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Writing Articles

Read the following article and discuss a possible title which will attract the reader and make them want to read the article.

'It's a Friday afternoon and you're sitting in a small dark room at Edinburgh university. All you can see is a haze of pink light. All you can hear is a gentle hissing. And somewhere, someone is sending you a psychic message ....'

This is just a part of any everyday routine experiment for professor Robert Morris who probably has one of the most fascinating jobs in the world. He is director of the Koestler parapsychology unit - Britain's very own X-Files laboratory - and Britain's leading investigator of the paranormal. For the past 10 years what they have been attempting to do is to conduct a series of paranormal experiments, in search of scientific evidence to finally prove or disprove whether some human beings posses Extra-Sensory perception (ESP).

Morris and his team have devised a range of rigorous tests for ESP ability since they began back in the late 1980s and they've produced some startling results. For example, the proportion of people able to select one picture from several that has been telepathically 'beamed" to them was 48% - almost twice the rate expected. The odds against doing this by fluke alone are less than one in 39 million.

But under no circumstances do orthodox scientist appear prepared to take parapsychology seriously just yet. Why is that? Because, in fact, most scientists believe that any explanation - fluke, error, even fraud - is more plausible than the reality of ESP. 'In situations like this,' says professor Lewis Wolpert of London university. 'I think we must follow the philosopher David Hume, who said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.'

Morris and his colleagues fully accepted this, and their strategy for convincing sceptics was neatly summed up by the writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: 'When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.'

Here are some suggestions for what might make an article interesting to the reader. How many of these are included in the text above?

  1. attention grabbing title
  2. intriguing thought-provoking opening paragraph
  3. direct questions to reader
  4. addressing readership as 'you'
  5. special grammatical structures to give extra emphasis
  6. surprising or remarkable information/facts
  7. range of interesting vocabulary
  8. concrete examples, not just general statements
  9. direct speech quotations from relevant people
  10. concluding final paragraph

You are going to write one of the following articles in approximately 250 words. Choose one of the tasks (The article in the exam will not require any specialist knowledge)


  1. Stress is an increasing problem for students in this college. Have you got any ideas that will help students combat stress, particularly in the lead-up to exams? Your college magazine needs an article on this topic and is offering a free day in a local health club for the best article.

  2. You have been asked to write an article for an international magazine about the problem of homelessness in your country. Describe some of the reasons as to why you think homelessness might occur and any action that you think should and could be taken.
  3. Your college magazine is including a special section on the contribution of older people (over 60) to society. You have been asked to contribute a short article profiling an extraordinary older person that you know. Write the article describing the special characteristics and/or achievements of this person.

Suggested procedure

  1. First, decide how you are going to organise your article. How many paragraphs will you have? What will be the general subject of each one?
  2. Look at the various points in the suggestions above. Make notes of how you might include each one in your article. (They may not all be appropriate!)
  3. Write your article

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