I’m a 17 year old male student from Sweden who started ‘learning’ English as a subject when I was 13. I took my IGCSE of English Language Higher Tier in June 2009, and I got top grade.
I am telling you this because someone once told me, that only Native speakers will do well in their English exams. I beg to differ.
When I started my 2 year IGCSE course, I had no idea how to properly structure an essay, I didn’t know how to write a introduction, and I didn’t know how to properly ‘ read a poem ‘ that my Teacher kept going on about.
If you’re reading this, I am taking for granted that you are a GCSE or IGCSE student who is having a few doubts about their techniques for the higher tier English. The truth I can give you is simply that it’s easy… once you know what to do. And even then, what you have to do is not much at all.
You see, the best way of learning how to do something, is by seeing other peoples work. What I mean is: if it’s problems writing an essay you’re having, then simply read many top grade, and lower grade essays. Compare them, WHY did this one get a top grade, WHAT did the A* one do differently from the C grade one? Doing this will help you get a better understanding on what your essays must include in order to receive the higher grades
Here are a few tips that should help you with your Higher Tier English.
Tip 1: Make a plan for your question.
One huge mistake, everyone does at first is, they look at the question, and immediately start answering it. If you do this, you will run out of steam, and you might accidentally write yourself into a corner; meaning that you’ll be stuck. This is not a good thing. It can easily be avoided, simply by taking 5 minutes from the time you’re given, and write a plan.
The plan should be very simple, and look however you want them to look. (i.e Mind Maps, Fishbone diagram, bullet points, etc.)
In my plans, I write WHAT the question is asking me to talk about (what am I answering), WHAT can I talk about (this is the trickiest part: its all the stuff you did in and outside of class. Yes, that’s right, there was a POINT to those lessons.) I do this step in simple bullet point. Finally, I give each bullet point a number, from least important to most important. The bullet points marked as the most important should be those you can talk the most about. You do this because you don’t want to end up in a scenario where you run out of time, and the only things you’ve written about are things you’re not even that sure of. Put your strong points in first.
Tip 2: Write the introduction after you’ve written the body.
Leave your introduction to last: after all, how can you say what your essay includes if you haven’t written it yet?
Tip 3: Make sure you know what’s in each of the 3 parts of the essay.
Just remember: in the introduction you write what you are going to talk about (reciting the question is a good idea, i.e In this essay I will talk about,) in the body, you elaborate on what you said in the introduction. In the conclusion you go back to the introduction, and write, in short, what you wrote in the body.
Tip 4: Don’t Panic
The absolute worst thing you can do to yourself is panic. If you panic, you send your brain into shock, making it very difficult to remember anything that you’ve learned.
Tip 5: Be Confident and Believe in yourself
I can’t stress this enough! Obviously you’ve got good enough English for this course, or else your teacher would’ve advised you against taking it. Confidence boosts your self-esteem. You are more likely to get a better grade if you believe you can do it, then If you doubt you’ll even get a E.
Simply believe in yourself, and try your hardest, and the results will reflect on your hard work. The grades should mean nothing. You need to ask yourself if you’ve done all you can for this, and the answer should be yes.