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.