So, you’ve been accustomed to writing essays at school.
You religiously follow the oft-stated rule about answering the precise question set. You’re good at expressing yourself concisely. You might be wondering nonetheless: how can I take my LNAT essays a step further?
A good LNAT essay is the product of two things:
- An excellent structure
- The demonstration of critical thinking skills in the formulation of strong arguments.
I discuss both of these elements in this article.
Onto the structure of your LNAT essay
Your essay, should of course, begin with an introduction. It is important to bear in mind the purpose of introductions – namely, to make clear your stance in relation to the question and summarise the main reasons for your stance. It is important not to waste time and space in the introduction on giving general factual background information in relation to the question as the LNAT is not a test of your factual knowledge. If you are defining key terms, these definitions should also be put in the introduction. However, be careful to only define terms which are ambiguous, where the particular meaning you adopt affects the content of your argument.
The main body
Your first paragraph in the body of the essay should outline your strongest argument in favour of your stance. It is essential that you include a counter-argument in your essay to show a broader appreciation of the arguments relating to the topic. The element most students omit is the counter counter-argument. By this I mean a paragraph which addresses the counter-argument. One approach is to criticise the reasoning in the counter-argument; the second approach, is to concede that the reasoning of the counter-argument is valid but to suggest that the argument is insignificant in relation to the arguments in favour of your own viewpoint.
Your conclusion should briefly reiterate the main reasons for your stance and your rejection of the opposing viewpoint.
Arguments and critical thinking
The way to strengthen the content of your essays is to ensure that you consider a range of arguments and you demonstrate critical thinking skills in your arguments. It helps to think about what makes a good argument. You should avoid making too many assumptions and ensure that the reasons and examples you use directly support your point.
Moreover, avoid logical fallacies. The fallacy most commonly committed by students is begging the question. To beg the question is to assume what one seeks to assert. The question will be asking you to wrestle with a certain issue and produce and defend a view on it. A student who is begging the question will take to be true a certain view on that issue, without defending it, and proceed to answer the question on that basis.
For instance, imagine that the question is: is it acceptable to appoint ministers without holding an election? A question begging answer would be merely: no, it is not acceptable because it is undemocratic. Stating that the policy in question would be undemocratic is merely to restate the question, which is essentially asking you to go further and defend a view as to whether and why policies which are undemocratic may be acceptable/unacceptable.
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Follow a clear structure, which includes counter-arguments, and thinking critically about the strength of your arguments can help you take your LNAT essays a step further.
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