Category Archives for English Enrichment Resource

PSLE English Paper 1 2018: A Short Analysis

PSLE English Paper 1 2018: A Short Analysis

The following is the essay questions from the 2018 PSLE English Paper 1, according to feedback from several of our students and other sources. 

Write a composition of at least 150 words about teamwork. The pictures are provided to help you think about the topic. Your composition should be based on one or more of these pictures. Consider the following points when you plan your composition.

  • What was the teamwork?
  • Why was teamwork required?
  • What happened in the end?

You may use the points in any order and include other relevant points as well. [* The three pictures given include a trophy; a group of students cooking; and several students gathering around, looking at a laptop.]

The topic was expected and the pictures were equally relatable.  After all, all students need to do is to choose at least one picture and tell a story about how it relates to teamwork. However, merely doing so will give students an average grade. Delving deeper and handling the essay with a better perspective is what differentiates average students from the crème de la crème.

 The trick to rise above the competition is to do one or more of the following:

  1. use more than one picture;
  2. indicate the relationship between the picture(s) and the topic clearly and concisely;
  3. use an interesting genre: as students are not penalised on text types, this means that they can attempt an essay with one of, or a combination of, the following:
  • by telling a story (narrative);
  • by giving their own take on a collaborated teamwork episode they have experienced before (personal recount);
  • by describing the event in detail with relevant responses (descriptive); or
  • by discussing how the three pictures highlight the theme (expository).

On the one hand, schools tend to play the safe card for a major exam such as the PSLE. Hence, students are generally encouraged to write a narrative essay in the PSLE. The competition heats up with this approach, since the way to break the 35-mark barrier would be to:

  1. have a different but interesting plot eg. including a plot twist
  2. use excellent scene and character descriptors
  3. showcase a personal voice with elegant expression
  4. have a flawless GSP

On the other hand, students should be equipped to approach the PSLE essay. At Creative Campus, while we prepare the students on how to approach the topic differently, we also harness their personal voice to develop a plot that is unique to them. The focus on techniques, rather than staid model essays, will gear them to attempt any topic with ease, and in the process, stand out from their peers.

On the first week of 2019, students at Creative Campus were taught how to handle the PSLE 2018 question effectively. Should you be interested to receive a sample copy of the notes, click the button below to view and download.

If you're viewing the worksheet on a mobile device, click the download icon to save the file.

General Paper 2018: A Post-Mortem

Another year of GP-grind is over and the general consensus has been that both Papers 1 and 2 were ‘ok’ except for the slightly surprising Application Question.

Once again, my students who sat for the A Levels 2018 hail from different JCs. Several students had been under my tutelage since Primary 5--that’s practically half their young lives! Hence, it goes without saying that this bunch is particularly dear to me.

I will miss many of the unique personalities who spent Thursday nights and Saturday afternoons with me, especially the vibrant few who gave me acutely perceptive essays and evaluations. It’s been a wonderful run with this lot. I know each has been invested in his or her learning and worked hard to see improvements, even at the Prelim exams. 

Weighing in on Paper 1 

Paper 1 was a fair paper offering a good range of topics and themes for candidates to choose from.

The more accessible questions are Q 1, 2, 5, 7 and 9. 

The key to acing the GP essay is in the candidate’s evaluation and analysis of criteria and issues related to the question asked. Hence, those who merely listed factors and/or went about essay topics in a 'pros and cons' manner would have presented limited arguments. These scripts would not score well in their content.

​​​​The following made their maiden appearances this year:

Q3. In an age of rapid technological advancement, is a single career for life realistic?

While technology is a favourite and popular topic for exam-setters and students alike, this year, the link to the idea of a single career is new.

  • Candidates must address the notion of ‘realistic’--for instance, practical/ feasible in sustaining themselves and family.
  • Candidates must also be mindful to link their reasons for or against the viability of a single career to the rapid technological advancement.

