Monday, April 8, 2013

A Sample Essay for The Independent Writing Section

Here is a sample essay for the writing section.

Basically, in your intro address the nature of the question, make an argument or a thesis statement and then support it briefly with three reasons.  Use the body paragraphs to explain the reasons.  In your conclusion address the alternative argument and reject it.

Question:  If you had to take a university history class, would you prefer to take it online or in a classroom?  (Let's assume you are from Vietnam.)


Although Vietnam is known as a 'developing' country, more and more people are getting hooked up to the internet every year.  This has introduced an interesting question into the field of education.  Should we adopt online learning programs for students, and, if so, how extensive should they be?  I actually believe Vietnam should do this and, for instance, if I had to take a history class, I would want to take it online for 3 reasons: 1) online learning can be more interesting than classroom learning, 2) it would encourage and develop students' abilities to study by themselves and 3) it would provide flexibility for students. 

Body paragraph 1:

We have all had the experience of buying huge textbooks and studying poorly designed texts from these books for hours at a time.  Online learning can be interactive and can present colorful and exciting features.  For example, if I am studying about the French Revolution, I can watch video documentary clips, go to research libraries online, post questions in forums, watch dramas about this era and even engage in chatroom discussions with fellow students.  There is no longer any need for textbooks.  Everything a student might need is online in various formats.

Body paragraph 2:

Furthermore, textbook learning is passive learning.  Everything you need to learn is within one book and some expert has chosen everything for you and you are often absorbing his/her ideas and prejudices instead of developing your own concepts.  With online learning you are free to go in whichever direction you choose and the student learns that the more effort he/she makes, the more interesting things become.  The teacher is more of a coach or guide and the student becomes a true learner.

Body paragraph 3:

Finally,  online learning provides flexibility for students.  Tuition is so high that many students are forced to work part-time or full-time.  With an online learning program you can fit your class around your schedule and not vice versa.  You can study when you feel like it and school now becomes something manageable which can fit into your day.  For example, if you have an emergency, you will not have to miss class.  You can just go online later.  Your attendance will always be perfect!


It is true that there are some significant problems with online learning.  For example, it is easily possible that students will cheat by hiring tutors to write papers.  This possibility often exists in real classrooms, however, as well.  Another problem is that the real value of a good teacher is lost in that the "Socratic" classroom method cannot be employed.  This "question and answer" method has been very useful in literature classes in helping students really understand deeper meanings of literary works. Yet, in a history class, there might not be such a need for the Socratic method.  Therefore, I think the benefits of online learning outweigh the disadvantages and I would definitely take a history class online.

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