Preparing for your General Paper Exam
When preparing for the general paper, there are a few things that should stay at the forefront of your mind. The first and probably the most important point to note is that as outlined in the syllabus provided by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), the purpose of the exam is to test students’ ability to communicate. This exam encourages learners to show that they have mastered the English language with the use of critical thought and argument on a mature level.
Most students preparing to sit the general paper, whether it is in the first year or the second year will need to take some steps in preparing to take such a significant exam. While attending regular classes at junior college or at a centralised institute, some students may need additional help to ensure they are adequately prepared to sit the exam.
One of the first steps to preparing for the GP is to be well aware of what is going on around you. Read newspapers, magazines, follow news stories, without being aware of what is going on in your country and around the world it will be difficult to have an opinion.
But, knowing what is going on in your country and around the world is not enough, you actually need to understand the impact these issues are having and have an opinion on them. And in addition to having an opinion, more importantly, you need to be able to articulate your view. Share your opinion with the examiners, provide evidence to support both your stance and a differing one and then summarise it in the English language. Your ability to do this in a mature manner is some of the keys to performing well in your general paper.
Other Ways to Adequately Prepare for the General Paper
Being aware of current affairs can really only help you so much, as the general paper topics also draw on your knowledge from your other disciplines. As the name suggests the topics of the general paper can cover any topic under the sun while calling on you to use your knowledge from your other subjects.
As per the specifications of Cambridge International Examinations, the GP should cover some historical, economical, social, cultural and scientific topic, without actually testing the students’ knowledge on those subjects.
To further assist in preparing for the general paper, there are many tuition options that one can choose from. One of the other major options chosen is GP tuition. These tuition services can either be taken in a group based setting where students benefit from the group discussions on the various topics or one on one study sessions. The one on one sessions can either be home based or at a tuition centre.
In comparing and contrasting these preparation sessions, the group sessions allow students to test their ability to articulate their thoughts and views while also hearing others views and opinions on the same topic. In contrast, the one on one tutoring sessions allow for dedicated instruction to reaffirm any areas that are of concern to the student writing the exam.
Yet another way of preparing for the GP exam is with the use of previous exam papers and sample questions. With the past papers, especially those offered by CIE the marking scheme for the questions is also usually available. By practising these previously set questions, especially with a tutor, the student will get instruction on any weak areas that are observed.
The overall benefit of using tutors when preparing to take the general paper is that there are many available that are either currently or were previously teaching at a junior college. Fees for tutoring are found to depend on qualifications, experience and of course the kind of tutoring session being received.
When should you start preparing for the General Paper?
When preparing for any exam the sooner you start preparing the better. Especially when English is,not your first language, it is highly recommended that you start your preparations as soon as you start the course.
With English as a second language, the more time you give yourself to prepare the better. With the exam being a test of your ability to express yourself in English, you need to demonstrate that you can structure sentences with the use of the correct linguistic expressions. All of this should be done while you try to get your point across without confusing the examiner.
The great thing about the general paper is that by reading the same news papers and magazines needed to build your awareness of the issues in English, this would give you a good sense of the language. Watching YouTube videos can also assist you in this regard. But don’t think that you have to limit your reading and YouTube videos to just news and social issues, the more you read and watch in English the better. Therefore, you should read books and material on other subjects that are of interest to you.
At the end of the day, preparing for your general paper exam is a key step in your success. While there are steps that you can take on your own by building your awareness of various issues affect your country, region and the world, a lot of benefit can also be derived through the use GP tuition. Whatever the case, early preparation for the general paper will always be of great benefit to you.