The General Paper Explained – 4 Critical Components

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Most students have serious qualms about the General Paper (GP).

After all, most quail at the idea of writing a 800 word essay.

And then, there is the comprehension passage with AQ.

Whenever one has to think outside of the box, it presents a problem and the endless moans and groans begin.

The very idea of amassing enough content to fill up a 800 word essay can be daunting.

I mean, just think of the facts. That alone should be strong enough to support the question!

The problem emerges when you run out of evidence and that is a major problem indeed, dear readers.

However, fear not. I have put together 4 critical components on how to handle the General Paper well:

#1 The Essay

A general paper essay is heavily loaded with facts and razor-sharp arguments.

You are basically looking at 2 factors when you write.

a) Evidence

This is the biggest stumbling block as I notice that students tend to mesh this up with the explanation part. 

The entire piece of evidence is more of a personal rhetoric with a definite leaning towards a favoured point. 

Most of this is opinion based and there is not a shred of articulate content relating to world/ society matters.

Evidence has to resonate with the 5 Ws and 1 How but more often than not, these concerns are lost in the quagmire of personal reasoning.

I’ve found it hard to plod through what the student actually ‘feels’ about the matter when the content should be based on cold, hard evidence.

b) Suitability 

general paper

The evidence should not only comply with the 5 Ws and 1 How but it should be relevant to the General Paper question. 

Some students just throw out a piece of evidence that they might have memorised just for the sake of using something. 

The question is, will it be better to leave it out altogether?

Always examine the suitability of the evidence. 

Does it relate to the question? Will it really embellish my point and highlight the effect I wish to convey?

Choosing the correct evidence is crucial in managing an essay with the expertness it requires. 

You really need to provoke a certain way of thinking and the best way is to include the most impressive type of evidence.

#2 The Holy Grail – Content

The content you choose to fill your General Paper essay with is the biggest challenge. 

After all, if you are not impressive enough, you will never reach your target.

Your target is to create a dynamic essay that resonates with the reader/ marker/ teacher. 

Whoever is reading it, should go away feeling satisfied that they had culled some useful information from it.

The entire General Paper essay hinges on these 4 portions – Point, Evidence, Explanation and Link Back.

These four elements are like the Holy Grail of GP.

Ok, ok, I’m being a bit zealous but really, you can’t afford to take this lightly.

The fundamental part of essay writing depends on your ability to pace out your ideas, provide suitable evidence and press home your point subtly while coaxing the reader to believe in your stand. 

They should think , “Hmm, she’s got a point.”

Remember, the reader is looking for that grain of truth to latch onto.

Your job is to provide that grain of truth.

What is the grain of truth? 😊

It is essentially that persuasive argument, bolstered with supporting examples.

Once you have mentioned your Point and provided the necessary Evidence, you will need to Explain it.

The Explanation is partly made up of elaboration and partly, your opinion. 

Lucid reasoning and strengthening of your views should form this part.

You need to explain to the reader that your opinion is all the more valid as it is already supported by the Evidence. 

Then you need to explain how your view resonates with the General Paper question.

Always aim for Relevance and Impact. If you can do this every time, your essay will trigger gushing comments from your readers. All good of course! 😊

Lastly, the Link Back.

This is to ground home the point, the part where you signal that you have done your piece!

Mention how this point links to the General Paper question. There are many ways of writing this but be sure to write straight to the point.

#3 Rebuttal And Counter Argument – What?

Yes, I know this part can be a bit confusing to you. I mean, it sounds contradictory isn’t it?

The Rebuttal as you all know, is the opposite side of the Stand Points. This is the paragraph that contradicts what you say in the first few paragraphs.

The Rebuttal ensures that you are able to think lucidly from both angles. 

This creates a Balance in your General Paper essay.

Ok, now I’m getting to the Counter argument, the focus of much confusion. 😊

The Counter Rebuttal is a point that focuses on the Rebuttal point but is the opposite side of it.

For example, if the General Paper topic is “Is Social Media useful?” If your Stand had been to say it is then your Rebuttal will be that it is not.

So, your Rebuttal will be something like this.

“Social media has negative consequences as it causes addiction. This is because teenagers spend too much time on the internet.”

Your counter rebuttal will be,

“Social media can be helpful if someone spends a lot of time on the internet. Teenagers may find useful information that can help them. They could chat to their friends and this can be a confidence booster when they want to tackle challenges especially in the academic world.”

So, you see, it is the Same point. 

What you’re doing in the Counter Argument is to effectively contradict the Rebuttal point. That is, the other side of the coin is revealed.

#4 AQ and Comprehension

This is the Application Question for the comprehension paper.

Apart from the Comprehension paper, the AQ demands that you have a good store of general knowledge mainly in the social area.

You are expected to have some logical arguments that coincide with the author and also rebut it effectively. 

In doing so, you will need some relevant information pertaining to your society.

The Comprehension part is usually more accessible as most students would have had a head-start in it since primary school.

The AQ, unfortunately, seems daunting. 

With practice, this should be a piece of cake. 

Just understand the fundamental aim of the AQ, that is all.

Well, I hope my little exposé has been an eye opener! 

I hope that the General Paper becomes a fairly manageable paper for you. 

Remember, getting a good grade in the General Paper will help you to communicate smoothly. 

Just be sure to concentrate on all the key areas I’ve mentioned. Good luck!

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