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Can you study English?

A misconception amongst students is that there is nothing you can do when it comes to the academic subject of English. To them, it's all destiny and genetics - you are born with a fixed proficiency, and that's your lot in life

That, of course, is hogwash. Here are some suggestions to kickstart the journey:


Develop a study plan: It is essential to create a study plan to manage your time effectively and ensure that you cover all the topics required for the examination. Divide your study sessions into smaller chunks and allocate time for each section.


Practice, practice, practice: The more you practise, the more comfortable you will become with the language, and the better you will perform on the examination. Practise past papers, practice tests, and sample questions to get a feel for the types of questions that will be asked and how to answer them correctly.

The yearly approach to doing papers and tests might not work for you if you have many areas of weakness. Then, switch to a topical approach. For example, if you are weak in a particular question type in Transformation, work on that continuously with a variety of similar questions. The repeated exposure can provide the much needed clarity.


Improve your vocabulary: A vast vocabulary is essential for success in English examinations, as it will enable you to express yourself more accurately and effectively. Use a variety of resources, such as dictionaries, thesauruses, and online tools, to learn new words and phrases.

Of course, the easiest source would be to pull out the words from your assessment books (vocabulary MCQ, vocabulary cloze, and comprehension) and the books and newspapers that you read. Doing it daily, just a couple of words a day, can add up! Use them in your writing, or challenge yourself to write sentences or short paragraphs with them. Don't forget that reading is an excellent way to improve your language skills and develop your critical thinking abilities.

"Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window."

Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner


Focus on grammar: I've noticed more and more students who are capable of giving teachers a grammar aneurysm with just one paragraph in their Continuous Writing. I have to admit that part of the reason for the declining grammar proficiency is the shift in marking rubrics - teachers no longer police grammar stringently in compositions. It's all about content and language. On paper, this might seem like a great plan to not further penalise struggling students, but the unintended effect it has on the general student population is chilling - P6 students who are incapable of recognising and correcting run-on sentences. Now imagine this shocking lack of awareness spilling over to Grammar MCQ, Grammar Cloze, Editing, and Comprehension Open-ended. So yes, focus on grammar. Good grammar is essential for clear communication and is a critical component of English examinations. Brush up on your grammar skills by reviewing grammar rules and taking practice quizzes or tests.


Practise listening and speaking: Listening and speaking are crucial components of English examinations, and it is essential to practise these skills regularly. Listen to English-language podcasts, news broadcasts, and videos, and practice speaking with friends, family, or language partners.


Get feedback and stay motivated: Feedback is a vital part of the learning process, and it can help you identify areas where you need improvement. Ask your teachers or tutors for feedback on your writing, speaking, and other language skills, and use their comments to guide your revision and practice.

Studying for English examinations can be challenging and time-consuming, but staying motivated and focused is key to success. Set realistic goals, reward yourself for your achievements, and remind yourself of why you are studying for the examination in the first place.

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