Cause and effect in essay writing

In the UK we have been enjoying a Bank Holiday. Enjoying a Bank Holiday in this country means huddling inside watching the rain! The correlation between rain and a UK Bank Holiday is extraordinary.

This week heralds the start of exam time in our university.  Let me say one very important thing about exams in UK universities: an exam is not a memory test. That means that in our education system we do not value or respect the ability to memorise long pieces of text and reproduce them in an exam. In fact, rightly or wrongly, in our system we mark students down for this.  If the person marking your work thinks that you guessed the question in advance and prepared an essay beforehand and simply reproduced it in the exam room then you are likely to get a very low mark.

A colleague of mine was talking about his Business students and essay writing. He showed me what he thought was a good paragraph from an essay which he marked:

Many factors have contributed to the price reduction in the television industry. One of these is globalisation which enables easier distribution of products. This in turn lowers costs to enable cheaper selling prices. The cheaper the cost to produce televisions inevitably lowers the selling price of televisions and this has had a direct impact on customer expectations and feeds into even lower prices.

I looked at the paragraph and realised what the lecturer liked about it. Look again at the cause and effect put forward in the paragraph:

Globalisation

Easier distribution of products

Lower costs

Cheaper selling prices

Impact on customer expectations

Yet more lower prices

The paragraph is good because the writer has put forward an ARGUMENT.   He has put foward a list of causes and effects which show why something happens. It isn't rocket science. But it is clear and straightforward and gets good marks.

Good luck in your exam everyone!

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