  • One possible argument is: rapid technological advancement would include advancements in artificial intelligence which has--and will continue to--replaced the need for human skills. A single career is not realistic since individuals need to adapt to the needs of the job market and AI competencies.

Q6. Do handicrafts still have value when machine-produced goods are readily available?

A narrower topic than the more oft-asked questions surrounding traditions, culture and traditional skills.

  • Students must be sure about what constitutes handicraft before embarking on this essay. Handicraft comprises the elements of traditional skills engaging the hands [as opposed to being produced by machines in a factory], and the making of decorative domestic objects. The key notion of ‘handmade’ is important. It is not craft per se but these two ideas can overlap in limited situations.
  • Value should also be addressed--valuable to whom, and in what way?

Q9. Is pressure a motivating force or a cause for unhappiness?

The question presents ‘pressure’ as a new version of its more popular cousin ‘competition’.

  • Again, candidates must be careful not to conflate competition with pressure. Pressure is a by-product or effect of competition. Pressure can come in the form of persuasion, coercion or intimidation; some thrive under pressure while others crack. Much depends on an individual’s make up.
  • This is more an ‘extent’ question since pressure is not absolutely motivational nor a cause for unhappiness. 

Weighing in on Paper 2, the Application Question

Paper 2 comprised a single passage on millennials across ‘rich worlds’ failing to voteMost found the Comprehension Short Questions and Summary manageable. The ‘curveball’ was the Application Question which, according to feedback from several of our students and other sources, is framed as follows:

Application Question

The author argues that “Whilst they are most interested in issues and causes that they are given credit for, are better educated than past generations, are more likely to go on a protest or to become vegetarian, and are less keen on drugs and alcohol, millennials seldom establish the habits that inclined their parents to vote.”

To what extent do you agree with the author’s view, based on the experiences of you and your peers in your society.

The unusual wording of the AQ stumped students momentarily. For the first time at GP, the AQ was framed around a quote instead of the usual requirement of students picking arguments from the passage to evaluate their relevance and applicability to their society.

However, once they got past the initial bafflement, students knew to respond to the AQ by evaluating their agreement or disagreement to the quoted assertion, and citing at least one other argument from the passage to support their evaluations.

Some learning points from the experience:

  • Keep calm and adapt. Examination questions can--and often do-- veer away from ‘tried and tested’ modes of enquiry. The aim is to not panic but focus on task fulfilment.
  • Go back to the basics by applying techniques learnt. Regardless of the way the Application Question is posed, the basic objective remains unequivocal: students must answer the question. Those who remember the point of an AQ will know to address the viability and relevance of the author’s arguments, and know that they must evaluate with relevant evidence-- it is insufficient to merely state points.

One of the key questions that my students asked me was whether they were right to quote and address another of the writer’s arguments beyond the sentence quoted in the question.

My personal take is that students should indeed bring in another point from the passage rather than solely address the point(s) quoted in the question. Otherwise, is it no different from a run-of-the-mill discursive essay question framed around a quote? After all, the difference between an AQ and an essay question is that the former requires students to apply the writer’s arguments to their social circumstances. The key qualifier is that the additional quote or argument introduced in their AQ response must be relevant to the issue(s) raised in the statement quoted in the question.

In fact, the statement cited tweaked the focus of the AQ to something more manageable for students [by itemising the key issues they should address] since a standard AQ would have been on the voting habits and behaviour of millennials, which some candidates might have found to be more challenging.

This year, the AQ cued students on addressing certain issues more specifically. Good scripts should evaluate these issues, citing independent evidence and, where possible, bring in additional points of the author’s from the passage. Any links made to voting habits is a plus.

The following is a possible approach to answering the AQ:

First, students can address the first issue quoted in the question: millennials being ‘most interested in issues and causes that they are given credit for’.

