How to get an A* in GCE O level English exam? This is a question that many students ask but only some figure out the “correct” method.
Do not worry, I am here to help you with a step-by-step guide that you can use to ace your examination. So, let’s start from the very beginning without further introductions.
However, I want to inform you about the benefits of opting for this subject in your examination. The curriculum allows candidates to develop the following skills:
- Proper awareness of their audience.
- Knowledge about the proper use of spellings, grammar and punctuation.
- The development of clear, effective and accurate communication skills.
You should know that a good grade is a reflection of your hard work, effort and understanding of the subject and striving for a good grade will develop the skills which you can use anytime in your life!
With that being said, let me introduce you to some best tips and tricks which you can use to get the best possible results in your English exam.
How to get an A* in GCE O Level English?
1. Know the test format:
The first thing which you have to do is contact your teacher and come across the pattern of your exam. This may sound a bit obvious but let me introduce you to some facts over here.
This method ensures that you have an idea about the layout of your exam and when you know what you have to prepare, you will stay relevant (relevancy is the key).
This will also ensure that when you look at your exam at the first sight, you do not panic because you only know what type of questions are coming in your paper.
Format of paper 1 and paper 2:
If we talk about the paper pattern, your English paper is divided into two parts:
- Paper 1 (Writing)
- Paper 2 (Reading)
In paper one, you have to answer two questions in terms of section one and section two. The question in section one is compulsory while in section two, you only have to complete only one task.
Similarly, you have to attempt one from a choice of five in section 2. The techniques which you should know for this question are:
- Argumentative essay
- Descriptive writing
- Narrative writing
Note: The word limit is 350-500 words and you need to ensure that your response is within this limit. Do not violate this point because that can really damage your impression in front of the examiner.
The purpose of all this detail was to let you know how important the format is for your preparation. Therefore, start off with knowing the format and then follow the upcoming tips and tricks.
Paper 2 is the “reading” paper and it is also divided into two sections.
Section one is of 25 marks where you will be given a factual text. If you read this text properly, you will easily attempt the related questions.
Firstly, you will have to make your notes in terms of content points (12 marks) and then, you will use these notes to write a summary of 150–180 words.
Some tips for summary writing are:
- You should cover all the facts (leave out examples and opinions and interpretations).
- Underline the main points in the passage so that you keep track of them.
- Use your own words (it is mandatory to replace the words from the text).
- Use transition words (such as moreover, furthermore, however, meanwhile, in addition, and etc).
- When you are done, read it again to prevent any spelling or grammar mistake.
In this section, you should also expect questions such as identifying facts, opinions advice, criticism or warning. Well, this was all about section one of paper 2.
In section 2, there is a narrative passage which the candidates have to read carefully (approximately 700 words) before attempting the related questions.
When you know the test format, it is time to move on to the second tip which is to create a study schedule.
2. Create a study schedule:
A schedule is a process of arranging, managing and optimizing work in a productive manner and it is a method to plan your upcoming events.
Time management is extremely important if you want to get good grades because when you are short of time, you will miss important concepts and topics in a hurry.
Even if you do not miss them, it is unlikely that they will completely understand them but remember that if you want to ace your exams, your concepts should be perfect.
With that being said, creating a study schedule will help you in the following ways:
- It will help you manage your time.
- Learning in small chunks is an effective manner to be study stress-free.
- You will keep a track of your work.
- You will be organized which will help you to cover your syllabus on time.
I recommend you to make your own time table instead of using someone else because you know yourself better than anyone else.
Even if you use a schedule of someone else, it is completely fine if it ensures complete syllabus converge on time. You need to make sure that the time table is flexible so that it meets your learning style.
Now, I have a question for you. How important is it for you to take all your classes? Let me discuss.
3. Do not miss your classes:
A very obvious point, you must be saying that. But no! There is something very important that I need to clarify over here.
There is a reason why you have long and hectic classes. Your attendance can make a big difference. This is because if you are regular, you will develop a skill that you cannot develop by being absent – experience.
What do I mean by that?
You have experienced teachers who have dealt with dozens of students and they know what possible mistakes you can commit in your exams. They will let you know about them so that you prevent them.
Moreover, when you attend your classes and give class tests, these may sound useless to you but they help you develop your experience.
Look, there is a student who is regularly giving class tests while there is a candidate who has not attempted a single question, who will be more confident while attempting the paper?
Obviously, the one who has practised a lot of papers in his class and discussed the mistakes with the teacher.
Now, I am not saying to always go to school or never miss a class. The point here is that, when you know how to attempt your English paper, you can stay at your home and practise plenty of past papers.
The problem that many students face is spelling and grammar errors. But, how do you fix them? Let me tell.
- Reading and going through plenty of resources is the best method to improve your grammar.
- You should have a detailed reference book that you should consult while writing.
- Listen to others and consult the people around you who have a decent knowledge of the English language and grammar.
- Finally, write and get it checked by your teacher. You will come across your mistakes and when you will correct them, you will see the difference.
But, there is a thing over here. Some of you may be left with very little time. So, what can you do now? Even if you do not have plenty of time to take classes, what you can do is to stay in contact with your teachers.
Ask questions from them, get your queries answered and most importantly, learn about the topics which you find difficult.
