General Paper Cheat Sheet: 7 Common Mistakes That You Can Avoid Smoothly

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Do you want to know a perfect way to get scores in your General Paper aka GP?

Stay away from those common mistakes.

Yes. These mistakes can cost you dearly and trust me, you don’t want to make them in your General Paper.

There are some very common mistakes that students make when doing their General Paper. This includes the preparation time when they make mistakes. 

I would like to offer 7  tips to help you pre-empt common mistakes and to sail on a ‘mistake-free’ voyage in your General Paper.

Common Mistake #1 – Picking questions that appear ‘easy’

Ok, you must be wondering what on earth I’m referring to here. 

Easy questions are those which appear to be the narrative type that asks you for your opinion on a social issue like cyberbullying. 

This appears to be easy initially as firstly, it is a social topic and you would be conversant with it. 

It also appears to be easy because you think it does not require much evidence as you can just sail through it with your own views.

Well, that would be an erroneous view as these are the types of questions that require very careful observations with accurate justifications. 

If you cannot support your views accurately, your entire General Paper will appear to be fallacious and immature.

So, pick a topic that is not deceptively easy but one which you may have done before.

general paper

Common Mistake #2 – Insubstantial ‘evidence’

Alright. Insubstantial evidence is evidence that is concocted. 

There are students who need supporting evidence and they write about a piece of news from the Straits Times which is entirely concocted. 

The danger about this is that you have to make sure that your evidence is presented in a persuasive way. It should not be exaggerated. 

If the news item justifies a popular point and it is ‘made-up’, then you may run the risk of being found out. 

Many people read the newspapers and usually remember such news especially if they are linked to popular news. Therefore, pick another topic where you can easily offer evidence.

Common Mistake #3 – Generalising

Generalising can be annoying. Students tend to write like this.

“Most students are on the internet and therefore tend to be linked to several applications. Naturally, they will face cyberbullies. Almost 90% of students have come across cyberbullies as they are on the internet all the time.”

Ok, now which parts were broad statements?

“Most students are on the internet” – alright, this is actually true but to say that they are linked to ‘several’ applications makes it sound like you have observed this without any research.

And, ‘almost 90%’ sounds too predictable. It sounds too probable.

And the repeat statement “they are on the internet all the time.” This again is a generalization.

Avoid such broad statements in the General Paper. They are annoying. People already know that. No point in stating the obvious.

Common Mistake #4 – Misinterpretation of comprehension text

This can be a terrible mistake. Misinterpreting the text will mean mismanagement of the General Paper questions.

If the text is satirical, please look for the clues where the author is criticising. 

If the text has tongue-in-cheek statements, try to understand them.

There will be some hyperbolic statements. These are just exaggerations. Do not take them seriously. 

The author may be flippant. Always understand the tone and attitude of the author when reading the text.

Common Mistake #5 – No time management

This can be a terrible way to handle your paper. Your General Paper is an arduous one. 

You have a tricky comprehension passage and an exacting essay to deal with.

To handle both properly, you will need a good grip on the time. 

Make sure that you section off each part of your paper with timelines set for each part. 

You should never write ‘blindly’ without minding the watch or clock. You will need to allocate time for each section of your GP.

Common Mistake #6 – Ineffective counter argument or rebuttal

This is a very common mistake. Having a strong counter argument means that you do not have a balanced essay.

A rebuttal means that you have the opposite view of your stand. 

And a counter argument means that you are rebutting the exact same points raised in the standpoints.

An effective rebuttal means that the marker knows you are able to handle the General Paper competently.

Common Mistake #7 – Not finishing the essay properly with a conclusion

This is the grandest mistake of them all.

Having a conclusion means that you are wrapping up the entire essay properly. 

The loose ends are tied and there is no room for conjecture. 

The conclusion should not only link back to the question but should reflect the sum of your thoughts. 

You need to impress the examiner about the overall points raised and leave no room for doubt that you have answered the question perfectly.

That is right! You are supposed to end the General Paper with a flourish which means that you have earned the top marks.

That is what all students want.

These 7 Common Mistakes have been committed so many times that I really think they should be eradicated as soon as possible.

This will help to place your essay among the top few and you will be able to keep up your standard for all the tests and exams.

Keep this cheat sheet for your future writing. It will come in handy, I know. 

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