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Answer Key for Academic Writing: Making the Transition 4
CHAPTER 2: THINKING AND WRITING CRITICALLY
All university tuition fees should be abolished.
This is because many students cannot afford these fees and have to take on large student loans that take many
years to pay back.
For example, a student with a $20 000 student loan may take 15 years to repay it, even with preferential interest.
One argument in favour of tuition fees is that they allow universities to operate in a free market and set the fees
needed to fund their research and teaching.
Someone has to pay for this. If it is not the students who attend universities, then it will have to be taxpayers.
Answer Key for Academic Writing: Making the Transition 5
I believe that public universities should be funded from taxes, not tuition fees, which would allow for a broad
representation of socio‐economic groups in higher education, which benefits society as a whole.
School uniforms should be compulsory in all primary and secondary schools.
This is because uniforms encourage discipline as well as equality among students from different social and cultural
For example, without school uniforms, students from rich families can show their wealth in the clothes that they
wear. This reinforces social inequalities inside schools and takes the focus away from learning together.
Social and cultural differences and inequalities will always be represented in schools whether or not uniforms are
For example, in schools with a compulsory uniform policy, the way students speak, the cars their parents drop
them off in, and the peer groups they form all represent the socio‐economic and cultural realities beyond school
I recognize that school uniforms can serve as a kind of social leveller within the school gates. However, I am not
entirely convinced that this levelling produces more focus on learning. Excellent learning takes place both in
schools with and without compulsory uniform policies.
Answer Key for Academic Writing: Making the Transition 6
1. A friendly note
Hi there, my new friend!
I heard you talking to your family last night and I think I heard you say the food is awful in this country
(actually, I studied your language at school so I can understand a bit . . .). Did you know that you’re making a
hasty generalization? This is because your opinion is based on only one day here. I’m sure after you’ve been
here a few weeks you’ll find that the food is amazing. Just wait and see! The freshest wild salmon, amazing
summer fruits, curry, sushi, pizza, pasta—you name it, we have it. Bon appétit! ; )
2. Email message
Hello, DJ Shock Talk!
I’ve been listening to your show this evening and have decided to answer your call for emails on the matter of
Let me say first that I have never smoked (nor do I ever intend to smoke) marijuana, tobacco, or any other
disgusting dried leaf.
But I want to pick up on a point that you raised. You argued that marijuana is a gateway drug—i.e., smoking
marijuana leads to taking harder drugs. Well, if you ask me, that’s a prime example of a slippery slope fallacy.
Didn’t you study critical thinking at college? Lots of people smoke dope and don’t end up addicted to crack.
Actually, I agree with you, as I don’t favour legalization at all, but I feel that basing your opposition on this
logical fallacy only weakens the viewpoint that you and I share.
By the way, I love the show and listen every night. I’m your biggest fan—and I’m not just saying that so that
you’ll read out my email ;^)
John from the South Side
3. Free writing
In many countries around the world, the majority of people state support for capital punishment when asked
in opinion polls. They read of terrible murders in the media and want the perpetrators to pay for their crimes,
an eye for an eye. Some politicians have used this majority support as a justification for keeping, or
reintroducing, the death penalty for serious crimes such as murder. The argument seems very powerful at first
sight. Laws should represent the will of the people, and these polls give a clear indication of that will.
However, are we dealing with an ad populum fallacy here? Because the majority support it, must it be a good
thing? What other things do the majority support? Most people support getting rid of speed cameras, but
governments don’t respond to this call by the majority. Most people, when asked, support reducing income
taxes, but at the same time want governments to spend more on health and education. This shows that
responses in opinion polls are not always helpful when thinking about laws. Instead, the discussion here
should be about the major ethical issues that relate to the state taking citizens’ lives as a form of punishment
for the most serious crimes.
4. A two‐minute speech
Good afternoon, everyone. In my presentation today, I’m going to be talking about George W. Bush’s famous
speech to the United Nations in 2001 in which he called upon the world to support “the war on terror.”
Answer Key for Academic Writing: Making the Transition 7
Emotions were high as a result of the 9/11 attack when the US president told the assembled delegates and the
world watching on TV that “You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.”
Let me ask you all the following question: Was this an either/or, black and white issue, or was there any room
in between the two opposites—let’s call it a grey area?
For me, the answer is obviously the latter.
This call to arms was in fact a prime example of what is known as a false dichotomy fallacy. In this type of
logical fallacy, you present your listener or reader with two options, a or b, and nothing else in between.
