I guess English language is a major problem for many of the students out there. The best advice I can give is really to read a lot. Borrow books from the library, read the newspapers, magazines, etc. It would even be a great help if you can read the whole Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia series. Reading isn't boring, if you can get hold of these interesting stories to read. My favourite books which I used to read were the Sweet Valley series, books by Amy Tan, Sue Townsend, etc.

Throughout my years of tutoring and observations of other people, I found that many people do not have a good grasp of grammar. It is very important to get your grammar right because it forms the foundation of your mastery of the English language. If you can't even get your singular or plural, past or present tenses right, it would be tough to improve your writing and speaking skills. Hence, I place a great emphasis on grammar in my English lessons for my students. Get your basic grammar right, and you would have gotten most of your marks.

The additional marks are pretty much bonus points for your ability to express yourself in more "flowery" language. And to do that, brush up your vocab! This again, comes from reading a lot. While you are reading, have a pen and notebook by your side to take down any good phrases or words you come across in the book. Then in your next composition assignment, try to use these words or phrases in your writing. The more you use them, the better you will remember.

Tips for learning English

1. Improve your vocab! Learn 10 new words a day. Have a small notebook with you where you write down 10 new words you learn each day. You can get these words from the dictionary or whenever you encounter them in your reading. Learn the definitions, and try to use them in your next composition writing or in your conversations.

2. For other subjects like maths and chemistry, you need to practise, practise, practise. For English, you need to READ, READ, READ! Read English texts as often as you can. This could be the news, novels, or magazines. Choose an interesting text that is not too difficult for you. Try to note down good phrases that you can use in your next composition assignment.

3. Practise writing everyday! How about starting a journal where you can write about your daily life and your thoughts, your rants etc. Ten years down the road, you can read your journal again and look back on your past. It would be fun!

4. Study with friends. You can practice doing grammar exercises together and have English conversations together. Furthermore, as you study English together, you can help each other with questions you may not understand.

O Level English Exam tips form examiners

(source: http://neoenglishsystem.blogspot.com/2011/02/o-levels-english-tips-from-cambridge.html)

  1. If you find that reading over revision notes just before an exam relaxes you, feel free to do so, but be aware that in most cases it could make you more nervous; any new information is not normally absorbed at this stage.

  2. On the day of the exam, when you are told to turn the paper over, don't start writing until you have read the exam paper from cover to cover.

  3. Mark the topics you wish to answer and concentrate on them. You should have an idea of how much time you are going to spend on each question with the ones carrying the most marks getting the most allocated time.

  4. Remember that the exams are not set to trip you up, but are designed to allow you to show your knowledge of the specification. Be positive and have confidence in your ability.

  5. Take time to consider the question. Look at where the marks are to be gained and allocate time appropriately (and stick to it). Too many candidates spend too much time earning and re-earning small numbers of marks, thereby losing time for the heavier-tariff tasks. Remember, answering three questions fairly well is better than answering one very well and leaving two badly done. Underlining key words in the question may help to focus your mind and jog your memory.

  6. Structure your answers by making an answer plan; writing this down will help.

  7. Don't forget to refer back to the question to help ensure that you answer the question asked. The examiner can't give you marks for your knowledge and understanding of a topic if you don't answer the specific question properly, i.e. don't answer the question you wish you'd been asked rather that the question in front of you. Try and read your answer through before moving on to the next question.

  8. Concentrate on your punctuation, spelling and grammar. Remember that, whilst you will not be marked down for bad handwriting, if the examiner cannot read what you have said, then they can't give you the marks you deserve.

  9. Try and relax, and keep an eye on the clock without checking it every five minutes. You need to leave time to complete each question and to read through your answers before the end of the exam.

  10. Once you have finished the exam, don't worry about it and try to avoid comparing your answers with other students.

GCE Study Buddy: Sec 3, Sec 4, O Level free online revision notes and study guide