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Old 7th March 2010, 11:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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General Paper tips please?

Hi,
I seem to have hit a plateau in GP essay-writing, would anyone know of how to help me out?

I'm certainly not looking for stuff related to basic essay structuring as I perceive it as something extremely rigid and hindering..

Things like
-how to engage oneself into deeper-thought discussions..
-The types of discussions that show high evaluative value
> like for example what differentiates a good argument and an exceptionally good argument
-how to develop unique/aromatic styles like sarcasm/maturity etc
or anything else worth knowing
would be extremely helpful. (:

don't really expect this much to be revealed for free, but please share/pool in if you do have the answers~~ (:

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Old 7th March 2010, 11:23 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

Hello,

For a stronger evaluation in your essay arguments, you should be looking for what we call "half-ball circles", where you compress both sides of a debate into a paragraph to provide a fuller picture. You can also consider using moral philosophical ideas (eg. Immanuel Kant / John Stuart Mill) when debating popular GP issues such as euthanasia. Either way, to provide enough depth in an argument generally requires a deep understanding of the issues involved beforehand - there is no "instant" method to create a masterful evaluation on an alien topic.

Do note however that paragraphs with exceptionally good arguments are not prerequisites to score the A grade as you can substitute depth with scope.

That's all I can provide. Hope it helps.

Han
Tutor @ The Thought Room (JC1/JC2 GP Tuition)
NUS Faculty of Law

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Old 8th March 2010, 12:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

Originally Posted by blizzard -x View Post
I'm certainly not looking for stuff related to basic essay structuring as I perceive it as something extremely rigid and hindering..
don't really expect this much to be revealed for free, but please share/pool in if you do have the answers~~ (:
Basic essay structuring is essential for your introduction paragraph and topic sentences unless you are able to come up with something impressive without them. As for structuring for the rest of the body paragraphs, I don't believe that it'll be helpful because it is as you've said, too restrictive.
Originally Posted by blizzard -x View Post
Things like
-how to engage oneself into deeper-thought discussions..
-The types of discussions that show high evaluative value
Originally Posted by ToyFanatik View Post
- read stuff that make you think, so as to stimulate your brains. Doesn't have to be books. Can be wiki articles, conspiracy theories, debates, what have you. Doesn't have to be the mundane stuff from "official news sources". Can be something which interests you and motivates you to think. My buddy played Free Rice before his A levels. I watched "Monster", which was about a serial killer who was created from physological experiments and was able to skillfully mask his existence. We both got A for GP.
- have proper sleep the night before. It really makes a great difference.
Originally Posted by blizzard -x View Post
> like for example what differentiates a good argument and an exceptionally good argument
First, go read through your notes on the "rigiid essay structures". Next, go read good essays. Compare and see how the writers utilizes certain techniques to fulfill the requirements of the "rigid essay structures". Develop your own style; or if you are unable to, copy their style.

Originally Posted by blizzard -x View Post
-how to develop unique/aromatic styles like sarcasm/maturity etc
A. Find a sarcastic person and be his/her friend.
B. Look out for people around you who are sarcastic.
C. You can find posters who are sarcastic on various forums. SGClub, SG-C-a-f-e, etc.
Sarcastic people usually appear and voice their opinions over controversial issues. So, look out for controversial forum threads to find these people.

Originally Posted by blizzard -x View Post
or anything else worth knowing
would be extremely helpful. (:
Originally Posted by ToyFanatik View Post
- pay attention during GP classes, especially in year 1.
- forget about reading newspapers. The textbook answer (that you often get) telling you to read more newspapers is bullshit. It's a freaking waste of time with all the unimportant gossip news abound these days. If you really want to do it, read titles, captions, and move on. Fast game.
- don't fall asleep in the middle of the paper.
- completing the paper is of utmost importance.
- don't spend too much time on any single question.
- don't waste too much time choosing questions for essays. Fast game.
- don't spend too much time planning your essays or whatsoever.

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Old 9th March 2010, 11:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

Originally Posted by LearningPlace View Post
Hello,

For a stronger evaluation in your essay arguments, you should be looking for what we call "half-ball circles", where you compress both sides of a debate into a paragraph to provide a fuller picture. You can also consider using moral philosophical ideas (eg. Immanuel Kant / John Stuart Mill) when debating popular GP issues such as euthanasia. Either way, to provide enough depth in an argument generally requires a deep understanding of the issues involved beforehand - there is no "instant" method to create a masterful evaluation on an alien topic.

