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I will discuss 2 of the most important ways to get an A1 for your O level English paper in Singapore.

Both O level English compositions and comprehension passages carry the most marks and therefore you should leave nothing to chance when you prepare for these papers.

The CONTINUOUS writing section is considered to be the most demanding of the O level English paper.

You will have to choose the right O level English question which suits your style and knowledge. 

Most students choose narrative, expository, descriptive or argumentative. 

However, HYBRID topics are increasingly popular in O level English. They combine 2 genres – Reflective and Expository. You are expected to write with social awareness and include your moral point of view.

I have posed a question which is a mixture of both. Knowing and maintaining the important criteria in school as well as how you handle it your own way are the main parts of this O level English essay.

The first point is to ensure that you REACH YOUR TARGET in your essay. For example, you have to direct your essay towards that point when you just became inspired.

#1 How To Write An Accurate O Level English Composition

One of the main lessons for O level English writing is NEVER REVEAL EVERYTHING AT THE START.


An unforgettable event in school that inspired you.

PLAN YOUR TARGET – write the 3 bullets

When did this event happen? Where (place) and what were you doing at that point of the time. Describe the scene.

What was the event? An event to help people? Funfair? Describe the scene and elaborate on what you were doing in that event.

Describe the turning point or the thing that had impacted you and elaborate on how that impacted your life. Eg. From that point onwards, you became a changed person….why?

A Composition has 6 Paragraphs – TEMPLATE

Paragraph 1 – Intro: When, where and your situation.

Paragraph 2 – Build up your situation towards the Start of problem.

Paragraph 3 – The event itself…what it was? Describe.

Paragraph 4 – Something happened that caused the effect or impact in your Climax for the problem.

Para 5 – Spillover climax Turning point – learn something or made you realise something.

Para 6 – Conclude How it changed you. The moral experience. How it will affect your future.

Write a DETAILED PLAN if you can.

An Impressive Start In O level English

1. When and where 

‘Of all the months that year, I dreaded May the most. That was the month before all co-curricular activities (CCAs) ended and it also meant the last of my competitive, grinding football matches. 

Though I had been spotted by the Barcelona Club when I was only 7, I was wise enough to know that I would never be a Messi. My entire future banked on my O levels with my mum being the sole breadwinner. I knew that I had to give my exams the best shot.’

2. Background (your history)  and Start of the problem

‘That was not the worst of my problems. I had an Achilles heel. Unknown to my football teacher, I had nursed a previous injury during a friendly match with Anglo-Chinese School (ACS). I had been the captain and had gracefully allowed Tin Meng to take over as my left knee wobbled. 

If anyone decided to wreak their worst instincts on it, it would be disastrous. It was my final year and it was mandatory for Secondary 3 teammates to take over and I was glad that I had only one match left before my CCA stopped.’

3. The event? – The important match between your school and which? Where?

You were actually a substitute as you had managed to get a medical certificate (MC) to cover your weak left leg.

I) You were very sure – get your points.

II) The rest of the team was good.

III) Went to that place….Trophy….what it meant for the school.

You never expected to actually play as you had everything planned to the last detail.


Climax pt 1 – DETAILS

You were completely thrown aback when you saw the other team. They were made up of seniors from Secondary 4, unlike your team which was mainly Secondary 3 as the seniors were trying to cope with their O levels. There was one silver lining as you did not see Chin Meng who was notorious for his tackling. Your team still had a good chance.


Climax pt 2 – THE BAD SCENARIO

After the second half, everything changed. The coach from ACS had a cheerful glint in his eye as if he knew the ending. You did not pay much attention until you saw Chin Meng loping towards the field with his long legs.

Your coach turned to look at you with an imploring look. You and two other seniors who were at the bench were asked to take over 3 of the junior players as they had been badly tackled by Chin Meng. Their ankles were bleeding.


I) How you tried to get out of it.

II) Who and what?

III) Surprising turnaround.

You went in knowing that you would be an easy target for Chin Meng who somehow knew about your injury. You wracked your brain and knew that the only way was to avoid him at all cost. You and the 2 other seniors planned to defend one another till the end. It was not enough as Chin Meng kept attacking you like a hammerhead shark.

As you thought you were going to be a casualty, you saw Baxter Singh enter the arena out of the corner of your eye. He had not even been on the bus. He was taller than everyone, standing at 6 feet 2. He also had the most powerful kicks. You knew he had gone there to help you.


You will never forget that moment, that day. Inspiring. How?

Baxter saved the day but he too, could not get out of Chin Meng’s way quickly enough. You were spared the worst and your team barely managed to draw. In the end, all of you got away with manageable injuries thanks to Baxter. 

You owed everything to him and your leg recovered after a week. You found out later that Baxter had arrived there on his own as he knew that Chin Meng would be there. He wanted to help his team. He was a source of inspiration.

This is a complete outline of the O level English essay. You may choose to pad it up but make sure that you always LINK back to the question at the end.

#2 What To Look Out For In Your O Level English Comprehension To Answer Accurately

For O level English Comprehension, you have to observe the TREND OF THOUGHT in the passage. 

Each passage has a hidden reservoir of cadences, hints, subtle effects which point you in a certain direction.

You have to know which direction it is prompting you to look at. Do not be CLUELESS. Make sure that you know EXACTLY WHAT IS GOING ON.

‘Just how much turmeric or fennel powder does one blend with white wine and Vietnamese dark sauce to create that flavour? And exactly what sort of oil should one use? Truffle, sesame, olive or coconut? Would it be exotic or just plain old soy oil? Sometimes, the most delicious food has the simplest of base ingredients. The trick is in the sleight of hand cook who knows how long he should simmer or add just a pinch at the boiling point to add that taste. It never is as easy as it sounds.

Once the winning recipe is created, it has to be re-created to achieve that exact same finish to cater to the ever-growing demands of the public. Michelin star restaurants especially have the greatest pressure as the demand to recreate the exact same dish has catapulted them to the top of the food chain restaurants.’

I) What is implied by the different suggestions given for the mixing of ingredients for fusion dishes? – 2 minutes’ inference

II) What is implied by ‘sleight of hand’? –  1 minute’s inference

III) What are Michelin star restaurants and why is it implied that there is more pressure for them than other restaurants? – 2 minutes’ analysis

Knowing how to tackle inference questions is of prime importance.

Why does the author ask so many questions? 

What is being inferred? 

Are they intended to make you wonder why so much attention is being paid to ingredients? 

And should you think of the simplest ingredients as being the best? Is that the hidden meaning?

Analysing O level English questions in this way is important as it will help you to answer accurately.

Trying to understand the author’s train of thought is fundamental. Always ask yourself, ‘where is the author going with this?’ This will help you to answer the O level English paper correctly.

These are simple tips but they will help you to get an A1 in your O level English. I can tell you with dead certainty that this is a ‘tried and tested’ formula as many students have gone on to successful academic careers with these O level English tips. Treasure these tips and start practicing today.

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