3 mistakes to avoid in writing your A level General Paper essay

The A level General Paper essay is probably one of the most daunting papers of the A levels. This is especially so for students who have avoided writing argumentative essays in ‘O’ level English. The GP essay paper is incredibly unforgiving to such students as all 12 GP essay questions in the paper demand argumentative writing.
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There are some common pitfalls that students fall into when writing essays that can be easily avoided. In this article, I will be detailing some of these pitfalls and ways to avoid them in your GP essays. I hope by shining light on these pitfalls, students can avoid them and thus write better essays and thus do better for their A level GP paper.


Choosing the wrong question


The A level GP paper will have 12 essay questions to choose from. It is vital that students choose an essay question that they can do well in. This comes down to being comfortable with the A level GP topics tested in the question as well as the keywords in the GP question. 


Students should take a minute to analyse the essay questions in the paper to find the question they are most comfortable answering. This may mean choosing to answer a GP essay question with difficult keywords or unfamiliar A level GP topics. 


However if forced to choose, students should always prioritise having the right content for the GP essay question over-familiarity over keywords. This is because a GP essay with good examples would do better than a GP essay even with a slight misinterpretation of keywords. For example, if a student has only been writing GP essays on education, he should still opt for an education GP essay question even if it is more complex while writing the A level GP paper.  


Memorising arguments 


While reading GP model essays, it might be tempting for students to memorise good arguments to incorporate them wholesale into their own essays. After all, these essays have done exceedingly well in school exams or may even be written by GP tutors. 


However, this would do more harm than good for two main reasons. Firstly, it robs essays of the personal voice of the student. This is incredibly detrimental to the success of essays written by the student as they would lack a clear stand and direction.


Secondly, often GP essay questions in the A level GP paper have a wide range of contexts and requirements. These contexts and requirements require students to be able to modify their arguments and illustrations to suit the questions. If students merely commit arguments to memory they would not be able to adapt to changing contexts of the GP essays. 


This is not to say the GP model essays or even compiled GP notes cannot be useful to students trying to better their writing. Students just have to be careful that they are using these GP model essays and notes as a source for inspiration rather than documents to be committed to memory. 


Writing the essay unprepared


The worst mistake a student can make for their A level GP paper essay is doing it without sufficient preparation. There is really no excuse for it due to the abundance of GP model essays and GP notes that are abundantly available. Even if students are unable to join a GP tuition due to cost they can still get free notes online or from their seniors. 


One great source is the sgexams website which hosts a collection of free notes that are available to everyone preparing for the A level GP paper. Students who join good GP tuition centres, would get the highest quality GP notes. They cover popular A level GP topics at great depth with no compromise in breadth. 


When a student does not take advantage of these abundantly available resources, their GP essay would not be able to compete with a GP essay of a student who does due to the lack of good illustrations and arguments. 


In conclusion, a student who prepares for his A level GP paper by taking advantage of the abundance of available resources such as GP notes and GP model essays would definitely do better than his counterparts. 


However, it is important for the student to remember to take inspiration from them and GP model essays available and not memorise them blindly. Memorising them blindly will only lead to more harm than good as I have outlined above. 


Finally it is also vital that students choose the correct essay question in their A level GP paper. The essay question should allow students to show off their knowledge about A level GP topics they prepared for hence allowing them to do well.