Tip #1

  • Use a formal, impersonal style
  • Use topic sentences to introduce the subject of each paragraph
  • Write well-developed paragraphs, giving reasons/examples for each point
  • Use linking words/phrases:
    • Sequencing words (e.g. first/ly; second/ly)
    • Same line of thought (e.g. furthermore; likewise; in addition; similarly; moreover)
    • Contrasting idea (e.g. yet; on the other hand; nevertheless; however; although; otherwise; conversely; on the contrary)
    • Conclusion or summary (e.g. thus; therefore; consequently; hence; in conclusion)
  • Use quotations, either word-for-word or in paraphrase, being careful to identify the source (e.g. As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said, ”…)
  • Review all aspects and viewpoints of a particular topic and present these views objectively


Tip #2

  • Don’t use contractions (e.g. can’t; shouldn’t)
  • Don’t use abbreviations (e.g. MOE; SPCA) unless you have previously introduced the term [“According to the Ministry of Education (MOE)…”]
  • Don’t use informal / colloquial language (e.g. some guys; stuff; lots)
  • Don’t use very emotional language (e.g. I absolutely detest people who…)
  • Don’t express personal opinions too strongly (e.g. I know…); instead, use milder expressions (e.g. It seems to me that…)
  • Don’t make sweeping statements (e.g. Everyone believes that…)
  • Don’t quote blindly or refer to statistics without accurate reference to their source [e.g. “A Minister of Parliament said… / A recent study showed…”  (which minister / study?)]
  • Don’t use clichés (e.g. Time heals all wounds.)


Tip #3

What are some differences between a discursive essay and an argumentative essay? Here are some tips to tell them apart:


  • Discursive essay: To present a balanced and objective discussion; usually discusses both advantages and disadvantages of the topic
  • Argumentative essay: To convince the reader to agree with the writer’s view

Writer’s Perspective

  • Discursive essay: 2 or more points of view
  • Argumentative essay: Takes a strong stance on the topic or issue; only 1 point of view

Body of Essay

  • Discursive essay: 2 supporting reasons, 2 opposing reasons
  • Argumentative essay: 3 supporting reasons, 1 counter-argument


  • Discursive essay: Allows readers to draw their own conclusion, or expresses a low-key opinion
  • Argumentative essay: Repeats thesis statement and summarises supporting reasons