How to write a good essay: Paraphrasing the question

How to write a good essay: Paraphrasing the question

Hi, there. My name is Emma, and in today’s
video I’m going to teach you something very important for if you’re taking any type of
test that has a writing component. So, if you are taking the IELTS, the TOEFL, the CELPIP,
even just a university test, it can be any type of test, but if you’re asked to write
something like an essay or a paragraph, this video is for you. Okay? So I’m going to teach
you a very important skill that will help improve your marks when it comes to
writing on tests. So, let’s get started. So, I have here an essay question. This question
is actually… I’ve seen it on the IELTS. You know, you have similar types of questions
on the TOEFL, sometimes in university. The question is this: “Education is the single
most important factor in the development of a country. Do you agree or disagree?” Or maybe:
“To what extent do you agree or disagree?” So, this is an example of a
question you might be asked. Now, a problem a lot of students have is in
their answer to this question. They see this, and they think: “Okay, education is the most
important factor in the development of a country, yes, I agree.” So then they… Or: “I disagree”,
and they start writing. And what do they write? Usually the very first thing
students will write is this: “I agree that education is the single most important factor in
the development of a country because…” So, what is the problem with this? Is there any problem to start off
your essay with something like this, or to start off your answer? There’s a big problem.
So I want you to take a moment and think: “What could be the problem with starting
your essay off with this sentence?” Okay, well, if you noticed, you have here the word:
“education, education, is, is, the single most important, most important factor”. If you notice, these
are the same. They’re the exact same, except for: “I agree that” and “because”. The student,
here, has used the exact same wording that is in the question. So, if you do this on
the IELTS-and many students do this, same with on the TOEFL-you actually will lose marks,
and same with in university, because you’re not showing your abilities; you’re just copying
what somebody else has said or what the essay question is. So, in this video, I’m going to show you first
off… First off, I’m going to tell you: Don’t do this, don’t copy. And I’m going to teach
you ways in order to improve yourself and your answer by changing this wording. How can
you change your introduction so it’s different than what the question is? Okay? So,
let’s look at how to make these changes. Okay, so what we are going to do in order
to change the question into a proper answer that doesn’t just copy the question, is we
are going to paraphrase. So, the word here is: “paraphrase”. This might be a new word for
you. What does it mean to paraphrase something? Well, when we paraphrase, it means we take a
sentence that, you know… We take somebody else’s sentence and we change it into our
own words. Okay? So, we change the words of a sentence, we also change maybe the sentence
structure, but we keep all the same meaning. Okay? So, the meaning from the sentence you
copy, it stays the same, same meaning, but different words and different sentence structure.
Okay? So it’s in your words, but this other person’s meaning. So, we are going to paraphrase this example
of a question into our own words. So, first we’re going to look at how to do that using
vocabulary and synonyms. So, we have here the same question: “Education is the single
most important factor in the development of a country.” How can we put this into new words
or our own words that keep the same meaning? Well, we can use synonyms. So, this might be a
new word for you, too. A “synonym”. “Synonyms” are words that have the same meaning, but
are different words. So, for example: “big” and “large”, they have the same meaning, just
like: “huge”, “enormous”, these are synonyms of each other; same meaning, but they’re different
words. So, you need to use different synonyms so you don’t just copy these words. You use
synonyms to have words that have the same meaning, but are
different words. So, let’s look at an example. Our
first word, here, is: “education”. What’s another word we can use instead of…? Instead of
“education”? Well, there’s different words we can use. Maybe one could be: “schooling”. Okay? So,
we could change this word to “schooling”. “Schooling is the single most important factor
in the development of a country.” What’s another word we can change? Well, maybe “most important”.
Instead of using the word “most important”, maybe we could use: “most significant” or “most
essential”. Okay? So: “essential”, “significant”. There are many words you can use. But the
point here is: Find a word that has the same meaning, but is a
different word. Okay, here’s another word: “factor”. Can you
think of another word for “factor”? Well, sometimes “factor”, it can be an “aspect” or an
“element”. Okay? You can even say sometimes: “a significant role”. Okay? Or: “a part”.
So, there’s different words we can use that have similar meanings. In terms of the word
“development”, we can change the word “development” to “advancement”, “progression”, “evolution”.
Okay? And in terms of the word “country”, another word for “country”
is “nation”. Okay? So, these are all synonyms, and this is what
you want to do. When you look at the question, think about some new words you can use that
have the same meaning. This is also important throughout your essay, because one problem
a lot of students have is they keep using the same word again, and again, and again
in every sentence. This does not help you with your marks. It’s better to use different
words that have the same meaning. At the same time, you have to be careful, here, because
some students, they find a new word, they think it’s a great word, but there is a little
bit of a difference in meaning. So, you need to be really comfortable with the word you
choose, and you need to know what it actually means so it doesn’t
sound strange. Okay, so if we wanted to change
this now, instead of saying: “Education is the single most important
factor in the development of a country”, our paraphrase… Our first step in our paraphrase could be
changing these words to: “Schooling is the single most significant
element in the advancement of a nation.” Okay? So that’s just one example.
So, now, let’s look at another thing you can do in order to
paraphrase the question on a test or exam. Okay, another way we can paraphrase is by
changing the structure of the sentence. So, for example, you might have a verb and, you
know, which is an action, and you might change that into its noun form. So, for example, if
your verb is “developing”, you might change that into “development”. You might change,
similarly, a noun into a verb. Okay? So, for example, we just said “development” is the noun,
it can turn into: “develop” or “developing”. You can also change things into adjectives.
So, if, for example, you’re talking about “technology”, which is a noun, you can change this
into the adjective form which is “technological”. So, changing the form of the word
can help you with paraphrasing. Also changing placement of the words can help
you out. So, for example, in our original sentence or the question was: “Education is the single most important
factor in the development of a country.” So, I’ve now changed some of the
wording, as well as the order. Okay? So, here: “Education” is at the beginning.
In my sentence: “The most essential element of a
nation’s development is education.” I’ve changed the order
of the sentence, so now “education” is at the end, instead of at
the beginning. I’ve also started out with: “The most essential”, as my beginning; whereas
here, it was in the middle. You’ll also notice we have, here: “in the development of a country”,
I’ve changed this to: “nation’s development”. I could also change this to: “country’s development”,
instead of “the development of a country”. So, changing the order of the sentence and
changing some of the structures can really help you in terms of paraphrasing. Now let’s
learn one other way in which we can improve our marks by paraphrasing. Okay, so the last tip I have about paraphrasing
a question is using concessions. So, what is a concession? Well, I want you to look
at what the question actually says and my new answer to it. The question,
again, same question as before: “Education is the single most important
factor in the development of a country.” My answer… Okay, so I’ve changed some words and I’ve also changed
the structure a bit, but there’s one other thing I’ve added. “Although many would argue that the economy is
the most important factor in nation-building, I think education has a far greater impact.” So,
what I’ve done here is I’ve added a concession. A concession is where you say what the opposite
opinion is, and then you say what your opinion is. So, you’re giving two opinions; you’re
giving your opinion and also what other people might think. This is a great thing to do,
especially in essays, and this is something you can do at the
beginning of your answer. So, we use here the key word: “Although”.
Okay? And you’ll notice that this has two clauses. I don’t want to get too technical
with grammar on you today, but what I mean is: If you see, we have the red part: “Although
many would argue that the economy is the most important factor in nation-building,” and
then we have a second part. So, we have two parts to this sentence. “…I think education
has a far greater impact.” So, the first part of the sentence is in red and it’s the “Although”
part, and the second part of the sentence is in purple-okay?-and that’s: “I think
education has a far greater impact.” And they’re separated by a comma. So, a concession has
two parts to it. You say what the other people think first, in this case: “Although many”, “many”
meaning people, we could also say: “many people”. “Although many would argue that the economy is
the most important factor in nation-building,” okay? So, this is what some people would
say. Now I’m going to say what I think. “I think education has
a far greater impact.” So, why is this a good idea? Well, one reason
is because when you write a concession, when you’re showing what the opposite opinion of
yours is, you’re showing that you’ve thought about the issue. Okay? You’re looking at both
sides. You’re not just looking at your opinion. You’re looking at both sides, and then you’re
making a judgment. So this shows that you’re thinking about the question, and you’re really
giving it some thought. And by representing both sides, you’re really showing critical
thinking. So this is a very good idea to do. Okay, so the three things we’ve talked about
today in terms of paraphrasing the question is: Changing the words using synonyms, we’ve
talked about changing the sentence structure, and we’ve also talked about adding the other
perspective using concessions. Okay? So, these are three things you can do in order to change
the question so you’re not just copying what is on your test paper. Again, great thing to
do if you’re writing a high school essay, university essay, TOEFL, IELTS, CELPIP, all
of these things – this skill will really come in handy for you. Now, you might be wondering: “Okay, this is
great, but I don’t know any synonyms. Or I… You know, I don’t know much about this.” Well,
what you can do is you can come check out our website at There, you can
find a lot of other resources, including improving your vocabulary, we even have a
video on how to make concessions, you know, we have videos on sentence structure, too.
So, there’s a lot of videos you can check out and a lot of resources. You can also come
visit our website where you will find a quiz, and by taking that quiz, you can actually
practice your paraphrasing skills so you can see, you know: “Am I doing this right? Is
this…? You know, is this the right way to do this?” and get more practice. So, I hope you’ve
enjoyed this video. And until next time, take care.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. You are an unbelievably awesome teacher . To be honest, you untypically have clear, simple and understandable ways of teaching . therefore, I gotta give you the credit cards and keep cheering you as long as you pay attention to us even a little bit ??.

