The formal essay is based on a lecture/talk that you have attended. The task gives you your ‘notes’ that you took in the lecture/talk. Always have a really interesting introduction, with perhaps a rhetorical question to grab your reader’s attention. You don’t want your reader to die of boredom before they even hear your arguments!
In your second paragraph, start your argument. You must argue two of the three points in ‘your notes’, WITH EXAMPLES to support your statement. INVENT the examples if you have to. If you’re like me, and struggle to think of examples, use the ideas from the task (that is why there are there!) but CHANGE THE WORDING. Only argue one point in your second paragraph and then move on to your third paragraph where you argue your second point (with examples, of course!). More about paragraph development later.
In your final paragraph, you need to choose one of the two points and support your choice with reasons. This is YOUR OPINION. DO NOT give your opinion in the first 3 paragraphs, only in the last one.
So really, your essay consists of 4 paragraphs – introduction, first point, second point and then your final paragraph where you state which one you choose and say why.
How can you improve your essay writing? Work on using linkers correctly, and use some impressive grammar structures correctly to show off your language skills. A third idea is to work on introduction phrases so that you start your introduction in an elegant way. More on this later!
Any finally, yes, you DO have to hit the word count – any less, and it’s not enough information, any more and you’re not presenting your ideas in a precise way. That’s what advanced writing is – precision writing!