The Paper 2 section of the English examination is a crucial component simply due to its weightage compared to the other papers. In this section, your child is quizzed on grammar, vocabulary and comprehension skills.
Our Senior Curriculum Specialist and teacher, Miss Vanessa Scully, has collated a list of common errors that students often make. If your child seems to be struggling to do well in the English Paper 2 examinations, one or more of these 5 common pitfalls could be the cause:
1. Rushing to Answer the Multiple Choice Questions
While time management is crucial when completing this section of the examination, most pupils often rush through Booklet A (or the multiple-choice questions) to give themselves more time to tackle Booklet B (the open-ended questions).
- Instead of rushing, your child should read each question carefully, circling and annotating all possible clues (e.g. tense words, singular/plural nouns, special verbs, etc.).
- With these clues, your child can eliminate incorrect options and thus, answer the questions with greater accuracy.
2. Not Being Adept in Tenses (Grammar)
Many students go into the examination without revising their tenses beforehand. Of course, if this is your child’s strength, this is likely not going to be a problem. However, even the best pupils might make errors in selecting the best option when faced with tricky questions.
Tense-related questions make up the bulk of the grammar components in the examination. If your child is weak in his or her knowledge of tenses, this is what your child can do before the examination:
- Draw up a table with the various tense forms (simple present, simple past, present perfect, past perfect, etc.) and fill in the blanks as a form of revision.
- Look out for other key words when doing practice papers or questions that give clues as to which tense should be used in the sentence (e.g. words like “when”, “since”, etc.)
3. Being Unsure of Phrasal Verbs (Vocabulary, Comprehension Cloze)
Phrasal verbs are extremely tricky (even for adults). The various combinations of verbs, prepositions and/or adverbs can be daunting and confusing. Here’s what your child can do to brush up on his or her knowledge of phrasal verbs:
- Create phrasal verb clouds (write the verb in the middle and branch out with different prepositions/adverbs before jotting down their meaning)
Think you’re a phrasal verbs expert? Give our quiz a go!
4. “Copying” Errors for Spelling and Tenses (Comprehension Cloze, Synthesis and Transformation, Reading Comprehension)
When it comes down to careless mistakes in Booklet B, this is the biggest reason why your child might be losing marks. Many students are in a hurry to complete their Booklet B questions that they copy words incorrectly (even though these are given words in the question).
Of course, this problem is easily resolved if students check their responses. What happens, however, if your child simply refuses to do so?
If this is your child’s big weakness, this is a technique that you can use at home to show your child that checking what he or she has written is essential:
- Select the “component” where your child makes this mistake most often. The Synthesis and Transformation section is a good place to start. Then, use something your child enjoys/wants as a motivator (e.g. screen time).
For example, tell your child that he or she will get a certain amount of screen time if all the questions are answered correctly. However, for every careless mistake made, four minutes will be shaved off the screen time.
- When your child realises how much “screen time” he or she has lost due to careless mistakes, checking will become a habit.
5. Giving Incomplete Answers (Reading Comprehension)
While there are more challenging question types in the reading comprehension section, students often “throw” their marks away by giving incomplete answers for 2-mark questions.
There are a few reasons why this happens. Students who make this mistake…
- answer in a hurry without referring to the passage closely and simply want to move on to the next question
- only respond to the first part of the question and completely forget about the second part
- do not give specific details, making their response vague.
So what can your child do?
- When encountering a question worth 2 marks, use “A” and “B” to label the two “parts” of the question.
For the final question which is often an “Agree” or “Disagree” question, followed by a “Support your answer with evidence from the passage”, answering part A alone will not get your child any marks.
Now that you know the common errors that cause children to lose marks in the Paper 2 examination, try out some of the suggested techniques above to help your child weed out these errors and face the Paper 2 Examination with confidence.
LiteracyPlus’ Enhancing English Language Skills (EELS) programme is carefully crafted to equip your child with the relevant grammar, vocabulary and reading comprehension skills to excel at the Paper 2 examination. For more information about our EELS programme, click here.
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