Students are tested on two papers, paper 1 the essay and paper 2 the comprehension. Today we focus on the GP Paper 2 tips and skills. This is the comprehension part of General Paper.
The general paper is tested at the H1 level and it is compulsory for all JC and millennial students to sit for their GCE A Levels.
Read also: GCE A-Level Singapore – H1, H2 and H3 Explained
Assessment of General Paper 1 and 2
|1 (1h 30 min)||Paper comprises |
Answer any one
out of a total of
|Content: 30 |
Use of English: 20
Total mark: 50
|2 (1h 30min)||Text comprises one |
or two passages
The length of
text(s) will be
about 1200 words
in total. The
text(s) will be
numbers in the left
margin and line
numbers in the
|Content: 35 |
Use of English: 15
(A separate but
based on the
Total mark: 50
Find out more about the assessment and syllabus at the official MOE website here.
GP Paper 2 – 4 Essential Skills
The GP paper 2 consists of a range of questions on the text(s), requiring candidates to demonstrate their ability to comprehend, explain, infer, evaluate and summarise. Here are some GP paper 2 tips and skills for you!
SKILL 1. Identify + paraphrase
For these questions, the answer comes straight from the passage. What you need to do is identify ALL relevant lines in the text that answer the question, and paraphrase them.
It’s far safer to over-deliver in your answer. Writing additional information costs you time, but it could well gain you marks.– You identified all the points but missed out on DETAILS in your paraphrase.
Remember, details matter. Pay attention to the adjectives, the value words, the conjunctions “and” and “or”, and commas which separate different ideas. – You tried but lost marks due to inaccurate paraphrasing. To improve, work on your vocabulary, and practice, practice, practice!
SKILL 2. Definition in Context
Typically, the question will include a short phrase or word in inverted commas. However, do note that this is not always the case. Similarly, just because there’s a word or phrase in inverted commas, doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the skill required.
To answer these questions, your answer must show that you understand the definition of the word(s) in inverted commas, and you must incorporate the CONTEXT of this definition – so you’ll need to refer to the passage, identify the context, and paraphrase that context in your answer.
SKILL 3. Inference in Context
Often, this question goes something like this:What does the phrase “____________” tell you about the nature of _______________?
These questions might explicitly state that they’re looking for an adjective to describe the nature of humans (or any other subject matter), or the fact that this is a “what is the nature of” type of question might need to be implied.
To answer such questions, you’ll need to infer* the answer. Often, the answer will be a single word or a short phrase to describe the nature of the subject referred to in the question.
For example, “It shows that humans are selfish/stubborn/irrational/desire structure and order in their lives/etc.”
*If you’re lucky, you may not have to infer this – it might actually be stated in the passage! If that is the case, all you need to do is paraphrase the word/phrase in the passage.
SKILL 4. Function of Example
Comprehension questions that test this skill often look like this:
What is the writer trying to show by using the examples of ‘humanitarian missions to Haiti and Sudan?’ Why does the author use the example of the ‘killer flu’?
What these questions want to see in your answer is an understanding of the purpose of an example.
And examples are used for one main purpose – to illustrate an author’s main argument.
Thus, to answer such questions, you must first identify the author’s main argument in that paragraph, and draw the link between the example and the argument.
Often, this link is explicitly mentioned in the text – so just paraphrase this link, and you have your answer.
GP Paper 2 Tips – How to study for GP paper 2
1 – Practice and practice
For almost any subject, practice is important to ensure that you are well prepared for your examinations. General Paper will test you on your comprehension skills and the only way to strengthen your skills is to practice them.
2 – Study smartly
Instead of writing and constantly looking at the answer sheet to look for the correct answer, you need to understand what is the main point of the question.
You need to understand if you got the context of the passage right in the first place. The answers are always changing with respect to the passage. Find out what your weakness is and work on it. A good personal tutor will help you spot these mistakes and you will be able to improve faster by understanding where you lack in.
Resources for GP Paper 2
1 – General Paper Notes Paper 2: Comprehension
They offer detailed summary notes and resources for students to read and attempt.
2 – Testpaperfree
They provide free downloadable past year papers for students. They have past year papers from different schools as well as their prelim papers.
Tutopiya offers a pool of experienced tutors that are experts in coaching JC students for their General Paper 2. Enjoy a free trial with us when you are a first-time student. Otherwise, if you are an existing student, you can request a trial with us for A Level GP.
Read also: What is Study Smart and How do you Study Smartly?