Write Essay

Direction: You will have 20 minutes to plan, write and revise an essay about the topic below. Your response will be judged on how well you develop a position, organize your ideas, present supporting details, and control the elements of standard written English. You should write 200–300 words.

Question 1.

‘The experience of viewing art in galleries doesn’t bear comparison with the experience of viewing an artwork in a digitalized form.’ How far do you agree with this statement? Support your point of view with reasons and/or examples from your own experience.

Due to the rise of digitalization, people can now view most works of art on their phones or computer instead of in a gallery. As far as some people are concerned, this trend is a wholly positive one because it has made art accessible to the masses. However, many people would argue that the experience of viewing art digitally cannot be compared with viewing art in person.

Far more people view images in digital form than in any other medium these days. Not only does digitalization enable people to view art at the touch of a button, but they can also instantly get information about these works online. For those who cannot afford to travel to Paris or New York, digitalization makes artworks from around the world accessible.

My experience has been that accessing digital art has sparked my interest in particular artists and encouraged me to view artworks in person. This experience stands in contrast to the views of those who believe that digitalization reduces people’s interest in viewing art in person. The latter group might argue that the subtleties of colour and light can only be appreciated in this way. Yet technological advances mean that more of the original color and intensity of artwork can now be conveyed digitally than was possible a decade ago. Furthermore, only when you’re viewing an image digitally can you click to expand it and take in more details such as its precise texture and individual brushstrokes.

In conclusion, I would argue that viewing art in a digitalized form does, in fact, bear a comparison with viewing art in person. What is more, the digitalization of art also has the beneficial effect that it enables more people to access art, which is surely what the artists themselves would have wanted.

Question 2.

‘Team sports are invariably more beneficial for the people who take part in them than individual sports.’ How far do you agree with this statement? Support your point of view with reasons and/or examples from your own experience.

There is perhaps a tendency to stereotype those who take part in individual sports, such as tennis, swimming or athletics, as somehow being reluctant to embrace teamwork and cooperation, while those who choose to participate in team sports, such as football and basketball, may be viewed as more willing to share success and possessing better interpersonal skills. In my opinion, these two ideas are, in fact, mere stereotypes and do not accurately reflect the nuances of individuals’ personalities and motivation.

Although team sports obviously promote a sense of camaraderie and encourage people to cooperate and collaborate with each other, it cannot be claimed that individual sports don’t bring benefits of comparable value. There is no doubt that individual sports can also foster resilience and discipline in their participants. Furthermore, even if a sportsperson is on their own while they’re doing their chosen sport, in my experience, this tends to be a small fraction of the overall amount of time that someone invests in a sport. These sportspeople will usually train or practice with other people and may become involved in training or mentoring other sportspeople. As a result, they will also be able to develop the collaborative skills and sense of team spirit that we associate with team sports.

In conclusion, I would argue that individual sports can be as beneficial as team sports as they also allow their participants to develop valuable skills, including some of the skills that we might believe can only be fostered by team sports, for instance, collaboration.

Question 3.

Zoos have a long history and nowadays millions of people all over the world still enjoy visiting them every year. Do zoos benefit modern society and can they play a useful role in aiding wildlife conservation?

Zoos were originally set up not to conserve wildlife, but for entertainment. Exotic animals, often from distant places, were kept and displayed in zoos for the amusement of royal families. These animals were used to show how rich and powerful these families were.

Later, zoos started to become open to the public. Scientists used zoos to carry out research on animals, and people visited zoos to educate themselves about animals from around the world.

In more recent times, zoos have often played a role in rescuing animals and organizing breeding programs to help increase the number of endangered animal species. This can have a positive effect on the populations of rare animals, but it does not make up for the fact that animals in zoos are not living in their natural environments.

Nowadays, scientists and the general public can still learn about animals by visiting zoos. However, this is only acceptable if the animals are given conditions that are as similar as possible to their natural habitats. The welfare of the animals must take priority over any desire to educate or entertain people.

While many modern zoos claim to aid wildlife conservation, their funds would be better spent on projects protecting wildlife in its natural habitats. Successful breeding programmes can be established in the areas where the animals are from. Many such programmes already exist and are able to increase the number of endangered wildlife.

Question 4.

An increasing number of robots are being used nowadays to perform a wide variety of tasks. Do you think robots are going to increase or decrease our quality of life?

