Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tackling Paper Two

It is advisable to read all the options given before answering.

FROM this week on, we will look at the different sections in Paper Two. There are four sections in this paper and you are given a total of two hours and 15 minutes to complete it.

Section A, which comprises 15 multiple-choice questions, carries 15 marks. Section B consists of 10 questions and carries 10 marks. Section C has 10 comprehension questions which carry 10 marks and one summary question which carries 15 marks, while section D is devoted to the literature component and carries a total of 25 marks (five for the questions on the poem, five for the short story and 15 for the novel).

As with Paper One, good time management is crucial. I suggest you allocate time for the different sections as follows:

Section A - 10 minutes for the first eight questions, and 10 minutes for rational cloze

Section B - 15 minutes

Section C - 30 minutes for comprehension questions, and 40 minutes for the summary

Section D - 30 minutes

The first part of Section A comprises eight questions, which test a student’s understanding of various stimuli. The stimuli can be graphics or short texts, and usually come in the form of advertisements, notices or signs, memos, graphs or charts, short extracts (like news reports, book/movie reviews), instructions and even cartoon strips. Basically, the stimuli test the student’s comprehension ability at an elementary level. Remember, vocabulary is also tested here and not in the rational cloze. The stimuli given can vary from year to year.

Below is an analysis of the stimuli given over the past four years:

General guidelines

  • Always read the question first, not the stimulus. When you read the question first, you know what information to look for in the given stimulus.
  • Use key words in the question (also known as “stem”) to guide you. Highlight these key words so that you know what to focus on.
  • Highlight, or underline, the evidence you find in the extract to make sure your answer is correct.
  • Read all the options given. Do not jump at the first possible correct answer you see. Choose the option that best meets the needs of the question.
  • If you are unsure of the correct answer, use the elimination method by crossing out incorrect answers first.
  • Make educated guesses only as a last resort and never leave a question unanswered.

Let us now look at a few sample questions.

According to statistics from the automobile industry, sales of the locally-assembled Mycar, which had been steadily increasing for the first six months, plummeted by 1,000 units each month in July, August and September before slowly picking up again in October this year.

1. Which of the following graphs best represents the information in the text above?

In the question above, you need to be able to interpret the written information and translate it into the form of a graph. First, you need to know what “steadily increasing”, “plummeted” and “slowly picking up” mean. The word “steadily” means gradually and so the phrase “steadily increasing” means growing/rising gradually; “plummeted” means plunged/dropped; and “slowly picking up” means gradually improving. After analysing this information, you need to be able to understand what the given graphs mean.

Option A shows the sales increasing gradually, followed by a steep (sharp) increase. Obviously this is not the answer.

Option B shows the sales increase gradually, then fall suddenly before picking up again. Thus, B is also incorrect.

Option C is also incorrect as sales increase sharply, then plummet sharply, and then remain constant.

This leaves us with option D. Sales increase steadily, then drop steadily and pick up again after that. Thus option D is the best answer.

Sodium Intake. The Less the Better!

Too much sodium is bad for health. Most of the sodium we eat comes from the salt we add to our food. If you care for your health, follow these tips:

  • Avoid eating out. Restaurant meals and hawker fare are loaded with salt.
  • When shopping, look for food with low-salt options such as crackers and cereals.
  • While cooking, add salt at the end; you will put in less.

2. What is the aim of the above article?

A. To encourage people to consume less salt.

B. To encourage people to eat home-cooked food.

C. To inform people of the risk of too much salt intake.

D. To inform people that they have low-salt option foods.        

The above question requires you to identify the aim of the article. In this case, you need to read the whole article and ask yourself what its purpose is.

Option A is the obvious answer as the article tells you how you can reduce salt intake by following the three given tips.

Option B is incorrect. It is one of the tips given to help you reduce salt intake.

Option C is also incorrect as the article does not inform you of the risks involved in too much intake of salt. All you are told is that salt is bad for health.

Option D is also incorrect as this is not the overall aim of the article. Like Option B, this is one of the tips to help you reduce salt intake.

Let us see if you can answer the following questions.

Coming soon to Malaysia!
Sabro Pizza – we bring you authentic Italian pizzas

This much-awaited food chain is going to open 10 outlets throughout Malaysia, with the first two opening in the Klang Valley soon. Look out for more information in the coming weeks. Those interested in a career with Sabro Pizza chain, please contact Mike at 03-2424 6565.

3. Who would be interested in the above advertisement?

A. People who are keen on opening a Sabro Pizza outlet.

B. People who want to apply for jobs at Sabro Pizza outlets.

C. People who want to rent out business premises to Sabro Pizza.

D. People who are interested in learning how to make authentic Italian pizzas.

It is difficult to define old age because it does not have the same meaning in all societies. In some parts of the world, people are considered old when they retire or when they become grandparents. In others, they are seen as old when they have lived a certain number of years. In general, old age refers to ages nearing, or surpassing, the average life span of human beings.

4. The word “surpassing” as used in the extract above means

A. reaching 
B. following 
C. exceeding
D. approaching

5. What does the sign on the right say?

A. Smoking is prohibited here.
B. Smoking is permitted here.
C. Smoking is forbidden in this area.
D. Smoking is allowed with permission.

This novel by Anita Desai chronicles the lives of siblings born into a middleclass Indian family. Uma, the eldest, has to endure deprivation and suppression because she is a woman. Her brother, Arun, on the other hand, is doted upon. However, despite being pampered, Arun also suffers some form of deprivation in the United States where he goes to further his studies. Set across two cultures, this book describes the physical and emotional fasting and feasting.

6. According to the book review above, what is Fasting, Feasting about?

A. The troubles of a middle-class Indian family.

B. The suppression of and deprivation suffered by Indian women.

C. The exertion of power over those who are weak and helpless.

D. The physical and emotional deprivation of its two main characters.

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