Category Archives for GP Exam Tips

Tips to Boost Language Scores in GP

Tips to Boost Language Scores in GP

Now that we have familiarised ourselves with language tips, it’s time to roll up our sleeves even further to focus on the facts – the facts and figures that you will submit to your GP examiner, that is. In other words: content.

While language comprises approximately a third of your total score out of 100, content makes up the other two-thirds, according to the rubric
General Paper Higher 1(2017) (Syllabus 8807)  It is thus evident that having good content is crucial to doing well.

Unlike the language score, however, which is neatly encapsulated under the “Use of English” criterion regardless of paper, ‘content’ differs between GP Paper 1 and Paper 2.

In Paper 1 (the essay), the content component differentiates students based on how well they present an argument to the examiner (see * below)

Paper 2 is a little more complicated, as it contains comprehension questions that
test your literal comprehension, vocabulary, and inference skills; a summary question; and an application question (AQ). 

For the comprehension and summary questions, your content score depends on how well you answer the questions according to a pre-set answer key; for the AQ, your content score would be based on how well you identify the author’s key arguments and respond to them.

If you win one, you win them all

While all components are tricky in their own way, GP students generally have more chronic issues with the essay and AQ components, as those require more complex techniques.

Truth be told, the key to a good essay and AQ are not too different at their core. Both of them reward*:
  • the strength of your premise (the underlying logic of your argument),

  • the comprehensiveness of your elaboration/explanation,
  • the suitability of your examples, and
  • the proficiency in which you link your points, both within a body
    paragraph and across body paragraphs, and so on.

As such, this blog post will provide a few tips and tricks to tackling the approach you should take with essay and AQ questions.

Bookend your Body Paragraphs
A cogent essay (and that includes AQ responses!) is all about structure. Specifically, a bookended structure, like so:

Image source
[https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2013/07/13/09/36/bookends-155762_960_720.png]

Thus, the first and last parts of your essay’s macro-structure – the introduction and conclusion – should echo each other. In the same way, the first and last sentences of each body paragraph should also echo each other.

The importance of this cannot be understated: ensure that both (1) a topic sentence and (2) a summary/sum-up/linking sentence exists for each body paragraph, and that (1) and (2) present the same point (i.e. they are ‘twins’).

In particular, many students are ‘distracted’ by their examples or elaboration, such
that these specifics unduly bleed into the sum-up. Always check to make sure that this isn’t the case!

Essence of the Argument in One Word As mentioned in part one of this two-part series link: https://www.creativecampus.com.sg/top-10-tips-to-ace-gp/, using words or phrases that suggest chronology between points (like ‘firstly/second/thirdly’) is fine and dandy – to an extent.

To write an easier-to-understand essay, your topic sentences must capture the essence of your point in one line. Easier said than done, you say? Not quite – you can actually compile a list of information-rich adjectives that capture the essential meaning of your arguments.

These adjectives usually describe either the nature or the significance of each specific point. For example, adjectives like ‘cognitive’, ‘biological’, or ‘philosophical’ describes the nature of a particular argument; since they are so broad, they can be as easily used in an essay about Artificial Intelligence as an essay about healthcare.

On the other hand, we have adjectives like ‘institutional’ (defined as ‘at the level of the institution’, meaning things like government and schools, depending on your particular topic) and ‘systemic’ (relating to a WHOLE system, not just one part of it).

These adjectives, if used, give the examiner information about how significant your point is in comparison to a more surface-level point that deals with only one aspect of the argument.

Over the course of the year, try to identify the nature of arguments as well as their overall significance, then think of adjectives that capture these meanings. By accumulating lists of these words, you not only create a useful cheat-sheet for yourself; you also practise your AQ skills. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

When Planning, Think in Umbrellas

This final trick is linked to all of the previous ones, and can be implemented during your planning process. Instead of relying purely on numbered lists, try visualising your points in terms of umbrellas under umbrellas under umbrellas. 


In other words: umbrellas all the way down.

