• Vanita Pal

3 Best Ways to Prepare for Secondary School English



The secondary English Paper prepares a student for the O Level exam which is stringent in comparison to other exams.

There are many parts to the English paper but the most demanding will be to maintain a high score in the demanding composition paper where argumentative topics reflect world issues.

The other difficult section will be the comprehension paper where students have to master 2 unseen texts and be able to answer questions accurately.

The last part will be to be able to write a situation composition which is also in paper 1. This is shorter but most students tend to over-write for this paper as they misunderstand the demands of the question.


What are the 3 best ways?

The 1st Way

The first way is to make sure you are familiar with all the Genres for compositions.

If you are not comfortable with all the genres, the best way to prepare is to practice doing compositions in your favourite genre eg argumentative.

Then make sure you have a back-up plan and prepare well in another genre eg narrative.

This way you can be sure of being able to do at least one of the questions well in case you are unable to do the argumentative question or if it does not appear at all in that paper.

Preparing well for Paper 1 Composition means that firstly you will need general knowledge if you are aiming for an argumentative or expository type of question.

You should be reading a bit about the world’s headlines or watch Channel News Asia or CNN. These are excellent sources of information. If you have such information at your fingertips, you will be able to write on any of the world affairs questions competently.

For eg, you should be aware that a second mutation of Covid-19 had broken out in India in April 2021. The rest of the world is nervous that this outbreak could spread to other parts which will put a severe strain on medical resources.

Or you should be aware that a helicopter landed on Mars in April, this year 2021. That was a massive step forward for mankind.

Both these pieces of information can be used for questions on threats which people face or technological impact on our lives.

This will be an excellent way to prepare.



The 2nd Way

The second way is to be adept in Paper 2 which, quite frankly can be daunting to most students. Each passage is earmarked with its own difficulty levels.

Text B is the narrative part and it could be an extract from a story from any source. Familiarity with the flow of narrative is most important.

How does one become familiar? Well, the first way is to be really good at vocabulary skills. This means that you should have put aside adequate time for vocabulary exercises well ahead of the exams. Practising with new words, finding meanings and using them in compositions will be a great way to be competent in this area.

If you do that, any text will be easy to handle and even the tricky questions will be easy to manage.

I cannot stress enough that the core to being competent is vocabulary. That just about sums up the way you should prepare for this portion.

With Text C, it is the same thing. You do need vocabulary skills but most of it is based on information. This means that you will be asked to analyse information which is given. You will not have to pore over what the hidden meaning is. That will be a rare occurrence. Practise in this this area is essential just in case you might get a rather long text with dialogue explaining certain theories for example. It is always better to be prepared than to take a chance with this text. After all, forewarned is forearmed.


The 3rd Way

The final way is to prepare for Situation writing. Though this has lesser word content, it is an easy way to score if you follow the rules.

What you need to do.

Firstly, make sure you read both parts of the question. There is an information portion and an illustration portion. The illustration worksheet will have more than one picture so make sure you assess each of them carefully. These will be accompanied by captions and these are crucial to writing your answer as it will have hints and guidelines.

Read all the portions carefully and make sure that the information from all parts is used. In order to do well in this area, make sure you do several sample questions so that you can prepare writing using the various portions of this paper. This paper should be written in a journalistic style so prepare writing in this way. Check your answer before you hand up always making sure that the hints and guidelines mentioned have been used. Make sure you do not overwrite and only do what is asked of you in the instructions.

If you follow all the preparation tips mentioned, you will be able to perform not only competently in the exam but you will always hit the high grades in your results.

The last piece of advice I can give is to make sure that you start your preparation early. Remember, Time is another factor in any preparation. Your Time is now. Make good use of it.