Do note however that paragraphs with exceptionally good arguments are not prerequisites to score the A grade as you can substitute depth with scope.

That's all I can provide. Hope it helps.

Han
Tutor @ The Thought Room (JC1/JC2 GP Tuition)
NUS Faculty of Law

Hi, thanks for sharing all these pointers! They're really helpful! (:

Ii'm a little confused about the ''half-ball'' arguments though... does that mean to remain moderately neutral or to take a sharp stance by following one side and disproving the other side?

Would the scope you refer to be something like the SPERM model (social, political, economical, religious, moral etc etc)? Or something else?




Originally Posted by ToyFanatik View Post
Basic essay structuring is essential for your introduction paragraph and topic sentences unless you are able to come up with something impressive without them. As for structuring for the rest of the body paragraphs, I don't believe that it'll be helpful because it is as you've said, too restrictive.

First, go read through your notes on the "rigiid essay structures". Next, go read good essays. Compare and see how the writers utilizes certain techniques to fulfill the requirements of the "rigid essay structures". Develop your own style; or if you are unable to, copy their style.

A. Find a sarcastic person and be his/her friend.
B. Look out for people around you who are sarcastic.
C. You can find posters who are sarcastic on various forums. SGClub, SG-C-a-f-e, etc.
Sarcastic people usually appear and voice their opinions over controversial issues. So, look out for controversial forum threads to find these people.
Hi, this is really helpful. (:
Thanks for the tips on sarcasm~ Actually I did read this good essay which was sarcastically hilarious which inspired me to adopt a similar style that is fun yet mature at the same time.. I will try to do that, yes.

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Old 14th March 2010, 01:00 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

I do think the most engaging GP essays are those which stake out and defend a position, rather than trying to lay out 'pros' and 'cons' in a pseudo-neutral way. That interrupts the argumentative flow, and makes the author sound indecisive. So deal with the counter-arguments in the course of rebutting them.

The best essays (and this applies outside the GP context, too) often have multiple arguments, but a single unifying theme running through them. This theme may be expressed through a parable, a real-life story, a quote, a metaphor, a pointed question... often, the essay will start by introducing that theme, and end by revisiting that theme (possibly with certain modifications).

(This may sound formulaic, but the variety lies in the execution. And of course, the parable etc. has to be seamlessly woven in, not tacked on as an after-thought.)

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Old 15th March 2010, 06:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

Originally Posted by la_nausee View Post
I do think the most engaging GP essays are those which stake out and defend a position, rather than trying to lay out 'pros' and 'cons' in a pseudo-neutral way. That interrupts the argumentative flow, and makes the author sound indecisive. So deal with the counter-arguments in the course of rebutting them.

The best essays (and this applies outside the GP context, too) often have multiple arguments, but a single unifying theme running through them. This theme may be expressed through a parable, a real-life story, a quote, a metaphor, a pointed question... often, the essay will start by introducing that theme, and end by revisiting that theme (possibly with certain modifications).

(This may sound formulaic, but the variety lies in the execution. And of course, the parable etc. has to be seamlessly woven in, not tacked on as an after-thought.)
Hi, thanks for those thoughts, they are rather helpful too.

Yes, have been integrating parables within my essays and countering the counter-arguments.. Different arguments within a common theme? Could you give an example?

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Old 16th March 2010, 01:25 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

Originally Posted by blizzard -x View Post
Yes, have been integrating parables within my essays and countering the counter-arguments.. Different arguments within a common theme? Could you give an example?
It depends on the particular arguments you're using for that topic, and which you wish to emphasize.

Take, for example, the legalization of voluntary euthanasia. Arguments against this might include:

(1) The potential for undue influence from one's family members, on whom one doesn't wish to be a burden;
(2) Medical ethics; the doctor's professional duty to treat patients, not to bring about their death;
(3) The intrinsic (rather than instrumental) value of every human life, even one lives in the shadow of a terminal illness or serious disability;
(4) The Law's inescapable role in delimiting the limits of morally acceptable behaviour in society;
(5) The risk of a 'slippery slope' towards using euthanasia as a means of social engineering;

One common theme here is how the value of one's life is not determined one's 'usefulness'. So you could use the example of medical experiments in Nazi Germany, or Gattaca, or Huxley's Brave New World, to start off, as a nightmare scenario. The basic point is that we must resist the utilitarianism of killing off 'useless' members of society, by affirming the dignity of every human life. You could apply this basic idea to every argument; e.g., with (4), you could raise the example of employment legislation to illustrate how the law prevents employers from treating their workers as merely as units of production.

