Transition from “O” Level English to “A” Level General Paper
Most prospective Junior College students have the misconception that the General Paper (GP) is just another advanced level English paper, having heard so much about how easy it is to fail or how difficult it is to score a distinction in the subject. Let us debunk some of the myths here.
GP definitely requires a good command of English language to read, understand, respond and write lucid prose with substance. If one does not possess the necessary language skills, how could one convince others with one’s arguments? Yet, GP is much more than an English language paper. One will be making a journey across the world and around Singapore – studying developing trends and case studies of themes of interest which every intellectually-inclined global and local citizen should be actively engaged in. Newspapers, magazine features, columns and prose essays are just some of many resources you will be come into contact with, not to mention endless variety of online materials that await your critical evaluation.
The themes covered in the General Paper are much wider than those taught in the O level discursive and argumentative essay-writing courses. Mass media, arts & literature, philosophy, gender, prejudice and discrimination, crime & punishment, science & technology, international relations, politics, globalization, trade & economics, widening income-gaps, poverty and environmental issues are just some of the pertinent and relevant topics which most leaders in the developed world are preoccupied with every single day. You will be engaged with these global and local issues in every GP session, from big-group lectures to tutorials conducted in a seminar format which elicits verbal and written responses from every student.
Is scoring a distinction in GP difficult? It would be a lie if anyone tells you GP is unchallenging, but it is definitely possible to score distinctions and attain a good pass. A well-written GP essay is not only one imbued with a wide variety of exemplifications written by someone well-read and capable of insightful reflection and argumentation. An impressive essay can be written if one attains a flair and personal style which can only be gradually acquired by reading widely over a period of time.
Besides essay writing, one also needs to read, comprehend, infer, summarize and paraphrase phrases and sentences from one to two essays written by journalists, academics, intellectuals, philosophers, entrepreneurs, politicians and leaders in their respective fields. In addition, the Application Question (AQ) at the end of the comprehension paper requires one to relate the main ideas of the particular passage with the Singaporean context, evaluating if the thoughts and opinion are relevant, applicable and valid when seen from a local perspective.
Evidently, vocabulary is of utmost importance as one has to employ a variety of words to express succinctly. A clarity of mind is essential for one to formulate lucid and convincing arguments. With these, one is able to write well and we all know, good writers with insightful views on global and local issues earn recognition and respect. GP is the subject that gives all of us the key to become better writers.
The above article is contributed by our popular and engaging tutor for both Sec 4 English and JC 1&2 General Paper, Mr S Chong. Mr Chong has helped countless students in his many years of teaching to ace their final year examinations. To join Mr Chong's classes, please call us at 6264 2236 or 9661 9760 to reserve your places now!