Functional Writing

  • Created by: Faolan
  • Created on: 01-06-15 14:29

Assessment Objectives

i) Writing clearly, effectively and imaginatively to engage the reader

ii) Using a style that matches vocabulary to purpose and audience

iii) Organising ideas/information logically into sentences and paragraphs

iv) Making use of language and structural features for effect

v) Using a range of sentence structures as well as punctuating and spelling accurately.

Timing Tips

· 5-10 minutes reading the stimulus material and planning your response to the task

· 25-30 minutes writing your response

· 5 minutes checking your work.

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Introductions to new paragraphs

· “Some people think…but that is not my personal experience…”

· “Let me tell you about the time…”

· “I’ll never forget the impact on me when...”

· “Consider this…” “Imagine if…

· “Please think seriously about my next point…”

· “Believe me when I say…” “The truth is…”

· “Weighing up all these facts, surely it is clear that…”

· “We need to bear in mind…”

· “I have great difficulty understanding why this fact alone would not convince you that…”

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Techniques to use in openings and conclusions

  • use humour
  • immediately make your view clear
  • use emotive language
  • appeal directly to the audience
  • make a provocative statement
  • use a series of questions
  • repetition
  • inclusive language – “we"
  • use of imperatives
  • make an emphatic statement
  • alliteration
  • exaggeration/hyperbole
  • use a quotation
  • present some shocking statistics
  • use a list
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  • “Want to hear more?”
  • “Therefore…”
  • “Furthermore…”
  • “Next, it has to be said…”
  • “Let’s start by saying…”
  • “In the first place…”
  • “In addition…”
  • “To begin with…”
  • “Secondly…”
  • "So, I urge you to think…”
  • “Finally…”
  • “To sum up…”
  • “In conclusion…”
  • “I urge you think about this…”
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A/A* Grade

Candidates working at A/A*:

  • show an awareness of the appropriate tone, style and phraseology
  • show knowledge of similar subject matter- able to draw on knowledge from Science, Geography, Citizenship
  • use their own experiences to expand on the stimulus material
  • respond with real enthusiasm, offering many lively, witty and opinionated responses
  • include personal anecdotes –making the response entertaining to read
  • Cross-reference to subjects like Science for relevant technical information.
  • convey thoughts and ideas in an interesting way
  • use effective link words and sentence structures which give cohesion to arguments presented.
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Do's and Dont's

  • Avoid the typically dull opening: ‘In this essay I am going to look at both sides of the issue of the National Lottery. I will begin by looking at the points in favour of the National Lottery’.
  • Another less than impressive tactic is to open a new paragraph by simply copying out a prompt from the question: ‘Lots of ‘good causes’ get extra money. This is true and I agree with good causes getting the money. . . ‘
  • Challenging or engaging the reader through the use of a rhetorical question can be a lively and effective means of developing attention-‘Do you think state – sponsored gambling is morally correct?’
  • Make use of effective connectives and links-‘Whilst many see nothing wrong in playing the National Lottery, there are others who believe that . . . ‘or ‘At the same time it has been recognized that not everyone can afford to play . . .’
  • Try to conclude strongly-‘Perhaps it is time the Government stopped using the National Lottery as a back – door means of propping up essential services!’
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Essay Plan


  • Begin in an arresting and generally interesting way. Your opening should grab the reader’s attention initially before you aim to maintain this attention over the remainder of the essay.
  • Introduce yourself and your intention(s) – Who are you and why are you writing? What stance/ viewpoint are you going to adopt and why? How are you going to convince the leader/ listener of the validity of your opinion?
  • Who are you writing for? – the examiner, which will determine the tone in which you write.
  • You should aim to begin with a ‘hook or grabber’ to catch the reader’s attention. Aim for something which will immediately arrest the reader’s attention: something thought provoking, controversial, enigmatic, a joke, a proverb, a quotation, a question etc. Some ‘ attention grabbers’ 
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Essay Plan

Main Body:

