How to write a good LPI Essay

I’ve taught the LPI Test to many batches of students in different schools. What we often do is discuss past essay topics that many students have taken. But we always begin with the most crucial points that need to be understood before actually sitting for the test. Here are the points I always share.

How to write a good LPI essay :

  1.  The LPI essay recommended length is between 300 to 400 words, you will likely find that you will have time to write the essay. One sentence is about 10 to 12 words. Your essay will hence only have approximately 30 or so lines. Hence you should take the opportunity to plan your essay ie. 15mins, note some examples and even read through your essay twice before handing it in. Since you are allowed to write up to 400 words (100 words more than an IELTS essay), you will have an opportunity to develop your paragraphs properly. If you don’t show proper development, it means you didn’t think through your paragraphs carefully.
  2. At least two months before your test, read newspapers and magazines like the Globe and Mail and Maclean’s or watch PBS or the BBC online. Ensure that you back up each paragraph with solid information.
  3. Your LPI essay introduction should have a good hook. I always tell students to connect the topic with what they have observed about the world around them. For example, if the topic is “Social Media is ultimately advantageous for a student”, then you can start with “Like clockwork, almost every student in my high school takes out their cellphones and checks their Facebook page after school ends.” A good LPI essay should have one main thesis or main idea which should be stated clearly in your introduction. Your thesis must clearly have a position. The last sentence in your introduction is called the Path Statement. It lists the two arguments (ie. claims) and the counterargument (ie. counterclaims) you will use. This statement should only be 1.5 sentences long as you are only giving a brief idea of your body paragraph topics.
  4. For the LPI essay, you will only have time to write 2 body paragraphs representing 2 arguments and 1 body paragraph representing the counterargument. The body topic sentence should be supported by at least two strong support examples in the body paragraphs. The example is more convincing if it is realistic. In fact, the essay should show development of the thesis which should unite the whole essay.
  5. More time and a longer word limit do not mean you should spend too much time merely developing your examples. A short narrative or anecdote can be included but it should eventually lead up to an explanation in relation to the thesis. This reflects strong analysis. The LPI essay is essentially an argumentative essay. A position should be explained analytically.
  6. This brings us to your third argument body, the Counter-argument paragraph. Let’s say you agree with the essay statement “Social media is ultimately advantageous for a student”, your counterclaim would start with “However, many would claim that social media has detrimental effects on many students. Some say that the bullying and ostracizing behaviors on Facebook has led to teen depression.” This is not your position. What you need to do is to refute this so that you can support your own original thesis. Hence you could follow up by writing, “In order to prevent such anti-social behavior, many schools and parents have taught their teens to be vigilant and to not participate in such behavior. Students are often encouraged to report such bullying to their school counsellor. This helps keep the social media platforms a safe space to socialize.”
  7. Use appropriate transitions to connect your sentences. Words like “furthermore” and “moreover” add width to an argument by introducing the addition of more facts or reasons. “In fact” is used to add depth to a reason by allowing the addition of an example. It can also be used to introduce your analysis.
  8. What makes the LPI essay really different from a TOEFL or IELTS essay is the conclusion. You can frame your restated thesis to reflect its relevance to you and society. This is usually one or two sentences long. It can be an implication or warning about the future. Whatever the case, it must relate to the original thesis.
  9. As far as style goes, you can be personal and even humorous. But avoid too much slang or too much diary type writing. Any personal examples should lead to personal insight and always remember that a good argumentative essay has persuasion (your thesis position) as its intention.
  10. If you find that you tend to make a fair number of grammatical mistakes, try to study specific areas such as tenses and subject-verb conjugation rules. Many LPI writers are forced to repeat their test due to awkward expression. To deal with this, review all aspects of sentence structure and listen to how a news anchor presents the news.
  11. Try to learn a variety of words so that you avoid dependence on one key word. If you repeat yourself too much, you weaken your essay. In the schools I have taught at, students learn about 50 to 100 words a week. In my opinion, since the LPI is not a vocabulary based test, these words should be useful to your writing (verbs, transitions and adjectives). For example “advantageous” is stronger that “good”, and “contemplate” is stronger than “think about”.
  12. Try to read some LPI essay examples or some high school argumentative essays, but remember they should be around the 300 to 400 word limit suggestion, no more, no less.
  13. Many students and adults studying for their realtor exams ask me to review and edit at least two of their essays before sitting for their LPI test. This does help very much in seeing what one’s own common mistakes are both in expression and in essay organization. Sometimes, these mistakes become a habit only because no one has pointed them out to us.
  14. Lastly, write a minimum of 4 to 5 essays with the given time constraints (perhaps 1 per day). This will give you the added practice of time management and will inevitable help develop the confidence you need to face the real test.




