Writing Discursive compositions (Secondary level) (Part 3): Introduction of Discursive essays (historical development)


This is my third post on discursive writing. For my first post, please click here.

When it comes to writing essays, one of the most important components lies in penning the introduction.

Most students often make the mistake of simply stating their views on the issue without further elaboration. This often causes the introduction to be rather brief and this brevity takes a toll on their final score.

There are numerous ways to pen the introduction for a discursive essay and in this blog post, we will begin with the technique of “historical development”. It is important to note that this technique requires some prior knowledge of students, as well as an in-depth understanding of the issues’ developments.

Not all questions are suited for this technique. Some questions that are suited for this technique include the following:

i. “People are slaves to the Internet”. Discuss.

ii. “Telecommunications are more of a hindrance than an aid to communications”. Write your views on this.

iii. World War II have valuable lessons for all of us. Discuss

iv. Euthanasia should be legalised. Write your thoughts on this.

v. What are the possible solutions to reducing haze?

Note that for the five discursive questions above, students are able to focus and elaborate on the main subject matter if they have a general understanding of the subject matter at hand.

Are you able to figure out what these subject matters are for each question? The answers are as follows”

i. Internet

ii. Telecommunications

iii. World War II

iv. Euthanasia

v. Gun Violence

“It should be noted that students are able to prepare for discursive essays by reading up on certain contemporary and common issues at hand prior to their essay tests or exams to prepare themselves. This is not the same as memorising and regurgitating all the facts and content. Students have to, instead, organise and prepare these subject matters by understanding and analysing them. Only then can students write well for their introductions using the “historical development” technique. Nevertheless, certain statistics such as dates and figures (such as the exact start date of World War I and II) should be noted to ensure their accuracy in their writings.”

Now, let’s consider two examples:

v. What are the possible solutions to reducing haze?




“Anyone who has been living in Singapore for the past decade would have known that besides the recent flash floods, haze has been a recurrent health hazard in Singapore, resulting in nose blockages, coughs, itchy skin, inflamed eyes, or heart problems for some. This problem came to the forefront recently when Singapore experienced its worst drought (since 1869) in the month of February 2014 in the midst of an ongoing haze. The causes of haze have been both environmental and regional, much of which Singapore has no control over. So, what are the possible solutions for eradicating or reducing haze in the coming years?”

i. “People are slaves to the Internet”. Discuss.

the internet



“Many has argued that the Internet – which has started as a military network ARPANET – has expanded its outreach to the world within decades, turning online users into addicts. And now with the internet placed on the hands of mobile individuals globally, addiction among users has increased immensely. In fact, there have been comparisons being made between an user who is addicted to “mobile surfing” and a dog being tied to a pole on a leash – released in the form of cartoons on Facebook pages. While the intention is by no means derogatory, the message is clear – for those of us who are not attuned to managing our time online, we are liable to be online addicts, especially when the problem is compounded by the fact that we have the Internet placed on the palms of our hands – 24/7.”

In my next post, I will continue to discuss introduction writing but this time, we will talk about the technique of cause and effect.

Author’s background: Patrick Tay is an English Writing Specialist who lectures in various polytechnics in Singapore, and coaches students in English as a private tutor. His professional services can be found here


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