2019 O-Level Paper 1 Question 5:

‘Most young people today are obsessed with fame and imitating celebrities.’ What are your views?

One of last year’s O-Level Paper 1 continuous writing questions touched on a topic close to teenagers’ hearts. Being a media-savvy lot, most candidates would not suffer from a lack of points or content. So what remains of their task is organising those points into coherent and persuasive prose.

In this analysis, we will be using the PEEL (“Point”, “Elaboration”, “Evidence”, “Link”) technique to demonstrate how a reply to the essay question could be formulated.

The first step in any essay-writing task is planning. Meticulous planning ensures that you pick up on the key words and generate relevant points. And planning begins by breaking down and parsing the question into meaningful chunks.

Okay, so the first thing students should do is to pick up their highlighter and pick out the key words…

Key words

Young people: For an easier time writing this essay, O-Level students should include themselves in the definition of “young people”. That way, they are able to use personal experiences and relevant anecdotes when writing the essay, thus expanding the breadth of evidence they can use when they “PEEL” each body paragraph. Generally, young people can be defined as those under 21 years of age, although marketers also consider the 18-35 age group as “young people”.

Today: This key word implies that there has a been a change in the attitudes of young people. Thus, students should contrast the attitudes of young people of the past and the attitudes of young people of today when elaborating in their PEEL body paragraphs.

Obsessed: The word “obsessed” shows the degree to which young people are fascinated with fame and imitating celebrities. This rather strong word presents an opportunity for discoursing from different perspectives in an argumentative composition. For instance, a student could argue that while young people like fame and imitating celebrities, they might not necessarily be “obsessed” with them. Or, they could argue that young people are “obsessed” to a certain degree, and then go on to provide examples that show different levels of obsession with fame and imitating celebrities.

Fame and imitating celebrities: The conjunction “and” means that the argument needs to fulfill both aspects of “fame” and “imitating celebrities”. An argument that neglects either aspect will result in a loss of marks.

Views: Broadly speaking, essay questions that ask for your views lend themselves better to argumentative compositions. However, the myriad key words in this question allow students to write a discursive composition that offers a balanced analysis.

PEELing your body paragraphs

‘Most young people today are obsessed with fame and imitating celebrities.’ What are your views?

From the key words alone, students can already generate a multitude of points for their body paragraphs. However, their choices are limited by their thesis statement.

A common thesis statement would be as follows:

I completely agree that teens in this day and age have an unhealthy interest with copying the antics of online personalities in the pursuit of popularity.

Key words have been paraphrased to demonstrate that the student has a firm grasp of the topic. Also note that for the sake of clarity, the thesis statement adheres to the same sentence structure as the essay question.

A supporting point for this thesis statement could be viral trends started by influencers. Flossing (a type of dance), the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the Bottle Cap Challenge are all memorable viral trends that have captured the hearts and minds of teens (and even adults) the world over, so they would serve as excellent examples.

Secondary School Level Essay

Below is an example of how the above point can be “PEEL”ed into a full body paragraph.

Point: Online personalities like YouTubers often start viral trends that are copied by their fans all over the world.

Elaboration: These viral trends are often challenging or entertaining activities which are repeated by fans in the hope of earning their own sixty seconds of fame. Such activities require time and effort to perform, but bring about few real-life benefits beyond the possibility of fame.

Evidence: The Bottle Cap Challenge was a popular stunt in 2019 that required the challenger to spin a bottle cap off a bottle with a roundhouse kick. Even kung fu movie stars like Donnie Yen took up the challenge and posted a video of his own valiant attempt.

Link: Thus, it can be seen that young people are willing to sacrifice time and effort to mimic the stunts that online celebrities do on social media, all in the hope of becoming famous.

As you can see, writing a good PEEL paragraph requires the writer to have not only strong logical reasoning skills, but the ability to weave ideas and arguments into articulate sentences.

Using the PEEL writing technique is a skill that students should learn early, as perfecting it will take time and practice.

Train your secondary school child to “PEEL” like a professional. Sign up for our weekly Secondary English classes or our holiday PEEL workshop.

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