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Last minute tips for General Paper students

This last minute tip is for those who are sitting for General Paper exams this October. These are the most basic and most common things which students should know. Most of the students can significantly improve their grade by taking care of some simple matters. You don't need to be complex in your answers. Writing simple error free sentences is better than writing complex sentences with errors. And writing simple words carefully is much better than writing complex words haphazardly and without knowing what it means.

Most students have the concept that writing complex words will give the impression of having a good vocabulary. This is not true. Is the word "axerophthol" better than "pen" for example? We can't compare things this way. Here, both words are nouns and they have their own importance. When you have to mean "pen" you can't say "axerophthol"; you can only say "pen" and nothing else. So, good vocabulary means appropriate use of words to communicate your ideas effectively.

My one sentence suggestion for the matters discussed above: Be simple, clear and precise with whatever you write. Below are some dos and don'ts for you before and while at exam.

Just Before Exam

  1. I suggest you to read a good sample essay to set a good mood.

  2. Be calm and relieve yourself from any kind of worries and try not to be nervous.

  3. Reach the exam centre in time.

  4. Be optimistic and hopeful. Only think that whatever you do will be fine according to your preparation and capacity.

  5. The importance of facts are over-hyped and since most of the students lack them they are worried that they won't do well. However, the most important thing in your General Paper is your "argument/opinion" also called thesis. Facts and examples are two tools which help you to make your essays more persuasive, i.e., convincing.  While the examples are greatly welcomed, what you should understand is that you may not have appropriate examples for all the questions. Same rule applies to the facts. So, even if you don't know much of them you can get good grades through your good reasoning and analytical skills.

At Exam Hall

  1. Listen to the instructions carefully. You will probably get question paper before the time actually begins and you are not expected to read questions before the time starts.

  2. After you are given instructions that you can see the question paper. Read the instructions carefully and read the questions carefully.

  3. Select two questions appropriate for you from two different sections.

  4. Do not hesitate to brainstorm ideas and make notes prior to answering the questions. This will help you save time too. I have come to know recently that these kinds of attempts from students are welcomed by Cambridge examiners (yes, from the examiner report I discussed in my earlier posts).

  5. Don't fall in love with the beautiful paper you get in the exams (I was so careful not to make it look dirty because of the beautiful paper; I am an artist too and I appreciate anything which is beautiful). You don't even need to worry of losing marks by making your paper dirty.

  6. Similarly, don't hesitate to edit and correct your answers after you complete writing both essays. That way you'll save marks wherever you had made a mistake due to writing in haste and carelessness. If you have the habit of making unconscious mistakes while writing, then you should not forget to check your copies at least once.

  7. Most of the students have a tendency to leave the exam hall immediately after completing their answers. I advise you not to do so. Even if you have checked your copies once don't leave the hall. Better check your copies twice or thrice.

  8. Make sure that you have numbered the question you are answering.

  9. Also make sure to cross the rough works, if any, before handing in your papers

With all these tips I would like to say best of luck to you for your exams. I hope you all will pass your exams with good grades.


  1. thanku for such a rapid reply to the msg i left on fb. the paper i will give will be 1 hour and 15mins long. i hve decided to divide my time like this
    30 mins for braintorming and hence setting up the basic structure of the essay.
    40 mins for articulation.
    5 mins for checking.
    i found that cie people have allocated very less time for this paper while comprehension paper has a longer duration. do u think my time managing is good?

  2. Your time management looks fine. However, you must make a complete outline of your whole essay in those 30 minutes of brainstorming. That means after brainstorming you should have a clear overview of your entire essay and you should have mentally finalized it within this stage.

  3. Thanks a lot. I am also appearing general paper exams tomorrow and I'm kinda nervous. Your tips are really helpful.

  4. Please don't be nervous and Good Luck for your exams.

  5. Do we need to cross out our plans too before handing the paper in??

  6. I think you should cross-out any kind of rough works, such as brainstorming or planning. That is because crossing out does not affect your scores, however, not crossing out can confuse the examiners.

  7. Appearing GP exam/8004/12 in exactly 3 hrs so thank you so much.

  8. hope you reply to this soon !!
    I've been wondering ...Can we make some notes like brainstorming the data related to the topic or vocabulary ... in our answer sheets ??
    should we erase it after finishing our essay ??

  9. Of course, you can make notes and do rough works in your answer sheets.

    About erasing it, I think that it is not necessary but crossing the rough works and notes will make it easier for the copy examiners to check your answer sheet. In short, I would recommend you to cross the rough works but it is optional.

  10. How to know which type of essay is in question

  11. Hello
    Should we submit our rough work along with the final essay ?
    And also i would like to know which structure is most preferred by examiners? The traditional pattern whereby advantages and disadvantages are separate or the billinear pattern consisting of a mix of the two ?

    1. You don't need to submit the rough work. Brainstorming is fine, but not necessary.

      There is no specific preference of examiners. Your paragraph construction should be logical. It depends from topic to topic, regarding, which pattern better suits the essay, rather than generalising the whole concept. Hope you got the answer! :)


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