Why is it difficult to score in H1 GP?

The most common way that students prepare for General Paper is to try to i) read more and ii) memorise content. However, from my teaching experience, I found that this is not the best way to improve in the subject.

i) Read more

Many students have been told to read more, and so, they try to read the news as often as they can, and occasionally squeeze in that extra bit of time reading articles/commentaries they come across on Facebook.  But knowing what’s happening in the news and knowing how to use them effectively in making arguments are two different things.

ii) Memorise content

Many students also try to memorise case studies and examples as they think including them in their essays will help pull up their grades.  However, the merit of an argument is always assessed holistically; merely citing case studies and examples without sufficiently developing a cogent line of reasoning will not impress the examiners.

Without the right strategy, it may be more difficult to see efforts yield results.

What is the best strategy?

I noticed that many students struggle with GP, including those who used to easily score As for English in their secondary schools.  This is because GP is not primarily a test of one’s language proficiency; it is an assessment of one’s ability to i) analyse and synthesize information and ii) effectively articulate his/her positions on different local and global issues with cogent and well-balanced arguments.  I call these GP process skills.

The best strategy is to first, focus on developing these process skills, and then work on building up content knowledge and improving the language.  Many students do it the other way round and place the most emphasis on developing content knowledge and building up vocabulary.

Unlike content knowledge, it is usually difficult for a student to improve on his/her process skills without the help of a teacher or tutor.  I believe that developing GP process skills is a worthwhile investment.  These skills will not only enable students to better enjoy and do well in the subject, but also double up as important life skills that can guide them in making sense of themselves and the world beyond the classroom.

Do you need help to build up your GP process skills?

If you have been trying hard to improve your GP but have yet to see results, perhaps it is time to reevaluate your strategy. Feel free to arrange for a free consultation with us and we can work out an action plan which you can take active steps to target different areas of weaknesses.

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