Intentional Learning: Reading More is “Useless”
One piece of common advice given by teachers to students is to “read more” so that their English language skills have improved. Some students will wonder why reading more has not brought their grades to the level they expect them to be. Before going into the meat of this article, it is important to note that this does not mean that students should not read.
This article argues that reading is the bare minimum that a student should do to master the English language. However, merely reading or reading in a non-intentional way will not be the whole solution to scoring well for your English exams. There are more ways students can improve themselves in their English capabilities than by just reading.
Reading alone will not help the student if they do not practice writing or answering comprehension questions. Doing past year papers is a tried-and-tested method to score well in any subject, as getting used to the examination format is highly important to get good grades. English is no different than any other subject, and practice makes perfect.
For example, doing many practice papers for Paper 2 will ensure that students have the requisite confidence and exposure to tackle their actual exams. The student’s mental state is highly important in determining their results, as a confident and well-prepared student will be able to calmly answer the questions in a timed setting, as opposed to a student who has not prepared.
Furthermore, writing essays require a lot of practice, and Paper 1 composition and situational writing questions will have an infinite number of scenarios to be answered. Although students may think that it is an impossible task to prepare for any scenario in an essay, practicing certain styles of writing will help students practice their grammar, vocabulary and sentence structure.
Time management is an extremely important skill as some students tend to write slowly, which may cause them to run out of time during the exam. At times, students may struggle with writing quickly and neatly. This may cause them to lose marks unnecessarily when their writing is not clear enough for the examiner to read. Moreover, running out of time may cause the student to have a weak conclusion as they would not have had enough time to wrap it up.
For any subject, relying on other people’s notes is not ideal for any student, as the best method is to make your own notes. To realise your full potential, it is important to write your own notes. These notes which are written on your own must be organised so that your revision is more streamlined. Messy and unorganised notes will make the student more confused, as they will not be able to find the information they need in time. Students can use colour codes or separate their notes by chapters to make full use of their revision time and save them a headache.
It would be a good start to note down important information said by your teachers in school as a good starting point to finding out what you need to know. Firstly, students need to know what they do not know, and then start by filling in the gaps in their knowledge. Sometimes, students may not be paying attention in class, and will miss some key information their teachers are trying to impart to them.
Many students do not have the habit of organising their notes properly by reorganising and compartmentalising them. Students should learn how to partition their notes neatly, with clear headers for every topic and bullet points to help separate information. Students who do best by remembering chunks of continuous prose can write in prose, but at times, bullet points and shorter sentences may help the student remember their content better.
Writing out model answers by hand may help students get into the feel of the appropriate writing style for different types of essays. When writing these model essays out, students will take the opportunity to read slowly and digest the information they get from these essays, and will be able to use this information in the real exam questions. Writing out sample answers to comprehension questions will also help students write their answers with the proper grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary, which can be useful preparation for the actual examinations.
Every student should write their own notes because it will not only make their revision much easier, but students will absorb information better when they have written it down themselves in the structure that they are most familiar with. These notes are something every student should be proud of, as it is a marker of their hard work and perseverance when studying English.
Many students merely skim the pages when reading, and do not take their time in digesting the information and the way something is written. This is the wrong way to go about reading to improve your grades. Students must read intentionally and effectively (and read the right materials) to improve their marks for their English exams.
Students need to be disciplined and read things which will help them score well, and not just anything they find interesting, such as game guides or fictional books which add little substance. Educational materials such as newspapers or well-written articles about current affairs will be far more beneficial than fiction series such as The Hunger Games, as students will be able to learn more about how the world around them works.
If students encounter words that they do not know when reading effectively, they should jot them down in a notebook, along with the definitions they have found of these words online. Students should practice using these words in sentences, so that they can include them in their compositions in future. Students could also cut out useful articles or bookmark them if they are reading online, so that they can go back to these materials for future reference and inspiration.
These are only some of the many alternatives that students can use to improve their English language grades. Students should not be disheartened if they are reading more and yet their grades have not improved, as perhaps they merely need to change their approach to reading and studying the English language to achieve true mastery of it.
At WR!TERS@WORK, we are committed to providing the smoothest learning experience for your child sitting for their English exams at both primary and secondary school levels. With our carefully curated methods of teaching English for PSLE, O Levels, and A Levels, your child will be able to identify the answers to the questions and present them in a concise manner in no time.
English is a compulsory subject that has direct impact on your chances of advancing to upper secondary. Overall, English tuition and writing courses can help primary school students enjoy a smoother transition between education levels by reinforcing their language skills and providing a strong foundation for academic success.
Engaging in English tuition and writing courses can greatly assist students in smoothly transitioning between education levels. These programs reinforce their language skills and establish a solid foundation for academic achievement. For more exam tips, parents and students can explore our website and watch our YouTube videos.
If you are interested in our primary English tuition and secondary English tuition in Singapore, WR!TERS@WORK has expanded to 8 convenient locations. To find the nearest location that suits your needs, please explore our options. If you have any inquiries regarding our range of programs or class schedules, please feel free to contact WR!TERS@WORK.
1. How do you write a good secondary school essay?
Firstly, you need a strong introduction which engages the audience. Secondly, you need appropriate content which is balanced on both sides if you are making an argument for and against something. Lastly, your conclusion must be synthesised and weigh the benefits or disadvantages of the essay subject, or provide another viewpoint about the topic.
2. How do you structure an English essay?
Firstly, you need a good hook as an introductory paragraph. Next, the body of content follows, which will answer the essay question provided. Lastly, a strong conclusion which “comes down on one side” is needed.
3. What is a good paragraph starter?
It depends on the essay. For narrative writing, the student can start in media res. For argumentative essays or discursive essays, a thesis statement is needed which outlines the central tenet of your argument.
4. What should you not do in an essay?
You should not ramble with run-on sentences in an essay. Furthermore, students should always answer the essay question and not address points which are unrelated. Good grammar and vocabulary, along with robust sentence structure, is a must.
5. What makes a bad essay?
A bad essay will not deal with the subject matter it is being asked for. Moreover, a bad essay will fail to drive home the central point, be it a good plot, or arguments posed on either side based on the essay topic. Moreover, a bad essay will contain many grammatical errors, spelling errors, and will have a limited range of vocabulary.
6. What is the hardest part of an essay?
Planning the essay is the hardest part of the essay. Students need to figure out what content to put in the essay and how it is structured, as well as the examples to bolster their argument.
7. What are the common essay writing mistakes?
Firstly, not reading and answering the question is a cardinal mistake made by many students. Students should write the essay which is being asked of them instead of writing the essay they want to write, whether it is based on another model essay they have encountered in the past or a question the student thinks is easier to answer than the real essay question.
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