This second task will present you with two informational materials: an article and a chart. The article will most likely be a news, editorial or consumer article about some sort of public issue; the chart can be any kind of chart, from a simple list of verbal or numerical items under headed columns, to a pie, bar or line graph.
Your task will be to interpret this material and come down on one side of the issue or the other (generally, for or against), then write your essay (or the essay part of a letter) expressing and supporting your point of view on the issue. The task tests your ability to discern information from a verbal text and a graphical/visual aid, make an informed judgment based on that information, and present it in essay form. The controlling idea (thesis) for this essay will be your position on the topic.
The structure of it is no different from any other essay:
INTRODUCTION--Explain what the issue is, discuss it generally and briefly, and state which side of it you're on (thesis statement).
DISCUSSION - Support for your position (2-3 paragraphs or more, depending on the task)
I. Reason #1 why you're (for/against) it, with specific info from the article/chart.
II. Reason #2 why you're (for/against) it, with specific info from the article/chart.
III. Reason #3 why you're (for/against) it, with specific info from the article/chart. (etc…)
CONCLUSION--For example, explain what the reader should do about it.
For this task, there are a few things you must remember to NEVER, EVER do:
- DO NOT copy directly from the article. This is a sure-fire way to fail the exam. You may use small excerpts as citations in the context of your essay, but don't copy large parts of the text. If all or most of your response is copied, it will get a 0 (zero).
- DO NOT refer to only one of the materials. No matter how well-written, fluent and organized your essay is, if it only refers to one of the materials or the other, you won't get more than a 3, and you'll be lucky to get that. You must use both the article AND the chart.
- DO NOT attempt to argue both sides of the issue. Your task is to choose one side and then support that choice with information from the materials. You can't have it both ways. You must argue one side or the other, NOT BOTH. If you argue both, then technically you're off-task and you might only get a 1.
- Speaking of which, DO NOT invent your own task and write a personal commentary about the issue (or any other issue, for that matter) without referring to the articles. You may introduce your own personal background knowledge, if it's relevant, but only to augment the essay, not to replace the information in the given materials. In other words, you can use outside knowledge in addition to, but not instead of, the information in the article and chart.
- And remember, GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT. If you have information in your essay with is just flat-out wrong, that tells the grader that you didn't understand the material and you'll get a much lower score.
As with Part A, it's important to organize your facts into categories (i.e. the three discussion paragraphs) before writing your essay. Simply copying or paraphrasing random sentences from the article and placing interpretations of the graph out of context will not get you a passing grade. Part of the test is your ability to determine what information you need and where to put it, and also to filter out what you don't need.
See also General Guidelines for Essay Writing for more helpful tips on writing this task.