And you could conclude by revisiting the theme again, ideally in a slightly different light. e.g., prohibiting euthanasia is not simply about protecting vulnerable members of society, but also (for normal people) about living in a humane, compassionate society that doesn't judge you as purely a physical/genetic specimen. Gattaca, for example, is about the lead protagonist's quest not to be defined by his physical defects.

So basically, the theme should (1) pique the reader's interest, (2) serve as shorthand for your detailed arguments, (3) link those arguments together, and (4) give your essay a sense of 'seamlessness'.

Hope all that makes sense ;0)


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Old 16th March 2010, 11:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

Read the sticky threads in this sub-forum.

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Old 16th March 2010, 04:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

Originally Posted by la_nausee View Post
It depends on the particular arguments you're using for that topic, and which you wish to emphasize.

Take, for example, the legalization of voluntary euthanasia. Arguments against this might include:

(1) The potential for undue influence from one's family members, on whom one doesn't wish to be a burden;
(2) Medical ethics; the doctor's professional duty to treat patients, not to bring about their death;
(3) The intrinsic (rather than instrumental) value of every human life, even one lives in the shadow of a terminal illness or serious disability;
(4) The Law's inescapable role in delimiting the limits of morally acceptable behaviour in society;
(5) The risk of a 'slippery slope' towards using euthanasia as a means of social engineering;

One common theme here is how the value of one's life is not determined one's 'usefulness'. So you could use the example of medical experiments in Nazi Germany, or Gattaca, or Huxley's Brave New World, to start off, as a nightmare scenario. The basic point is that we must resist the utilitarianism of killing off 'useless' members of society, by affirming the dignity of every human life. You could apply this basic idea to every argument; e.g., with (4), you could raise the example of employment legislation to illustrate how the law prevents employers from treating their workers as merely as units of production.

And you could conclude by revisiting the theme again, ideally in a slightly different light. e.g., prohibiting euthanasia is not simply about protecting vulnerable members of society, but also (for normal people) about living in a humane, compassionate society that doesn't judge you as purely a physical/genetic specimen. Gattaca, for example, is about the lead protagonist's quest not to be defined by his physical defects.

So basically, the theme should (1) pique the reader's interest, (2) serve as shorthand for your detailed arguments, (3) link those arguments together, and (4) give your essay a sense of 'seamlessness'.

Hope all that makes sense ;0)
Thank you for the taking the time to reply! (:
Yes, it was really helpful and insightful.
Would it be safe to say that the correct technique of constructing arguments in such an essay would be to "have the end in mind" (which means the "lessons"/"arguments"/"real meaning"), and then construct a ''pathway'' with valid examples+elab to that end?



Originally Posted by Lancelot View Post
Read the sticky threads in this sub-forum.
Yes, had done so, it was a pretty nice job but somehow not suitable for what I wanted to know.. I wanted a more GP-personalized array of tips that really tackled the deeper insights of writing an A grade GP essay, wouldn't say much that argumentative essays are that GP-ish in that sense..

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Old 16th March 2010, 09:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

Originally Posted by blizzard -x View Post
Would it be safe to say that the correct technique of constructing arguments in such an essay would be to "have the end in mind" (which means the "lessons"/"arguments"/"real meaning"), and then construct a ''pathway'' with valid examples+elab to that end?
I think it depends on your individual thought process. For me, I'd usually think of the specific arguments/examples I want to use first, and then later decide how I wish to 'package' or 'sell' these arguments for maximum impact (i.e. the basic 'theme' I want the reader to remember my essay for). So, if you like, the 'Style'/'Form' follows the 'Substance'/'Content'.

But yes, once you've come up with the theme, you can fine-tune your arguments to match it (at the planning stage, of course). So, say I decide to start off with the example of the Terror in post-revolutionary France to underscore the barbarity and vengeance of the death penalty (my 'theme'). When planning my essay, I could then go back to one of my arguments, say, the irreversibility of the death penalty, and highlight how 'irreversibility' is linked to barbarism and inhumanity (it doesn't allow wrongly-convicted people to be subsequently exonerated). Under the same 'irreversibility' point, I could also imply, for example, that the finality of the death penalty springs from the State's single-minded focus on efficiency -- much like the chilling, mechanical efficiency of the guillotine during the Terror. (Here, I'm using my initial example of the French Terror, but emphasizing a different aspect of it.)

