Sometimes, the rubric asks test takers to discuss both the advantages and disadvantages and then decide which one outweighs the other. This type of question asks for your opinion too, but it should only be about which side outweighs the other. You cannot disagree with both sides and express another. Your job is to compare both sides and say which one is stronger. That’s it!
Here’s the question we’re going to work on:
Some people regard video games as harmless fun, or even as a useful educational tool. Others, however, believe that video games are having an adverse effect on the people who play them.
In your opinion, do the drawbacks of video games outweigh the benefits?
Step 1: Spend 2 minutes reading and understanding the question. Once you have fully understood what the question asks of you, you can move on to the next step. Remember that every word counts!
Step 2: Spend 8 minutes to come up with a plan, from introduction to conclusion. If you don’t do this step properly, it will be nearly impossible to get to band 7 or above.
Note 1: To learn how you can do steps 1 and 2 properly, take a look at this article.
Note 2: It might be difficult for you to understand every part of my plan without reading my essay. My planning shows my thinking process with signs and shortened statements. I’ve put it here so that you see how I plan. Once you do your planning like this, it will make sense to you.
Here’s my plan:
Introduction: Paraphrase the question + Thesis statement
Playing vids…pastime activity…
while some…no harmful effects… and educationally beneficial… I…more harmful than…
Body paragraph 1: The advantages (not strong)
Main idea: sharper cognitive skills
Support 1: strategic video games → player has to analyze the movement of the enemy, familiarize with the environment, come up with a strategy, and move fast enough not to be eliminated in the game→ use critical thinking, spatial memory, and faster mental reaction.
Support 2: enjoyable = secretion of dopamine= hormone causes happiness and satisfaction
Body paragraph 2: The disadvantages (Stronger)
Main idea: two main drawbacks
Support 1: Addictive: nonstop rewarding→player … in front of PC all the time→ Causes problem: do it instead of homework or replace social interactions
Support 2: Sedentary lifestyle: most day… sit and play→health problems: obesity & high cholesterol level→ Diabetes & blocked arteries
Conclusion: Games might help the brain… but addictive = dire costs to education and health.
Step 3: Write your full essay in 25 minutes.
Here’s my full essay:
Playing video games has become a popular pastime activity for many people. While it is claimed by some that such games do not have any harmful effects on players and are in fact educationally beneficial, I believe that playing them is more harmful than useful.
On the one hand, some video games might help players develop sharper cognitive skills. For instance, people who play strategic video games have to analyze the enemy movements, familiarize themselves with the virtual environment, think of a strategy, and react fast enough to fight the foes. All these require using critical thinking, spatial memory, and fast mental processing speed. Developing such skills will help students with subjects like mathematics and others with their careers. Moreover, playing video games has been reported to trigger the secretion of Dopamine, which is also called the pleasure-inducing hormone. Therefore, playing video games can be a good exercise for the brain.
On the other hand, I would argue that there are two main drawbacks to such activities, which make the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. For one thing, playing such games can be highly addictive because they keep rewarding players for any little achievements in the game. As a result, gamers may choose to sit at their computers and spend a great deal of time playing. This becomes a problem when students opt to play games instead of doing their homework, or other people decide to replace social interactions in real life with virtual ones. For another, gamers spend a considerable portion of their day sitting and being physically inactive. This sedentary lifestyle leads to many health issues such as obesity and high cholesterol levels, resulting in more serious illnesses like diabetes and blocked arteries later in life. Hence I believe that playing video games is not as beneficial as some may believe.
In conclusion, playing video games seems to help players with their mental skills, but it comes with dire costs to their education and health.
Step 4: Spend 5 minutes reviewing your essay and correcting your mistakes.
Here’s the summary of what you need to do:
- Read and completely understand the question in 2 minutes.
- Plan your essay in 8 minutes.
- Write your essay in 25 minutes.
- Review your work in 5 minutes.