Tips to handle Paper 1

2 February 2018

Every year for the last 7 years, I send my soldiers; I also call them warriors to the O-level battle ground in Oct.  Before they go for battle, I do my best to ensure that they not only survive, but also emerge victorious.

Indeed, the last year’s students were my best performing batch ever – every single one of them delivered either an A or B.  I have been exploring the different ways and techniques over the years to best nail the O level English.  The performance of my last year’s batch bears testament that my latest technique adopted is by far the most expedient.  And I shall share with everyone the tips in my blog.  

The Paper 1 component consists of Editing, Situational and Creative Writing. 

In Editing, there are only 2 correct sentences.  The rest of the eight sentences have some form of error.  In order to spot the mistake, just look out for the 5 common errors in each sentence:

  1. The 5Ws 1H – ‘who, what, where, when, how’
  2. Determiners – ‘a, an, the etc’
  3. Preposition
  4. Word form – ‘noun, adj, verb and adv
  5. Tenses

Unfortunately, many students are either unaware or have forgotten there are typically 6 different types of Situational Writing they may encounter, namely:

  1. Formal email
  2. Formal letter
  3. Proposal
  4. Report
  5. Feature Article (news report)
  6. Speech

Always make sure that you know the correct structure and format for each type.  By doing so, you are guaranteed the max 10 marks in format.  Also be mindful of the difference between “Yours sincerely” and ‘Yours faithfully” when signing off.
When it comes to Essay Writing, most students would take the safe approach and tackle

1) Narrative (personal recount) type 
While this tried and tested approach may be safe, it will not get you very far if your story is trite or fabricated; which unfortunately is usually the case for most students.  A story is unique to everyone and unless you have personally experienced an incident that is ‘mind blowing’, don’t attempt such questions. 

Some might also attempt
2) Descriptive type
Such essays require students to have stupendous descriptive phrases that bring out the five senses; smell, touch, sight, taste and hearing.  Generally those who love to read novels and are adroit in adopting the language use of novelists score in such essays.  But for those who do not like to read, never attempt such questions because the risk of failing is high if your writing fail to stimulate the five senses of the examiner.

The best way to score in essay is to do the expository type – mixed textargumentative and discursive.  Present your opinion in a cogent manner, pebbled with one or two idioms and generous use of nice vocabulary words; you are on your way to a distinction!  I always prepare and train my soldiers to do such essays.  Yes, for those who may not have had the opportunity to learn from me, fret not!  Just head to the Popular bookstores and grab a copy of my book, Excel in Argumentative, Expository and Discursive Essays.  This book provides some of the useful idioms that you can use with a step by step approach in developing your cognitive thoughts.  What’s more, all the essays are backed by real life examples and statistics to vindicate your points.

So much for Paper 1 this month.  I will share the the tips to handling the Paper 2 in my next blog.  Till then, stay healthy and ebullient!