(You don't have to keep going back to your theme or your initial example in every sentence or paragraph. But it helps to go back a few times throughout your essay, and definitely at the end; that's what gives the impression of a very well-thought-out essay, and of a writer who is firmly in control.)

It's possible to work the other way round (from Style to Substance), of course, but the risk is that you might end up missing some arguments because you have a preconceived idea of what your basic 'message' is. The essay might then end up too flashy or rhetorical.

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Old 17th March 2010, 11:56 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

Originally Posted by la_nausee View Post
I think it depends on your individual thought process. For me, I'd usually think of the specific arguments/examples I want to use first, and then later decide how I wish to 'package' or 'sell' these arguments for maximum impact (i.e. the basic 'theme' I want the reader to remember my essay for). So, if you like, the 'Style'/'Form' follows the 'Substance'/'Content'.

But yes, once you've come up with the theme, you can fine-tune your arguments to match it (at the planning stage, of course). So, say I decide to start off with the example of the Terror in post-revolutionary France to underscore the barbarity and vengeance of the death penalty (my 'theme'). When planning my essay, I could then go back to one of my arguments, say, the irreversibility of the death penalty, and highlight how 'irreversibility' is linked to barbarism and inhumanity (it doesn't allow wrongly-convicted people to be subsequently exonerated). Under the same 'irreversibility' point, I could also imply, for example, that the finality of the death penalty springs from the State's single-minded focus on efficiency -- much like the chilling, mechanical efficiency of the guillotine during the Terror. (Here, I'm using my initial example of the French Terror, but emphasizing a different aspect of it.)

(You don't have to keep going back to your theme or your initial example in every sentence or paragraph. But it helps to go back a few times throughout your essay, and definitely at the end; that's what gives the impression of a very well-thought-out essay, and of a writer who is firmly in control.)

It's possible to work the other way round (from Style to Substance), of course, but the risk is that you might end up missing some arguments because you have a preconceived idea of what your basic 'message' is. The essay might then end up too flashy or rhetorical.
haha that enlightened me yet again (:
hmm but if i concoct two arguments about the same example, do i place them in the same paragraph/under the same topic sentence? because wouldn't there be multiple arguments which may cause confusion..

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Old 17th March 2010, 10:48 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

Originally Posted by blizzard -x View Post
haha that enlightened me yet again (:
hmm but if i concoct two arguments about the same example, do i place them in the same paragraph/under the same topic sentence? because wouldn't there be multiple arguments which may cause confusion..
No, you place them under different topic sentences and paragraphs. Which is why it's preferable, when preparing, to plan your arguments and supporting evidence first.

Secondly, after you've planned, you think of one example, quote, metaphor, etc. which can capture as much of the specific arguments you're going to make. In choosing this example, ask yourself, "What's most important message or idea I'm trying to convey in my essay, leaving aside all the technical detail?" So this theme is meant to have emotional impact, whereas the body of your essay obviously should rely more on rational argument.
Example: in defending freedom of speech, I might wish to start with a brief description of the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1960s, to show how free speech is indispensable to fighting oppression, and to humanizing the speaker in the eyes of the listener. So that's my basic message I wish to send.
Thirdly, to give your essay even more coherence (and to avoid the opening example feeling like it was simply tacked on), try to see how your subsequent arguments might somehow link to your theme. You shouldn't need to change your arguments too much, since they've already been planned out. The theme shouldn't dictate the arguments. Instead, for each argument, ask yourself, "What aspect(s) of my initial example might be relevant to this argument I'm making here?" The most impressive approach is if you can further develop on the initial example, accentuating things which weren't so obvious at the start of your essay.
So perhaps one of your arguments is that free speech is needed to hold an elected government to account. You could talk about how censorship (say, Internet censorship in China) often helps protect authoritarian governments, and to cover up corruption. And so on. But you could also throw in a reference again to the U.S. civil rights movement (your initial example), and argue how the 1960s protest marches helped (among other things) to dramatize the problem of police brutality against African-Americans, a form of governmental oppression which would otherwise have been covered up. So you're still making the same argument under the same topic sentence ('free speech promotes democratic accountability'), but linking back to your initial example in a different way.
As I said, no need to refer to your theme or initial example repeatedly, or under every argument and paragraph. Perhaps 2 or 3 times would be good. And you could return to the theme at the end, perhaps with a different example or quote (or just your own words). In my example, what I'm trying to stress is that one's freedom to speak is tied to his human dignity and personhood.