1) Evaluation: Millennials’ actions are driven by credit or acknowledgement received, as opposed to genuine empathy or belief in the cause/issue. This suggests that millennials are reward-focussed and hence, lacking sincerity.

2) Intuitively, this seems relevant and applicable to SG because:

  • millennials grew up in an environment that included community service as part of the school curriculum--CIP (Community Involvement Programme), present day VIA (Values in Action Programme). While the aim of CIP was to build social cohesion and inculcate civic responsibility in pupils, it was a compulsory programme and students ended up performing these duties for credits and to fulfill the requisite hours of service, rather than for a genuine interest to the causes.
  • a survey by World Vision Singapore in 2015 found that young Singaporeans believe it is important to help the less fortunate, but few translate this belief into action, mainly due to a lack of time and money. 

3) However, students can qualify their agreement, citing the growing trend of numerous Singaporean millennials who are harnessing the power of the Web and social media to make a difference.

  • Haze-hero, Jeremy Chua Facebook page calling for people to donate their excess masks and mobilised hundreds of volunteers to distribute masks to the needy.
  • Conjunct Consulting, founded by millennials, is touted as Asia’s first pro-bono consulting firm for non-profit organisations and social enterprises. 
  • Arrow Circle Right
    Youth for Ecology — a group of youths who were stirred into action by the debate over the White Paper on Population.

Second, students can address the next assertion that millennials are “better educated than past generations, are more likely to go on a protest or to become vegetarian, and are less keen on drugs and alcohol.”

1) Evaluation: It is true that because they are better informed and knowledgeable, millennials tend to pick and choose their causes and interests according to personal preferences and interests.

  • This individualising of causes and beliefs is further explained as a habit and lifestyle mindset developed in millennials--as reflected in the author’s argument in para 4 “Millennials are accustomed to tailoring their world to their preferences, such as customising the music they listen to and the news they consume. A system that demands they vote for an all-or-nothing bundle of election promises looks uninviting by comparison.”
  • Students can explain how this statement is true given the widespread use of curated playlists on the likes of Spotify and movie viewing habits on streaming platforms based on their selections rather than going to the movie theatres to watch a feature film.  
  • Arrow Circle Right
    Hence, it is natural and understandable that this habit and mindset of customisation and individualisation carries over to voting behaviour. 

2) Students can then cross reference the author’s argument in para 8 on how political commitment can be built in school. He asserts that “teenagers who experienced democracy first-hand during their studies are more likely to vote afterwards...Yet, schools and governments, wary of accusations of politicising the classroom, may shy away from such programmes” that involve open discussions and debates.

  • This is true of the SG education programmes which tend to be deeply academics-, and hence, grades-focussed. Rare is the school that discusses political issues openly given the time-constraints, and heavily academic and assessment-based curricula.

Finally, students can take on the point that millennials “seldom establish the habits that inclined their parents to vote.”

1) The author further attributes [para 3, lines 30-32] parents’ committed actions to their attachment to their communities.

2) Evaluation: This sense of rootedness makes the older generation more concerned and involved with how their homes and communities are run. Conversely, millennials are marrying and having families much later on in live, with some choosing never to settle down in the conventional/traditional way their parents did.

3) This is true in SG as evidenced by falling birthrates and more single women. This is mainly attributable to females receiving equal opportunities and access to education and careers, and compounded by the rising costs of living which makes financially supporting a family more difficult than in the past generations.

Fewer births but more singles-- ”...more Singapore women are in tertiary educational institutions than men... Getting married is no longer a necessity," said Professor Jean Yeung, director of the Centre for Family and Population Research. Other reasons include long work hours, the high cost of living and a relatively long wait for Housing Board flats, said experts.

Note that:

  1. Given the 30 minutes assigned for the AQ, students should look at handling 2 out of the 3 above points of argument.

  2. By limiting or qualifying agreement of relevance of the authors' arguments, a candidate fulfils the 'extent' or 'how far do you agree' aspect of the question.

