Tips To Ace the GCE ‘O’ Level English Paper 1 & 2

gce o level english paper

A key aspect of conquering GCE O Level English is developing skills to anticipate new trends. As this is something that will make or break your L1R5, the team of experts in Tutopiya have curated a beginner’s guide to conquering the GCE ‘O’ Level English Paper 1&2. 

Read also: GCE O Levels: Using the L1R5 to your advantage


gce o level english


GCE O Level English Paper 1 


Assessment for GCE O Level English Paper 1 

English Paper 1 consists of 3 sections and they are namely, Editing, Situational Writing and Continuous Writing. 

Paper 1 (35%) Marks  Duration
Section A: Editing

Identify and edit grammatical errors in a given written text 

10 1 hour 50 minutes
Section B: Situational Writing

Write 250-350 words on a given situation which will involve a visual text 

Section C: Continuous Writing

Write 350-500 words on one of the four given topics set

Total 70

Visit the official MOE website to find out more about the GCE O Level English Paper.


Tips for tacking English paper 1 


A: Editing

1 – Skim through the passage to determine whether the text is presented in the present or past tense. 

2 – Go down the list of grammatical errors to check against the context and sentence of the text. 

3 – There are only 2 sentences that are correct in the whole passage. Be sure to not tick more than 2 boxes otherwise you would be marked wrong.

A list of the typical errors to look out for: 

  • Tenses
  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Quantifiers 
    • Singular and plural forms 
  • Uncountable/ collective nouns 
  • Adverbs 
  • Pronouns 


B: Situational Writing 

Here are some tips on how you can tackle the situational writing portion of English paper 1. 

1 – PAC 

Teachers often stress the importance of identifying the Purpose, Audience and Context before writing. This will help provide students with a direction on how to begin.

2 – Explain your objective in the introduction

It is also important to identify the objective of the visual text and be able to pen it down in words. Hence, you will need to be able to understand the question and identify the purpose.

3 – Annotate your question paper as you read 

Read the question details thoroughly and make sure that you understand what the question is asking you to do. Additionally, you will have to be able to understand what the question is asking you. Annotate as you read in between the lines. 

4 – Including an insightful personal response

Students should include their own opinion and interpretation in their writing. It would be good to indicate your own stand (positive or negative) and explain why they feel this way. 


C: Continuous Writing 

After you have read the question and chosen which you’d like to answer, spend 10 minutes crafting an essay plan. Detail your introduction, body and conclusion in point form. This is crucial to ensure the subsequent essay you write is coherent and comprehensive. 


GCE O Level English Paper 2 


Assessment for GCE O Level English Paper 2

Paper 2 (35%) Marks  Duration
Section A 

Visual Text 1

5 1 hour 50 minutes
Section B

Text 2, narrative or recount 

Section C

Text 3, non narrative + summary 

Total 50


Tips for tacking English paper 2


Visual text

1 – Find the main purpose of the visual text and answer the question directly

“The main purpose of this flyer is to…”

Use call to action words likes, to convince, to raise awareness, etc. 

2 – Read the title of the visual text

The title can give you an idea of what the text is about and even allows you to know what the overall message or purpose of the text is. 



Determine first if the question is an inferential or direct question. 

If it is direct, many times, you could just rephrase the relevant portion from the passage. 

If it is inferential, take a bit of time to thoroughly read the relevant part and try to think a step further and figure out what the question is aiming to draw from you.


General tips for the GCE O Level English papers



This might be the most important skill to master. Write as quickly and as legibly as you can. But also slow down when it’s crucial. 

For instance, it’s important to ensure you fully understand the passage, so after you finish reading it, you should write a 2-line summary of what the passage was about just to test your understanding. If you’re unsure of what a question is asking, especially if it’s an inferential question, skip it and come to it again later. 

Be prepared ahead of time 

The GCE O Level English paper happens annually around November alongside with the other subject papers. It is important to schedule your studying plan ahead of time and remove all distractions to complete your revisions in time. 

Read also: Essentialism: The BEST way to study better before examinations

Online tutor 

Having additional help and guidance for your national examinations can help drastically. Your tutor will be able to attend to your doubts and questions and even provide you with more resources. 

For students who feel not challenged enough, having a tutor can help you to develop greater confidence and skills for your exams. 

Tutopiya provides live 1-1 online tuition to secondary 4 Express and Secondary 5 Normal (Academic) students taking their GCE O Level English. Speak to our experts today to book yourself a free trial lesson to experience online learning with us today!

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