Focus the Topic (Workout C)

Once you have a clear idea of what you are expected to do, you can start developing your own approach to the essay. To focus the topic, you must do two things:

  1. Determine the goal of the essay. The goal is what the essay needs to accomplish.
  2. Define the scope and terms of the essay. The scope and terms are the context of the essay and they will determine what you will and won’t include in the essay.

Each student will approach an essay differently, but it must always fulfil the expected goal and scope.

Have a look at the sample essay topics below and try to identify the goal and scope of each.

Identify Goal and Scope (Sample Answers)

Sample essay topic: Review how video games are used in primary school classrooms

What is the Goal of this essay? What does it have to accomplish?

The goal of this essay is to present, in relevant categories, all the different ways that teachers, schools and students are using video games in primary school classrooms. The reader needs to understand the range of video game use in the classroom.

The goal of the essay is not to argue whether it’s a good idea to use video games in classrooms. That would be a different essay.

What is the Scope of this essay? How will you set limits on the essay?

The writer must limit their research only to primary classrooms. The writer must decide what will count as a video game and what kinds of video games to include. The writer must determine what categories of uses of video games to include in the review. For example, the writer could focus on only different types of educational uses, or extend the scope to include how video games are used for entertainment as well.

Sample essay topic: Discuss why video games are a useful tool in the primary school classroom

What is the Goal of this essay? What does it have to accomplish?

The goal of this essay is to present conclusions about why video games are (or are not) useful tools in classrooms. The reader will gain an understanding of a particular point of view in this debate about the usefulness of video games in classrooms. The writer can accept the assumption of the question and prove several reasons why video games are useful. Or, the writer can reject the assumption, and argue reasons why video games are not useful. Finally, the writer could take a middle position and argue when they are and when they are not useful.

What is the Scope of this essay? How will you set limits on the essay?

The writer must decide how to measure the value of video games in the classroom by defining the term “useful tool.” If being a useful tool means “to help kids learn” the essay will focus on the educational benefits. If it means “to keep kids engaged in learning, ” the essay might focus on the social benefits as well, and perhaps lead to a more positive conclusion. The writer must also decide what kinds of video games to include.

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