a. DIRECTED WRITING
In the first section of the SPM English Paper 2, students are expected to spend about thirty minutes, expanding on given notes. For this section, imagination and creativity do come into play because even though certain facts are given, they serve as a mere guide. You are required to do at least three major things: 1. Use the right format for your writing
2. Include all the facts given in the question
3. Elaborate or provide your OWN but relevant details) on these given facts. From the total of 30 marks awarded here, 15 are for CONTENT and the other 15 is for LANGUAGE USE. As a student, you can easily get full marks for content provided you follow the ensuing good advice.
There are three important aspects to awarding of marks for content. a) Format
Marks awarded are usually in the range of 2-3. Make sure you read the instructions carefully. You may be required to write an informal letter, a formal letter, a speech, an article or a report. In each case, you must thoroughly realize how important it is that you suit the right format to the questions. b) Inclusion of Given Facts
Certain facts are given in the question itself. Usually 6-7 marks are awarded if you include ALL the given facts in your writing do not leave even a single one. Couch each fact in a complete sentence. If you just use phrases or if the sentence you make is meaningless, no marks will be given. c) Elaboration
Finally about 6-7 marks are awarded if you add details of your own to make your writing more intresting. No details - no marks ! Remember, one extra sentence or two is usually enough. You don’t have to write and write. Also, the details must be relevant, suitable and interesting too. You need to invest a little time and imagination here so that your writing won’t come across as "dry and dull".
Finally, the remainder 15 marks are allocated for language use. You must try and make sure that grammar, spelling and punctuation are as error-free as possible. Do take a little trouble to check through your writing. Write shorter sentences if you are not too sure about grammar. Avoid words that you do not know how to spell. But do begin from now to revise the spelling of simple words like "sincerely", "faithfully", "fine", "thank you", and other such frequently used words.
b) CONTINUOUS WRITING
Section C of the SPM English Paper 2 presents a question on Continuous Writing. Students are advised to spend about one hour on this section. 5 topics will be given and choose only ONE.
1. Recognise the type of essay you are going to attempt i.e. whether it’s a narrative, descriptive, expository, argumentative or reflective. 2. Understand the chosen topic so that you do not write out of point. 3. Plan what you are going to write about.
4. Include enough good and relevant points.
5. Organize your points well and present each new or main point in a separate paragraph. 6. Show coherence in paragraphs.
7. Use idiomatic expression and include the active voice for narrative essays. 8. Vary the length and structure of sentences
9. Introduce your essay impressively and conclude it in a meaningful or original way. 10. Check for spelling, punctuation, grammatical correctness, especially the usage of tenses and pronouns. 11. Factual topics should as far as possible be avoided. This is because the material you use must be based on facts and not "guess work .
TECHNIQUES FOR ANSWERING THE SPM ENGLISH PAPER (PAPER 2)
Paper 2 Section A
- For Stimuli & Graphic Material, read the materials given and questions carefully. Cancel off the options that you consider as definitely wrong. Choose the most suitable answer among the 4 options, based on the materials given. - For Rational Cloze, it tests you on grammar. Read the passage given carefully. Cancel off the options that you consider as definitely wrong. Choose the most suitable word to fill in the blanks in the passage among the 4 options, based on your understanding in grammar. - For both parts, you should think carefully because sometimes the answers are close to each other.
B. Information Transfer
- Read the materials and questions carefully. When answering, copy directly from the materials given and avoid using your own words. However, sometimes you may have to make some changes to suit your answer. Make sure the spelling in your answer is exactly the same as the spelling in the materials given. Your answers must be short and precise. Do not add in any unnecessary details in your answer or write extra answers, otherwise marks may be deducted due to overlifting. Also, you should not answer in full sentences.
C .SUMMARY WRITING
Section B of the SPM English Paper 2 presents a question on summary writing. You are advised to spend forty-five minutes on this section. For this section, a total of 3 marks are allocated. Of these, 20 are awarded for content and another 10 for language accuracy and style. Read the instructions carefully. By doing this, you ought to know very clearly: 1. Which part of the passage is supposed to be summarized (you may to be required to summarize the WHOLE passage) 2. What aspect of the content of the passage is to be summarized. (For instance, you may be asked to summarize only the advantages or disadvantages, or certain reactions of people or even the causes/outcomes of certain incident. 3. The length of your summary – i.e the number of words that you are allowed in your final summary. If it is stated that your summary MUST not be longer than 160 words, please adhere to this word limit. If you write more than 160 words, all the extra facts contained there are NOT taken into account by the examiner. 4. Take note of any starting words or phrases given and use them as instructed to begin your summary. Don’t forget the number of words in the starting line are included in counting the total number of words in your summary. Once you have understood the question clearly, only ten should you begin to read the passage. Try to understand what the passage is all about – what its message/theme is or what the story is about. During the second reading, begin to underline the important ideas and relevant tails. Pick these out and list them down. Do ensure that the points you are picking out are meeting the requirements of the question given. Read the passage once more to ensure that you have not left out any pertinent points. Now, begin summarizing. Ignore irrelevant explanations and superfluous examples. Focus on the main ideas and those that support the theme of the passage. Generalize and convert lengthy sentences into shorter ones. Use one, or shorter words that can substitute the meaning of a long phrase in the passage. For example, "my mother, my father, my brother, and sister" can be rephrased as my family. Group similar points together - for example the feelings of a person or the advantages of a certain procedure/machine. Rather than use three or four sentences to convey all of it, you ca put it all in one or two sentences. Use commas – they help. You will need skill for this, and that is why you should practice writing