Tackling The Situational Writing Section of the 2019 GCE 'O' Level English Paper


The Situational Writing Section B of O level English Language Paper 1 is a compulsory section which essentially assesses the candidate’s ability to apply the use of written standard English in practical everyday scenarios.

For your script to attain a good grade, you need to understand the purpose, audience and context of the given question and ensure you write in the correct format with accurate grammar and a variety of vocabulary and sentence structures. For your script to stand out amongst the all the candidates who have to attempt the same question, you need to demonstrate a high level of personal engagement and inject your personal voice so that you differentiate yourself from the many average scripts that merely copy or re-hash the points given in the stimulus.

Let’s take the 2019 “O” level English language Paper 1 as a case study.

Question:

You should look at the printout of a webpage in the insert, and study the information carefully and plan your answer before beginning to write.

You have been offered the opportunity to gain some experience as part of your Education and Career Guidance Programme. There are three options for your work experience. You have decided to apply for one of them. Write a letter of application saying which one interests you, and why you think you are suitable for that particular area of work.

Write the letter to the ECG Counsellor of your school. In it you should explain:

- the area of work which interests you and why

- the skills and qualities you have to offer

- how this particular work experience would benefit you.

You may add any other details you think will be helpful.

Write your letter in clear, accurate English. Your tone should be polite and persuasive to convince the counsellor that you are suitable for the option you have chosen.

You should use your own words as much as possible.

Answer:

The question essentially requires candidates to write a letter to the Education and Career Guidance Programme (ECG) Counsellor, explaining which one of the three areas of work interests you and why you think you are suitable for that particular area of work. The specific aspects candidates have to discuss in detail are namely the area of work which interests you and why, the skills and qualities you have to offer and how this particular work experience would benefit you

You are free to choose any of the three aspects as there is no correct choice. What matters here is the way you express yourself clearly and accurately with a wide variety of vocabulary and sentence structures. If you are truly engaged in writing the task, you will definitely think out of the box and add more bonus points other than the ones given in the stimulus. In fact, you cannot only copy or rehash the points given in the stimulus as your own because they are the examiner’s language, not your own language. Remember in this paper, 20 marks are awarded for language. Hence you have to think of ways to distinguish your script apart from the rest.

Below are some suggestions that candidates could brainstorm under their respective chosen area of work experience opportunities. These are by no means exhaustive but it gives you a sense that if you want to score a high mark for language and task fulfillment, you will need to go beyond the words given by the examiners, take ownership of the task, immerse yourself fully and authentically in the task as if you are really writing to the counsellor. Of course, you also need to sound eager and “hungry” for the job. Take a look at the pointers and see if you can add more to the list of bullet points.

Work Experience Opportunities Provided in the Visual Stimulus

Thinking Points

(A)

Retail Business

Large Department Store:

Customer Service

Customer Complaints Management

Windows Display Design

Campaign to Attract Younger Customers

Rationale

  • Department stores are currently facing challenges from online retailers. Interesting to find out how department stores are going through transformations to keep up with the changing needs and preferences of younger consumers

  • Most Singaporeans spend a considerable amount of time shopping during the weekends, hence there are opportunities behind every challenge in the ever-changing retail landscape. Besides many affluent tourists from the neighbouring countries also regularly visit Singapore for the extensive range of international products available here

Skills & Qualities

  • Relish human interaction; sociable

  • Patience to handle difficult customers

  • Creative and receptive to undertaking new projects of innovation

  • Interest in Design and Marketing

Benefits

  • Conducting market studies enables me to understand more about younger consumers’ preferences as I intend to venture into sales, marketing and advertising fields .

  • I intend to use the experience gained to help review and innovate the way my family business has been conducted.

(B)

Hospitality Industry

Hotel:

Assisting Receptionists at Check-In and Check-Out

Sharing Travel Information at Tourist Information Desk

Serving in the Restaurant

Helping to Plan an Important Event at the Hotel

Rationale

  • Passion in travelling and staying at the various types of hotels has stimulated my keen interest in hotel management

  • With tourism revenue contributing to a significant proportion of the Gross Domestic Product and tourism industry creating substantial employment opportunities, the hospitality industry is experiencing unprecedented growth.

Skills and Qualities

  • Possess a wealth of knowledge about Singapore and willing to share them with tourists

  • Willing to help others in need

  • Previous experiences in being a waiter/server

  • Previous experiences in organizing events in my school CCAs

Benefits

  • I am considering if I should pursue a degree in Hospitality Management, hence this work experience is a good opportunity for me to see if I like working in the industry.

  • Planning events is an essential skill we must equip ourselves with, hence this work experience will enable me to acquire, polish and master the planning competencies by helping the leaders in solving problems that may arise while executing the plan.

(C)

Pre-School Sector

Kindergarten:

Reading Stories to Children

Helping Teachers to Supervise a Play Area

Supporting Teachers in Organising Sports and Games

Planning an Outing for the Children

Rationale

  • Like to become a teacher and I love to play with children. My mother is a teacher and I have been inspired to be like her.

  • The Pre-school stage is one that establishes the basic foundation of life skills and education for every child and I would love to play a part in nurturing them.

Skills and Qualities

  • Being the eldest in the family, I have always been tasked to take care of my younger siblings. I enjoy doing that.

  • Patience to play with children and answer all their questions, including silly ones.

  • I have volunteered at an orphanage before. With that volunteer experience, I would be able to effectively contribute to the kindergarten day-to-day operations.

Benefits

  • Enable me to understand how the pre-school education shapes a child’s life significantly.

  • Basic parenting skills can be nurtured from this work experience and I hope to become a good parent in the future

  • Able to review safety procedures and measures in place, be it a play area or planning sports events or outings. Being a hands-on person, I like to take part in day-to-day operations and this experience would allow me to master such skills.

When you attempt your next situational task writing, remember to take a refreshing and authentic approach to see a breakthrough in your marks, like how we have suggested above. All the best of luck!

*****

If you are still struggling with English and would like to improve before the GCE 'O' Level examinations, sign up for Mr Chong's English lessons and see your grades transform! Call us at 6264 2236 to register now or check out our Class Schedule here!

When you attempt your next situational task writing, remember to take a refreshing and authentic approach to see a breakthrough in your marks, like how we have suggested above. All the best of luck!

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