LPI — Do you have to sit for this test?

Many students write to me and ask me about what the LPI requirement is for UBC and SFU. I urge you to go to their specific websites and read very carefully what these institutions specify. In many courses, a minimum LPI essay score of 5 is needed. But you may not even need to sit for the examination if you had scored sufficiently well in your grade 12 English.  You can look below for a brief explanation. If you need help, I also suggest you call the specific department (of your major) to confirm the admissions requirements.

The LPI Examination

The LPI is an English examination that helps a Canadian University to decide a student’s competence in essay writing and English usage. Quite often, emphasis is placed on the argumentative essay (300 to 400 words) to decide a student’s eligibility for first-year English courses, but  all parts of the examination has to be completed for submission.

LPI results are usually available within a month of sitting for the exam. They are forwarded to the English Department, Arts One, and the Coordinated Arts Program. Please visit the UBC LPI website to 1) ask about the requirements for your specific major or to 2) receive a Personal Score Report (a PDF file) via email.

If you received a score of level 5 or 6 on the essay section, you can keep your registered space in UBC’s first-year English courses, Arts One, ASTU 150, or the Coordinated Arts Program. If you receive a level 4 or below, (at the deadline) you will not “be permitted to remain in a first-year English course, in Arts One, ASTU 150, or in a Coordinated Arts Program”.

Below are students who don’t have to sit for the LPI —

  • Students who have had three consecutive years of full-time education in English in Canada. This must include BC Grade 12 or the equivalent and can be a combination of secondary and post-secondary education. In this case a min. of 70% is required for the English provincial examination.
  • Students who have had four consecutive years of full-time education in English in a country where the principal language is English, as determined by UBC.
  • Students with a final grade ie. school mark and government exam mark of 75% in BC English 12 or BC English Literature 12
  • Students with a final grade of (75%) English Language and Literature or Studies in Literature (ENG4U or OAC English) from Ontario
  • Students with a final grade of B or 75% (equivalent) in grade 12/senior year English in an English curriculum based school, operating in a country where English is the primary language
  • Students with a final grade of 4 (or better) in the Advanced Placement (AP) course in literature and composition
  • Students with a final grade of 5 (or better) in Standard or Higher level International Baccalaureate English A
  • Students who have finished 6 credits of first-year English or the equivalent, and can for transfer to UBC
  • Students who have attained a score of at least 5.0 on the essay section of the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Test Academic (CELPITA)

You need to be clear about the LPI examination and it’s best to go directly to and carefully read the UBC website —,19,911,0

Helping the Refugees, UNICEF

Hey students and fellow teachers,

If you have heard about the Syrian and Somalian Refugee Crises and wish to help, here is the link to UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) Canada for 2017 below :

If you prefer to donate to the United Nations Children in Need, here is the 2017 link below :

For Americans, UNICEF USA is also giving emergency help, so do google their site.

For the month of March, my Essay Writing Guide Book is free for all UNICEF donors. All you need to do is email me your UNICEF donation receipt (please don’t include any credit card nos. etc.). But once you have shown a donation above $20, just let me know. Please don’t attach your UNICEF PDF receipt, just go to “Edit” in your receipt and select “Copy File to Clipboard” then paste into your email to me. Then let me know which guide PDF book you want me to send.

My previous offer was regarding the Haiti Earthquake victims. If you wish to continue to help them and have a current UNICEF donation slip for 2017, I will honor that.

Thank you kindly for your concern for those who are struggling in the world.

Michele ❤

Teaching — vocation or job?

I’m still getting the hang of blogs, not a good sign for a writer or a writing teacher!

