Before taking a major watershed examination like the O-Levels, it’s vital that students have exposure to the exam format. And that’s not just for Secondary 4 students. Secondary 1, 2 and 3 students too have to be familiar with the O-Level English format, for the simple reason that the school examinations at the lower levels are all derivative of the O-Level English format.
So why exactly is familiarising oneself with the exam format important?

1. Time Management An exam gauges a student’s ability to answer a set of questions within a stipulated time limit. Being familiar with the test format allows students to manage their time effectively during an exam, so that they can allocate resources in a manner that is commensurate with the mark weightings. This is especially important for the O-Level English Paper 2, where the Summary section requires ample time to plan and write.

2. Efficient Preparation Being familiar with the exam format allows students to be smart when it comes to investing time and effort when they prepare for exams. Having a good grasp of what is always tested, commonly tested, or never tested enables students to zoom in on what will actually make a difference to their scores. For example, for the O-Level English paper, since Reading Aloud is no longer tested for Oral, students can spend their time on other aspects of the paper.
3. Reduces Anxiety & Renews Confidence Knowing that to expect reduces anxiety and stress levels. Students will be less likely to panic or feel overwhelmed if they know what’s coming. Removing this emotional stressor will heighten their performance in an exam. In light of the latest O-Level English exam format changes, this is a worry for many students. Being comfortable with the structure and expectations of an exam is a great confidence booster.
4. Avoids Surprises Being familiar with the exam format helps students avoid surprises during the exam. Students will know what types of questions to expect, how they are presented, and how they should be answered, which reduces the likelihood of losing marks unnecessarily.
Want to know what the O-Level English format will be like from this year onwards?
Check out SEAB’s website, where they’ve posted specimen papers for O-Level English that are based on the revised 2023 format.
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