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General Paper 2019 Post Mortem


General Paper 2019: A Post-Mortem

Our GP 2019 cohort came from diverse JCs. Each had areas that needed work, be they content development or vocabulary and linguistic intricacies; but work they did! It has been a rewarding year with the graduating class who have each worked hard and made improvements over the months leading up to the exams.  

Most thought both Papers 1 and 2 were manageable except for a couple of more challenging SAQ [comprehension Short Answer Questions].

Weighing in on Paper 1

Answer one question. Answers should be between 500 and 800 words in length.

  1. How far should countries have relations with others whose human rights record is poor?
  2. To what extent should income equality be a goal in your society?
  3. ‘Science is the only answer to global hunger’. Discuss.
  4. Consider the view that social media has more influence than politicians.
  5. To what extent is artificial intelligence replacing the role of humans?
  6. ‘A leader’s responsibility should always be to his or her own country, not other nations.’ Discuss.
  7. ‘Religion is an important part of the lives of young people today.’ Consider whether this is true in your society.
  8. Does violence in the visual media portray reality or encourage the unacceptable?
  9. Is globalisation to be welcomed or feared today?
  10. Should both parents take equal responsibility for raising their children? List Element
  11. Assess the importance of food within Singaporean culture.
  12. Can fiction teach us anything meaningful about the real world?

Paper 1 2019 was another fair paper offering a good range of topics and themes for candidates to choose from. 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; neither would scripts that presented example-driven arguments.

The more popular questions, according to an online poll which candidates took were (in order): 5, 9, 4, 12, 11. 

This year, I thought to review the questions based on the topics that are more popular with candidates.


Science and Technology

Questions on science and technology are a favourite, and popular with exam-setters and students alike. 

This year, there were again, 2 questions on this topic, with Q5 being the more popular.

Q3 : “Science is the only answer to global hunger.” Discuss 

This asks candidates to evaluate the broader topic of science within the narrower scope of global hunger. What this means for candidates is that they need to go deeper into the relationship between the 2 realms.

  • The word “only” is a clear indicator that science alone is not the answer.
  • Candidates must address HOW science can provide answers to alleviate or solve world hunger, but also acknowledge that science alone is intellectual: knowledge about the natural world that is based on facts learned through experiments and observation; an area of study that deals with the natural world.
  • Hence, science is extremely limited in that it can offer studies that lead to technological applications, but essentially, it may not provide tangible tools or solutions, and is dependant on Man’s wielding.
  • Other factors must also be considered: human avarice and self-interest, governmental priorities and policies, that scientific exploration utilises the very resources needed to treat/solve global hunger.

To receive the full analysis to:

  • Paper 1 Q5 and other popular questions, 
  • Paper 2 AQ

Weighing in on Paper 2, the Application Question

The two passages offer contrasting views on the topic of zoos. According to feedback from several of our students and other sources, the AQ asks:

Waldorf argues that zoos should be closed down, while Morgan argues the necessity of zoos. How far can you agree with the observations made by these two authors for you and your society? [10]

At the coarsest granularity, the authors’ theses read as follows:

Walford: In principle, zoos deprive animals of their natural habitats and instincts for human pleasure. In practice, animals in zoos suffer from poor living conditions. Hence, zoos are unethical and should not be allowed to exist any longer.

Morgan: In principle, zoos begin from a human concern for animal welfare and serve scientific purposes. In practice, animals in zoos are safe and populations can recover. Hence, zoos are important and have an important ecological role.

What is interesting about this pair of passages is that the authors engage each other head-on. It is not a situation where, for example, A writes from a philosophical standpoint why something is justified or unjustifiable, and B writes from a practical standpoint why, in reality, that something is not all good or not all bad. In those cases, it is easy to evaluate each author on their own merits, and it is easy to achieve a balanced AQ by assembling a coherent picture out of the pieces picked up from both passages.

Here, however, we have to be decisive about things:

  • ​In principle, do we think zoos are really about human enjoyment, or human education? We can’t have it both ways. We can’t argue that zoos are fundamentally premised upon both entertaining and educating humans at once.
  • In practice, do we think zoos actually mistreat animals, or are the animals better off than they would otherwise be? We can’t have it both ways. We can’t argue that zoos turn out to both do more harm than good and more good than harm.
  • And, ultimately, do we think zoos are intolerable or indispensable? Or… do our answers to the first two questions leave us somewhere in between?

To receive the full analysis to:

  • Paper 1 Q5 and other popular questions, 
  • Paper 2 AQ

You can access the full Post Mortems via the links below. Each has been viewed over 2,000 in 2019 alone.

