Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tackling Paper 2


For the past few weeks, we have been looking at writing essays for Paper 1. It is time to move on to Paper 2.  
The format is as follows: 
Section A: 
15 multiple-choice questions on stimuli and rational cloze. 
Section B: 
10 questions on information transfer. 
Section C:  
5 questions on reading comprehension and 1 summary writing. 
Section D:  
Literature component 
Poem: 1 question 
Short Story: 1 question 
Novel: 1 question 

You have two hours and 15 minutes for this paper and you are advised to spend 25 minutes for Section A (15 marks), 25 minutes for Section B (10 marks), 50 minutes for Section C (25 marks) and 35 minutes for Section D (25 marks).  

Since Section C and D carry the most marks, I would suggest that you tackle these two sections first before Section A and B. Students tend to spend too much time on Section A and B that they do not have time to answer the last sections well.  

So, budget your time carefully. Leave out the questions that you are not sure of and come back to them later. 

I will not be discussing Section A and B as these sections are quite easy and students usually do well in them.  

In Section C of Paper 2, students are required to answer 5 questions based on a passage of about 800 words. This is followed by a question on summary writing based on the same passage. 

This week, we shall look at the reading comprehension passage and the questions that follow.
Try the questions yourself first before you look at the answers for comparison. 
Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow. 

1. In my family, there was never any doubt in our minds as to who was in charge at home. Although my father was always around, my mother was the principal architect and engineer of our lives. From the day we were born, she had plans for each of us, and education was her top priority. 

2. My mother also knew that all her children would go to university. She did not want us to end up like the rest of the villagers who were content to run the family business or work in the nearby factories. From the beginning, she took what she thought were the necessary steps to make sure we got there. 

3. The first step she took was to put us in an English-medium school instead of the nearby Chinese school which the other villagers' children attended. Many of those children failed in their examinations or dropped out of school.  
We needed money to pay for transport, food and school fees in those days, and although money was hard to come by, she always managed. The villagers laughed at her. They thought that she was foolish for having such lofty dreams for us. 

4. While mother was illiterate, she made sure we attended school every day and we were not allowed to watch television after dinner. Instead, she made us sit at the long dining table with our homework or at least a book to read. She would thumb through our exercise books, frowning at each page that had a lot of errors.  

5. Apart from school, she also made sure we were involved in the various co-curricular activities organised by the school. She listened intently to us as we practised for our school story-telling competitions. 
She made sure we attended every camp organised by the Scouts and Girl Guides. She paid for our school trips to various towns and visits to organisations. I suspect that she had borrowed some money from our rich uncle to ensure that we never missed out on these activities. Looking back, those trips really opened up our minds and showed us another way of life.  

6. Mother also believed that if she became friends with the teachers, we would stand a greater chance of succeeding in our education. She made presents on Teacher’s Day for every teacher who taught her children. She would never tolerate any of our complaints about them. She believed that if a teacher disciplined us, then it must have been because we did something wrong. Mother actively participated in every single Parent Teacher Association meeting by giving constructive criticism and useful suggestions. When my sister and I were successful in our examinations, she cooked nasi kunyit for all the teachers. 

7. However, there was one thing which my mother did not do which the other parents in the school were pursuing relentlessly. They enrolled their children for piano lessons in the belief that it would give them an edge over others. Every free minute of their children's lives was filled with piano lessons. Mother believed differently. She made sure we had free time to play, so while my schoolmates were busy practising on their piano, , I was exploring the neighbourhood and playing childhood games with my peers and siblings. We enjoyed every minute of our childhood. 

8. Mother also believed that in order to succeed, we had to make do with what we had. Although other children had new watches and playthings she taught us to be content with even our old pencil cases. When I complained about my limited wardrobe, she told me to be thankful that I had clothes to wear. Her message to her children was to press on and look ahead regardless of failure, and in time, we would be able to achieve our goals, including being able to afford a nice wardrobe. The most amazing thing about my mother was her belief that each of her children would accomplish great things in life. She always reminded us that we deserved a better life than the one she had and that anything is possible. As a result of her belief in us, we strove to be better and have ended up being successful in our lives. Although all her children ended up with professional degrees and doctorates, Mother is the one with the PhD in life. 

QUESTIONS 26 – 30 

Answer all questions. You are advised to answer them in the order set. 

26. From paragraph 1, according to the writer, 
a) Who is the person in charge of the writer’s family?  
                      (1 mark) 
b) What was considered as the main priority in the family?  
                     (1 mark) 
27a) “From the beginning, she took what she thought were the necessary steps to make sure we got there.” What does the word “there” refer to?  
                     (1 mark) 
b) What was the first step the writer’s mother took?  
                     (1 mark) 
28. From the evidence in paragraph 3, give two reasons why her mother did not want the writer and her siblings to attend the Chinese school in their village.  
                     (2 marks) 
29. Describe the mother’s view on knowledge and education in your own words as described in paragraphs 4 and 5.  
                     (2 marks) 
30. What was the effect of the mother’s belief on her children?  
                     (2 marks) 


26 a. The writer’s mother. 
b. Education was considered the main priority. 
(This is a direct question which requires you to read for specific information. The answer can be lifted from the first paragraph.) 
27 a. The word ‘there’ refers to going to the university. 
b. She sent her children to an English-medium school. 
(Refer to the first line of the paragraph for the answer.) 
28. Her mother did not want to send her children to the Chinese-medium school in the village as many students had failed examinations and some had dropped out of school. 
(You will have to sift through the information in paragraph 3 for the two reasons. Remember to give two reasons to qualify for two marks.) 
29. Her mother believed that in order to be successful, one must be committed to pursuing knowledge and education relentlessly.  
(This question requires you to describe the mother’s view in your own words. Try as far as possible not to lift from the passage.) 
30. As a result of the mother’s belief in her children, they strove to be better and turned out to be positive and successful individuals. 
(The key word of the question is “effect” and the answer is found in the last paragraph.) 

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