  • Your thesis statement should be the biggest umbrella, encapsulating the most abstract and general idea; namely, your overall stand.
  • Under that should be each of your points, which are the clearly-defined and articulated reasons/explanations/factors pertaining to your general stand.
  • Under each point should then be your examples, which will need to relate directly to your point.
What this does is help you plan in a way that corresponds with the final flow of your argument on paper. At the same time, you can check that your examples are appropriate.


All that will be left to do is fill in the explanatory gaps, and voila!

Top 10 Tips to Ace GP

Top 10 Tips to Ace GP: The Lowdown on Language

For junior college students, General Paper (GP) is possibly the last English paper in your lives – the ‘final boss’, so to speak.

Even though the requirements for GP seem straightforward, scoring well is not as simple as it seems. Hopefully, these tips can help you do just that.

Before we begin, a note for the uninitiated: students will have to sit for two papers as part of the GP examination. Paper 1 requires you to write an essay, while Paper 2 is a comprehension piece that additionally includes a summary and application question.

Doing well in all of these components thus requires you to master different skillsets. This blog post will focus on language. Why?

If you look closely at the rubric , “Use of English” – referring to the standardness of your grammar and appropriacy of your vocabulary use – takes up 35% of your total score upon 100.

Having a good sense of how you can use language to your benefit is thus a third of the battle won.

If you don’t pride yourself on “bombastic vocabulary”, don’t worry. As long as your grammar is adequate, you have a fighting chance at a good GP grade!

Choose your synonyms wisely

This is especially pertinent when writing summaries and answering ‘in your own words’ questions: do not think that word X can freely substitute the word Y just because the dictionary/thesaurus states that they are synonyms!

Often, dictionaries need to condense immense amounts of word-related information into tiny pockets of data. Resultantly, the  ‘synonyms’ they provide are acontextual – meaning, blind to the way that word X is actually used in the passage. For example, the word ‘candid’ means frank or forthright; however, a  ‘candid photo’ cannot be rephrased as ‘forthright snapshot’.

When you use ‘synonyms’ inappropriately, you show the marker that you are merely rephrasing for the sake of it, which does not bode well for your “Use of Language” score.

Hence, you must consider if the synonym you want to use suits the context at hand. If you are having trouble with force-fitting literal one-to-one rephrases (for example, if you can’t think of a good synonym), try paraphrasing more broadly. For example,

This is for all the people who struggle with essays and AQs. I am a huge fan of signposting, which is the practice of using key words and phrases to guide your reader through your piece.

Signposts express the relationships between concepts in your essay, allowing the reader to understand your flow of logic better.

There are two main types of signposts that you can use. Firstly, there are what people call major signposts, which are the signposting phrases that go at the start of each paragraph.

  • In your introduction, you can write something like “in this essay, I will…” or “this essay argues/discusses/outlines…” (depending on whether your essay is argumentative or discursive in nature).
  • In your body paragraphs, you can use signposts that suggest chronological order, like “firstly/secondly/thirdly/lastly”. If you want to get fancy with it, you can employ variations like “first and foremost” or “the penultimate (second-last) reason is…”.
  • However, a better GP argumentative essay would use major signposts that indicate your specific line of reasoning, especially when you’re introducing contrasting arguments e.g. “however”, “on the other hand” and “in contrast/contrarily/conversely”.
  • Most students know the obvious, yet highly unimaginative, signpost for conclusions… “in conclusion”. Switch it up, surprise the marker! Other than using variations like “to conclude/in sum/summing up”, you can simply make statements such as “it is evident/clear from [insert argument] that [insert stand]”.

Then, there are what I like to call minor signposts, which are signposting phrases that go inside paragraphs. Minor signposts relationally link the various ideas that you introduce within each body paragraph. These A.R.E.:

  • Addition – “furthermore/moreover/in addition, [elaborate]”. Sometimes you have to clearly express causality between factors, in which case you can use e.g. “A causes/gives rise to/leads to/brings about/engenders B”, “A incites/triggers/sparks B”, or “A expedites/accelerates B”.
  • Reiteration – “again”/”similarly”.
  • Evidence – “for example/instance”, “examples include…”, “…, which proves/evinces/shows that…” are all useful phrases to use.