General Paper 2018: A Post-Mortem 

https://www.creativecampus.com.sg/exam-tips/english-enrichment-resource/general-paper-2018-a-post-mortem/

General Paper 2017: A Post-Mortem 

https://www.creativecampus.com.sg/exam-tips/english-enrichment-resource/general-paper-a-level/

Our J1 students have already started preparing hard for General Paper 2020. We take a break from lessons until January 2020. I look forward to more intellectual sparring and argumentation with my students in the new year!
~Contributed by Geraldine Chew [Ms] and Ten Ting Kai [Mr] 5 November 2019

O’ Levels English Paper 1 2019: A Post-Mortem

'O’ Levels English Paper 1 2019: A Post-Mortem

The following are the essay questions from the 2019 O Level English Paper 1, according to feedback from several of our students who took the exam and other sources.

Unlike Paper 1 in 2018, the essay questions posed in the 2019 paper reverted to the usual mix of personal expository, discursive and argumentative options. There was a good range of subject matters that are familiar to students. Hence, I felt that the topics were accessible and the paper, fair. 

You are advised to write between 350 and 500 words on one of the following topics.

  • Who is the person who has made the most positive impact on your life? Describe this individual’s personality and state what he/she has done to influence your life. 
  • What was the proudest moment of your life? (A quote preceded the question)
  • Young people are obsessed with fame and imitating celebrities. What are your views?
  • People can only be happy if they feel that they are fairly treated. Do you agree?

Our students found the paper very manageable as our lessons have comprehensively dealt with structure of various essay types and in particular, discursive writing. Students have also had ample practice writing full essays on topics relating to happiness, inequities, media and youth issues. 

The content to each essay topic has the potential to be elevated and the student who structures and expresses his ideas more eloquently will stand apart from the masses.


In the weeks to come, we will conduct an essay writing lesson with our students on how to competently answer these essay questions.

Should you be interested to receive the complimentary worksheet and lesson notes, fill in your email address below and we will send them to you on the week of the lesson. You will also receive worksheets and lesson notes to the O Levels English Paper 1 2018.

Secondary Regular Classes​​​​​


O Levels 2019 Results: 100% Scored As and Bs. 2/3 Scored As

Early preparation is the key to scoring well for the exams.

About the author:

Ms Geraldine Chew is a Founding Director of Creative Campus. She is also the Director of Programmes for Secondary, General Paper and IB. With over 23 years experience in teaching and curriculum development, her first love is still teaching and interacting with young adults.

PSLE 2019 Paper 1: A Post- Mortem

PSLE 2019 English Paper 1: A Post-Mortem

The PSLE 2019 is finally done and dusted. The general consensus was that Paper 1 was ‘ok’. We are excited to share the following information with you, curated from several of our students and other sources. 

While this serves as a checkpoint to how the current cohort has done, we hope to shed some light on how certain challenging questions can be overcome in the national examinations.

Paper 1

(1) Situational Writing

The pictures depict a comic conversation between a child and her uncle. He has a pair of tickets to a movie but is unable to attend as he would be overseas on a work trip. Write an informal letter to your best friend, Linda, inviting her to a movie with the details, and explaining why she would be interested in joining you. For this letter, the following pointers are crucial:

  • the informal letter format should be observed
  • the letter must address the recipient as ‘Linda’ and his/her ‘best friend’
  • the letter must be signed off in an informal manner eg Yours sincerely,/ Cheers,/
    With love,/ Your best friend
  • students must be meticulous enough to pen down all the necessary information
  • the questions ask for two reasons why Linda would be encouraged to watch the
    movie: students should use the information given as clues eg. free tickets/
    Linda’s love for action movies/ Linda’s favourite actor is the leading man

The following is the essay questions from the 2019 PSLE English Paper 1:

Write a composition of at least 150 words about a celebration. 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 reason for the occasion?
  • How did the occasion turn out in the end?

You may use the points in any order and include other relevant points as well. [* The three pictures given include people dancing on a stage; a family portrait of 4 – parents, baby and elder sibling; and an invitation card.]

The topic was doable and the pictures were equally relatable. At Creative Campus, our students had practice on this theme twice, with the various scenarios included.

This year, the topic calls for students to reinforce the theme by relating it to a celebration, such as a performance for a Teacher’s Day celebration, a baby’s first birthday bash, or an invitation to a best friend’s graduation party.

Delving deeper and handling the essay with a better perspective is what differentiates an average student from the crème de la crème. Students should inject scene and emotion descriptors; address the problem and solution that arise from the plot; and showcase their personal voice with unique metaphors, imagery and tone.

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.

Free PSLE 2019 Sample Worksheets

On the week after the PSLE, students at Creative Campus were taught how to handle the PSLE 2019 question effectively.


We have prepared a simulation of the essay question, based on the feedback from several of our students and other sources.

 Fill in your details to receive your free worksheets.

