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.

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. 
In general, Ken Burger recorded the highest amount of sales especially when they carried out promotional acitivities.  

D) Key features:
ANALYSIS (within each stimulus)

* 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. 

* 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. 
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


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 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.

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.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

MUET July 2014 Preparation

So MUET exams are around the corner again.. 3 days left to be specific as I write this.

I keep getting emails asking for spot question. & I keep telling ppl that I dont have any spot questions. I am as clueless as every candidate so please stop asking k! Haha..

However, for practice, try this question BEFORE you look at my sample answer.

Financial management should be taught in school. Discuss. Write at least 350 words. 

Step 1: Identify the controlling idea in the question 
A subject about how to manage your finances SHOULD be taught in school. 
Therefore, I need to write about 'WHY' the Ministry of Education must introduce this subject in schools. 
I MUST NOT go out of topic by writing about the 'ADVANTAGES & DISADVANTAGES' of financial management. 
Instead, I MUST link all my points directly to the reasons for starting this new subject in school. 

Step 2: Brainstorm your stand, thesis statement and 3 main points (minimum 3) 
Stand: I completely agree that this subject must be introduced in school because students need to learn how to manage their finances properly to increase their investments and avoid bankruptcy. 
Thesis Statement: 
Let us analyse this issue in terms of 
1. inculcating good financial management from a young age,
2. reducing individual financial crises and 
3. creating an economic savvy society.

Here is a sample essay submitted by a blogwalker Jihan by email. What band do you think she should get? 

         There’s a saying that says, money makes the world go round. Hate to point out the obvious, but it is true. In this new era, money is what it takes for the society to keep on surviving, well, except for having happiness and religion etc, but that is beside the point. The point here is that, the world is a competition and we need to educate ourselves, from young, on how to keep our financial balance on stable platform.  Thus, the Education Ministry should take note on some of the reasons why they financial education should be taught at school, namely, instilling a good financial management from a young age, reducing individual financial crises in the future and creating an economic savvy society. 
         I do agree that parents should carry a bigger role in teaching their children on things such as saving money and not spend on unnecessary things, but it is also the government’s role in further educating on the theories of having good financial management. It is vital as it actually prepares the future generation to be more aware of the harsh reality. Moreover, when we give them an education on managing their finances, it will help them in the future in terms of having the cash for further to secondary or tertiary education. Therefore, for the betterment of the future generation, is it ideal to educate them at school about having a good financial management. 
        Day in, day out, we see news on young adults has gone into bankruptcy. At the start of their young life, they have negative balance in their bank account and still owing. Having rents to pay, bills to settle, mouth to feed, etc, bankruptcy would be the last thing anyone could ever want. This is an issue we would not want our generations to have. A way to avoid this is by training them from small the benefits of saving and managing their money because at the end of the day, they will be the one who is going to enjoy that. By doing this, it will therefore reduce individual financial crises and simultaneously creating a happy living condition. 
Creating an economic savvy society does not mean society that gets involved in stock market, investment or the index. But it is a society that is capable to support their respective families and still have enough money for the future and also is able to give back to society and do well.  It also means that the society is able to comprehend and understand on the nation’s current economic background. By grasping the financial knowledge, it leads to a society that does not spend unnecessarily and therefore developing a better country.  Thus, the significance of educating young children on financial is obvious as it would benefit the advancement of the country.
        To conclude, before understanding the whole concept of financial management, it is a good idea for us to come hand in hand and educate the younger generations on having savings and such. The need to introduce these types of knowledge to them not only will widen their mind but also teach them to be prepared for the unknown future. It is hoped that the Ministry of Education take this proposal to action in order to foster a broader minded generation that will be the pride and forefront of the nation.

How can we improve on this essay? Better and more specific examples? More sequence connectors or linkers to make it flow better? 

Anyone else wants to send me a sample essay? 

Good luck!!!