Our J1 students have already started preparing hard for General Paper 2019. We take a break from lessons until January 2019. I look forward to more intellectual sparring and argumentation with my students in the new year!

~Contributed by Geraldine Chew [Ms] 14 November 2018

Horrible Homonyms (Part 2)

Horrible Homonyms (Part 2)

Previously, we discussed homophones, which are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and mean different things. This month, we'll be looking at homographs, which are words that are spelled in the same way, but mean different things.

For instance, the word cap could refer to a limit on something, or to a kind of hat. In the exercise below, match the homograph with the right sentences! Be careful, some sentences share the same homograph!

(a) bear, (b) minute, (c) bow, (d). fine, (e) wound

1. If you litter, you might have to pay a ______.

2. Tim is very conscientious; he takes care of even the most ______ details.

3. Hilda could not ______ to tell Joe the news of his dog passing away.

4. He ______ his clock up before going to bed.

5. After the performance, all the ballerinas took a ______.

6. "Help! A large grizzly ______ is chasing us!"

7. People often say that there is a ______ line between love and hate.

8. Charles ran to the nurse to get his ______ bandaged up.

9. "Do you have a ______ to spare? I would like to share with you what happened earlier."

10. Jenny loved wearing her bright pink ______ on her head.

Answers:

1. d,   2. b,   3. a,   4. e,   5. c,   6. a,   7. d,   8. e,   9. b,   10. c

Are you ready for the PSLE?

We are pleased to announce that we have a FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp! In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

Horrible Homonyms

Horrible Homonyms

Homonyms are a special category of words where the words can either sound the same but are spelled differently (homophones), or spelled the same but mean different things (homographs). Homophones are words like "bear" and "bare" which students tend to mix up in their writing. 

Exercise: Choose the right word from the following pairs of homophones. (Answers are at the bottom of the exercise.)

1. The baby (bald/bawled) when his bottle was taken away from him. 

2. "Oh no! I'm going to be late for my (lessen/lesson)."

3. Tom was so angry with Darla that he (seized/ceased) her toy unicorn from her.

4. The cloth was so (sheer/shear) that you could see right through it. 

5. HMS Victory is a famous (navel/naval) ship that was instrumental in the Battle of Trafalgar.

6. He pulled the line (taut/taught) and settled comfortably on the hammock.

7. A (fowl/foul) smell filled the air as they yanked off the sewer lid.

8. Daniel was too (tyred/tired) to shower when he reached home and plopped onto his bed instead.

9. Tricia raced to reach the airport on time but alas; it was all in (vain/vein).

10. "Could you (pair/pare) the (pear/pair) of (pares/pears) for me please?'

Answers:

1. bawled, 2. lesson, 3. seized, 4. sheer, 5. naval, 6. taut, 7. foul, 8. tired 9. vain, 10. pare/ pair/ pears

Are you ready for the PSLE?

We are pleased to announce that we have a FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp! In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

How to Use the Apostrophe

How to Use the Apostrophe

We use the apostrophe in two cases: 

1. When we want to show possession. Eg. The cat belongs to Jack. This is Jack's cat.

Confusion arises when the proper noun that is possessive ends with an 's'. Do we write-

(a) This is James' cat. or (b) This is James's cat.

It turns out, both are acceptable. However, if there are multiple Jameses, the apostrophe has to be placed at the end.

Eg. Both Jameses' cats have nine lives. Not - Both Jameses's cats have nine lives.

2. When we are writing short forms (contractions)

Eg. Will not = Won't/ Until = 'till/ I am = I'm/ Let's = Let us/ It's = It is/ It has

Be extra careful about the correct usage of it's and its. To show possession of the pronoun "it", we do not use an apostrophe.

Eg. The cat scratched its own owner. Not - The cat scratched it's own owner.

Start preparing for the PSLE now

Have you subscribed to our FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp? Students from Primary 3 and up can benefit from this course.

