Hello, dear readers! I’m Mr Ng Guo Liang, an English Language Curriculum Specialist and Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty.
In this post, I’ll be discussing the new assessment format for the visual text component in the O Level English examination comprehension paper (Paper 2 Section A). To give our readers some context, updates and changes were introduced for the assessment format of this particular component (hereinafter referred to as P2SA) recently. As such, this post is written with the intention of giving our readers some sense of what candidates will now see when they attempt P2SA.
Before we continue, do note that we will be discussing only the changes made to P2SA of the O Level English paper, and not the changes made to the Normal (Academic) English paper. I should also mention that this post should not be taken as the definitive word on the assessment format of the O Level P2SA as the changes were made so recently, and because we do not yet have enough resources to make absolute claims about what students will see for P2SA. The intention is again, to give our readers an understanding of the changes that have been made, how they are different from the previous assessment format (based on whatever we know at the present time of writing), and what they could see for P2SA moving forward.
First of all, take a look at a screen grab of Text 1 and its accompanying questions in the 2021 O Level P2SA:
Let’s now have a look at what the new format could look like! Below are examples of what the new visual text and accompanying questions could look like:
Now that you have seen both assessment formats, I will compare the two formats to show how the previous one is affected by the new updates and revisions:
Take note that the total marks for P2SA is still 5 marks (no change from the previous assessment format).
Number of Texts:
When we say that a text is ‘authentic’, we mean that the text is taken from and used in the real world (e.g. posters, advertisements, campaigns that have been published and used in the real world). When we say that a text is not authentic, we mean that the text was created solely for the purposes of the examination, and is not meant to be used in the real world and seen by anyone else outside the context of the examination.
Textual and Visual Elements in Text:
Questions in the Previous Assessment Format:
In this part, we are concerned with the types of questions asked, the focus of the questions, and question requirements.
In summary, the changes we see from the updated format signal to us that the focus has shifted — even more so than the previous format — towards testing the student’s understanding of the texts. The nature of the questions is such that students are required only to find and identify the right answers, or produce answers that show that they have understood the texts accurately. Where there is more thought processing required on the part of the student (e.g. in the more evaluative questions like Q1 and Q3 in the sample of the new format given earlier), the questions provide students with multiple options and do not require students to phrase their answers into sentences — which reduces the burden placed on them and truly focuses only on testing their understanding of the texts.
At this point, I would like to remind our readers that the observations we have made above about the new format are based on the resources we currently have access to from studying the new format introduced by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board, and only presents what could appear in the new P2SA assessment format. They should not be interpreted by our readers as an exhaustive and definitive template and explanation for the new assessment format as the format is as new to us as it is to the general public, and could be adapted and changed even further in the examinations.
Having discussed the updates and how the new P2SA format differs from the previous one, I hope that our readers now have a better understanding and idea of what they can expect to see for P2SA in the future. Overall, we believe that the changes that have been introduced are positive ones in that they fairly and truly assess students on what the paper should be testing candidates on: their understanding of the texts. It does however, also mean that students have to really study and analyse the texts well, and to take extra care to find the right answers. I hope that this post has helped to elucidate and make the new P2SA assessment format a little clearer to you, and that you will be as excited as we are to see what new question types will feature in P2SA in the future O Level English examinations.
Thank you, and on behalf of the Lil’ but Mighty family, stay happy, stay safe, and stay healthy!
How Your Child Will Benefit From Our Secondary English Tuition
- Become purposeful and structured in approaching English components (precision in adhering to the question requirements, application of strategies to break down questions)
- Use English in a grammatical and appropriate manner to convey meaning and achieve impact in various contexts
- Improvement by the next exam (typically 10-20 more marks)
- Develop confidence and a love for English and its intricacies