Robots have played a part in the human imagination for a long time. Many ancient civilizations have legends of human-like machines that exist to serve people. During the Renaissance, da Vinci sketched what looks like a knight’s armour with an internal mechanism that would make it move automatically. People today tend to think of shiny, friendly machines popularized in science fiction of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. At that time, many felt certain that by today these types of robots would be commonplace. As in ancient times, the dream was for these robots to complete basic tasks and free up time for mankind to focus on more interesting or pleasant aspects of life.

These types of robots have not taken off yet, however, and perhaps they never will. It turns out it is incredibly difficult to build a machine that can complete complex tasks such as walking over uneven ground. However, other kinds of useful robots do exist nowadays. They are typically machines that can complete one simple task effectively and independently, such as robotic vacuum cleaners or toilets. These types of robots certainly increase our quality of life.

Robots as imagined by da Vinci exist in laboratories but are too expensive and complex to bring to market. It remains to be seen whether they will have a largely positive effect on society.

Question 5.

Nowadays, many people use devices, such as tablets or mobile phones, that are linked to the Internet and involve looking at screens for long periods of time. Should we be worried that this type of technology is limiting creativity?

A common criticism of people, in particular children, using screen-based Internet technology is that it limits creativity. Medical experts, educators, and psychologists have all joined in the debate on how much screen time is suitable for different ages, though overall there seems to be little consensus on how much time that is. It is easy to see why many are concerned. We can all conjure up the mental image of a child or teenager mindlessly staring at a tablet or phone for hours. This type of technology, one that demands no interaction and lets the person passively consume, is probably not stimulating or inspiring creativity.

However, this is clearly just one aspect of this kind of technology. In the last decade, the way we interact with screen-based Internet-linked devices has changed dramatically. There are now many social platforms available that have led to a surge in creativity. Instructional videos and apps are enabling people around the world to learn and teach new skills. People are using the technology of this kind to come up with creative solutions to local and global problems, such as managing food waste, organizing transport, or providing companionship to the elderly.

Those designing and writing programs for Internet-linked devices are very creative people. Even children learning coding at school can quickly come up with original games, using nothing but a tablet and their imagination.

It is probably most helpful to view Internet-linked technology as a tool or a means of expression. It depends on the user how much it limits their creativity.

Question 6.

Of the estimated 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, nearly half are in danger of disappearing, in some cases because they are being replaced by international languages. In your view, does this matter?

The spread of English as the world’s most common language has brought certain benefits, such as better and increased communication between different countries as well as easing the sharing of information between universities and other institutions. However, it is probable that the spread of one language is contributing to the decline of others.

Minority languages are facing extinction, but they have value to their communities. Many people feel most at home in their native language, even if they sufficiently master other languages. This may be partly because certain concepts or ideas are expressed more clearly or better in the language local to the situation or context people are in. It is reasonable to assume that a language rooted in a certain part of the world may have more specific words to describe that world.

It is not only vocabulary that can vary considerably between languages. Many concepts are expressed through the grammar of a language. The importance of time, of the individual versus the group as a whole, or the formality of a society or culture is usually expressed through linguistic functions. Losing a language can therefore also lead to a loss of cultural expression and identity.

As we try to preserve other aspects of our world, such as plant and animal species, protecting and reviving languages that are in decline seems desirable.

Question 7.

All teaching should be done online and not in traditional classroom environments. How far do you agree with this statement? Support your point of view with reasons and/or examples from your own experience.

Lots of classes are now carried out online and many people prefer learning in this way than sitting in a classroom. While I believe there are some advantages to online learning, I still think learning in a traditional classroom environment is important and of more benefit to learners. In this essay, I will explain some of the reasons why I believe this.

Firstly, not every student has access to technology. To learn online, you need a computer or mobile device of some kind and you also need the Internet. Some people might not have these and therefore would lose the opportunity to learn.

Secondly, technology is not always reliable. The Internet might not work or the signal might be poor meaning the connection is bad. It might be difficult to communicate or to access the necessary documents if this is the case.

Finally, you cannot create the same social environment online as you can in a traditional face-to-face classroom. We learn many things through communicating with others in a social space and this might not be achieved in the same way when learning online. In this way, important social lessons might be missed.