To reiterate, using signposts makes your arguments/discussion more easily understandable to the marker. Their usefulness cannot be overstated!

Sometimes, an essay topic may be particularly complex. Sometimes, a paragraph may seem impossible to paraphrase. At these times, you may have issues with content, let alone language!

If you ever come across this situation, focus on content (after all, it’s two-thirds of your total grade). Ensure that your sentences are grammatically sound and that your points make sense.

For tips on how to improve your content, refer to our next post 🙂

GP Classes

As time is required to cultivate the skills needed for the GP components, we urge students wishing to improve their GP grades to enrol in classes ASAP.

Our GP classes with Ms Geraldine Chew are filling up fast, with an average of 2 seats remaining for each class:

  • Thursday 7pm
  • Saturday 12pm

However, we are looking to open other GP classes conducted by teacher Mr Ten Ting Kai on one of the following days and timings:

  • Tuesday 7pm
  • Saturday 2pm
  • Sunday 2pm

To find out more about Mr Ten, click on this link Meet Our Teachers

Do contact us at 6455 3063 or chalk@creativecampus.com.sg to enrol your child and/or for more information.

Want more GP-related information?

We share some insight into the GP 2019 Papers 1 and 2 General Paper 2019 post mortem

For more information on our GP programme, visit GP tuition

How To Deal With The Year Ahead

Small Fish in a Big Pond: how to deal with the year ahead

3 bulletproof tips students can arm themselves with

In a blink of an eye, we are on the cusp of a new school year. For all students, every new year is a frightening prospect: not only will there be a brand new curriculum, but also a fresh set of challenges. The questions of “how to handle the more difficult/increased workload?” and “how to juggle my academic and extracurricular commitments?” frequently recur.

Feelings of stress run especially high in the milestone years, where students have to take their national exams (P6, secondary 4) or enter a completely new school (primary 1, secondary 1, junior college/polytechnic/other institutions).

During these important years, we may feel like ‘small fish in a big pond’, unsure of where and how to start the year right. Here are some tips on getting the headstart you need:

  • Have a Trusted Circle of Confidantes

The importance of social ties cannot be understated. A close friend, or
group of friends, is not only a good emotional support system; they are
also your go-tos for academic or administrative concerns!

Have a question about transferring CCAs? Ask a friend for advice! Have a question about your math or mother tongue homework? Ask a classmate! Feeling blue? Talk to a friend!

Here’s a pro tip: Include your teacher in this circle of friends. Due to their position in school and teaching knowledge, teachers can often give you advice or help that your peers cannot.

  • Be Organised
    There are few things worse than realising that you have misplaced your revision notes on the day before an exam. How do you prevent that situation from happening? ORGANISE! Some quick and easy actions you can take right now include:
  • For languages, use a notebook to compile new vocabulary or grammar pointers. Writing information down has been proven to help memory recall. Moreover, you will have a consolidated source of key knowledge at the end of the year.
  • Get file dividers for subjects that are tested topically, e.g. science, geography. Remember to file your worksheets promptly!
  • Declutter weekly! Take already-marked worksheets and old notes OUT of your school bag, and file/place them neatly in a location that you can access at a later date (for review and revision).
  • Don’t allow homework or corrections to pile up!
  • Don’t Overdo It

In a busy school schedule, time is precious. More often than not, we have more things than we can fit on our plate!

There are typical “crunch times” in which you can expect yourself to feel overwhelmed by the amount of things you have to do (e.g. before exams, before major CCA events). For these periods, my succinct advice is to do your best (and talk to your support system)!

However – just like an Olympic athlete peaks right before their event, a student should peak at the times that matter most – exams and CCA events.

If you want to maximise your mental and physical well-being, as well as maintain good performance during exams/competitions, try not to jampack your whole year with activities.

