Concise writing

If your extended essay is not easy to read, then you may miss out on marks. While there is no explicit criterion that assesses writing style, you cannot be awarded for the quality of your ideas if they are not communicated clearly.

In an effort to impress examiners, many students make the mistake of writing long, flowery, complicated sentences that do not 'flow' or read easily. The best solution is to write concisely, accurately and coherently. What does concise writing look like? Compare the examples below.

Poor writing Concise writing
We have not been able to solve the problems of failed states by giving them great sums of money, which, as we can see with Uganda, which has only made problems worse, such as large-scale corruption. The problems of failed states cannot be resolved by direct monetary aid. As can be seen with the case of Uganda, foreign aid has only aggravated problems such as large-scale corruption
Problems: This is a run-on sentence. It includes a vague 'we'. Some phrases are rather 'wordy'. Solutions: The long sentence has been split up into two. The phrase 'giving them great sums of money' has been replaced with 'direct monetary aid'. 'We' has been cut out of the writing, making the writing more persuasive.
Globalisation and increased immigration fuel cultural conflict within the same geographical area. With immigrants raising their children in other countries, the clash between two cultures and the question of which one to adopt to raise their children has become more prevalent. Specifically, immigration to the West, especially the US and UK, is increasing and many people are forced to interact with someone who has an unknown culture to them, and many are forced to assimilate or adapt a culture that is not their own. Immigration in Western countries, such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom, has increased over the past decades due to the forces of globalisation. The arrival of immigrants to these countries has led to tensions and cultural clashes. Westerners are forced to interact with foreigners, and immigrants are forced to adapt to foreign cultures.
Problems: Many words and phrases are unnecessary, such as 'geographical area', 'raise their children' and 'a culture that is not their own'. There's no logical build up of ideas. Solutions:Use adjectives, such as 'foreign', to describe phrases, such as 'culture that is not their own'. The term 'people' is specified by 'Westerners' or 'foreigners.

What's wrong with this writing?

Below you can read 3 paragraphs from English A essays that are very poorly written. Imagine you are advising these students. How would you advise them to write more concisely? Why do students write this way in the first place? How are the problems greater that stylistic problems of writing?

With the advent of the Internet, people have started to have more faith in the Internet and consider it as a reliable and authentic source of information. The print media, a long known conventional source of news, articles and advertisements, has taken a back seat and is currently treated as an inferior form of news information. This seemingly overnight shift has its own negative bearings on the growth of print media. Precisely, the college going students and youngsters are in the grip of online-related matters. They use different Internet sources extensively to update themselves and to have an edge over others, because of the quick access to information. In a world of competition, lagging behind is considered to be primitive. Hence, everyone makes the effort to catch up with the latest news. Young people are the forerunners because of their extensive use of the Internet related gadgets.

People tend to overlook problems associated with sex in advertising. An advertisement designer said, it’s supposed to be funny and people so strictly. The thing is that advertising is serious because it somewhat affects the buyer’s life. It impacts everybody because the way we understand society is through ‘advertising’. In ads involving sex, we learn that a woman is just something that does whatever she is told to. This may be something that upsets women watching the advertisement. To other women, this basically means something like “hey, I’m more good looking than you.” Some women believe that, which results in a lower confidence level. Advertisements are able to grab everyone’s attention, however, consumers do not realize that these advertisements grab the attention of children as well. Children who are still young and are not yet prepared to see advertisements that include ‘adult content’.

In conclusion answering the question of ‘how is Twitter transforming the way we use language?’, it is safe to say that Twitter has transformed many things in the English language including grammar and punctuation. However, language evolution is constant and Twitter is simply one of the more recent examples of how the language has been adapted to meet the needs of communicating in the 21st century. Also Twitter is to be considered an improved way of texting, therefore texting and communicating using technology may be considered as one of the main reasons for such major changes in the language. Language is metaphorically looked upon as a living thing that could die and live and may have a life expectancy. Change may be more noticeable at times without anyone realising it. There have been more focuses on social media and their affect on the language, since it is exposed to more people speaking many different languages from different age groups. Therefore change must take place when it comes to different communities interacting and communicating with each other. Comparing such situations to real life events, such as the reasons behind the Germans in the First Word War, where they had to fight just to get the opportunity to influence other areas around the world, and to expand their culture and language. The same thing is happening through media, where a battle of different minds and languages are trying to influence each other.

  • Do not be too vague or general in expressing your ideas. Be specific and focused.

  • Use connectives or 'signposts' for the examiner. Your reader should understand the relationships between ideas and know where the essay is going.

  • Big long paragraphs are difficult to read. Break it up into smaller paragraphs which each explore one point only. Use PEEL paragraphs!

  • Be accurate in your use of quotation marks, commas, apostrophes and other forms of punctuation.

  • Avoid the first-person singular pronoun 'I' to express your opinion, such as 'I think.' Even when describing methodology, the passive voice is preferred, such as 'three doses were given each day.'

  • 'Meta-speak' helps, such as 'as will be shown in the discussion on the findings.'

Learner profile

An IB learner is a communicator. Do you know any good communicators? Study the language of journalists and researchers. What kinds of linguistic structures can you immitate easily in your Extended Essay? Language is a kind of vehicle. Where are you going with your essay? What words and phrases will get you there?

Last modified: Thursday, 4 June 2020, 7:40 PM