Sunday, April 24, 2011


Phew!!! Guess I've left my blog unattended for so many weeks. Well then, here's something for you. I came across these notes in one of the websites and felt that it would be very useful for my students. Just make sure you print it out and have them pasted in your essay book. It guides you to write a better essay. Remember, Continuous Essay is the heart of the SPM English Paper. It is 32% of the whole paper!!

Well, let's get straight to the point. These are the stages of writing that you should apply.


This stage is very important because this is where you write down all your ideas and work out whether the ideas are connected and where they are connected.

You can use any of the strategies below:

A Listing

Write down all your ideas on the topic given. Don’t worry if your ideas seem jumbled up and messy, or if your spelling is faulty at this point. Some ideas may duplicate other ideas, so the process of listing them all down will help you to pick these out and delete them if necessary.

B Clustering/Mind mapping

This is where you write down the topic in the middle, and draw ‘arms’ out from that middle. The arms will each have one separate idea. This method helps you to see the connections between ideas. You can link one idea to another and yet another.

C Using Wh-questions

Using Wh-questions about the topic is another useful way to get ideas on a topic.



This is when you organize your essay. Select usable/relevant ideas and discard those which are not relevant. Then pick out which point you consider most important, the second most important and the least important. Write down whatever extra points you can think of to support your main point.

Prepare the outline of your essay.


ii)Main Body - Paragraph 1 main idea 1 & supporting ideas, details
- Paragraph 2 main idea 2 & supporting ideas, details
- Paragraph 3 main idea 3 & supporting ideas, details


Start writing your essay. Organize your points into paragraphs.

i) Writing an Exciting Introduction
Grabbing a reader’s attention can be tricky, but here are some ideas on how to make an introductory paragraph more interesting.

a)Start with an interesting or little-known fact

b)Start with a question

c)Start with an amusing short story/real-life incident

d)Start with an exclamation, or a short dialogue

e)Start with a definition – definitions can be very important in helping you to stay focused on the topic. Commonly used in narrative or argumentative writing.

f)Start with a general statement

ii)Writing Good Paragraphs

A good paragraph must include a topic sentence. A topic sentence usually appears at the beginning of a paragraph. The topic sentence normally states the main point. This main point is then further elaborated by supporting details. Ensure that the supporting details support and strengthen, not overwhelm, the main point. Facts, examples or personal experiences are good supporting details.

iii)Cohesive devices

Cohesive devices are used to link sentences, paragraphs and ideas. They provide logical connections between ideas. Linking ideas in sentences and paragraphs is extremely important because it allows the essay to flow smoothly and is a highly important part of writing a good essay. Some common cohesive devices are as follows:

Function :To link ideas together and show that similarity in ideas
Cohesive Devices : similarly,furthermore, likewise, moreover

Function: To add information

Cohesive Devices:besides that, moreover, in addition, on top of that, …also…

Function:To give examples;for example, for instance, to illustrate

Cohesive Devices: To show differences in ideas/contrasting ideas;however, on the other hand, in contrast, on the contrary, in although, …but…, in spite of that

Function:To show result or consequence of the previous idea

Cohesive Devices:as a result, consequently, therefore, so, thus

Function:To show logical progression of ideas or time sequence
Cohesive Devices:firstly, secondly, lastly, first, second, next, then

Function:To summarize ideas
Cohesive Devices: in short, to sum up, overall, to summarize, briefly

Function:To conclude
Cohesive Devices:therefore, in conclusion, as a result

After you have written your essay, spend some time to check the following:
i) Spelling errors – make sure the words are in English, not Malay Language and that the plural forms are correct
ii)Grammatical errors – subject-verb agreement, tenses, punctuation, improper use of abbreviations and symbols (e.g. do not use the symbol ‘&’, SMS short forms like ‘u’ for you and so on)

Points to note:
Ensure you have answered the question or topic

Ensure the main ideas have been well supported

Ensure the paragraphs are logically presented and the ideas flow properly

Ensure the conclusion is linked to the points presented

Check to make sure ideas are clear

Use words from the correct subject register (e.g. ‘customer’ instead of ‘person’ etc.)

Delete unnecessary information

Now, rewrite your essay. Make sure your writing is neat and clear. If you have extra time, it is a good thing to read through it one last time. Your essay must be approximately 350 words.