One of the most frequent problems that we see with prépa students when they first come to us is that they have not really been taught how to make, develop or sustain an argument in their written work or colle commentaries. This is partly a problem of language; it’s also a problem of not having enough knowledge of Anglophone actualité to develop points in any depth. But even when students possess that knowledge, they rarely know how to shape it into a coherent paragraph. In order to address this problem, this blog will show you first how to structure a paragraph, and second how to harvest from the news the type of convincing, sophisticated ideas required by your examiners.
A very simple way to structure a paragraph is to use a method which is widely taught in the UK – in schools and even in places such as Oxford University. This is often referred to as the “P-E-A structure”:
“P” refers to the point: the thing that you are trying to argue in the paragraph; this should be set out clearly in the first sentence. This point should be something debatable, not, as we usually see, a description, a platitude or truism. And the only way to ensure that you can put the kind of sophisticated ideas required for the concours into your first sentence is by reading the news.
“E” stands for evidence and/or explanation: this is where you provide the support for and/or clarification of the point that you have made at the start of the paragraph. This might include statistics or other evidence. We find that prépa students are often obsessed with collecting these facts and figures, most of which they’ll never remember, and none of which are any good if they do not support an argument. When reading the news, you need to focus in the first
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