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First Certificate – Writing a Discursive Essay – Get It Right

First Certificate – Writing a Discursive Essay – Get It Right

Here are the top things you need to think about:

  • You need to write 4 or 5 paragraphs, including an introduction and conclusion.

  • The first paragraph should be a general introduction to the subject.

  • Develop your arguments in the middle paragraphs.

  • Give reasons to support your argument.

  • Give examples where possible.

  • Use formal language. Don’t use contractions (we’re, I’ve etc.)

  • Sum up your argument in the final paragraph and include your personal opinion.

Here is a typical task:

People in the modern world depend too much on computers.

Look at a student’s answer to the question. Appropriate language is highlighted in red.

In today’s world, nearly every aspect of life is affected by computer technology.  Computers are used for business, public services, education and entertainment.

Some people are concerned by this development.  They fear that vital skills are being lost as computer technology replaces traditional ways of working in a wide variety of areas from art and design to banking and commerce. They point out the chaos that can occur when computer systems fail, leading to the breakdown of essential services such as transport, law and order.

However, people could not continue to enjoy their present standard of living without computer technology.  There are now far more people in the world than there were a generation ago. The fact that there is enough food for them, that they can travel safely from one place to another, and that they can be provided with medical care, is largely due to computer technology.

In my opinion, therefore, we have to accept our dependence on computers, but at the same time we should work to find ways of making this dependence less dangerous.

Other useful language for a discursive essay:

  • Some people claim that…

  • It is often said that….

  • However in my opinion….

  • Firstly, it is clear that…

  • On the one hand

  • On the other hand

  • While it is true that…..

  • From my point of view….

  • Finally, it is important to remember that….

  • On balance then, I feel that….

  • To sum up….

  • In conclusion….




Alan Giverin

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