In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

“The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.”  ~ Virginia Woolf

Crispy rendang chicken, anyone?

Crispy rendang chicken, anyone?


At Creative Campus, our curriculum is tailored to include a healthy dose of current affairs. Besides tackling real-life issues, we ensure that our students know how to source for relevant clues in a given question, so that they can arrive at the correct answer every time. Here’s a short passage to test your skills in Comprehension Cloze.
Scroll down for the answers at the bottom of this page.

Gregg Wallace cooked up an international (1) ________ when he eliminated a Malaysian contestant based on the chicken rendang she presented on a television contest. The iconic delicacy is usually slow cooked in a coconut-based curry gravy. It is meant to be tender and moist.

“The chicken skin is not (2) ________. It can’t be eaten,” he declared on MasterChef UK.

Wallace’s controversial remarks on the reality television show sparked an online (3) ________. Even the British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Vicki Treadell, warned that he should not confuse the traditional dish with fried chicken, which is often served with nasi lemak (coconut rice). Wallace has since added fuel to the (4) ________ on his Twitter account. Many are up in (5) ________ over his Twitter feed that signed off with “Namaste”, a greeting native in India, while suggesting that the dish was from Indonesia.

(6) ­________ the saga, Wallace has been busy backpedalling, “I didn’t mean it should be fried, like fried chicken. What I (7) ________ was it wasn’t cooked. It was white and flabby.”

Read more details on the #chickenrendang saga here.

Answers to Comprehension Cloze

Did you get all the answers to the cloze passage above?
1. storm
2. crispy
3. furore
4. fire
5. arms
6. Since
7. meant

Start preparing for the PSLE now

Have you subscribed to our FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp? Students from Primary 3 and up can benefit from this course.

In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

“The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.”  ~ Virginia Woolf

How to use ‘Who’ and ‘Whom’

How to Use 'Who' and 'Whom'

Many are often confused by the correct usage of the words "who", "whom" and "whose"; particularly "whom".

Interestingly, the word "whom" is not commonly used in modern spoken English, but rather in the formal written form. Generally, it is safer to use "Who" if one is unsure, since the use of "whom" can be limiting.

The difference between these two relative pronouns is that "who" is used in the subject position of a sentence or phrase, whereas "whom" can only be used in the object position, or after a preposition. 

Sounds technical? Click here for a clearer picture.

Start preparing for the PSLE now

Have you subscribed to our FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp? Students from Primary 3 and up can benefit from this course.

In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

“The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.”  ~ Virginia Woolf

The Benefits of Journal Writing

The Benefits of Journal Writing

Journal entries are pivotal for improving writing and honing a student's personal voice. A skilled storyteller can reflect on his records and use them as fodder for his essay writings. Here are some benefits of writing a diary or a journal, especially for students.

1. Confidence Building

Unlike assigned writing, journal writing does not have the pressure of an audience. It can be totally uninhibited, confessional and honest. Journal writing lets fledgling writers practice without fear. Research shows that it takes at least 28 repetitions of a concept or skills before it is solidified in the brain. It helps if the writer learns a specific writing technique and then consciously apply the skills while writing the journal. Over time, through adequate self-review, the writer can nail down the techniques and apply them in his work accurately.

2. Better Self Understanding

Like any form of artistic expression, journal writing is a process of self-discovery. Important issues or ideas that lay dormant in the subconscious may resurface during free writing, whereby one writes without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic. Writing is therapeutic, and hence, cathartic. Hidden strengths are revealed in the prose, helping one to build character and grow.

3. Entertainment

Journal writing can include drawings, sketches, doodles and polaroids to make the process interesting. The writings can also tie-in with the writer's hobbies and sometimes, help the writer to make a living.

