Monday, November 2, 2015

The secret to MUET Writing 800/4, a personal perspective.

Countdown to 7th Nov 2015!

Well, I have not blogged about my school's results for July MUET 2015 yet. Now that I have time to write a nice long post, here goes.

My school's result this year hit the ball out of the park! Home run, baby! Managed to significantly reduce Band 1 to only 4 persons compared to 22 persons last year. If you consider Band 2 your minimum achievement (cos they can enter uni) then this year we got 94% compared compared to 59% in 2014. We also managed to get 1 Band 5, and 5 Band 4s and out number of Band 3s increased significantly. All in all, it was a fantabulous result for a suburban school.

So what's the secret?
The main point could be that the marking scheme is now more lenient because since last year the Banding has been adjusted to have a bigger margin for Band 1. This means that if you consider a script a Band 3, they are entitled to much higher mark compared to previous grading system. (ref to this link for my post on the change of marks: MUET NEW Bands)

A second reason is the fact that I no longer teach my 5 paragraph format which I have championed for many years. The 5 paras of intro, 3 points and conclusion are no longer sufficient to get a convincing pass. Hence, I have now developed a 6 paragraph argumentative essay template that will help your hardcore Band 1s to achieve at least a Band 2 and above. Take note that if you want to get Bands 5 or 6.. you need to go above and beyond my 6 paragraph format to demonstrate HOTS, maturity of thinking as well as accuracy and fluency of the English language. If you just want to ensure students get the basic idea of an argumentative essay, by all means, start with my template as a stepping stone.

So what does it look like and how does it differ from my previous template?
Basically, I have now incorporated Paragraph 5 which is a whole paragraph on Counter-Arguments (CA). The starters for counter-arguing are:
However/In contrast/On the contrary/Conversely,... and students proceed by explaining why they disagree to a certain extent (25%). This shows the examiner that they are able to see two sides of the coin and justify their prior 75% agreement/disagreement.
The conclusion brings the reader back to their initial 75% agree/disagree stand hence rounding up the arguments nicely with a killer closing sentence using the table I have blogged on earlier here.

Anyway, the point is that I have conducted multiple workshops and taught throughout the year using this new 6 paragraph format and the results are spectacular. All 70 of my students got 30/90 (lowest) and above for writing, highest was 66/90 which makes the average 48/90 which is in the Band 3 (160/300) range... so this tells me that the 6 paragraph format is a good idea. my 4 Band 1s scored poorly in the other 3 papers hence they garnered less that 100/300. Numbers talk.

Right. So, happy teaching! I have added the template below. I have also included 2 sample essays. At the end there is also a template for points for 3 essay questions with 6 possible essay structures.

I do need to caution you about how to tackle the MUET question as it is a bit tricky and most students go out of topic. Previously, I have blogged about 'Part A & Part B' in each question and that you really need to avoid 'Sweeping statements Doc 1 & Doc 2'. Also, grammar is always important, crucial even! So remember to click the links to find out more!

Sample 1
Students should be allowed to bring mobile phones to school.

         In this era of information technology and social media, mobile phones are becoming more of a norm than a luxury item. In fact, more and more students are able to save their money and buy mobile phones of various brands such as Samsung, HTC, Lenovo and Oppo in order to stay connected with their friends and family. In my humble opinion, I truly believe that students should be allowed to bring mobile phones to school because it is good to teach them to be responsible for their own belongings. There are a few reasons for this, namely, easier to communicate (A1), an excellent source of information (A2) and schools can control usage of phones (A3).
Firstly, students should be allowed to bring their mobile phones to school because it will definitely make communication easier for everyone. This means that the mobile phone is a useful tool to make calls or send messages. Moreover, it is very convenient to inform our parents if there are any changes to the timetable. For example, if we need to let our parents know when to pick us up if the school suddenly has a program such as IM1S, co-curricular activities, marching practice and so on. Therefore, if students are allowed to bring their handphones to school it would be so much easier to keep everyone informed about our whereabouts.
Secondly, mobiles phones are an excellent source of information and this is another factor why we should allow students to bring them to school. This is because students who have smartphones will have access to all the information on the internet at the tip of their fingers. In addition, it will help them do their work better and more efficiently. For instance, they can research online for information on projects given to them by teachers such as researching facts on famous people, science experiments, essays, reports and many more. Thus, allowing students to bring mobile phones to school will help them tap into the multitude of information that exists in the world wide web today.
Finally, a final factor why I agree that students should be allowed to bring mobile phones to school is that the usage can still be controlled by the school authorities. The main reason for this is that the teachers have to explain the rules clearly to students that they can only use it outside the class teaching hours such as before and after lessons and during recess. Furthermore, it will teach students to be more responsible for their own things and make them better adults. Take for example the rule that if they use it during lessons the teachers can confiscate the phones, report to the discipline master, call their parents and others. Hence, it is the school’s responsibility to control the usage of the mobile phones so that it can bring more advantages to the students especially in improving their education.
Conversely, there are other factors why mobile phones should not be allowed. This is because some students who do not have mobile phones will feel inferior compared to their rich friends who can afford smart phones. Additionally, handphones can be very distracting to the students because they will constantly want to look at their phones. Some examples are students become distracted when they play games, watch Youtube, make funny videos of their friends and teachers, cheat during examinations and so on. Ultimately, there are always two sides to a coin so we should realise and accept that there will be some disadvantages of allowing students to bring their phones to school.
In short, students should be allowed to bring mobile phones to school because handphones ease communication, allows students unlimited access to online information and the school authorities can still control the usage so normal lessons are not disrupted even though there are some disadvantages. I still absolutely agree that students should be allowed to bring mobile phones to school because it is a useful learning tool. I hope that the government through the Ministry of Multimedia and Communication should spearhead a comprehensive strategy to provide a solution by giving smartphones and providing free Wifi connection to all students in Malaysia.

