To What Extent

How do you approach an essay question that uses "To what extent" as its stem?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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As with any successful essay, the question must be understood before an effective answer can be given.  With a question that uses an "extent" in its stem, a case with evidence and analysis must be made.  The idea of "To What Extent" is asking that the answer discuss how one element is greater in validity than others. The "To What Extent" question is asking that the student is able to make a claim about an assumption in a question and then place it in context and assess other conditions that surround the assumption.  In the writing process, the student is making a definite claim whether it...

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gillpill1985 | Student

Excellent question. A question using the phrase 'to what extent' is providing a vital clue to how you answer: it wants you do discuss more than one angle. You can choose if you want to approach it that you agree most of the time with the statement by answering using phrases such as 'for the most part' or 'it is usually true that'. However, always leave room for exceptions to the rule. An interpretative comment like this is usually in humanities subjects (english, history and so on); we don't see them often in more concrete subjects like maths and science. Therefore, the question wants you to give your opinion on the matter without being narrow-minded. It wants you to show elements that the statement is both true and false; it's up to you how much weight you want to give to each side of the argument, but it's essential to show things from both sides.