How to write a good essay: Paraphrasing the question
Do you sometimes struggle to begin writing an essay when taking an exam? Good news! There is an important writing skill that will help you improve your essay introductions. This technique is called “paraphrasing”, and it means rewriting something using different words. In this lesson, I will teach you how to paraphrase successfully and how to change essay questions into your own words. These skills are very useful for university and high school students, as well as any students writing English proficiency exams like the TOEFL or IELTS.
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Hi, there. My name is Emma, and in today’s video I’m going to teach you something very important for if you’re taking any type of test that has a writing component. So, if you are taking the IELTS, the TOEFL, the CELPIP, even just a university test, it can be any type of test, but if you’re asked to write something like an essay or a paragraph, this video is for you. Okay? So I’m going to teach you a very important skill that will help improve your marks when it comes to writing on tests. So, let’s get started.
So, I have here an essay question. This question is actually… I’ve seen it on the IELTS. You know, you have similar types of questions on the TOEFL, sometimes in university. The question is this: “Education is the single most important factor in the development of a country. Do you agree or disagree?” Or maybe: “To what extent do you agree or disagree?” So, this is an example of a question you might be asked.
Now, a problem a lot of students have is in their answer to this question. They see this, and they think: “Okay, education is the most important factor in the development of a country, yes, I agree.” So then they… Or: “I disagree”, and they start writing. And what do they write? Usually the very first thing students will write is this: “I agree that education is the single most important factor in the development of a country because…” So, what is the problem with this? Is there any problem to start off your essay with something like this, or to start off your answer? There’s a big problem. So I want you to take a moment and think: “What could be the problem with starting your essay off with this sentence?” Okay, well, if you noticed, you have here the word: “education, education, is, is, the single most important, most important factor”. If you notice, these are the same. They’re the exact same, except for: “I agree that” and “because”. The student, here, has used the exact same wording that is in the question. So, if you do this on the IELTS-and many students do this, same with on the TOEFL-you actually will lose marks, and same with in university, because you’re not showing your abilities; you’re just copying what somebody else has said or what the essay question is.
So, in this video, I’m going to show you first off… First off, I’m going to tell you: Don’t do this, don’t copy. And I’m going to teach you ways in order to improve yourself and your answer by changing this wording. How can you change your introduction so it’s different than what the question is? Okay? So, let’s look at how to make these changes.
Okay, so what we are going to do in order to change the question into a proper answer that doesn’t just copy the question, is we are going to paraphrase. So, the word here is: “paraphrase”. This might be a new word for you. What does it mean to paraphrase something? Well, when we paraphrase, it means we take a sentence that, you know… We take somebody else’s sentence and we change it into our own words. Okay? So, we change the words of a sentence, we also change maybe the sentence structure, but we keep all the same meaning. Okay? So, the meaning from the sentence you copy, it stays the same, same meaning, but different words and different sentence structure. Okay? So it’s in your words, but this other person’s meaning.
So, we are going to paraphrase this example of a question into our own words. So, first we’re going to look at how to do that using vocabulary and synonyms. So, we have here the same question: “Education is the single most important factor in the development of a country.” How can we put this into new words or our own words that keep the same meaning? Well, we can use synonyms. So, this might be a new word for you, too. A “synonym”. “Synonyms” are words that have the same meaning, but are different words.
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