In the most recent version of the syllabus, NESA has added a new form of writing for Module C, and that is discursive writing! Although this new style of writing can appear daunting at first glance, it is a fun addition to the module once you get the hang of it. Today, we will provide you with some helpful tips to achieve a band 6 for your discursive.
So, before we start, what is discursive writing?
Discursive writing is a discussion piece of multiple ideas or points of view, without the intention of trying to persuade the reader. This means that you have to counter-argue yourself and provide an argument both FOR and AGAINST something.
For example, if I was to write a discursive about climate change protests, I would start by talking about why it is important to protest e.g. “In order for governments to take our voices seriously, we need to protest against climate change!”. Then, in my next argument, I would contradict myself by saying that protesting may not be so useful after all e.g. “But then I thought to myself, is protesting such a good idea after all? I mean, the politicians aren’t really listening anyway”.
NOTE: Colloquial language is accepted for discursive writing and other forms of writing in Module C (except reflections) but should NEVER be used in any other modules as essay writing must be formal.
A basic structure employed when planning a discursive essay can include:
- An engaging introduction
- Clear indication of your position in relation to the topic
- Your first argument, with supporting evidence
- Your second argument, with supporting evidence
- A conclusion
Key aspects of discursive writing:
Register of Language: can be a mix of formal and informal language (can include colloquialism)
Style and Tone: Educated audience, but open and friendly tone/ subjective
Use of Pronouns: First pronouns are acceptable
Use of Figurative Devices: should be used throughout
Providing Evidence and Examples: Do, but not necessarily in a P.E.E.L or T.E.E.L structure
Structure: intro, paragraphing, conclusion. Paragraph lengths can vary and there is no set structure
Tip #1: Always start with a title
Starting with a title is important as it is a key requirement for a complete discursive piece. You can make your title as fun and engaging as you like, as long as it is appropriate and relevant to the topic.
Tip #2: Starting with a personal anecdote (not compulsory)
Although this is not a requirement, starting with a personal anecdote can help you introduce the topic in a creative way before presenting your arguments. This is a good way to meet rubric requirements such as “students use language creatively and imaginatively for a range of purposes”. For example, say I was still writing that discursive about climate change protests, I could start it by saying “I have always had mixed feelings about protests since attending my first one in December last year. On one hand, it felt good to scream “Climate justice matters!” in hopes that someone would listen. On the other hand, I could not help but wonder, are they really effective for creating change?”
Tip #3: Gathering evidence to support your arguments
Even though you are not writing a discursive piece to persuade the reader, you still have to argue two sides (you just have to make sure that you do not state that one side is better than the other). As a result, you need to find evidence to support both your arguments. This could include quotes, statistics etc.
Tip #4: Make sure you base it on the stimulus
Always refer to the stimulus to ensure you are answering the question. This does not mean you have to refer to it in an extremely obvious word-for-word manner e.g. a stimulus with a picture of a boat does not mean you have to write a discursive about a boat. However, you must always incorporate the stimulus in a way that can easily be justified in your reflection statement and is obvious to the marker e.g. if you get a discursive about a boat, you could write about sailing, fishing or how life is rocky like a boat in the ocean.
Tip #5: Use many language techniques and stylistic devices throughout
This is an essential rubric requirement mentioned throughout the syllabus. For example, the rubric states that students must use “various figurative, rhetorical and linguistic devices”. Be sure to use a few different language techniques and devices e.g. metaphor, rhetorical questions, simile, first person etc. throughout your writing (in the introduction, arguments and conclusion).
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