So you’ve made it through the end-of-year English examinations. How did you fare? If this is your first year tackling the English paper, it might have been a struggle adjusting to the standards of Secondary English. But kudos for surviving the year (even with COVID-19 raging in the background)! If you are in Secondary 2, did you make an improvement from Secondary 1 — at least in certain components of the paper? Pat yourself on the back for that, and take a good look at your areas of weakness (or, areas for improvement). However you’ve performed, learning the English language is a never-ending journey. See it as a marathon — you’ve got one goal (e.g. the ‘O’ levels) and you’ve also got multiple checkpoints to take stock and refuel. Your end-of-year examinations are just one of these checkpoints.

This post will cover 3 ways you can improve (the 3Rs): Reflect on your efforts, Resolve to take concrete actions and Reset your mindset. We will concentrate on Paper 1 and 2 in this post.

1. Reflect – Identify your strengths and weaknesses in the various components of the English paper.

2. Resolve – Decide what you can and will do to improve on your identified areas of weakness.

3. Reset – Adopt a growth mindset and believe that you can improve with consistent effort.

1. Reflect

Many skills are involved in the English paper, so you are probably better at some and weaker at others. What matters is to identify these areas of strengths and weaknesses. A list of (key) skills are shown below.

(Tip: Embedded in some of them are links to previous posts!)

Paper 1

(A) Editing

(B) Situational Writing

  • Elaborate on points (Amplification)
  • Use the appropriate tone and style

(C) Continuous Writing (Essay)

Paper 2

(A) Visual Text

  • Understand question requirements
  • Address question requirements

(B) Comprehension (Section B & C)

  • Understand question requirements
  • Address question requirements
  • Understand the text / passage

(C) Summary (Section C)

From this list, identify 3 skills that you are (1) stronger in; and (2) weaker in, based on your end-of-year results. You can start by identifying the components (A-F), then zero in on the specific skills. You will probably feel like marking out more than 3 (especially for your weaknesses), but try to single out the 3 most pressing ones first. If you need to, seek clarification from your teacher.

Take a piece of paper and draw up the following table. List the relevant skills accordingly.

Too 3 StrengthsTop 3 Weaknesses
1.1.
2.2.
3.3.

2. Resolve

For the weaknesses that you’ve identified, brainstorm ways in which you can improve and will make a conscious effort to work at it. Here are 3 examples:

Weakness 1 [Situational Writing] :

Elaborate on points (Amplification)

Steps I will take to improve:

  • Use the 5W1H method to help me generate ideas to elaborate on
  • Improve on my vocabulary so I have a wider variety of words and ways of expressing my ideas

Weakness 2 [Continuous Writing (Essay)] :

Write a well-supported body paragraph

Steps I will take to improve:

  • Rewrite the body paragraphs (from your SA2 essay) using the PEEL format
  • Come up with/Search for better, more convincing examples to support your point

Weakness 3 [Summary] :

Paraphrase (accurately)

Steps I will take to improve:

  • Practise using some paraphrasing techniques
  • Improve on my vocabulary so I have a wider variety of words and ways of expressing my ideas

Note: You may not want to come up with too many steps/ways you wish at this point. Focus on two to three areas first before moving on to others once you have seen improvement. As they say: “More haste, less speed”.

3. Reset

Improving your proficiency in English will take time, so what is important is to make consistent efforts to improve in the areas you have stated above. Improvement does not happen overnight. You should also avoid comparing yourself with your peers, as everyone begins at a different starting point and goes at a different pace.

In short, these are some of the mindset shifts you need to have:

  • Be consistent
  • Believe you will progress
  • Do not compare

You have learnt 3 ways you can improve — by reflecting purposefully on your strengths and weaknesses; resolving to take concrete and realistic steps; and resetting your mindset to remember that improving in the various components of the English paper takes consistent effort and time. Start during the coming year-end holidays, and check back on your progress come middle of next year. Stay focused, resilient and believe you can progress!

2023 Bukit Timah Branch Secondary English tuition timetable

LevelDayStart timeEnd time
S1SAT2.30 pm4.30 pm
S2SAT4.30 pm6.30 pm
S3SAT6.30 pm8.30 pm