GP IP Essay Writing Classes

Boosting Students' Confidence in Essay Writing

Parents often ask about how lessons are run at Creative Campus. Here's a video snippet of how an essay writing lesson is conducted. We approach essay writing for Secondary levels and up in the same manner.

This is a rare window into a GP lesson for a class comprising predominantly J1 students. The students were given 3 questions and this was the one question that no one chose because they found it difficult:

"Many receive an education, but few are educated." Discuss with reference to situations in your society today.

Empowering students with a methodical approach to essay writing​​​​​​​​​

  • The video shows how the teacher helps the students get over the fear of an assignment by deconstructing the perceived 'tough' question.
  • One of the goals is to empower students with a structured approach to essay writing. This is done by analysing and breaking down the question. to more manageable bite sizes.
  • We also believe in the value of an interactive, lively class discussion. When steered by an experienced teacher, this can stretch the ability of each student to think more critically about a topic.

Keen to find out more about our GP classes, or classes of other levels (K2, Primary & Secondary) ? Kindly click the Call Now button below and get in touch with our admin representative.

We are happy to answer all your questions on scheduling and how we conduct lessons.

‘I see dead people’ ~ Cole Sear

Is there such a thing as a ghost? Whatever an individual's personal views are on the subject, culturally most of us are brought up with the understanding that the dead lives in another form that still requires some kind of sustenance. An afterlife is largely dictated by several factors: the kind of life they had lived on earth; how their remains were disposed of at their death; and/or how they were remembered by the living.

The details of the afterlife in different cultures can vary, but the constants are that such a realm exists. This realm is governed by immutable laws, while the souls of the dead will remain there unless given licence by the gods to return to the land of the living for a specific reason. These reasons can include improper funeral rites; a lack of any kind of burial; murder where the body is missing or improperly buried; or to resolve some unfinished business.

The appearance of ghosts of the departed, even those of loved ones, is rarely considered a welcoming experience. The dead are supposed to remain in their own land and not expected to return to the world of the living. When such an event does occur, it is a sure sign that something is terribly wrong. Those who experience a spiritual encounter are expected to take care of the problem in order for the ghost to return to its proper place. This understanding is so prevalent that ghost stories can be found, with very similar themes across many cultures.

In various cultures, the spirits of the dead can benefit the living unless they are given improper burial rites. The Hungry Ghost Festival, which originated to honour and appease the dead, continues to be held on the fifteenth day of the seventh month of the year. Known as the "Ghost Month", this time is thought to be when the veil between the realm of the living and that of the dead is thinnest and the dead can easily cross over.  So that’s why during the ghost festival, you see people leaving out food and gifts for the dead in the hope that they will be appeased and not bother the living.


Do you know a Spooky Place in Singapore?

There are many locations in Singapore that are thought to be haunted. Here, we highlight two locations that are considered to have high spook factor: 

Changi Old Beach Houses

On paper, this place seems like a good idea. Need a break from hectic work life? Renting a house near the beach would be the perfect getaway. However, you might be in for something a little more sinister. People have reported feeling like they were stared at and some have even returned home with scars. Others have also complained about doors creaking open and shut non-stop, and at night, witnesses claim to have heard a woman wailing. Changi Beach was used as the site of the infamous Sook Ching massacre during WWII. It is rumoured that the souls of the innocent slain continue to roam the beach, weeping and wailing in the night. Passers-by also claim to have spotted bloodstains on walls.

Pulau Tekong

EVERYBODY has heard the horror stories from Pulau Tekong. Boys, you share them in your bunks and then do not sleep at night. Girls, you hear them from your male friends and thank your lucky stars for the comfort of your own homes. The most frequently-told tale is that of a young man for Charlie Company who went for his 16km route march and got separated from the pack. He was later discovered by his platoon commander with all his insides laid out next to his body. Beds in the recruit's former bunk often shake for no reason and some people even report hearing his voice at night. Apparently, a third door was built in the bunk to let his spirit out but he continues to roam the bunkers.

The Worst House Guests

Houseflies. They are everywhere and anywhere.

Believed to be native to Asia, houseflies now inhabit nearly every corner of the globe. Except for Antarctica and a few islands, houseflies live everywhere people do. Houseflies are synanthropic organisms: they benefit ecologically from their association with humans and domesticated animals. Conversely, houseflies are rarely found in the wilderness or in places where humans are absent. Should humankind cease to exist, houseflies might share our fate.

They procreate anywhere too, as and when they wish, laying their eggs even in feces. Their rate of reproduction is so fast that, if not for environmental conditions and predation, houseflies would perhaps rule the world.

