Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Guidelines for General Paper Students

Here are some guidelines for you to perform better in General Paper:

1. Visit CIE Website Regularly

Visit the official website of Cambridge University regularly. Download the available resourse materials such as syllabus, past papers, mark schemes and examiner reports from the students section. In the same way, conduct research in the internet on the topics mentioned in the syllabus and read.

2. Study the syllabus carefully

Your syllabus contains the list of topics that are supposed to be asked in the examinations. Similarly, by reading the syllabus, you will know what CIE expects in General Paper from the students. Click on the links below to download the syllabus.
Syllabus of General Paper 8001
Choose this syllabus if you are appearing for the paper with 1 essay and 1 comprehension passage. This paper is only available in November Session.

Syllabus of General Paper 8004
Choose this if you are appearing for the paper with both (2) essays.

Note: Although the topics are similar, please make sure that you know your examination paper whether it is 8001 or 8004. It would be easier for you to remember whether you will appear for 2 essays, or 1 essay and 1 comprehension passage.

3. Study Past Papers, Mark Schemes and Examiner Reports

Past papers, mark schemes and examiner reports can provide you a complete overview of what General Paper is and what it is not. If you want to secure good grades in GP then you should study these resources very carefully.

Past papers will orient you with the type and the pattern of the questions that will be asked in the examinations. Most of the mark schemes will provide you with the list of points that were expected from the students to be discussed on each question. So, if you find this kind of mark scheme (I have found that some mark schemes do not have the answers) then even a single mark scheme will provide you with the ideas to answer at least 15 (or 12 if syllabus is of GP 8001) questions. So, start hunting for them now.

Similarly the examiner reports inform you about what was expected from students, in an exam, and what was achieved in reality. They contain the list of common errors that students make due to carelessness or lack of time, and how some students saved themselves from losing marks by editing the essay before submitting. Therefore, these resources are gold mines, from where you can harvest gold as much as you desire. If you can harvest more, you'll definitely get A Grade in your exams.

I have covered these topics in detail in the following posts:

4. Search for more Resources

The internet is a great resource for General Paper students and it should be utilized to the optimum. There are many sites which can provide different types of information useful for the General Paper students like, contents, facts, grammatical rules, sample GP essays and many more. You should visit such sites regularly and read their contents. This will help you get more ideas on how to write better essays and how to improve your writing skills and so on.

5. Some useful sites for General Paper

This site contains a lot of GP essays and is worth visiting because you get many essays to read and most of them are from the past papers. However, those essays are exceedingly long in length and you shouldn't write your essays that long. I had strictly sticked to a 6 paragraph essay format and that got me "b" and I recommend you also to write 6 or 7 paragraph essay. You should not exceed 9 to 10 paragraphs, thus discussing 7 to 8 ideas at maximum according to the "one idea one paragraph rule".

This blog contains some useful articles for GP students and hence, I recommend you to visit this blog and get more ideas about the what, how and why of General Paper.

A Level Help Desk

This site is developed jointly by my seniors and friends, and it contains various information related to GP as well as other A level subjects. However, note that this site is not GP specific.


  1. i really dont know gp.. :(

  2. Hi Bhavish,

    GP is a subject which makes you capable to formulate your opinions in a logical and convincing manner. It is a multidisciplinary subject with no curriculum of its own. It is all about reasoning and developing your own philosophy about the matters of this world. It is all about being aware and conscious in the matters which are the concerns of everyone.

    You are welcomed to join our facebook page at

    There you'll get updates regularly about what to read, how to read and how to prepare for your examinations.