a lot of summaries before the real examination. Many students grapple with summary writing because they get caught up with the words used in the passage. They want to use all of them. The reason? They feel that the author’s words are best and that almost all that is contained within the original passage is important and necessary to be included in their summary. As such, most students tend to copy the author’s words as much as possible and try to include almost everything from the original passage into the summary. The result is a chop cut-and-paste version of the original. It has little meaning and relevance. It is NOT even a summary and you get a few marks when you write a chopped summary like this. Remember, you get more marks if you use your OWN WORDS. I know this is not easy, but you must try. Don’t be afraid to rearrange, reorganize and compound facts. The main issue here is whether you have understood the meaning of the passage and whether you can faithfully translate it into a passage that is made up mainly of your own words. So, begin practicing writing a lot of summaries now. Every time you read a report in a newspaper or an article in a magazine, ask yourself – what is this repot/article all about? What is its message? Try to summarize it in your mind. Imagine that someone younger is asking you what is it that you are reading, and try to visualize the simplified answer/version that you are going to tell him/her. That is a summary. Where marks are concerned, try to get as many as you can for CONTENT. Stick to the meaning of the passage as much as possible but do it using your own words. Do not be lazy. Secure as many points as you can by reading and scanning the passage carefully for relevant facts and details. Jot all of these down diligently and try to incorporate them all in a simplified, summarized form. Try not to leave out important fact. Each fact left out means one less mark for you. As for language, do take the trouble to read through your final draft and make sure that your grammar, punctuation and spelling are as accurate as you can possibly make them. Your error must be minimal and the language you use must not make it difficult for the examiner to understand what you are trying to say.
Most students have this 'irrational' fear of answering literature questions just because they find it tiresome and loathsome to read. Apparently literature is good for you and boosts your brain power.
Unfortunately, some students do read but they could not produce a decent script for this section simply because they fail to fulfill the requirements. So, a little heads-up, please READ THE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY before
Ok, let's get a sample.
The following are the novels studied in the literature component in English Language:
Step by wicked step – Anne Fine Catch Us If You Can – Catherine MacPhail The Curse – Lee Su Ann
Choose any one of the novels above and answer the question.
Use information from the novel to support your answer.
Compare two characters in the novel you have studied. How are they similar and different?
Compare and contrast two characters.
The novel I have chosen is ‘Step by wicked step’ written by Anne Fine. Colin and Claudia are the two characters I have chosen to compare and contrast. Although they are two differing characters, they also have some similarities.
Both Colin and Claudia come from broken or separated families. They both have step parents. Colin’s mother has left his biological father and `took up’ with Jack. Jack is the only ‘father’ figure Colin ever know. However, Colin’s mum leaves Jack after a while. This causes him to miss Jack so badly that it hurts. On the other hand, Claudia’s father has left her mother for another woman, Stella. She feels disloyal to her mum whenever she has a good time with her father and Stella. Both Colin and Claudia really want their parents to reconcile as they pine for how it used to be when they were happy. And this aspect of unhappy home is the first similarity.
Colin and Claudia also do not adapt to the drastic changes their families undergo. Colin’s unwavering loyalty and want for his ‘dad’ to be back and Claudia’s misguided loyalty to her mother shows that these two characters find difficulties dealing with changes. There are frustrations, fear and sadness. Furthermore, both Colin’s and Claudia’s mothers do not take their emotions into consideration. It is as though everything is only happening to them, and will never have an impact on the children. This is the second similarity; the fact that the changes take time.
However, Colin and Claudia are markedly different individuals. They deal with the changes in their respective families differently; Colin is portrayed as a boy always pining for his ‘father’ even after five whole years. However, Claudia becomes hostile towards the new lady in her life, Stella, disregarding all the latter’s efforts to warm up to her. These different treatments are proof of their dissimilarity.
Both Colin and Claudia have different personalities too. Colin is a dreamer who dreams of an ideal life where his ‘dad’ and mother will be together forever and happy. He secretly keeps his ‘father’s’ tobacco tin and saves money so that he can look for him one day. This makes him too depending on his stepdad and emotionally attached to him. This is probably due to the fact that he needs love from a man called ‘father’. Claudia is more of a sensible and rational person. After seeing her dad’s friends ignoring Stella and judging it as ‘rude’, she goes to compliment Stella on her stellar choice of green pyjamas. Claudia is more independent and is not afraid to voice her opinions. Unlike Colin, Claudia is brave in coming to terms with her parents’ separation. She is independent and not afraid to voice her opinions. These dissimilar personalities differentiates them and hint at a different future both might face.
Even though they experience broken family relationships and find it difficult to accept changes, the way Colin and Claudia accept new additional member of the family is different. They have different views in accepting reality and this has made the story more inspiring and colourful.
1. Fulfill the requirements. You must know TWO characters and state the character of your choice. 2. Write a thesis statement, hinting and giving a general idea at what the readers will read (purple colored) 3. Start every paragraph with a topic sentence that contain the main idea or keyword. For example, the first main idea is 'both come from broken or separated family' (blue colored) 4. After the topic sentence, elaborate and give example from the story to make your points clearer. Do not retell the whole story. 5.You must link your points/ideas back to the question. Failure to link might cause you to not achieve more than 4 or 5 marks for content.(yellow colored) 6. Close your essay with a simple restatement of your thesis statement, or restate your three main ideas.(red colored) 7. Check your tenses. It must be in Simple Present Tense.