the gap between the rich and poor students and may even cause petty crime rates like theft of devices to increase

all of which lead to an 'unhealthy' development as it breeds a society that is wasteful and materialistic.

The trick is to play with the keywords. If you have been a debater before, then you can see the logic easily.
In my humble opinion, if you were to agree with the issue then focus on how the trend TO OWN the gadgets is a healthy development. Conversely, if you were to disagree, focus on how owning THE LATEST technological gadgets is an unhealthy development. In the writing world, focusing on keywords gives you ammunition to justify your stand and this is called the 'angle' or 'perspective' which will make or break an argument.

But how can you get a Band 6 answer?
Perfect grammar with minor slips, for sure, but there is also a need to demonstrate acute critical thinking skills and the ability to see both sides of the coin before making a sound recommendation.

Thus, a Band 6 answer would discuss the reasons why it is 'healthy' as well as 'unhealthy' BEFORE stating that it is 'the human factor/the user himself' that has the power to use or abuse the devices to their advantage or disadvantage.

So... those who just took the exam... DID YOU ANSWER THE QUESTION? 
The likely scenario is that you merely stated the advantages and/or disadvantages 
WITHOUT LINKING it to the 'healthy/unhealthy' issue. 

My only advice, better luck next time! 

Click here to see my student's great sample essay! 

March 2014 MUET Report Writing Question

Hi people. Here are my thoughts on the report writing question.

Firstly, it was relatively easy and clear cut. I think that with a bit of critical thinking most students would have found it easy to score in this section. Below is a breakdown of how to answer the question.

Follow the format given by MPM.

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.

A) Title: 
Visitation of Youths to the Dentist  from 1971-2010

B) Introduction:
The stimuli present a bar graph on the Number of Youths visiting the the dentist over four decades (1971-2010) and a table listing medical and cosmetic reasons for two periods (1971-1980 and 2001-2010).

C) Overview/Trend:
In general, visits to the dentist has risen steadily for both genders and girls recorded the highest visitations mainly for cosmetic reasons.

D) Key features:
ANALYSIS (within each stimulus)

* According the the bar graph, visitations to the dentist by both genders increased steadily.
* The lowest recorded visitations was by the girls in 1971-1980 with only 26,000 visits. This total almost tripled to 75,000 in 2001-2010 which is also the highest recorded for both genders.
* The lowest recorded visitations by boys was also recorded in 1971-1980 with 30,000 visits which doubled to 60,000 in 2001-2010.
* 1971-1980 was the only period where the number of boys visiting the dentist was more than girls.

* According to the table, the main reason for visiting the dentist for both genders is for filling cavities.
* Girls showed a drastic increase of reasons for visiting the dentist where they only went for medical reasons in 1971-1980 to going for both medical and cosmetic reasons in 2001-2010.
* In 1971-1980, boys visited the dentist for more medical reasons than the girls and later in 2001-2010 they clearly visited the dentist only when they had medical reasons rather than cosmetic ones.
* By 2001-2010, girls showed very high concern for cosmetic reasons compared to boys as records showed that they visited the dentist to fit braces and to whiten or clean their teeth whereas boys only had braces fitted.

SYNTHESIS (Linking between stimuli)
* The number of visitations for both genders showed a steady increase which is parallel with the increase of  reasons for going to the dentist over the years.
* Girls recorded the lowest visitations to the dentist with only 26,000 in 1971-1980 because they only went for one medical reason which was to fill cavities.
* In 1971-1980 as well, boys recorded a slightly higher rate of visitations than girls (30,000) because they went for more medical reasons which was to get their teeth extracted as well as cavities filled.
* The data shows girls recorded the highest visitations (75,000) to the dentist in 2001-2010 when cosmetic treatments like fitting braces and the whitening and cleaning of teeth were available.
* Boys also recorded the highest visitations to the dentist in 2001-2010 (60,000) which is double the number in 1971-1980(30,000) but they mainly went for medical reasons rather than cosmetic ones.

E) Conclusion:
In conclusion, visits to the dentist steadily increased for both genders by 2001-2010 whereby boys showed more concern for medical reasons while girls focused more on cosmetic reasons.

Basically, 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 year to year 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. Am I making sense? I hope so. 

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. 

Stay tuned... next blog post is about the essay question and why most people cannot get higher than a band 3-4... (in my humble opinion only, take it with a pinch of salt!) 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

March 2014 MUET Reading 800/3 answers

Hi all... just re-emphasising again that these are my personal answers, I have no direct connection with MPM and their answers so please use it for your reference only, they are NOT carved in stone! Just appreciate my efforts and please no backchat or annoying speculations. hehe..

Open for debate!

1. C
2. A is my answer cos to calculate percentage it would definitely involve 100% even if the findings show less than that percentage./ B - is the suggested answer from another a reliable source.
3. B
4. C
5. C
6. A
7. B
8. A
9. A
10. C
11. C
12. C
13. A
14. A
15. A
16. B
17. A
18. A (changed after long discussion with a reliable source)
19. A (changed after realising my typo.. I did choose A but don't know why I didnt type it out correctly)
20. C
21. B
22. C
23. A
24. A
25. C
26. C
27. B
28. B
29. C
30. C
31. C
32. D
33. D
34. D
35. C
36. D
37. C
38. B
39. A (changed because of the word 'cautious')
40. B
41. A
42. A
43. B
44. B
45. D (C is also an option but I still think the whole article does not revolve around 'Lessons' even though the last part is a reminder to learn from the Yellow river)

Same? Different? Let the debate begin!

In comparison to the results announced by MPM, my suggested answers contain 4 ERRORS. It is very unclear which of the 4 answers are wrong. If even I can make 7 errors, consider how hard the level of MUET reading paper is. The most I can advise you is to do more practices and have faith. Better luck next time!