English Paper 2 Tips



Tip #1

Determine importance

In any text, readers should prioritise information and single out the important pieces. Analyse everything from titles, headings and bold print, which are text features in non-fiction text, to strong verbs used in novels, which are verbal clues.




Tip #2


Good readers are constantly creating pictures in their minds while reading. Readers can also benefit from well-illustrated books as they visualise how words and images connect in meaning-making.




Tip #3


Being the most sophisticated of the comprehension strategies, synthesis is creating a single understanding from a variety of sources. New ideas combine with existing knowledge to form new ideas or interpretations.

  • Compare and contrast current text with existing information
  • Think of new ways to use the new information
  • Create new generalisations or new perspectives




For more English Paper 2 tips, click on the following links below:

English Paper 2 Tips: Primary



Primary 2

When writing your answer for MCQ Comprehension:

  • Circle the question numbers you’re unsure about. When you’re done with the whole paper, go back to the circled questions and cross out the wrong answers.

When writing your answer for Open-Ended Comprehension:

  • Grammar: Check that you have used the correct tense.
  • Punctuation: Make sure your sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a full stop. Remember to include quotation marks if you are asked for a specific word.
  • Spelling: Double-check the spelling of all key words in your answer against those in the passage because those key words are likely found there.




Primary 3 & 4

How to Figure Out the Meaning of New Words

Context clues are very useful when you are trying to figure out the meaning of words that are new to you. Usually, in a sentence, paragraph or text, there is at least one clue to the meaning of the word. An easy way to remember the types of clues would be S.E.A.: Synonym, Examples, Antonym.

  • Synonym: a word or phrase with the same meaning

Bamboos are not very nutritious, so the amount of bamboo pandas have to eat in 12 hours to stay healthy is up to 15 percent of their body weight.

  • Examples: a few examples of the word are given

Some catastrophes cause a huge volume of water to be shifted, such as earthquakes, landslides or volcanic eruptions.

  • Antonym: a word or phrase with the opposite meaning

It is always joyous when a cub is born, but devastating when one dies.




Primary 5

Synthesis & Transformation

  • Check that you did not omit or misspell any words.
  • Underline all key words that need to be changed. This is especially helpful when you’re changing the sentence from direct to indirect speech. Look out for Tenses, Pronouns and words related to Time and Place. For example:

Qn:     “I will investigate the cause of the blackout that happened in these areas yesterday,” he announced.

Ans:    The spokesman announced that he would investigate the cause of the blackout that had happened in those areas the previous day.

  • Learn to convert between nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. For example:

Qn:     The students apologised to the principal. They did so reluctantly.

Ans:    It was with reluctance that the students apologised to the principal.


English Paper 2 Tips: Summary Writing



Summary writing is one of the most dreaded components of the secondary English Paper 2 exam. But it doesn’t always have to be that way! Use this 3-Step Strategy to guide you along.


Step 1: Identify the points

Before you start, mark out the paragraphs that you need to summarise (e.g. draw a line above and below these paragraphs).

  • Identify at least eight key points to summarise. Use dotted lines if you are unsure of your points and edits as you re-read and count the number of points you have chosen.
  • Every paragraph should contain at least one point.
  • Number your points
  • Underline only the key words, instead of underlining the whole sentence.




Step 2: Paraphrase the points

Understand each main point before rephrasing it. Be clear and concise!

  • Think of synonyms.
  • Eliminate phrasal verbs where possible (e.g. instead of “carry on”, use “continue”).
  • Eliminate “empty words”: redundant words without which the sentence is still grammatical (e.g. I think that the lecture was boring).
  • Change the sentence structure if necessary.




Step 3: Organise the points

Reorder the points in a logical way (e.g. compare-contrast / cause-effect / problem-solution).

  • Use connectors and transition words to signal the relationship between ideas. For example:
    • Compare-contrast: unlike, while, similarly, likewise
    • Cause-effect: since, as, thus, consequently
    • Additional related point: moreover, furthermore, additionally
  • Link related ideas together to further reduce the word count.


English Paper 2 Tips: Reading Compre



Learning how to paraphrase your answers is an important and required skill for the reading comprehension portion of the exam as marks get deducted whenever answers are lifted from the passage. Here are some tips on paraphrasing:


Tip #1

Select synonyms

Replace the key verbs, adjectives and adverbs with synonyms. You may need to use a phrase instead of a single word sometimes.




Tip #2

Mention the main idea

Focus on stating the main idea in your own words.




Tip #3

Structure it differently

Don’t let your Synthesis & Transformation skills go to waste! Use them to change the sentence structure (e.g. active to passive voice).


English Paper 2 Tips: Reading Compre



Tip #1

Make connections

Good readers notice pieces of text that relate to or remind them of:

  • Their lives, past experiences and prior knowledge
  • Other books, articles, movies, songs, or pieces of writing
  • Events, people, or issues




Tip #2

Monitor / Clarify

Proficient readers do not just plough ahead through text when it doesn’t make sense. They try to figure out words and ideas in order to restore their understanding of the passage. One of the most important “fix-up” tools is rereading text.

  • Sound out unfamiliar words
  • Reread the text to see if you can figure out the problem
  • Read on; go on to the next paragraph or section to see if you can get further information




Tip #3

Ask questions

Good readers ask questions before, during, and after reading to better understand the author and the meaning of the test.

  • “What is the message?”
  • “I wonder what will happen next?”
  • “How could this be explained to others?”




Tip #4


Keen readers know how to “read between the lines”. Using their background knowledge and clues from the text, they can draw conclusions and infer characters’ feelings/traits.


English Paper 2 Tips: Primary



Primary 2

When writing your answer for MCQ Comprehension:

  • Be sure to write only the number (e.g. 1, 2, 3 or 4) within the brackets.
  • Do NOT write the word to complete the answer.

When writing your answer for Open-Ended Comprehension:

  • Be sure to write in a complete sentence.
  • Use correct spelling.
  • Use correct punctuation.
  • Use the correct tense.
  • Make sure your subjects (nouns) and verbs (action words) agree.




Primary 3 & 4

3 Steps to Answering Reading Comprehension Questions


STEP 1: Read the text

Read the text carefully. If you are having problems understanding the text, read it in paragraph chunks and paint a picture of what you are reading in your mind.


STEP 2: Highlight key words in each question

Read each question for its key words. Key words would be:

  • question words (e.g. “Who”, “What”, “When”, “Where”, “Why” and “How”)
  • words that tell you the tense of the question

Highlight these key words.




Put brackets ( ) around the sentences in the passage that help you answer the questions. 




Write the number of the comprehension question next to the sentence in the passage that helps you answer that question. 




Primary 5

How do you tackle cloze tests?

  • Read the passage to get an overall idea of its story or topic.
  • Use what you know about the topic or ideas in the passage to generate answers.
  • Look for context clues around each blank.
    • Read forward and backwards.
    • Punctuation marks can also be used as clues, e.g. conjunctions often occur after commas.
  • Use your knowledge of grammar and sentence structure to figure out if the missing word is a/an:
    • noun
    • verb
    • adjective
    • adverb
    • preposition
    • conjunction
    • part of a phrasal verb or collocation
  • Generate as many possible answers as you can for each blank, then choose the most suitable one.