One commonly-asked question is this: how is GP not merely a continuation of ‘O’ Level English? Well. There are over-lapping elements, given that aspects like literary devices are increasingly being taught/ introduced/ laboured on in Secondary School classrooms. There is more focus now on having students pay attention to the nuances of the English Language. As such, students who are stronger in language and more attuned to the nuances of the language might find GP’s Paper 2 less of a struggle.
However, there still remains a gap between ‘O’ level English and H1 General Paper. You’ll realize that…grammar and a flair for the language will not suffice. You’ll need real data to back you up; you need to be aware of developments (social/economic/political) in your society; you need to have an opinion on controversial issues; you need to be able to think critically, read between the lines, and identify the flaws in arguments.
A challenging, thought-provoking subject, no? (:
Firstly, GP requires you to have some degree of content knowledge on themes (ie the impact of social media, the root causes of global hunger, the implications of technology on alleviating poverty, theories of governance, the aims of education, the changing roles of religion/ tradition/ the Arts etc. ) You get it – you need some content knowledge to support your arguments in both Paper 1 and the Application Question (AQ) in Paper 2. Which brings me to…
On WRITING SKILLS:
Another aspect that distinguishes GP from ‘O’ Level English is that you no longer have the luxury of writing descriptive/ narrative essays (yes, it was indeed a luxury to invent characters, devise a story plot and decide where the climax should be)
But alas, in GP, we train you to be critical thinkers. You write argumentative essays, period. You need the vocabulary to persuade, to argue, to counter-argue, to justify, to rebut. You have to acknowledge (and sometimes even concede) opposing views (OVs) without compromising your Stand. As a GP student, it is crucial that you are able to:
(a) produce a coherent essay that acknowledges Opposing Views (OVs) without sounding contradictory;
(b) if possible, provide counter-arguments to diminish the credibility of these OVs
(b) use relevant and non-isolated examples/evidences (go for trends!) to support your arguments;
(c) elaborate on your examples/ evidences/ data ie make the link for the marker and directly answer the question. Facts and figures are neutral – your job is to use figures/ data to your advantage in advancing your Stand.
Please feel free to add comments/ questions/ opinions to the posts!