Since we are currently at the start of the year, simply focus on easing yourself into the hustle and bustle of the year ahead.

Wishing you all the best!

How I Dealt With High-Stake Tests

How I Dealt With High-Stake Exams

Handling national exams like the PSLE, O-Levels and A-Levels

First things first, let’s get this straight: few people like exams. The process of exam prep is often mentally challenging, intellectually fatiguing, and in certain cases, physically demanding. Yet, exams are a constant force in Singapore’s formal education system.

National exams like PSLE, O Levels, and A Levels happen every two to four years after the age of 12 – and this is to say nothing of the intermittent school exams that happen yearly until students leave school.

When I was still in the thick of said education system, I tried my best to take a hakuna matata approach to learning. This was not always easy to do in my immediate schooling environment, which might be politely described as “enthusiastic” on our best days, and “competitive” on our worst.

Over time, I’ve marshalled a fair few tricks that have helped me deal with the stress of routine testing. These include both practical tasks which are most
germane at zero hour, as well as personal philosophies that prevent stress from reaching a critical point. Allow me to share four pointers with you.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY AND MIND TO ENSURE MENTAL CLARITY AND ALERTNESS DURING EXAMS

If we were to see exams as a marathon that we must run, then clearly, our bodies are infinitely salient to the process. Getting sufficient sleep, movement, and nutrition, even when exams loom close, has been key to my stress reduction.

I found sleep particularly important in my younger days, as afternoon activity after activity took its toll on my energy levels. In my later schooling years, my schedule became more flexible and self-directed; at that point, I had to learn to prioritise habits like exercise, eating wholesome meals, and pursuing fulfilling hobbies.

Remember: rest is requisite. The last thing you want to be is sick or sleepy on your exam day, which is all too likely should you push yourself too hard. When it’s time to work, work hard; but when it’s time to decompress, do give yourself time to do something fun or good for yourself!

3 USEFUL TIPS TO REDUCE COMMON DISTRACTIONS FACED BY STUDENTS TODAY

The pervasiveness of digital technologies – and ergo, digital distractions – cannot be understated in this day and age. I can think of many an instance where I chose to spend “five more minutes” on social media or YouTube, rather than do the task that I was supposed to do. 

Sheer willpower is oftentimes insufficient, so you may find these tips helpful instead:

  • Leave your phone/tablet/laptop in another room, or leave it with someone who can keep you accountable.
  • Use apps that help regulate the time you spend on particular apps or sites.
  • Select suitable study spots. If you can’t focus in your bedroom – go somewhere else!

USE WHAT WORKS FOR YOU - THE PRODUCTIVE TOOLS I'VE USED AND WHAT I'VE DISCOVERED OVER THE PAST 16 YEARS

When it comes to “exam techniques”, “tips for studying”, “how to manage time/cram for exams” – I’ve been there, done that. Over the past sixteen years, I’ve tried the gamut of study methods: (Click on the links below to learn more)

*Pomodoro for time management;

*Cornell for note-taking and

*Bullet Journal for keeping on top of tasks.

I’ve tried studying first thing in the morning, late at night; at home, at school, in libraries; the list goes on. The only thing I’ve found that works? Doing what best serves you, and not anyone else.

Give different study techniques a shot (if you’d like!) before exams are nigh, but stick to the basics in your routine when it comes to crunch time. 

For example, the Pomodoro method was lauded by everyone around me, but I found that I had little patience for its 25-5 intervals.

Instead, I did better with ‘warming up’ in the daytime and more focussed studying at night. Sticking to a routine that I was comfortable with made for a less stressful, more timely preparation process.

FOCUS ON THE PROCESS - WHY CONSISTENCY AND MOMENTUM ARE THE BUILDING BLOCKS TO EFFECTIVE LEARNING

“The higher the stakes, the higher the pressure”: this perspective seems intuitive and almost natural to us. Parents, teachers, and students alike fret much more about national exams like PSLE or O-Levels than regular school tests, even though the difference between the former and latter is one of degree and not of kind.