George W. Bush was doing exactly the same as the first warning shot, or shot across the bow, in what would
lead to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
So, how did the countries of the world respond to this warning shot based on a logical fallacy? Well,
unsurprisingly, many answered the call. However, an interesting response to this call to arms was the
response of the US’s northern neighbour and long‐time ally, Canada. The response of the Canadian
government laid bare, in many respects, this logical fallacy. This is because the Canadian government’s
response was precisely positioned in the grey middle area: we will not support the invasion of Iraq, but we will
contribute to the Afghanistan mission. The French government offered similarly half‐hearted support.
So, the discussion that I would like to open up today is the following: looking back at what has taken place in
Iraq and Afghanistan, and the support, or lack of it, of the international community, was George W. Bush right
when he said that “you’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror,” and what was his purpose in
uttering those words?
CRITIQUE PEER REVIEW WORKSHEET: LEE’S CRITIQUE
Name of reviewer: ________________________________________________________
1. Introductory paragraph: Does the introductory paragraph include any of the following?
The title of the article Yes
The name of the author/organization Yes
The date of publication—if there is one Not applicable
The general topic—or argument Yes, lowering the drinking age
A statement of the main idea or argument of the author/article Yes, that the laws are counter‐
productive, and that a reduction in the legal drinking age would reduce alcohol abuse among teens
A thesis, or the main reaction to the article of the writer of the critique Yes, “I will critique Gene
2. Main paragraphs
Does each paragraph focus on one topic to be critiqued? Comment on the following in Lee’s critique:
Presentation of Ford’s main arguments
The reasons/example/evidence that Ford supports arguments with
How Lee critiques the arguments/reasons/examples/evidence: Is his critique convincing? Does
he expand upon and support his own arguments with reasons, examples, and evidence from
other reliable sources? Is Lee’s position clearly stated?
Sentence 3 states Ford’s first claim.
Sentence 4 states Ford’s reason/example.
Answer Key for Academic Writing: Making the Transition 8
Sentence 5 is a bit vague and not clear if it is an opinion of Ford or Lee.
Sentence 6 refutes Ford’s claim.
Sentence 7 critiques Ford’s supporting example and states opinion.
Sentence 8 states Ford’s next claim.
Sentence 9 refutes Ford’s evidence.
Sentence 10 highlights another weakness in Ford’s supporting examples.
Sentence 11 refutes another of Ford’s examples.
Sentence 12 refutes Ford’s claim.
Sentence 13 states Lee’s own position.
This paragraph follows in a similar way; it adds statistics from two sources to refute Ford’s claims.
This paragraph follows in a similar way; it highlights the lack of evidence and brings in data from two
sources to counter Ford’s claims.
This paragraph follows in a similar way; it highlights the lack of evidence and brings in data from one
source to counter Ford’s claims.
Does the critique end with a brief paragraph with a summary or final statement of the writer’s
It is not entirely clear whether Sentence 35 is a section conclusion or a conclusion to the whole
critique; the assumption is that it is the latter.
3. Style: Is the critique written with an appropriate balance of objective and subjective styles? Is the level of
formality appropriate? Is there a good range of vocabulary, grammar, and a variety of sentence
Lee presents Ford’s claims in objective language, then switches to a more subjective style for the critiques.
This approach works well and helps the reader to differentiate between the two. The grammar and range
of vocabulary and sentence structure is very good.
4. Accuracy: Comment on the accuracy of the grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and punctuation.
The critique has a high level of accuracy; just a few errors in the citation style.
5. Strengths and weaknesses: First describe what you feel to be the overall strengths of the writing. Then
mention any areas that you feel could be improved to make the summary better for you as a reader.
This is a strong critique. The main claims of Ford are well selected and presented clearly. Lee also refers to
Ford’s supporting reasons, examples, and evidence. The critique is clear and convincing. This shows very
good application of critical reading and critical thinking skills, and effective critical writing skills.
There are a couple of areas for improvement:
Sentence 6 is too vague and needs to be attributed either to Ford or Lee.
The task required APA citation style, yet there are some inaccuracies: for example, the in‐text citation “(‘21
is the . . .’)” lacks a date or n.d. (if no date is available). In the reference list, the in‐text reference is not
needed, the author’s surname should not appear in all caps (“HALL”), and the entries are ordered wrongly
(number comes before letter).
The transition between the sentences is a little choppy (lacking flow) in places, for example, Sentences 9–
11 and 16–20.