  • Choose around six arguments from you initial planning session. Present these arguments in the order of their importance/ strength/ persuasiveness. 
  • In the course of presenting your points you should constantly grab the reader’s attention
  • At the end of each paragraph you should look back at its content and ask yourself how many persuasive techniques you have used. Also, you should constantly refer back to the question at the end of each paragraph in order to ensure that you are not straying off the point.
  • You may be given a number of prompts around which to base your answer. Imagine, for example, that you are answering the question ‘Smoking should be banned in all public places. Discuss’. One of the prompts which you may be provided with could be: ‘Every year X number of people die as a result of passive smoking inhaled whilst socialising in public places’. When presenting such an argument, it is most likely that you will include it at the start of a paragraph. In such a case you should not merely re-write the statement and follow it up with something like: This argument show us that … Rather, you should present the initial statement in a way which makes it fit in naturally with the rest of you prose. For example, you could pretend that you came up with the statement yourself. 
  • Finally, don’t just present each argument as a separate, isolated paragraph. You will be credited for linking one paragraph to the next.
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Essay Plan

Counter argument

  • It is also important to show that you understand other points of view. This is why you should always include a counter - argument section after the main body and before the conclusion. Here you should present a number of arguments which you know your opponents would make, albeit in less detail than the arguments which you yourself made in the ‘main body’ section. This section should only be one paragraph long, although this paragraph may be longer than those in the ‘main body’ section because you are summarising a number of views
  • In this section you should state why you believe the arguments of your opponents to be flawed/ wrong or weaker than you own.
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Essay Plan

  • Finally, round- off your piece with a conclusion in which you summarise the points which you have already made and re- enforce the opinion(s)/ view(s) that you have made throughout the essay.
  • You want the final impression to be a positive one. Never finish on a completely new point. It is a good idea to summarise your previous key ideas and then round off with a concluding thought. Nevertheless, the final paragraph should not be a predictable paraphrase of all that you have already said.
  • Try to end in a way which shows originality and flair, ‘Our time in the millennium is nearly over, so let’s enjoy what we have left: don’t waste it, don’t wish is away, because we will remember all that has happened in this millennium and we will say: That was back in the good old days.’
  • Try to end your essay in an interesting way, just as you began it in an attention - grabbing manner. This will allow your concluding statement/ thought to stay in the mind of the reader long after they have finished reading your piece.
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Persuasive Techniques

  • Direct address: ‘I ask you.’ This engages the reader in the essay and therefore retains their interest and concentration because the material seems directly relevant to them.
  • Indirect involvement: ‘Now imagine/think of…’
  • Graphic language: This paints a picture for the reader and may be manipulated to generate hostility, fear, pity, or whatever emotion is most effective to promote your argument. 
  • Emotive language- allows the writer to control the reader’s response. Look out for more subtle examples: ‘These children robbed of their innocence....’ The word ‘robbed’ makes us feel that an injustice has been done.
  • Hyperbole (exaggerate key points) – ‘School uniforms are a torture.’
  • Rhetorical questions: You are not using these questions to ask for an opinion but merely to emphasise a point. 
  • Create a rapport with your readers: This creates the illusion that they are on the same side as you so psychologically makes it more difficult for them to disagree with you.
  • Assertive language: ‘It is well known that ...’ This makes your point seem indisputable. It also makes your opinion sound like it is widespread belief. 
  • Repetition: ’ This gives drama and impact. Many politicians and effective public speakers employ repetition. Martin Luther King’s famous; ‘I have a dream’ speech is a good example.
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Persuasive Techniques

  • Groups of three:  Rhetorically it is very effective.
  • Alliteration: This makes the point more memorable.
  • Appeal to greater authority: ‘Scientists now believe that…’  This adds credibility to what you are saying and can be used to make opinion sound like fact.
  • Quotations: These show you have done extensive research and again add credibility.
  • Statistics:  This provides a factual basis for your argument. Try to have a range of facts and opinions in your essay.
  • Expose the weaknesses in opposing arguments: ‘You may say that….and you would be right, but…’  This shows that your opinion is not one grounded in ignorance or naivety; you are aware of contrary perspectives and have well considered objectives to them. This strengthens your argument.
  • Humour: (If appropriate) lightens the tone, establishes a closer rapport, which in turn, helps maintain interest.
  • Personal Anecdote: This may convince the reader of the authenticity of your views 
  • Tone: Adapt your tone according to the point you are making and the reaction you want to generate in the reader. Will you be indignant, angry shocked, disgusted, sad, happy, calm, or reflective?
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