In transitioning to more advanced levels, subjects inevitably become tougher while requiring more time and attention. This is very much the case for English Language, a critical subject for educational progression.
Secondary level English exposes students to the wider world of language usage: including literature, analysing real world issues, and writing practical documents such as formal letters and reports. However, there are variations in examinations formats across different streams that should be noted.
In general, scoring criteria place greater emphasis on practical learning. Paper 1 (Writing) now has higher weightage on the final score and there are higher word requirements. Continuous writing can still be expected in Paper 1, but with greater variety of question types. For Normal Technical (NT) students, visuals may be given for Guided Writing to develop essential and basic writing skills.
As for Paper 2 (Comprehension), the weightage is lower now compared to primary school scoring standards, although NT weightage remain equivalent to Foundation weightage. There are also major changes in the examinations that students and parents should look out for.
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
No more luck for guessing the right answers in Secondary School, unless it is for the listening comprehension. Normal Technical and Normal Academic (NA) students may still be tested with MCQs (or the like) in their Paper 2 Examinations.
Short Answer Questions
In Secondary School levels, concepts like irony and metaphor are introduced. Students in the Express and NA streams are expected to identify and explain such concepts from passages of longer lengths (1000 to 1200 words).
Summary Question(s) and other items
This summary holds the greatest weightage in Paper 2 (Express and NA), students are expected to explain/list what they have understood from one section of a passage in their own words – copying key ideas alone is insufficient – it is a daunting task which really tests students’ reading and understanding skills.
Other notable mentions include error editing questions which remain in the examinations, again with longer text lengths. Cloze passages (Fill-in-the-blank questions) and Form Filling will also continue for Normal Technical Students.
These differences might be unsettling or confusing, but setting a good foundation for English is vital: not only for progression but also for other subjects and even when students enter the workforce. In all, English tuition in secondary school levels can help students understand and manage longer texts while gaining greater knowledge. As they advance to higher levels, students will be able to hone their skills in writing and comprehension and perhaps even come to enjoy English.
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