    Sincerely ..
    Your big fan : Hasan ?

  2. Mam, if l want to write an essay on the topic "the ability to change is the measurement of intelligence "which important points can I mention to make my essay effective? ???

  3. I think we should not change word education. Because it is the central topic of the essay. I'm not an expert but just saying.

  4. first thanks because my main problem i tend to repeat the question which now , i know is wrong . secondly if your question is " is corruption in Kenya incurable" what synonyms of corruption??? in this question

  5. I can read and speak English fluently but when im start to make an essay or a letter my mind gets stock… And i feel my brain become nuts.

  6. .. thank you I learned a lot hoping that in the next time when our teacher ask for us to write an essay, i can apply what have u thought us.

  7. For those who didn't understand the meaning of paraphrase.. I have an example,
    The girl in this video got huge b*obs
    The lady teaching us about the essays has big tit*
    Not only her essay knowledge is good but also her brea*t size!!

  8. Your counselling way is so impressive bt the problem is learner gone confused whether it focus on ur words or on cleavage…..

  9. On paper day

    Normal students : how to write essay/ letter / else

    Legends : how to complete syllabus in 3 hrs ???
    I did that at 10th STD and secured 97% ? maharastra board 2018-19

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    وجــدت?‍♂️ كـثـيـر مـن الـكـومـنـتـات عـن تـكـبـيـر الــقــضــيــب وضــعــف الانــتــصــاب وســرعــة الـقـذف
    وأبــغــى أبـشـركـم? أنـي حــصــلــت عـلـى مـعـلـومـات كــثــيــر مـفـيـدة✅ هـتـنـفـعـكـم كـثـيـر ومـجـربـهـا كـمـان ونـفـعـتـنـي??
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