Students should prepare for all tests/exams in the same way – by focusing on the
preparation process, and not the hypothetical catastrophic consequences that might (or more realistically, might not!) occur after the results come back.

I applied the same amount of effort to my weekly quizzes in university as I did to the final exams that happened every semester; as a result, not only were my quiz results consistent, I was much less stressed out in the days leading up to my final exams.

In other words: if we treat so-called ‘small stuff’ as equally important parts of the learning process, learning becomes more consistent and more organic. Following that, big-ticket items will naturally become less daunting – as they should be.

GP Elite

Chua Su Ann

  • Raffles Institution Alumni
  • Pursuing Law at SMU

As a previous student enrolled in the General Paper (GP) course with Creative Campus, I benefitted greatly from the short time I was there. Even though I only joined the class mid-way through the year, I was still able to gain a holistic view of GP as a subject, and was aided in thoroughly understanding the objectives to work towards when I was studying for it.

Ms Geraldine Chew was central in ameliorating my standard of writing – she was astute in identifying my areas for improvement, and worked patiently with me to address the problem areas comprehensively. She was also very invested in each individual student as well, taking extra time to stay back after the lessons to help anyone with any questions they might have had, and would even print extra resources for those interested in subjects that were touched on briefly during the lessons. Undoubtedly, Ms Chew was a big driving force behind the subsequent improvement in my GP grades.

I really appreciated the approach that was taken in discussing and exploring the various viewpoints on issues raised, rather than being spoon-fed facts to regurgitate in my essays. The class was never boring, and we would often be engaged in lively discussions. Despite having a long day before the GP lesson, I would never fall asleep as I truly found lessons to be both engaging and challenging; we were constantly encouraged to push the envelope when answering and not just state the obvious.

I also rather appreciate the structure of how we would cover the various examinable components, whereby we would do a different component every week. This created a more dynamic classroom environment where we would get to go through and learn more about the various components without having to rush through the various components – learning was not compromised in the interest of mindlessly squeezing in more practice. This is not to say that we did not have much to do during the lessons however; I truly learnt how to portion my time during the examinations as we were well-trained in finishing our papers in slightly less than the stipulated timing.

Essentially, the following is what i found to be the Key Tenets to Acing GP​

1. Personalised Feedback

What was incredibly useful was how, from the get-go, Ms Chew was able to help me effectively by going through my previous examination papers and practices before I started. Being extremely experienced, she was able to instantly pinpoint areas for improvement and I was able to work on these areas from the very first lesson. Subsequently, as my strengths and weaknesses shifted, Ms Chew would also pick up on new areas for me to work on and there was always a learning point to take home.

2. Stimulating Discussions

I really appreciated how we would engage in discussions regarding the topic at hand – by seeking out alternative viewpoints on the topics, I was well-trained in casting my net wider when it came to generating content points to discuss in the essay. The discussions also helped me to formulate better counterpoints and antitheses.

3. Wide Scope of Topics

As someone who rarely reads the newspaper, it was of great help to me that we would always start the lesson with a short section on interesting and educational videos. It was a refreshing way to kick-start the lesson while also receiving snippets of facts and data that I could use in my writing. In addition, we covered a wide range of topics such as society and culture, technology and the rat race and so on. I felt that the range paved the way for more stimulating discussions and truly gave us more space to innovate, rather than simply being made to memorise facts about science and technology.

4. Focused Time-trials

Being tasked to complete marked time-trials really helped to prepare me for the examinations as I did not receive much practice in school, and barely had much time out of lessons to practice on my own. Doing the practices in class helped immensely in honing my speed and sharpness of thinking. I used to waffle more when writing, and often ended up speeding through my points at the end when I realised that I was running out of time, leading to inconsistent essays. Thus, the practices in GP lessons really helped me learn how to monitor and allot my time more efficiently. I also benefitted greatly from how Ms Chew taught us to plan our essays beforehand as I often took too long to plan and decide on the question.