Houseflies breed in the things we revile - garbage, animal dung, sewage, human excrement, and other nasty substances. While living among these filth, they feed on them too. With sponge-like mouth-parts, houseflies soak up liquefied substances. When a housefly locates something tasty but solid, it regurgitates onto the food. Its vomit contains digestive enzymes that quickly predigest and liquefy the food for the fly suck it all up.

Other than its gross vomits, houseflies poop a lot too. Nearly every time a housefly lands, it defecates. So, the housefly almost always does poop where it eats. Keep that in mind next time when one touches down on your favourite meal...


Something to ponder

1. How do houseflies decide something is appetising? 

2. How do houseflies transmit diseases?


Here's how

They step on it! Like butterflies, houseflies have their taste buds on their toes, so to speak. Taste receptors, called chemosensilla, are located at the far ends of the fly's tibia and tarsa (in simpler terms, the lower leg and foot). The moment they land on something of interest – your garbage, a pile of horse manure, or perhaps your lunch – they start sampling its flavour by walking around.

Houseflies thrive in places that are teeming with pathogens, hence they have a bad habit of carrying disease-causing agents with them from place to place. A housefly will land on a pile of dog poop, inspect it thoroughly with its feet, and then fly over to your picnic table and walk around on your hamburger bun for a bit. Their food and breeding sites are already overflowing with bacteria, and then they vomit and defecate on them to add to the mess. Houseflies are known to transmit at least 65 diseases and infections, including cholera, dysentery, giardiasis, typhoid, leprosy, conjunctivitis, salmonella, and many more.

Spotlight on MOE’s ‘No-Streaming’ by 2024

Major reforms to Singapore's education system were announced in parliament recently, most notably the abolishment of streaming by 2024, towards a system of Subject-based Banding (SBB). What will this mean for parents and students?

From the commentary that we have sampled, a most significant drawback of streaming is how it unwittingly punishes academically weaker students through labelling and stigmatisation. The new system of SBB will blunt this negative effect but not eradicate it, because while streaming is now less overt, it is but masked under the subject classifications G1-3.

We expect it will be quite challenging for schools to deliver on this new policy: there are time-table issues, and teachers having to juggle multiple levels within the same class, to say the least. Administrative and logistical issues can disrupt lesson delivery and the learning process in the classroom, because every system operates within limits that are made even more acute by the burdens it must bear. 

There is an upside to this, though: mixing up of students of different bands, if managed properly, can be very conducive for learning. In perforating that cultural and social divide between 'weaker' and 'stronger' students, weaker students are motivated to do better when they see that the stronger students are human just like them; stronger students are pushed to excel lest they rest on their laurels. For both groups, their horizons are broadened. Anxious parents might feel more assured if their children have a one-track mind and focus on academic excellence -- but life is a long race, and its challenges, multi-faceted. In a well-managed multi-band classroom, students could pick up a more holistic spread of personal and social skills that will serve them well in life.

Moreover, unlike streaming which is very much fixed, SBB seems to offer flexibility – chances for mobility within the subject bands means that a student's education pathway is now less determined by the system than his or her own choices and commitment. For late bloomers, and those who desire to do better, they will have more chances to make good.

That said, the core of education and learning has not changed. In whatever way the education system is tweaked, the fundamental truth remains that learning happens and is determined at the level of the individual. For instance, the system may label a student – this is an operational matter. It is up to the student to not let the label define him and get in the way of what he must do: to be educated. 

At Creative Campus, we focus on building the individual. The education system is not tailored to the individual, teachers at school may be over-burdened, and even good schools can be 'bad' as the case may be; but the student with the motivation and skills to learn, can prevail over these factors, and do all right. We teach English only – language is the conduit of thought, and through our programme, children learn to be curious, to imagine, analyse and express themselves with clarity and perspective. Regardless of the stream or band, this core ability makes the effective difference in one's education. 

PSLE English Paper 1 2018: A Post-Mortem

The following is the essay question 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.

#StopSucking: Reducing Plastic Waste?

Many giants in the food and beverage industry have started to reduce or completely eliminate the use of plastic straws in their establishments. One such company is Starbucks, which has vowed to ban plastic straws in all its stores worldwide by 2020.

The movement started to gain traction in 2015, when a video showing a sea turtle suffering because of a straw stuck in its nose went viral. This has led to the widespread movement against plastic straws, with celebrities like Ellen Pompeo and Neil DeGrasse Tyson backing the #StopSucking movement on social media.

However, while conservationists laud the move for the awareness it creates, they are also skeptical about the positive impact on the environment this movement actually creates. Scientists have found that while there are approximately 7.5 million plastic straws strewn across beaches in the US, nearly 9000 kilograms of plastic end up on coastlines worldwide. Read more here!

Questions to Consider:

1. Should the effort spent on reducing plastic straw usage be invested In cutting plastic in other ways?

2. Has human impact on the earth been a positive one?

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