Can you give me some feedback on my LNAT essay?

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BogdanC
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Hello, I am a foreigner who`s going to apply to study law in the UK. I have a hard time preparing for the LNAT (I assume most of us do). This is why I would kindly ask anyone willing to read my essay to give me some feedback. Any piece of advice is really useful! Thank you very much.

What are the arguments for and against the efficiency of proportional representation in general elections?

Nowadays people are becoming more and more disinterested in politics. The plummeting number of voters casting a ballot in general elections makes many question political representation`s efficiency, especially compared to a first past the post system(FPTP), the other well-known alternative. The simple definition of political representation states that a party will get the same percentage of seats in Parliament as the percentage of population voting for it. The aim of this essay is to put forward both pros and cons and draw a conclusion regarding how efficient this system is in accurately representing the society at large.

First of all, let us assess the upholders` arguments. Usually they are the minorities. Their preference for this system flows from the argument that in a political representative system no vote is lost. When compared to the FPTP system, we can clearly see how this argument holds true. In the former system, even if as little as five percent of a population votes for a party, they will be represented. However, in the latter only the majority gets to be represented, no matter how significant the minority. Thus, they say, this system can easily ensure a correct representation of the entire society, which is the ultimate goal of representative democracy. It does not simplify politics in a strong ruler and a strong opposition, but rather it creates a wider spectrum of representatives that can cater better for the needs of their electors. This is desirable in a democracy, because it alleviates the risk of tyranny of the majority, a widespread concern especially nowadays.

On the other hand, we have the contention of the newer generations that have a different outlook on politics. They assert that the issue with political representation is that it usually creates itself just a binary division. Yes, maybe there are more political parties in the Parliament, but at the end of the day they will be either left or right centred and act only according to their ideologies. Therefore, the issue of over-simplification is not thoroughly resolved. Moreover, they assert that this drives people to be less interested in politics, as they lose faith in the traditional left or right policies. This could be seen especially in the France elections where a newly established centre-left party gained a huge majority. This proved that people desire a newer, fresher political view that is constantly changing. Therefore, the outcome will not be really representative, as only a few people will actually vote. This is an issue, as the aim of this system is to represent the population completely.

The contenders` alternative is the FPTP system as it makes politics personal and more flexible. Electing a human not a party can make people empathise more and thus motivate them to cast the ballot. Consequently, as each MP in a FPTP system comes from a specific place, he or she can advocate and vote for the specific needs of that community. This, the upholders argue, is real representation, not the generic ideological based policies of parties. Therefore, the FPTP system is the one which genuinely solves the problem of low vote turn-outs and better representation.

Finally, comparing both sides of the argument we can conclude that political representation has its advantages, such as not wasting any votes. However, considering the present context which proves that people seek personal representation that transcedes ideology, it is flawed. Therefore, we can conclude that for the moment, it is less efficient that its counterpart, the FPTP system.
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(Original post by BogdanC)
Hello, I am a foreigner who`s going to apply to study law in the UK. I have a hard time preparing for the LNAT (I assume most of us do). This is why I would kindly ask anyone willing to read my essay to give me some feedback. Any piece of advice is really useful! Thank you very much.

What are the arguments for and against the efficiency of proportional representation in general elections?

Nowadays people are becoming more and more disinterested in politics. The plummeting number of voters casting a ballot in general elections makes many question political representation`s efficiency, especially compared to a first past the post system(FPTP), the other well-known alternative. The simple definition of political representation states that a party will get the same percentage of seats in Parliament as the percentage of population voting for it. The aim of this essay is to put forward both pros and cons and draw a conclusion regarding how efficient this system is in accurately representing the society at large.

First of all, let us assess the upholders` arguments. Usually they are the minorities. Their preference for this system flows from the argument that in a political representative system no vote is lost. When compared to the FPTP system, we can clearly see how this argument holds true. In the former system, even if as little as five percent of a population votes for a party, they will be represented. However, in the latter only the majority gets to be represented, no matter how significant the minority. Thus, they say, this system can easily ensure a correct representation of the entire society, which is the ultimate goal of representative democracy. It does not simplify politics in a strong ruler and a strong opposition, but rather it creates a wider spectrum of representatives that can cater better for the needs of their electors. This is desirable in a democracy, because it alleviates the risk of tyranny of the majority, a widespread concern especially nowadays.

On the other hand, we have the contention of the newer generations that have a different outlook on politics. They assert that the issue with political representation is that it usually creates itself just a binary division. Yes, maybe there are more political parties in the Parliament, but at the end of the day they will be either left or right centred and act only according to their ideologies. Therefore, the issue of over-simplification is not thoroughly resolved. Moreover, they assert that this drives people to be less interested in politics, as they lose faith in the traditional left or right policies. This could be seen especially in the France elections where a newly established centre-left party gained a huge majority. This proved that people desire a newer, fresher political view that is constantly changing. Therefore, the outcome will not be really representative, as only a few people will actually vote. This is an issue, as the aim of this system is to represent the population completely.

