Supporting academic learning by building an awareness and passion for the world around us

Help – I did badly in my mocks!

English as an examination subject is hugely taken for granted. Just because we speak the language, doesn’t mean that we know how to pass exams in it, especially as the skills tested are ones that we are not necessarily familiar with.

Students happily plough through hours of tuition and past paper banks for maths and science, but somehow feel that English will work itself out. They overlook that english language and literature account for two IGCSEs, just like co-ordinated science.

Twelve years of very intense teaching of hundreds of students has taught me many things – but mostly that NO SUBJECT can be mastered without an adequate input of time and effort.

Regarding English in particular, I have a few more pointers to add:

  • Students may speak english, but how much actual experience have you had writing essays and letters, and the most challenging – analysing literature. There is not enough time at school to fit in the practice needed.
  • There is a key syllabus change for English Language this year, leaving limited resources and teaching experience available out there to support you.
  • If any “writing” has been done, it is mostly in the form of typing. Sadly, English exams are still hand-written – so not much practice there either.
  • Students are not used to planning or physical writing, so time pressured exams, particularly English literature with 45 minutes per essay, are even more challenging.
  • In addition, as students these days gain most of their insight from Netflix, they are not used to reading at all; it is no wonder that Carol Anne Duffy’s poems or Romeo and Juliet provide little to interest or hold their attention


…beginning to sound challenging now, right? It;’s understandable why the mocks may not have gone as well as hoped. It’s not entirely your fault .. you just didn’t know then what you know now and will know in the future.

Mock exams are aimed to give students a practice run of the real thing, and more importantly to shake students out of their reverie.

English is probably one of the most challenging exams, because of all the above AND the fact that marking is mostly subjective. Mock exams are marked diligently , but do not comfort yourself in believing that they are marked more strictly than the real exams.The final exam marking in past years has not been generous either.

How can we fix this?

  • Accept mocks as the reality check you need
  • Seek help to understand how to make literature notes that actually serve to answer exam questions
  • Work backwards -Seek help to understand mark schemes and the strategies to score
  • Practice exams questions under  exam conditions; ensure these are marked with detailed feedback. You cannot self mark like you can for other subjects as marking is subjective
  • Make tables of all feedback and APPLY the feedback to improve with every practice
  • English is a time consuming subject as practice takes time. You will not receive the instant gratification that you get with Maths.


At Young Scholarz, we have taken many students from a D in the mocks to a final A* grade. With 12 years of teaching experience in Singapore, tried and tested methodology, teaching plans to ensure full coverage of course content, we can support you through regular weekly classes supplemented with specific literature workshops during the holidays.

We can definitely help you to improve your grades if you are willing to match our effort with yours.

Welcome to Grade 11 IB English – What to Expect and How Young Scholarz can help you

Grade 11 and 12 IB is an exciting time as you delve deeper into the subjects you are passionate about (despite the couple of SL’s you are not so keen on!) and move closer towards your journey to university. However, the transition from IGCSE is a daunting one, not only because of the sheer volume of course content but for english in particular, the in-year assessments amounting to 50-55% of the final grade can be very stressful. 

At Young Scholarz, our aim is to guide you through the IB english courses smoothly, as we have done for the last 12 years. Shared below are responses to frequently asked questions with some pointers on how to succeed and an idea of my approach to teaching IB English.

Will I benefit from IB English tuition and what will I be taught?

  • Yes – you will definitely benefit. May 2019 results were excellent with 99% of our students scoring grade 6 and above
  • We have consistently improved predicted grade by as many as 2 points
  • You will learn strategies and techniques for effective reading and writing 
  • You will learn how to approach the assessments and score well, assuring yourself of a higher end grade 
  • You will be taught exam strategy and given timed exam practice 
  • You will receive detailed feedback on essays
  • You will learn how to effectively make literature notes from the start of the course , which will save last minute panic for exams 


The final exams are in May 2022, do I need to start studying now?

  • Yes – In order to minimise last minute panic and regret, students need to strike a good balance between post- IGCSE cruising and committed hard work to achieve the desired grades. 
  • Students taking english at SL in particular tend to cruise through the first part of grade 11 and score poorly in the first set of exams and assessments 
  • APRIL 2020 exams are VERY IMPORTANT as they form part of your predicted grades for university
  • Many students underperform for these exams as they have taken the course too lightly 
  • Assessments for english form a minimum of 50% of your final grade – you need to ensure you score highly throughout the course. Aiming for high grades only at the end of grade 12 is stressful and also not always achievable as assessments already form a base level grade 


Do I need to come for class every week?

  • No – IB is a very intense course with many associated activities and commitments. Attending any class for weekly tuition is probably not required and unsustainable 
  • IB classes for english language and literature will be conducted as 4 week blocks, which will ensure that you have the appropriate skill set to tackle assessments
  • Workshops will be spread throughout grade 11 and 12, bearing in mind that grade 12 is particularly demanding with EE’s, TOK, final Internal Assessments (IA’s), SAT/ ACT/ LNAT. UKCAT, university applications and of course final exams 


Should I focus on my Higher Level subjects and come back to english before the exams?

  • No – Keep working at english (and other languages) steadily as these are difficult to revise close to exams 
  • Practicing languages through essay writing is time consuming and difficult to achieve near exams when you are under pressure 
  •  It’s important to receive on-going feedback to improve with each assessment


Will IB english classes help to improve my SAT/ ACT score?

  • Yes – Reading and analysing well will help to understand passages quickly
  • Brainstorming and essay planning skills will help you to write well if you choose that option 
  • However, to score well in SAT/ACT exams, effective strategy and techniques are essential 
  •  You will need to attend 4-6 specific strategy classes to see a marked improvement in english reading and writing scores 


I am doing english as a Standard Level subject- is the SL english grade important if I don’t plan to study english at university?

  • Yes-Being articulate in your writing will help you to write better university essays and personal statements that will support university applications
  • All IB grades contribute to your final score, which is important for entry to UK universities; you should aim to achieve well in all subjects to maximise your score 
  • Writing well will contribute to your Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and Extended Essay (EE) grades and hence your overall grade 


Are classes solo or Group?

  • Language and literature strategy and exam practice classes for IB are held in small groups 
  • Specific literature texts are studied solo or in small groups, depending on the range of texts being studied


When should I start attending classes ?

  • Blocks of 4 week classes for IB english will start mid October 2019
  • SAT/ACT classes have already started for the October and December sittings


Please do contact me for any further information.

[email protected]

+65 8228 1164