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Scoring A1 For O-Level English in Sophia Education: Top English Tuition’s Secret Advices

While English as a language seems to be the lingua franca, many Singaporean students still continue to struggle to score that elusive A1 for English and hence, turn to O-Level English tuition. However, this comes as no surprise when we consider the demands of the O-Level Examinations.

The English Language O-Level Examination tests students on a range of areas from Speaking, Writing, Listening, and Reading Comprehension. Especially in Secondary School, it is a rigorous assessment that demands a different array of skills for every one of its components.

In this article, we will break down the English O’ Level Examination into its main constituents, and find out exactly what you’ll need to do to nab that A1 grade for each paper.

Paper 1 – Writing

Tip 1: Read As Much as You can.

Get your hands on essay examples, newspapers, online articles, or even your favourite novels. Reading exemplifies the proper sentence structures and grammatical rules in writing. Learning from professionals’ unique writing-styles is a great springboard for you to develop your own writing-style too, as an interesting writing style is a key part of writing that makes you stand out in the sea of essays.

Tip 2: Peer-reviews

Other than getting valuable insight from your fellow peers on your work, reviewing other’s works will make you start having a keen eye for the common mistakes in writing, and hence apply that same cautiousness to your own essays. Likewise in tip 1, if your pal is a particularly talented writer, you can also incorporate some of their writing-style into your own.

Tip 3: Always Plan Before You Write

You may think that you’re racing against time to finish 3 sections under 1 hour and 50 minutes, but never skip over the planning stage. Always take 10 minutes to plan out your essay by highlighting key words in the question, and plotting down a short skeleton of your essay. This will, in fact, make the eventual writing process much faster as you are less likely to panic on what to write next during the examination. Planning also makes your essay have a clear and proper flow, making it much more enjoyable for your examiner to mark.

Paper 2 – Comprehension

Tip 1: Familiarise yourself with the different question types

When you practice Paper 2 enough times, you’ll start to see a certain pattern in the question types. There are some questions where you can find the answers straight from the passage. The common issue, however, is answering the more difficult ones like inference, literary, or vocabulary questions. I have found that English tuition centres and tutors take a very methodical approach to answering each specific question, thereby making the paper a breeze. Learn more from our Super tutors here.

Tip 2: Scan The Questions Before Reading The Passages

Likewise in the tip I mentioned for LC, reading the questions beforehand keeps vigilant when searching for your answers and points, giving you more time for the more taxing parts of the paper (i.e. Summary writing).

Tip 3: Keep a Vocabulary-bank

Aside from needing to expand your vocabulary due to vocabulary questions in Section A and B, having a wide arsenal of words is especially important for the Summary portion of Paper 2. The Summary component requires students to rephrase the points made in the passage, in 80 words or less. Knowing many words will help you as you are able to come up with synonyms for words more easily.

Oral Examination

This is typically the first hurdle you’ll come across, and this component constitutes 20% of your grade.

Tip Number 1: Practice Anywhere, Anytime, and with Anyone

Two problems students often encounter during the Oral Exam is anxiousness and mental-blocks when responding to questions. Well, practice makes perfect. You can start by voicing out your opinions about issues to friends and family, trialing past-year questions with your classmates, or recording yourself speak. Practising gets you more comfortable with speaking aloud.

Tip 2: Listen To & Learn From Others

During the Oral Exams, examiners are also looking out for proper pronunciation and enunciation of words. Pronouncing words the Singlish way may pass for casual interactions, but you will be penalised for exams. Immerse yourself in media like the News or TedTalks to pay close attention to how certain words are pronounced. These media may also teach you how to speak with good rhythm and expression- criteria that examiners also focus on!

Tip 3: Structure Your Responses

Examiners are also looking out for your ability to express your thoughts and opinions clearly. You don’t want to ramble on aimlessly, as this may cost you mark-deductions. I would suggest using the P.E.E.L format- a tried and tested to help you streamline your responses, and make your arguments more coherent.

Listening Comprehension

LC is what many consider the ‘easiest’ paper to get marks, try and score as well as you can here. This section holds a weightage of 10%.

Tip 1: Read The Questions Beforehand.

This gives you a heads-up on what the conversation will be about, as well as exactly which parts of the conversation you can find the right answers.

Tip 2: Note Down Key Points.

Pay special attention to any nouns, places, time, direction and any specific instructions, opinions or facts given during the conversations you hear in the audio.

Tip 3: Move On and Just Infer.

The information relayed through the audio may not always be easy to process, questions are not always straightforward. Rather than fixating on information you missed, move on and infer an answer based on what you were able to catch.