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Over the years, many students have asked me if there’s a single “magic formula” to score A for GP. It would have been a lie and a fantasy for any tutor to claim that there’s an instant potion to take with little individual effort needed to excel in this subject. In short, I can assure you that it’s possible to succeed with a designated guided path but the student would have to put in the requisite effort to read up on current affairs, review his/her work and to complete each assigned task by the tutor consistently.

Tip 1: Background work

Before we discuss the nitty-gritty of tackling each segment of the GP essay, it is needless to say that some fundamental background work is needed. As stressed above, the student would need a fundamental grasp of current affairs (both international and local news/events). Now let us get through this perennial problem of students lamenting the lack of time to read the news because of their H2 subjects, CCAs etc. I always advise my students to read the lengthier commentary/ feature pieces in the Straits Times published every Saturday and then scan through the headlines for every other day of the week by subscribing to apps such as News Loop and BBC/CNN. Do note that this is the MINIMUM you need to do to prepare for GP paper 1.  However, we understand it is difficult to sieve out what is important or note-worthy so here at GPEnglishMaster, we provide you with a summarised list of the major events happening each week from major news sources we subscribed to (including Time magazine/ Newsweek/ Economist/ Wall street Journal/ Straits Times). Unlike other centres, we do not just dump the news at you. We will curate them and list down the relevant portions of each article to discuss how they may add to the respective information data-bank for each potential essay topic. For non-students, you may also provide us with your email address so we may send you the week’s summarised news events.

Tip 2: Existing issues/ problems with sentence structuring/ grammar/ vocabulary

These are fundamental problems that must be addressed immediately because we know that even though a student may be superb in delivering the content, poor language skills including the inappropriate or clumsy use of certain phrases could lead to a poor mark for paper 1 as 20/50 marks will be for language mastery. Here at GPEnglishMaster, we offer FREE CRASH COURSES for students who just needed help in ironing out certain problems with the above. Students are under no obligation to sign up for our GP package after the courses as we just believe in helping students who are “almost there” but just need some help in improving their command of the language.

For instance, the 3-session sentence-structuring mini-tutorials will help students learn the basic rules of writing- clarity, impact and simplicity. Mock samples and mini-tests and revisions will be assigned and also reviewed.

For students weak in grammar and vocabulary, we also provide the 3- session Express Grammar Mastery programme where students will learn the major grammatical mistakes GP students often made and how to apply simple grammatical rules to writing essays. The sessions will also incorporate vocabulary training session where an extended list of the most important words needed in writing a GP essay will be taught.

Tip 3: Which question to choose

The main problem for many students is simply picking the question where he/she knows the most and has the most content information to just “whack”. Although it is true to a certain extent that students should pick a topic he/she is familiar with, we need to also consider if there’s an angle to exploit and also if the question allows him/her to showcase a good argument with relevant examples. For instance, you may have plenty of knowledge on mathematics and be tempted to immediately answer a question such as “Mathematics possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty?”. Do note that despite your vast knowledge, this question is essentially tough to attempt because the concept of “beauty’ is extremely subjective and the operation definition of it may differ from one examiner to the next. More importantly, students may also find it difficult (especially for those not trained in English Literature or the Humanities) to express the concept of “beauty” in the essay and it may also be subjected to possible misinterpretation (focusing on the literal aesthetical beauty instead of the philosophical beauty). For the same student, a question such as “Learning advanced Mathematics is now redundant with the advent of technology. Discuss.” will be a better question to attempt as there’s less subjectivity and the student can use the examples he/she possesses to tackle the question. I will discuss the structural breakdown of each GP essay in subsequent posts so stay tuned to this series GPEnglishMaster “How to score A for GP”!

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