Regardless of which approach you take, review the task directions and then follow these steps:
- Carefully read the claim and the specific instructions and make sure you understand them. If they seem unclear, discuss them with a friend or teacher.
- Think about the claim and instructions in relation to your own ideas and experiences, to events you have read about or observed and to people you have known. This is the knowledge base from which you will develop compelling reasons and examples in your argument that reinforce, negate or qualify the claim in some way.
- Decide what position you want to take and defend.
- Decide what compelling evidence (reasons and examples) you can use to support your position.
Remember that this is a task in critical thinking and persuasive writing. The most successful responses explore the complexity of the claim and follow the specific task instructions. As you prepare, ask yourself the following questions:
- What, precisely, is the central issue?
- What precisely are the instructions asking me to do?
- Do I agree with all or any part of the claim? Why or why not?
- Does the claim make certain assumptions? If so, are they reasonable?
- Is the claim valid only under certain conditions? If so, what are they?
- Do I need to explain how I interpret certain terms or concepts used in the claim?
- If I take a certain position on the issue, what reasons support my position?
- What examples — either real or hypothetical — could I use to illustrate those reasons and advance my point of view? Which examples are most compelling?
Once you’ve decided on a position to defend, consider the perspectives of others who might not agree with your position. Ask yourself:
- What reasons might someone use to refute or undermine my position?
- How should I acknowledge or defend against those views in my essay?
As you plan your response, you may find it helpful to:
- summarize your position and make notes about how you’ll support it
- look over your notes and decide how you’ll organize your response
After you’ve practiced with some of the topics, try writing responses to some of them within the 30-minute time limit so that you have a good idea of how to use your time in the actual test.