The contenders` alternative is the FPTP system as it makes politics personal and more flexible. Electing a human not a party can make people empathise more and thus motivate them to cast the ballot. Consequently, as each MP in a FPTP system comes from a specific place, he or she can advocate and vote for the specific needs of that community. This, the upholders argue, is real representation, not the generic ideological based policies of parties. Therefore, the FPTP system is the one which genuinely solves the problem of low vote turn-outs and better representation.

Finally, comparing both sides of the argument we can conclude that political representation has its advantages, such as not wasting any votes. However, considering the present context which proves that people seek personal representation that transcedes ideology, it is flawed. Therefore, we can conclude that for the moment, it is less efficient that its counterpart, the FPTP system.
Allow me to make a few general observations, before the specific assessment of your essay.

1. Question type: LNAT essays usually do not ask for pros and cons approach. Instead, you are asked to deliver an argument for a position of your choice (support or opposition). This inherently requires an entertainment of counter-arguments and various argumentative planes, but with the purpose of presenting a critical form of your argument (ie not a rant)

2. Knowledge: the essay is not supposed to showcase your knowledge on the given subject. That is not what the tutors are interested in. They want to see what sort of arguments you can come up with, how you present these arguments, what is your thought process evident through the structure you have adopted for your essay.

3. Standing out: you don't want to be writing an essay that will provide the most banal arguments on the given subject matter. If you argue from a novel standpoint, or even take up the less favourable side, this will be automatically earn you credit with the tutor. No one wants to be reading the same point over and over again.

4. Being succinct: the best of essays manage to achieve a word count of 500-600 words, as this is usually the hallmark of economic expression. In legal essay writing, the aim is to communicate your stance in a precise and concise manner.

Essay Feedback:

Prologue: This is a decent essay. It is commendable that you are able to write in a complex manner when English is your second language. I think best feedback is one of constructive criticism and I hope you will take it in that vein (see below). LNAT essays require practice for even the most skilled of writers, because you are writing in a constrained environment. Your skills only matter if deployed to the right ends. You can only excel if you know what demonstration is expected of you.

Application to the question:

Whilst the essay considered the subject matter, I think it lacked in a focused treatment of the issues. It felt that the driving idea of representation was not tested to its limits, because the divide between 'demographic representation' and 'ideological representation' was only clarified in the penultimate paragraph. This directly impacted how sustained was your treatment of the issues: each paragraph felt very stand-alone. I think the blame here is really on the nature of the question, as it pushed you to be more descriptive. Whilst the introduction did well to define some of the concepts you were to use in your essay, you should have included this overarching tension in approaches: 'demographic' vs 'ideological'. Use your introduction to set your argumentative plane, along which you guide the reader in each paragraph by the use of IRAC structure (Issue, Rule, Application of the Rule, Conclusion). The rule is whatever principle/evidence you are using for the particular issue that arises in your argument/subject matter. The application considers the relation of this rule to the issue, and considers the counter-arguments. (mini-)conclusion should result from your independent critical judgement and derive the key step in your analysis, leading onto the next step (ie issue-based paragraph). When you plan your essay, outline the meta-structure of your argument - you will be surprised how simple it should be. This will help very much with keeping your essay succinct, guiding the reader along the steps of your reasoning.

Reasoning

I felt that there were a number of irrelevant points. What is the significance of France electing a centre-left party? The conclusions that followed from that point were not clear on their relevance to the premise. What is the point if a concern is widespread nowadays? It is either a concern or not - something I should be convinced of through your arguments, and not a reference to the zeitgeist. Some of the distinctions needed greater clarity - do not be afraid to reuse the terms, as you are not writing 'creatively' so to speak. Each word has its own meaning to be sensed by the reader, and your choice of words should aim to deliver specific meanings, as that is how you build an argument. For example, I was confused when you first mention 'strong ruler and strong opposition' and then 'binary division' - was it referring to the government vs opposition or right vs left?

You did well to consider different argument planes. The critical judgment in the conclusion matched the substance and style of reasoning found throughout the essay. Although, if the essay was written from a point of persuasion, then a different sort of conclusion would be merited.

Communication

I think you should aim to improve on the clarity of language and argument. It felt that certain sentences just did not flow from one to another. This is not achieved by using introductory fillers like 'on the other hand', but rather through connecting ideas used in the sentences. For example, if sentence A talks about ideology, then the second sentence should add to the idea of ideology.

You should only use phrases like 'upholders' only if you clearly define what is meant by each in the introduction. I would advise to move towards the notion of counter-argument: you care more about the consistency of your argument rather than what the others believe as some monolith.

Overall

Practice makes perfect and I think this essay demonstrates your strong ability to engage with the debate. However, you have to pitch your approach for the purposes of an LNAT essay. This can only be achieved if you practise with the right sorts of questions. In a sense, LNAT essay presents an opportunity to really boost your application: this is the evidence of your essay writing skills for an admissions tutor. A law degree prizes written communication very much so, since pretty much most of it is essays-based (and problem questions, which are merely a more practical version of the former). It also depends on the unis: Oxford and UCL value the essay quite significantly. You have nothing to lose through practice: an average essay will not hurt your application, whereas a great one can be of help.

It would be great to see how you handle this question: 'Should compulsory voting be introduced? Why or why not?'

Hope this helps if you have any questions, let me know
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