How to Ace in ‘O’ Level English Paper 1

The O-Level English Paper 1 examination accounts for 35% of a student’s O-Level English grade. The paper has three sections, a 1 hour and 50-minute time limit, and a total score of 70 marks.

Section A: Editing (10 marks)

In this section, students must identify and edit grammar mistakes in a brief written paragraph.

Section B: Situational Writing (30 marks)

Students are advised to write 250-350 words on a given scenario that involves viewing a visual text and assuming a particular role and perspective given by the task.

Section C: Continuous Writing (30 marks)

Students are advised to write between 350 and 500 words on one out of four give topics. The essay types usually include a personal recount, a descriptive essay topic, an argumentative essay topic, and a discursive essay topic.

Simple tips to excel

Editing

It is normal to feel perplexed when faced with a daunting passage. However, skimming through the passage once can help you gain a larger perspective and make it more digestible. As you read more carefully the next few times, highlight any words you feel are incorrect first so that you can go back and fix them. Another tip is to identify the tense used in the first line — which has no error — to give you a hint as to the dominant tense in the passage.

Above all, ensure that you do not spend more than 10 minutes on this section to save time for the writing-intensive sections. Before moving on to the following sections, read the passage once again at the end to make sure nothing was missed.

Situational Writing

If you are having trouble with this section, bear in mind it is simply to examine how you inform the reader of an issue. To effectively convey how your writing is aware of whom it is targeting and its objective, use the Purpose-Audience-Context (PAC) technique. You may also further improve on this section by highlighting the important keywords to use in your given task, stating the purpose of your writing to the reader, and making sure you adopt the most appropriate tone suitable for the task.

Continuous Writing

First and foremost, identify the essay types before selecting a specific essay topic which you feel comfortable to write a response to. Knowing the essay type allows you to employ the most appropriate writing style. Descriptive essays, discursive essays, and hybrid essays, for example, each have their own distinctive structure and characteristics. That being said, it is helpful to be familiar with how each essay type should be structured and approached. Lastly, when writing the essay, the most important thing is to be able to express your idea in a clear and comprehensible manner —it is much better to use simple but effective language than use unnecessarily long, complex and convoluted sentences filled with technical or flowery jargon.

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