Beginning with the basics of Section 2 of the ECAA
In section 2, you have to write an essay based upon a passage. There is no choice of essay title meaning that you have to do the question that comes up. Whilst different questions will inevitably demand differing levels of comprehension and knowledge, it is important to realise that one of the major skills being tested is actually your ability to construct a logical and coherent argument- and to convey it to the lay-reader.
Section 2 of the ECAA is frequently neglected by lots of students, who choose to spend their time on section 1 instead. However, it is possible to rapidly improve in it and given that it may come up at your interview, well worth the time investment!
The aim of section 2 is not to write as much as you can. Rather, the examiner is looking for you to make interesting and well-supported points, and tie everything neatly together for a strong conclusion. Make sure you’re writing critically and concisely; not rambling on. Irrelevant material can actually lower your score.
The ECAA essay should follow the standard essay structure with an Introduction -> Main Body -> Conclusion. You should also use clear paragraphs to format your essay and structure your thoughts in a way that is clearly read.
An introduction provides tutors with their first opportunity to examine your work. A good introduction should briefly explain the statement or quote and give any relevant background
information in a concise manner. However, don’t fall into the trap of just repeating the statement in a different way. The introduction is the first opportunity to suggest an answer to the question posed but save the explanation for the main body.
The main body
In the main body, you should explore and make convincing points on the topic. Each point should be evidenced and justified. Each point should go through a basic Point -> Evidence -> Evaluation. By using this process you ensure each sentence builds upon the last.
You must also make sure to achieve a logical flow between ideas. One of the most effective ways of displaying a good understanding of the question is to keep a logical flow throughout your essay. This means linking points effectively between paragraphs, and creating a congruent train of thought for the examiner as the argument develops. A good way to generate this flow of ideas is to provide ongoing comparisons of arguments, and discussing whether points support or dispute one another.
Where possible, you should also use examples. Examples help boost the validity of an argument and can help display good writing skills. They can add a lot of weight to your argument and make the argument much more relevant to the reader.
The conclusion provides an opportunity to emphasise the overall sentiment of your essay which readers can then take away. It should summarise what has been discussed during the main body and give a definitive answer to the question.
Some students use the conclusion to introduce a new idea that hasn’t been discussed. This can be an interesting addition to an essay, and can help make you stand out. However, it is by no means, a necessity. In fact, a well-organised, ‘standard’ conclusion is likely to be more effective than an adventurous but poorly executed one.
Some tips to take away for the ECAA essay
You need to ensure that you show an appreciation for the fact that there are often two sides to the argument. Where appropriate, you should outline both points of view and how they pertain to the essay’s main principles and then come to a reasoned judgement.
A reader who is pressed for time should be able to read your introduction, the first line of every paragraph and your conclusion and be able to follow your argument. The filling of a paragraph will elaborate your point with examples. But the first sentence of the paragraph should provide the headline point.
Some students can start rambling and make introductions too long and unfocussed. Although background information about the topic can be useful, it is normally not necessary. Instead, the emphasis should be placed on responding to the question.
Students sometimes don’t reach a clear conclusion. You need to ensure that you give a decisive answer to the question and clearly explain how you’ve reached this judgement. Essays that do not come to a clear conclusion generally have a smaller impact and score lower.
Get examples of plans for ECAA style essay questions from The Ultimate ECAA Guide. Provided to you as a complementary addition to your Economics Programme.