The things you can do and learn online for General Paper (and Project Work).

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Shmoop Argumentative Essay Lab

An interactive beginner’s guide to writing an argumentative essay is available at

Found via

Facts galore

You need facts to back up your ideas in writing. Plus, some facts are just plain interesting. I’ve just discovered Factbrowser. Go have a look and search for the statistics you need.

Cycling safety statistics

Cycling Oxford

Since I moved to Sydney, I’ve basically stopped cycling, barring a few rides, and only one of those on a road bike.

I found the following statistics and posted them on Facebook, but I thought maybe some of you might want to have a look and do some analysis of the figures as well. What do the figures mean? Which city/state/country is the safest?

London: Population 8M, 407 cyclist deaths and serious injuries 1st 9 months of 2011

Singapore: Population 5M, 500 cyclist casualties (including 15 fatalities) in 2011

NSW: Population 7M, 52 fatal pedestrian crashes, no separate category for cyclists among vehicles (?) at

Australia: 22M, 26 to 46 cyclist deaths per year, 2000 to 2005. “More meaningful Australian data on cycling crashes is difficult to access due the lack of exposure data for cycling, differences in police and hospital data records, lack of data retained by road traffic authorities and the fact that many cycling accidents occur off-road”

Grey Areas

‘Gray can exist as gray only because there are the distinct alternatives of black and white. That you might find yourself at times in a situation in which you see no clear alternatives does not mean, objectively considered, that there are no clear alternatives. It simply means that you do not see them. Don’t project your subjective state of uncertainty upon the world at large and claim objective status for it.’

– D. Q. McInerny, Being Logical

Critical Thinking Podcast Tutorials

Get your free podcasts from or search for ‘the critical thinker’ on iTunes if you use an iPod, Phone or Pad.

The podcasts are short enough for a 20-minute commute. I’ve heard the first couple of episodes, and it’s pretty good stuff.

The video version of these podcasts is available at

Summary skills?

Because of the sweet comments from ssdd and others, I’ve been inspired to blog a little. 🙂

So, summary skills, you ask.

A good place to start with any fundamental question like that is the most current GP syllabus published by the SEAB. You can find it here. Having checked that though, I find nothing there of use to your question. Moving on…

Mr Stephen Kennaugh, Director of Studies of St. Dominic’s College in Sydney has the following pointers (taken from this file):

1. Knowing what you want:
• This can be achieved through asking a teacher or deciding for yourself what you want to achieve or attain. [In the case of GP Paper 2, you’ll have to thoroughly understand what the summary question demands of you.]
• Once you have this clear then you are able to skim over the text to summarise the main content from your perspective.

2. Deciding what is important:
• It is important to realise what is of use to you and what isn’t in a text or a piece of writing.
• Once you have your focus then it is imperative that you are selective in what you summarise.
• Eliminate all of the joining words and non-essential background information. It is only important for background information or context formation. [But do leave in some basic connectors for fluency; it’s a trade-off between content and language here, I suppose.]
• Record the vital information and subject specific terminology. [There shouldn’t be much jargon in comprehension passages.]

So, it’s all very good advice. More specifically, for the purpose of Paper 2 of GP (and also for research writing in general), you must paraphrase if you want to get any credit at all. You’ll also be penalised under Use of Language for wholesale lifting if you simply do not paraphrase. (More severe penalties are found in PW and further along your academic career.)

There’s probably nothing here that your GP tutors haven’t told you in some way or other. But I hope this post helps these guidelines stick in your head.

Quote of the Day

The thought manifests as the word; The word manifests as the deed; The deed develops into habit; And habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care, And let it spring from love Born out of concern for all beings.
The Buddha