Hello! How are you? I know that most of you are very busy preparing for the semestral assessments that are coming up in the next few weeks. I hope that you are taking care of yourself despite your busy schedules.
This week, I am going to give you five tips that will hopefully aid you in your English exam revision. I can almost see the look of surprise on your faces because my students often tell me, “What is there to revise for? Just go in and hope for the best!” whenever I tell them to revise for their English tests or exams. While there is some truth in what they say - English is unlike Science or History where you need to remember facts - there are still some things you can do before your test or exam. Below, I have listed 5 things you can do to prepare for an English paper:
1. Get your grammar groove on
Target Sections: Grammar MCQ, Grammar Cloze, Editing, Synthesis
English is not about knowing hard facts but playing by the rules, i.e. grammar rules. Since a large part of the paper tests your knowledge of grammar rules, make sure that you are up to the mark.
If you have any doubts (for example, is ‘police’ singular or plural?) you should clarify them early with your teacher or a trusted website such as English Grammar 101 (https://www.englishgrammar101.com/) or Learn English: British Council (https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar). There are also many books on the market which provide a comprehensive guide on grammar rules.
You can also make your own notes using a notebook or note cards. Write down the grammar rules, especially those that are tested often. If you have not been doing that or if you are short of time, we have already compiled 12 question types to know for grammar and you can download the summary to get started! Add on to the list during your revision. You can also accompany the rule with an example to remind you how the rule works. For instance, it can look something like this:
This makes revision easier as you can refer to these notes when you are trying out a past year paper and are stuck at a particular question.
2. Spell it right
Target Sections: Editing, Comprehension cloze
Another item you can revise for is spelling. Do you have the following?
- Spelling lists from your teacher
I am sure you have your spelling lists from your teachers and trust me, they have been thoughtfully put together to help you identify what you need to know to be prepared. Relook at the spelling lists your teacher has given and make an effort to run through them.
- List of words you are in the habit of misspelling
Good job if you already have been collecting words that you made mistakes in spelling. If you still have not done that, here is how you can put your own list of misspelled words together. Start by looking through the compositions you have written and pick out the misspelled words. The only way you can start making a change is first to be mindful of what to work on.
For more commonly misspelled words and other spelling rules, you can check out the Oxford Dictionary Spelling website (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/spelling).
3. Vocabulary va-va-voom!
Target Sections: Vocabulary MCQ, Visual Text Comprehension, Comprehension Cloze
This is probably one of the hardest areas to revise for as there are just so many words that can be tested! At this point of revision, what can be done? You may wish to revise according to the different types of words that can be tested e.g. idioms, phrasal verbs, adjectives, verbs etc. Knowing that the questions should cover different types of words, it may be a good idea to cover some words from each category.
Other than words for the vocabulary MCQ, it is important for you to remember words for visual text comprehension as well. Check out our list of essential visual text comprehension and familiarise yourself with them before going for your examination.
Lastly, you should know by now that even if two words have similar meaning, the way they are used depends very much on the words around them. For example, in “_____ by the rules”, we know that it cannot be “followed by the rules” because of “by”. Another word which has the same meaning and is often used with rules will be “abide by”. Try picking out these phrases as you plough through your practices. They may look like this:
These phrases are not dependent on the content of the story but are dependent on the words around them. Knowing them will definitely prepare you well for this section.
4.Straighten your sentence structure
Target Sections: Sentence synthesis, Open-ended Comprehension
Of course you will need to revise commonly tested sentence structures to prepare for the sentence synthesis section! Make sure to revise the different types of synthesis questions for instance, direct/ indirect speech rules, active and passive voice questions, either/ neither nor etc. Check out our shortlisted types of sentence synthesis question types and what to take note of if you are running out of time. These are the most popular question types to appear from our experience!
For the open-ended comprehension, are you aware of what makes a complete sentence and what does not? Do you know how you can avoid lifting? Be absolutely clear as a mistake on the wrong sentence structure is likely to cost you marks!
5. It’s all about technique
Target Sections: Vocabulary MCQ, Open-ended Comprehension
By now, you would have been taught the steps to answering most questions.
For instance, to answer the Vocabulary MCQ question, your teacher would have instructed you to read the question carefully before eliminating the incorrect answers using the content clues. You are then supposed to use language clues (if they are present) to help you choose the most appropriate option.
Click here to learn more about how to tackle the Vocabulary MCQ:
Another example is when answering comprehension questions. I am sure that by now you know that you need to identify the key words in the questions in order to help you locate the answers in the passage and let’s not forget to check your answers systematically too!
Ideally, you should have been practising these steps when you are doing the questions set by your teacher for class practice. However, it is also good to remind yourself of and go over these steps before the test or exam so that they are fresh in your mind. Even if you are completely stumped by the question, these steps may help you in arriving closer to the answer by helping you to eliminate the incorrect ones.
Thank you for reading this post. I hope you will consider these tips as you are revising for your exam. All the best and see you soon!
About the Author: Nora is an English Teacher at Lil' but Mighty. She is committed to providing students with a dynamic and nurturing environment in which they can grow and develop. One of her greatest strengths as an educator is instilling a love for the English Language in her students.