EXAMINATION PREPARATION TIPS
PAPER 1: WRITING
Section 1: Directed Writing
- Read the question carefully to understand the situation, task and content.
- Follow appropriate format.
- Develop the 3 bullet points in detail.
- Write at least 5 paragraphs in your letter, report, speech, article, account, etc.
- Write a proper beginning and ending sentence.
- Write between 200 and 300 words and spend 30 minutes only.
- Use formal language in all directed writing tasks, except informal letter and speech.
- Always plan your response before you start writing.
Section 2: Composition
- Read all the given tasks at least twice before choosing the task you want to respond.
- Choose the task according to your strengths and preparation.
- Write between 350 and 500 words and spend only 1 hour.
- Avoid writing an argumentative composition unless you have practised thoroughly.
- Plan before you start writing.
- Recheck your work before submitting your script.
- Keep an eye out for commonly committed slips in English writing: its / it’s, there / their, ‘i’ instead of ‘I’, use of articles (a, an and the), subject-verb agreement, run-on sentences, etc.
- For a Descriptive composition, use similes, metaphors and effective descriptive words to create images.
- For Personal, Argumentative and Discursive follow appropriate format.
- Narratives should have an engaging opening, with an intriguing middle to sustain readers’ interest and a logical ending to bring a proper resolution to the plot. Keep your narratives believable and realistic. Use flashback, dialogues and description of setting to make your narratives engaging for the reader.
- Avoid writing stories which end up as a ‘bad dream’. Avoid copying the plots from popular films/novels you have watched/read. Also refrain from showing violence, racism or glorifying crime in your stories.
- Do not try to use ambitious vocabulary unless you are sure about its meaning and use. Using a simple word correctly is going to gain you more marks than using an unfamiliar word incorrectly, while trying to impress the examiner.
PAPER 2: READING
Section 1: Reading for Ideas
- You have to write 12 content points from the given passage on two aspects: advantages / disadvantage, causes / effects, comparison of past and present, etc. The points on both sides should be balanced (6+6, 7+5 or 8+4).
- The points should be brief, precise and concise. You do not need to write them in your own words. Review the mark scheme to find out how the points should be written.
- Avoid repeating a point in different words. Examples of a point do not count as separate points.
- Each point should be written on separated line in a bulleted or numbered list.
- Example points given in the question paper are not included in your 12 content points.
- Write 2–3 extra points if possible. You will get marks for the extra points in case some of your points are incorrect.
- Write one paragraph summary of 150–180 words including the 10 words given in the question. Use your own words as far as possible and use linking devices to make your paragraph cohesive and fluent to read.
- You should know the difference between facts and opinions. Google it and you will find plenty of resources. Practise solving the past paper questions on finding fact and opinion.
Section 2: Reading for Meaning
- Read the passage once only to get the general idea of the main theme.
- Read every question twice to identify its type and then locate the answer in the relevant paragraph.
- Your answers should be to the point.
- ‘Answer in your own words’ questions are to be very carefully dealt with. Find two key words in the paragraph which are the exact answer of the question. Replace the key words with the correct synonyms and write your answer in a complete sentence.
- Inferential questions would be more challenging than others which would require you to read between the lines and extract given information implicitly. The answer is not explicitly available. They usually start: What do you think …? / What can you tell …? / How do you know …? / What evidence is there …?, etc.
- If the question requires you to give one reason or find one word from the paragraph, writing more than one reason / word will get you zero marks even if the answer is otherwise correct.
- Vocabulary question requires you to choose contextual meanings from 4 alternative options.
- For meaning and effect questions, you must explain the meaning of a particular phrase and how that phrase suggests a particular idea, emotion, feeling or aspect of character.
- Common words and phrases to show effects are: contributes to, conveys, demonstrates, describes how, emphasises, explores, gives a sense of, implies, presents how, shows how, stresses, suggests, etc.
Wish you all the best for your Cambridge O Level English examination!