4. The importance of examiner reports:
Wouldn’t it be great if you exactly knew what the examiner wanted from you?
Well, there is a method for that. But, what is it?
You can access examiner reports for the past papers from multiple sites online but what exactly does examiner reports mean?
This document contains the remarks of the examiner for the exam. where some general feedback is given along with common mistakes committed by the candidates.
This document can help you find out what the examiner demanded in a particular question and when you will develop this habit, trust me you will know how to attempt your question the exam.
Relevancy and staying to the point is the key over here and when you know what you have to write, there is a good chance to score a good grade.
So, what you have to do is that whenever you practise a past paper question, open the marking scheme along with the examiner report.
Then, grade yourself accordingly and trace your progress over time. My experience says that this is one of the best tips that anyone can give to a student.
It is to note that the examiner report is not available for all exams. In that case, use the marking scheme. I hope this helps.
When talking about the examiner report, you cannot miss something known as “the candidate response“.
The responses of some candidates are also available online along with the remarks of the examiner.
The best part?
The best thing about them is that you have all types of responses such as a good response, an average response and a bad response.
As mentioned above, there are comments of the examiner for each and every question this will help you develop your understanding of how to properly attempt the questions.
Remember, English is all about practice. The more you practise, the better you get. So, try to use the marking scheme, examiner report and candidate response to your benefit.
And most importantly, think about this. Why does Cambridge publish examiner report? The simple answer is that they want to highlight some major aspects related to your exams.
5. Question is your “best friend”:
Yes, this is correct. Indeed, the question is your true friend during the examination. But how?
If you read the question carefully and understand what is demanded from you, it is likely that you will score well.
That sound a bit obvious but let me explain. In paper one, you have directed writing of 30 marks and 15 marks are only for “task fulfilment”.
This means that if you follow the directions of the question, you can easily secure those 15 marks. On the other hand, if you fail to understand the purpose and audience, you can mess up.
With that being said comes my next tip which is to read the question carefully. I know that the time is short during the examination and you cannot afford to spend a lot of time reading the question only.
But, you have to read the question carefully so that you know what you are doing. Look, what is the purpose of writing quickly when you are not sure of what you have to write?
So, read the question twice or thrice before attempting it. There is one more benefit of doing this. What is that?
Let’s suppose you come across a question in your comprehension part (reading) where you do not understand what you have to write. The best thing you can do here is to read the question again.
Stay calm, I bet you will find a way out.
This takes us to the next tip which is to attempt all questions.
6. Attempt all questions:
You would have heard it, “never leave any question and try to attempt it even if you do not know the answer”.
What is my view on that?
Well, I completely agree with this because the examiner does not like blank pages. But, if you write a wrong answer and expect to get full marks only on the basis of filling the space, this will not happen.
The point here is that when you try to attempt a question even though you do not understand it, there is a good chance that you can secure a couple of marks by only writing in reference to the question.
These one or two marks can be vital in making your grade and guess what, these marks are better than leaving the question and being guaranteed no marks at all.
Therefore, attempt all question and do not leave any question if you want to secure an A* in you GCE O Level English exam.
One more thing to note over here is that do not waste your time in solving the question when you do not know the answer. You should answer the questions which you know first and then come back to them at last.
This will ensure that you have some time to think about them and find a way out. These things matter a lot especially when you are aiming to score well in an exam.
7. Keep calm and stay motivated:
Stress and demotivation can ruin your progress and you cannot afford that to happen.
The truth is that if you want to get good grades, you have to stay motivated so that you can proceed towards quality learning.
A good grade cannot be received by working overnight. It is a result of dedication, hard work and motivation. Now you wish to be wondering, how to stay motivated?
In order to stay motivated, you can do the following:
- Constantly review your progress and goals.
- Take help from positive people.
- Make new and realistic goals so that you know what you are working for.
- Do not compare yourself with other people.
- Find a mentor for proper guidance and be optimistic.
With that being said comes another thing which is to stay calm. It is scientifically tested that the students who stay calm perform much better than the anxious ones.
What is the purpose of working day and night when you are going to mess up your exam only because you were stressed? You cannot afford to do that.
This is one of the most important tips to stay calm during your exam because if you are worried, you cannot deal with challenging and tricky questions.
On the flip side, even if a difficult question comes, you will deal with it because of your positive approach. So, when you are done with your preparation, stay calm and motivated.
This is the best thing which you can do.
I know that exam stress is faced by a lot of students. They are prepared for the exams but, they are anxious. Do not worry, it is normal. Everyone goes through this.
To counter this, I have a strategy for you. The tip is to practise the questions (that you know) before going to the examination hall.
Simply, it will boost your confidence. So, let’s wrap up the discussion now.
Now, it is your turn. I have played my part and given you some of the best tips and tricks to ace your English exam.
How to get an A* in GCE O level English? I am sure now you know that answer to this question. If you want to achieve a good grade, you need to work smart, not hard.
Therefore, I have covered some key points in this article which you can use for your benefit. I hope this will be helpful.
You can consult your teachers, use mark schemes and stay calm during the exams. These are some things that can help you produce the best results in your paper.
Thank you very much for reading and staying with me till the end. Stay tuned for more.