Sample 2
Money is the most important thing in modern life.

           In this era of modernisation, money seems to be the most important thing in life. In fact, without money, life would be quite a torture because we would not be able to buy what we want including food, clothes or even afford a safe place to stay. People would do anything for money, hence the saying ‘Money is the root of all evil’. From my perspecctive, I totally disagree that money is the most important thing in modern life because we cannot survive on money alone. There are a few reasons for this, namely, family is by far more important in life (A1) followed by religion (A2) and good health (A3).
First and foremost, money is not the most important thing in modern life because family is much more important than money. This means that even though we are poor, we will still be able to survive with the support of our family members. Moreover, parents who love their children will work hard to earn money so that they can all live a better life. For example, we will always turn to and rely on our family members for support when there is a problem, accident, disaster and so on. Therefore, money is not the most important thing in modern life because family always comes first.
Secondly, a strong upbringing in religion is another factor why money is not the most important thing in life. This is because in times of problems and pain, each person normally turns to religion for support because a strong belief will give people strength to face all situations. In addition, it does not cost any money to have a good religious upbringing. For instance, parents can ensure that through religion, their children can differentiate black from white, bad from good and make the right choices in life, love, career, friends and many more. Thus, the keyword is ‘most’ and money is surely not the ‘most’ important because a family with a good religious background is by far more important than having money.
Last but not least, a final factor why money is not the most important thing in modern life is health is wealth and no amount of money can buy good health. The main reason for this is in comparison to money, health is definitely more important because if we do not have good health, life would be very hard to live to the fullest. Furthermore, good health is essential if we want to make money to support ourselves and our family. Take for example a person with good health can get a good job like being a pilot, teacher, doctor and others. Hence, without good health, money is meaningless and all the money earned will be spent on paying for doctor fees and medicine.
On the contrary, there are other factors why money is important in this modern life even though it is not the most important. This is because modern lifestyle is not cheap and there are many bills to be paid in order to survive. Additionally, we are no longer living in the era where we can build a house out of materials from the forest or plant food and hunt or gather in order to eat. Some examples of a modern life are we need money to buy a house or pay rent, purchase food and clothes, pay for school fees and buy books and stationery, travel, eat out in fancy restaurants or fast food outlets and so on. Ultimately, it cannot be denied that money is still very important but it is not the most important thing in this modern life.
In a nutshell, money is not the most important thing in our changing world today because family comes first, religion provides us a solid foundation and health is wealth even though there are some reasons why money is important for our survival in this modern world. I still absolutely think that money cannot be the most important thing in life because family, religion and health will always come first. I hope that the non-governmental organisations such as Sabah Women’s Association (SAWO) should organise an effective campaign to overcome materialism and teach the community that money is not everything by conducting ‘Family First’ talks and raising awareness on ‘Health is Wealth’.

How about you try to write using one of the topics in the outline provided above.. either agree or disagree. Good luck!


  1. hi Teacher,
    May I take these two passage as my references?

    Thank you.

  2. May I take those essay too? For my references because I really love the way you elaborate the points. Thank you :)

  3. teacher, i found this blog and it is very useful me. may I copy your notes ? thanks a lot

  4. Hi, need help here. My lecturer told me not to use any "I" in argumentative essays, for example "I disagree/agree." She told me to write "The statement is true/false" to show whether I agree or disagree with the statement. I feel like it's ridiculous to answer that way since the question is asking for my opinion. Quite confused right now, please help D:

  5. Thanks. This helps a lot :) bless u

  6. This blog is really helpful and thank you so much..

  7. This blog is really helpful and thank you so much..

  8. Thanks. This helps a lot :) bless u

  9. argumentative essays and discursive essays, are they the same? if no, we need to give our stand for discursive essays also, like agree, disagree..?

  10. Really really superb excellent essayyyyyy. Good elaboration. Really really help me. Thnksssssssssss

  11. hi,, tq teacher for share this references
    im from foundation in science student ...

  12. teacher, i found this blog and it is very useful me. may I copy your notes ? thanks a lot, this blog really help me to score in MUET.

  13. teacher, i found this blog and it is very useful me. may I copy your notes ? thanks a lot, this blog really help me to score in MUET.

  14. Teacher,can I copy your notes?.Thank you very much...

  15. Teacher,can I copy your notes?.Thank you very much...

  16. Hi teacher. May I take the notes, examples, samples that you provide in here. They're amazingly useful and helpful. So sorry for any inconvenience. Thank you so much teacher :')

  17. Morning teacher, allow me to study and making revision based on what your share on your blog please...:-) tqvm

  18. Hello teacher, thank you for the useful notes :D

  19. Teacher, may I copy your notes? Thank you so much :)

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