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 :
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.