For example, many food connoisseurs write food blogs (a form of public journal writing) to chronicle their experiences. In 2002, Julie Powell channeled her love of cooking into setting up a blog where she documented her daily thoughts while cooking each of the 542 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. As a result, Powell became a published author and a Hollywood film based on her blog, Julie and Julia, was made. Even Doctor Leslie Tay, famed for his "ieatishootipost" blog, is renowned for his insight on the Singaporean cuisine.


With the plethora of benefits of journal writing, try it out as part of your new year resolution. Who knows, you might just end up loving it.  

Start preparing for the PSLE now

Have you subscribed to our FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp? Students from Primary 3 and up can benefit from this course.

In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

“The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.”  ~ Virginia Woolf

The Importance of Reading

The Importance of Reading

As the exam period comes to an end this month, students will finally be able to find time to do the things they like. Hopefully, they find time to indulge in one of the most timeless hobbies- Reading. 

Other than being the most effective ways to improve one's proficiency in any language, reading also reaps a myriad of other benefits.

1. Be Well-Informed

The accrual of knowledge is most commonly accomplished by the act of reading. No one is born with information readily available in his head. Even the most intelligent person needs to fill his mind with meaningful data before he can analyse and express an opinion on a subject. Being the most information dense of all media, it is no wonder print continue to be the most common tool for learning.

2. Improve concentration and mental capabilities

The cognitive process of reading forces the mind to focus and think. Reading is quite simply a process of drawing meaning from a line of symbols (the alphabet). It is impossible not to think while reading. The same way how games and puzzles sharpen the mind, reading helps increase brain power and improves memory. 

3. Boost Self-Esteem

People who are illiterate suffer from low self esteem. They miss out on the joys of being able to text on the phone, understand an award winning foreign movie, singing karaoke, buying the correct toiletries... the list goes on. Most importantly, being able to read well is a prerequisite to getting a better education. When one gets a good education, it is more likely that he will do better in life, and ultimately feel better about himself.


Start preparing for the PSLE this holidays

We are pleased to announce that we have a FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp! In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader."- Margaret Fuller

Please click the links below for book recommendations:

Recommended 2017 book list for children

Booker Prize Winners (1968 to present)

Guardian 2017 Booklist for Children

General Paper 2017: A Post Mortem

General Paper 2017: A Post Mortem

2017 GP Results

Each year, when the General Paper exams loom, my emotions are a tumult of excitement and anxiety: excitement because I absolutely love the challenge posed in the GP exams. As an educator, GP delights me no end as the questions indeed require students to think and evaluate critically, and write cogently on a myriad of current-day issues. So, to be able to navigate the GP papers well is a relevant skill today.

The anxiety arises because I know how hard my students and I have worked over the course of 2 years in preparation for the exams, and, of course I want them to do well--hence the inevitable nerves.

My cohort of students come from different JCs, with varying grasps of GP. I'm not looking for As across the board, but I am expecting improvements in scores as a reflection of their effort put into the subject.

Still, GP2017 is now done and dusted. I've checked in with my students and now weigh in on General Paper 2017...

Paper 1 was a fair paper, offering a good mix of topics for candidates to choose from. 

The ever popular science and technology-related questions took a back seat this year, though Q2--on the use of animals for scientific research--is fairly accessible to most. Those who focused on media-related issues had 2 rather manageable questions to choose from.

The key to acing the GP essay is in the evaluation and analysis, so those who merely listed factors and/or went about essay topics in a 'pros and cons' manner would have presented limited arguments. These scripts would not score well in their content.

In preparing our students for Paper 1, we are delighted to have addressed the following questions particularly well 🙂

Q3: In your society, to what extent is it acceptable for public money to be used for the acquisition of works of art?

--The key to acing this question is to address "acceptable" and "acquisition of art works", rather than simply evaluating whether public funding should be applied to the arts.


Q5:Is regulation of the press desirable?

--The reasons for "desirability" should be addressed, including 'who', and in what way, regulation of the press benefits.


Q8: Examine the role of music in establishing a national identity in your society.