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Old 18th March 2010, 12:57 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

Originally Posted by la_nausee View Post
No, you place them under different topic sentences and paragraphs. Which is why it's preferable, when preparing, to plan your arguments and supporting evidence first.

Secondly, after you've planned, you think of one example, quote, metaphor, etc. which can capture as much of the specific arguments you're going to make. In choosing this example, ask yourself, "What's most important message or idea I'm trying to convey in my essay, leaving aside all the technical detail?" So this theme is meant to have emotional impact, whereas the body of your essay obviously should rely more on rational argument.
Example: in defending freedom of speech, I might wish to start with a brief description of the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1960s, to show how free speech is indispensable to fighting oppression, and to humanizing the speaker in the eyes of the listener. So that's my basic message I wish to send.
Thirdly, to give your essay even more coherence (and to avoid the opening example feeling like it was simply tacked on), try to see how your subsequent arguments might somehow link to your theme. You shouldn't need to change your arguments too much, since they've already been planned out. The theme shouldn't dictate the arguments. Instead, for each argument, ask yourself, "What aspect(s) of my initial example might be relevant to this argument I'm making here?" The most impressive approach is if you can further develop on the initial example, accentuating things which weren't so obvious at the start of your essay.
So perhaps one of your arguments is that free speech is needed to hold an elected government to account. You could talk about how censorship (say, Internet censorship in China) often helps protect authoritarian governments, and to cover up corruption. And so on. But you could also throw in a reference again to the U.S. civil rights movement (your initial example), and argue how the 1960s protest marches helped (among other things) to dramatize the problem of police brutality against African-Americans, a form of governmental oppression which would otherwise have been covered up. So you're still making the same argument under the same topic sentence ('free speech promotes democratic accountability'), but linking back to your initial example in a different way.
As I said, no need to refer to your theme or initial example repeatedly, or under every argument and paragraph. Perhaps 2 or 3 times would be good. And you could return to the theme at the end, perhaps with a different example or quote (or just your own words). In my example, what I'm trying to stress is that one's freedom to speak is tied to his human dignity and personhood.
ah, i finally comprehend ~ Thank you so much for delving so deeply into explanations (: your help is greatly appreciated!!

i'll work more on the "emotional sway" part as well. (:

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Old 20th March 2010, 07:01 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

Originally Posted by blizzard -x View Post
Yes, had done so, it was a pretty nice job but somehow not suitable for what I wanted to know.. I wanted a more GP-personalized array of tips that really tackled the deeper insights of writing an A grade GP essay, wouldn't say much that argumentative essays are that GP-ish in that sense..
The tip is there. How to structure your arguments and points into a coherent whole. Once your essay looks neat, your ideas will be presented better and will be better received. The rest boils down to how good your language is. This is the technical skills portion.

Next step would be to brush up on your general knowledge.

Anything else and you're just asking people to write your essays for you.

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Old 28th March 2010, 12:13 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

Originally Posted by Lancelot View Post
The tip is there. How to structure your arguments and points into a coherent whole. Once your essay looks neat, your ideas will be presented better and will be better received. The rest boils down to how good your language is. This is the technical skills portion.

Next step would be to brush up on your general knowledge.

Anything else and you're just asking people to write your essays for you.
I'm sorry if I offended you in anyway, but i never intended for a spoon-feeding session.

I guess i'm more of the "kinesthetic" learner in terms of language, I interpret intuitively and learn from examples instead of following the hierarchical/step-by-step approach. I daresay my general knowledge is up to at least above par (:

I've gotten an A1 in english without effort in my o level days so... I guess my language is at least stable.. I really hope for improvement in GP as there seem to be avenues for me to improve on (:

Don't think of it wrong, I did find some tips useful from the threads, it's just that my mind couldn't process it without deeper exemplification.

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Old 21st April 2014, 10:19 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

check out aceyourgp.wordpress.com it's really good

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Old 19th September 2014, 11:31 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: General Paper tips please?

Read lotsa papers and google news

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