Thursday, October 25, 2012

Alamak, English! week 5, the non-essay.

Although my strongest point in the English exams have always been the essay-writing part, I thought it best to mention the second part of the paper as well. Frankly, my English lessons wouldn't be complete if I didn't include the second English paper. The importance of English Paper 2 really struck me after the recent Trial exams. I almost let my A+ slip out of my hands because of carelessness and overconfidence. Let's go over this paper a little, shall we?

Paper 2 is divided into 4 "sections": Section A, B, C, and D.

Section A consists of 15 multiple-choice questions, each worth 1 mark.
Section B involves "information transfer", based on a given poster or advertisement.
Section C is where you "comprehend" a passage and summarise it at the end.
Section D would be your Literature, where you have to answer questions based on a poem we have studied and write an essay on a novel.

Each of these sections are equally important, and should all be answered with care. Here are a few tips which I have gathered from various sources which may be helpful when answering the paper:

For Section A questions 1-8, you will have to choose the right answer based on given information. Make sure you read every part of the question carefully. If the question gives you a news report, make sure you choose the answer that fills the requirement of the question. Do not just circle correct facts. Take some time to fully understand the question.
For questions 9-15, we have Rational Close, namely, filling in the blank spaces in a passage based on the given choices. When answering these questions, make sure that your answer corresponds with A) the past tense or present tense of the whole passage, as well as the individual sentence, and B) the subject being refered to in the sentence.
For example:
"This problem needs to managed if we _____ to have a brighter, greener future."
Choices: A. is, B. are, C. was, D. were.

The answer is B. are, because the sentence is in present tense ("needs to be managed") and the subject of the sentence is what we (plural) have to do.

For Section B (questions 16-25), you have to read an advertisement or something similar and then complete a chart or a table given. You only have to copy the information exactly as it is given in the advertisement. Make sure that when you copy it, everything is exactly the same as it is given in the advertisment, including capital letters and spacings. Be careful not to leave out important information, and only include the information that is asked for. Do not change anything, but instead just copy everything straight out of the advertisement. That is the safest way.
For example:
Launching Ceremony by YAB Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, PRIME MINISTER at Dataran 1Malaysia, Putrajaya Heights
Question: 16. Name of event: __________ 17. Officiated by: _____________

---For question 16, the name of the event, do not add a space between the "1" and the "MALAYSIA", and leave everything in capitals. Even though it looks like it should be changed, you do not have to change anything. Just copy everything exactly from the advertisement: 1MALAYSIA CARNIVAL.
For question 17, "Launching Ceremony" is actually the same as "Officiated by". You do not need to write "Launching Ceremony by" in your answer. Likewise, you should not include the venue of the event in your answer. Also, don't change the name or add fullstops in the YAB since it is not given, and do not change "Mohd" to "Mohammad". Just copy the advertisement: YAB Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, PRIME MINISTER.

For Section C questions 26-30, you have to read a passage, usually an extract from a newspaper or magazine article, and answer questions based on it. Each question will tell you which paragraph to find the answer from. When answering questions, take care to only choose your answer from the given paragraph. For example: From paragraph 3, find a word that can be substituted with 'upset'. Now, maybe paragraph 2 has the word 'disappointed', and paragraph 3 has the word 'depressed'. Both can be reasonably substituted with 'upset'. However, you have to take the answer from paragraph 3. The same goes for any questions asking for details from the passage.
Question 31 is a summary question. You have to write a summary based on the passage. Here, I beg you to do three things: 1) Understand what the summary is supposed to be about, 2) Take note of where the range of your material should be on the passage, and 3) Underline or bracket the points that you have identified. If you are unsure of whether or not a particular point is valid, you can leave it out if you have enough points and can reach 130 words. When writing the summary, paraphrasing, or "making long phrases shorter", is a must. Do not let your summary go even one word above 130, because this might determine whether or not your last point is valid.

Finally, Section D. Question 32 usually asks questions based on a poem we have learnt, although rumors say that they could ask short stories instead. In any case, be prepared and rely on what your teachers have taught you. Read through all your notes, particularly the "Meaning of Stanzas", and make sure you fully understand the question before you answer.
Question 33 required you to write about a novel you have studied; For this year's SPM, that would be The Curse, Step by Wicked Step, or Catch Us If You Can. No matter which of the three novels you've studied, the fundamentals are the same: Understand what the question wants, and use detailed evidence from the text to answer the question. It is important to link the evidence from the text to the requirement of the question.

For example: The question asks me to write about an interesting character in a novel I have studied. I studied the novel Catch Us If You Can. I could choose to write about Granda. What makes him interesting: Granda has many skills. Evidence from the text: Granda teaches Rory how to catch fish, Granda teachers Rory about birds in the wild, Granda hotwires a car. Why I find this interesting: This shows that Granda is a very experienced person in many areas and will have a lot of knowledge to impart. I would love to talk to him and learn much from him.

Three simple steps. Add a bit more flowery language, go into more detail in the evidence from the text, and you'll be home safe. A common mistake is that students fail to link the evidence in the text to the requirement of the question. This can be very costly, so the student should try to stick as close to the ROQ as possible throughout the whole thing.

That's all I have to share about English Paper 2. Summary-writing in Section C has always been my weak spot, and it shows too. I tend to write things a bit long-winded. To avoid this problem, I'll try not to write a long conclusion to today's lesson. Good night, and as usual, I hope I helped.

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