--Candidates should examine what the SG national identity is. They would need to address the extent to which music impacts the establishment of that national identity. Students should not focus excessively on the other factors that influence the development of our national identity.


Q10: 'Practical ability is just as important as intellectual skills.' How far is this true in your society?

--At the onset, candidates need to address what 'practical ability' and 'intellectual skills' are. Then, they need to weigh in on how and why in the context of SG, these two aspects are of of equal importance, or one outweighs the other.


Paper 2 comprised 2 passages on sharing and collecting personal data online. 

Most students found the paper manageable though the Application Question (AQ) took an unexpected turn in its phrasing, requiring students to address how far (they) agree with the arguments presented by both authors, in the context of (their) society. This is a slight deviation from the typical AQ asking which author the candidate agreed with in the context of their society.

Some students found it difficult to justify their responses with concrete evidence.  

One possible approach to the AQ is as follows:

First: Candidates can address a similar argument presented in both passage.

...that (users') information is constantly being collected about their location, demographics, behaviour and habits [Psg 1 para 4] and anyone with an online presence is continuously... broadcasting their personal data [Psg 1 para 4].


This is true in SG because:

  • 70% of Singaporeans are active social media users on-the-go, more than double the global average
  • internet penetration rate in SG is among the highest in the world at 82%
  • we have access to most global e-commerce sites like Amazon, Taobao and social media sites: FB Snapchat, Instagram
  • algorithms and bots are always picking up users' information, evident in how online ads are displayed according to the respective user's preferences and searches. Google search results on a particular keyword also differ from user to user, depending on their search history.
  • a user's location is also immediately detectable so various recommendations can be pushed out by websites. E.g. UBER and Grab services, location app on FB etc

These factors culminate in a constant collection of personal data by various online sites, which are then used to market to the user.

Second: Candidates can then take the above argument further by referencing Psg 1 [para 1] "If you are not paying for the product, you are the product"...since for most companies, "their services are monetised either by marketing portions of web space to advertisers or through peddling [users' data to organisations]" [Psg 1 para 2].​​​​

  • Student can cite how all online sites and articles feature ads [eerily curated to suit their preferences and interest]
  • Author's point is of limited application in SG due to government regulation e.g. Personal Data Protection Act [briefly state what PDPA does e.g. governs the collection, use and disclosure of personal data to maintain individuals’ trust in organisations that manage data].

Finally: Candidates can address an argument in Psg 2 and present a qualified agreement. For instance, Psg 2 para 5: the author argues that in natural disasters or emergency situations, 'swarm intelligence' or information is useful as more information collected means a more powerful swarm response to the disaster.

  • Agree--in the recent terrorist bombings in major cities and the Hong Kong typhoon, many were able to use the Safety Check app on FB. Similar applications and programs can therefore collate data more comprehensively and enable more thorough response to disasters.
  • However, author's argument is limited in veracity because the infrequency of disaster and low probability of becoming a victim of disaster simply cannot justify the sheer amount of personal data being collected on a daily basis, and used against the individual for marketing and profiteering purposes; or worse, as a tool for crime or other nefarious activity against the person. E.g As it is, SG ranked 6th in a 2016 study on global card frauds. The study looked at risky behaviours like leaving a smartphone unlocked when not in use, shopping or banking online without security software, and responding to e-mail or calls asking for banking information. The instance of identity theft and fraud can only escalate if information is readily and easily "swarmed" online.
  • The adage "nothing is ever deleted from the internet" remains true and personal data protection should be prioritised.

Note that: By limiting or qualifying agreement of relevance of the authors' arguments, a candidate fulfils the 'extent' or 'how far do you agree' aspect of the question.

Our J1 students are already preparing hard for General Paper 2018. We take a break from lessons until January 2018. I look forward to more intellectual sparring and argumentation with my students in the new year!

~Contributed by Geraldine Chew [Ms] 6 November 2017

1 2 3