In conclusion, while online learning is certainly becoming more and more popular and there are advantages such as the benefit to the environment of everyone not travelling to a physical school, I believe the reasons for keeping traditional face-to-face teaching are still stronger. Human contact and social learning are very important for education.

Question 8.

In some countries, children can choose which subjects they study from the age of 14. This allows them to select a specialist area and to stop studying subjects they do not like. What do you think are the benefits and disadvantages of doing this?

Education plays a major role in the public life of a country. It is important to prepare young people for the life ahead of them, and schools can offer children from the poorest backgrounds a chance to get ahead in life. However, there is less agreement on what children should be doing with their time in school.

Many jobs require specialist knowledge these days. That is true of highly academic jobs, such as a lawyer or a surgeon, but it’s also true of manual jobs, such as building. There are many rules to be learned, and in countries where children specialise early, they are able to take up meaningful employment at a younger age, too.

Early specialisation also means that children are not wasting their time or becoming demotivated studying subjects that are not interesting to them, that they struggle with, or that they simply dislike. It is better to have children spend their teenage years in tasks that truly motivate them, and that will be useful in their future.

However, there is a risk that at the age of 13 or 14, children are too immature to be able to predict what will interest them in their future. They are more likely to take the same routes through work as the people around them at that age. Many girls, for example, are deterred from studying computer science at that age but may see more value in it later in life.

In conclusion, there are benefits to both systems. What is most important is that if a child makes a mistake in their choices at an early age, there are still opportunities for them later on to choose an alternative path.

Question 9.

In many countries, people are consuming considerably larger amounts of sugar than is healthy. Some people think that a tax on products that contain high levels of sugar is the only way to change behaviour. How far do you agree with that idea?

Sugar is not good for people’s health. It can lead to problems with diabetes and general poor health. The amount of sugar that we consume has increased considerably over the decades, and rather than being a treat, eating sweet things has become a daily habit. I do not, however, agree that the best solution is to tax products with sugar in them. 

Taxing products that contain high levels of sugar may not have the intended effect. If the intention of introducing a sugar tax is to discourage people from buying products, it is unlikely to work. A tax of a few pennies will probably not be enough to change people’s habits. Of course, if the intention is to raise income from the tax to combat health problems, then it may be more effective. 

To change people’s habits, it seems necessary to take stronger action. Sugar is a highly addictive substance. It may be more effective to introduce limits on the amount of sugar that companies can add to products, or ban them from advertising products that go over recommended limits. A ban on advertising may encourage companies to show restraint.

An alternative might be to promote healthier alternatives. In the long term, we need to train people to show more restraint in the choices they make. Having a bowl of fruit next to the cakes in a café may remind people that there are better options available.

Although I agree with the sentiment of wanting to make sugary products less attractive, I do not believe that a tax goes far enough to change people’s habits. A number of measures will be needed to tackle this problem.

Question 10.

Some people believe that tertiary education should focus mainly on preparation for the workplace. Others see it as a broader preparation for life. Explain where your opinion lies between these points of view, giving reasons and/or examples as justification.

While the debate continues between whether tertiary education should focus mainly on training for specific jobs or whether there is a higher purpose to education, my opinion is somewhere in the middle: while it makes sense for job preparation to be a significant part of tertiary education, work is not the be-all and end-all of everything and there are opportunities in tertiary education that would be lost if it was too work-focused. In fact, many skills are useful for both the workplace and for other aspects of life. 

On one side of the debate, it would be unfortunate if, after investing several years of life in education, none of it helped in obtaining or in being successful at a job. Industry and government all require skilled people if they are to be effective, and if tertiary education doesn’t provide society with such people then it’s hard to know where they would come from. 

However, an education that focuses only on specific job skills would be very narrow and limited. There is far more to life than just work, and just as examples, an appreciation for the arts and a broad understanding of the world can only enrich society. Tertiary education clearly has a role here, too. 

Indeed, there are skills that are useful both for work as well as outside work. Critical thinking, for instance, not only helps people be more effective at work but also enables society to function properly – it’s important to the democratic process, for holding companies and governments to account, and so on. 

In summary then, in an ideal world, tertiary education would provide a balance between practical work skills and knowledge, and skills and knowledge that enrich our lives and which enhance our ability to function in aspects of life outside work.

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