The ‘O’ Level Series: Conquering English Literature (Part 2)

Continuing from my last post, I will be sharing on the format of the English Literature ‘O’ Levels exam and strategies I used for exams.The exam consists of 2 papers: 2 questions must be answered in Paper 1 and 2 respectively. Each essay question is equal in weightage, at 25 marks.

For Paper 1, you are given 1 hr 40 mins. Spend 45 mins on the first question which will be a short adaption from your textbook, and the next 55 mins on the other. The 2nd question will be on an unseen prose or poem of your choice. You will need more time to read the passage, so cushion 10 mins for that. The tip is to focus purely on the unseen poem question when deciding between the prose or poem. I practiced extensively on poem questions for the unseen section and attempted that during the ‘O’ Level exam.

Despite poems being more complex than prose, it was easier for me to read poems as they contain lesser words in stanzas, plus poem lines are easier to quote during exams, which can save time. A disadvantage of doing the poem question is that it can be harder to interpret compared to prose. However, there are endless ways to interpret the poem, enabling you to gain more marks in the process. I believe this was the reason I stood out from the other students and the risk paid off!

In Paper 2, the time allocated is 1hr 30mins. On average, you will likely spend 45mins on each question. The questions will be from your textbook. In the first few minutes, you should have decided on the questions you are choosing to answer. In addition, you should also note your ideas in point form which will work as a guide to shape your essay in the next 1hr 30mins. I strongly recommend utilizing the essay techniques in Part 3 of the English Literature post!

Contributed by Andre


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