Firstly, much has happened. Not only did we have a range of overseas visitors but our apartment got flooded, and then we went off to Cuba. This gave me a little time for respite and basically to ask the question “Teaching — vocation or a mortgage paying job?”

Earlier on, I had donated my grammar and writing guide books to certain organisations. These are a conglomerate of all my research and coursework that I had developed for the various schools I had taught in prior to Elite. This is where I believe teaching is a vocation. Educators choose such a profession not only because they have a compulsive need to explain things but they like helping. My greatest concern is for lower income communities particularly ones where young girls have fewer learning opportunities.

However, having developed a wide circle of students in Vancouver, many have emailed for help, sometimes in desperation. I’ve had one student attach more than 6 application essays assuming I would edit all of them for less than a one hour fee. It took at least 2.5 hours to download, edit and explain them! I am getting a lot of this now, even at 11 o’clock at night and many at the last hour before some vital deadline like a college application deadline.

Okay, I tell myself. This kid’s future is in my hands. I have to help! The months of September all the way till January thus become a blur of answering emails and editing application essays — never mind teaching at school. This is when students assume a teacher should put down everything and help. What many don’t realize is they are not the only ones in need.

This brings to mind our new friend “Anna”  whom we met in Cuba. She was such a bright spark and always greeted us with a kiss in the morning. Anna is one of the many hotel waitresses who earn about 12 pesos a month. However, teachers and doctors in Cuba all earn around 25 to 50 pesos so we’re looking at a different living standard affected by Socialist policies. Don’t get me wrong, my grandmother was a Roosevelt fan and my very first love was an ardent socialist in Bob Hawk’s time in Australia. Anna told us she was once a teacher. She explained that it was a thankless job with bad pay and hard work. I totally understand. The tips that hotel staff get in Cuba probably elevate their status way above a doctor’s. Compared to Sweden which has a more capitalistic approach with only a touch of socialist medicine etc, the people I met in Sweden seemed a tad happier. They didn’t have to deal with food and shampoo rations but then again we’re comparing third world  Caribbean standards with developed European ones. What Fidel and Rual have done for Cuba is close the poverty gap and spread the love. And now Rual is advocating that hard work be rewarded and that a flat salary rate for every worker just doesn’t cut the mustard. I think he’s on to something, but go visit Havana before it becomes just another Club Med. spot.

But I go back to two age old questions. How much socialist intervention makes for a happy population?

Is being a selfless teacher a one way ticket to the therapist couch?

I don’t have all the answers, but this is what I need to do — keep on helping the students in Kandahar and Burma. Keep on charging the right rates for the middle class kids here in Vancouver and believe — believe that I am a teacher because some kid out there will find his/her niche in the world and make it a better place for the rest of us.

It’s been a while

Hello fellow teachers, professionals and students

For Questions regarding English, Mathematics and Business Administration, feel free to use this blog.

This blog was started for so many reasons.

It all goes back to my former University of Monash where I was fortunate enough to be selected for a mentoring program involving work with a founder of an advertising design firm. This meant being able to work on the same projects he did except with the total freedom of making as many mistakes without getting paid! What I did receive was the wisdom of a professional with business and design experience.

I have since seen a variety of ways people “teach” others from my own experience by the grace of a National Film Board Grant and apprenticeship with media producer, Kirk Shaw to free dramatugy with former UBC lecturer, Kate Weiss.

For the last few years, I have wondered how we as teachers could do the same. Obviously we do give of ourselves as it is the nature of our profession. Also I realize how much time teachers spend preparing for class and even for private teaching sessions. Hence the idea of mentoring might be an overwhelming concept for many in our field. Hence the experiment with this — a mentoring blog — One where teachers and working professionals can share whatever their field of expertise was with students with less pressure and more pleasure! Some friends, both teachers and working professionals have kindly agreed to be fellow mentors.

I’ve also wanted to work with students in places that were under duress due to poverty (eg. our own downtown east side) or war . The blog is also open to both teachers and students from such environments.

As Obama says, “I am an optimist” . Things will turn around and improve.

All it takes sometimes is a little faith (no matter what your dogma) and a little guiding hand,


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