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Candidates' Performance

Section A

Listening Test

The 'Situation' for this year's paper was an arts club meeting at a local youth centre. Two respected arts
academics from overseas were invited to discuss with club members different attitudes to what art is, the meanings
of works of art and how the arts as a whole are seen as being good for people. Candidates had to make notes and
do various tasks based on a recording they made of the meeting and some visual materials that they were shown.
The paper contained a wide range of task types testing a variety of skills, including note-taking, picture
identification, sequencing, matching, picture drawing, prioritizing, true-or-false statements as well as identification
of speakers' feelings. Most markers felt that this year's paper was pitched at the right level and was successful in
discriminating between the stronger and weaker candidates.
The mean percentage correct for the 94 items in the test was 58.7%, while the standard deviation was 41.8%.
Candidates' performance
Again this year, many candidates wrote answers that bore no relation to the context. For example, in question 6
where candidates were asked to note down what the judge might see as differences between 'high' and 'low' art,
some candidates wrote 'for England people' as a feature of 'low art' when it should have been 'for ignorant people'.
Other common errors included 'beauty is suggestive' for 'beauty is subjective', 'art simulates creativity' for 'art
stimulates creativity', (high art is) 'lightening' for 'enlightening', 'the concept of piece is missing' for 'the concept
ofpeace is missing' and 'write own place' for 'write own plays'. All these examples indicate candidates' inability
to properly process what they had heard by relating it to the context of the situation and what they had heard
previously.
Many markers expressed frustration over poor spelling as always. The spelling mistakes 'destory' for 'destroy'
and 'creat' for 'create' persist this year, even though the Subject Reports in the past few years have drawn attention
to them. A lot of candidates were also unable to tell the difference in meanings between 'art' and 'arts' and thus
lost marks when they wrote 'space can be arts' and 'some artists are the work of arts'. Some candidates misspelt
the word 'collage' although it was spelt for them in the recording. Other commonly misspelt words include
'randam' for 'random', 'morden' for 'modem', 'emptyness' for 'emptiness', 'universial' for 'universal', 'humanlity'
for 'humanity', 'estim/estem' for 'esteem, 'violant' for 'violent' and 'apperciate' for 'appreciate'. Some of these
mistakes showed candidates do not seem to relate spelling to pronunciation.
Often candidates lose marks in the Listening Test either because they have failed to retrieve the necessary
information from the recording, or because the answers they provide are incomplete or inadequate. For example,
in question 3 where candidates were asked to explain why it is useful to discuss art, a lot of candidates failed to
provide appropriate pronouns and prepositions to make the meaning clear. They wrote variously 'people will
judge on likes and dislikes' or 'people will judge our likes and dislikes'. Only 0.3% of candidates actually
included the 'us' and the 'on' in the correct places to score a mark. Similarly, in the same question, if candidates
wrote 'society's attitude may affect your life' without specifying it was society's attitude 'to art' that was under
discussion, they failed to earn a mark. Hence the mean percentage correct for this item was a low 14%. Another
example showing the importance of vital information that cannot be omitted is question II. When offering an
explanation as to why the child's dove does not have meaning according to 'high art' believers, some candidates
wrote 'the child is following instructions' leaving out the words 'simply' or 'just', which serve to emphasize that the
picture is not a product of the child's creativity. Such incomplete answers cannot be awarded a mark and the mean
percentage correct of35.6 for this item reflected this.
In general, candidates performed quite well on the speaker's attitude questions when the emotions of the speaker
were more pronounced, on matching activities and the true/false questions. The items in the drawing exercise,
however, showed mean percentages hovering in the 30s, clearly reflecting the gap between candidates' receptive
and productive skills.
Parts of speech and verb forms were still a problem area. Answers containing such mistakes as '(it can't be)
randomly arrange', 'universally beauty', 'art stimulates creativities', 'there's no prove' and 'appeal 1\ the
imagination' were commonly found.
Last but not least, markers again expressed dissatisfaction with candidates' poor handwriting. Candidates are
reminded of the importance of writing clearly, as the markers cannot be expected to mark illegible or ambiguous
answers as correct.

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General comments and recommendations


According to the markers' reports, the two biggest problems that the candidates seemed to display were the lack of
consideration of the context and spelling. Candidates have to learn to take in the whole meaning of an utterance,
not only particular words or sounds. Candidates need to be trained to draw on their knowledge of the language
(such as parts of speech and word collocation), their knowledge of the world, as well as a degree of common sense
if they are to listen in a meaningful way. Simply doing practice papers is not sufficient to prepare students for the
Listening Test or for future work/further study. Below are points considered by the markers to be useful in
preparing for the Listening Test.
(a)

(b)
(c)
(d)
(e)

Candidates should seek more exposure to authentic English, especially on television, the radio and the
Internet. Such exposure can broaden candidates' general knowledge and keep them better informed of
current issues and a diversity of topics while practising their English listening skills at the same time.
Candidates should be exposed to a wider range of reading materials to enrich their vocabulary and help
themselves to process information more efficiently.
Candidates should pay more attention to spelling, sound discrimination, context and note-taking skills.
Candidates should make full use of the checking time to make sure that their answers make sense and are
legible.
On the part of teachers, some markers recommended more context-based dictations and the teaching of
phonics from junior forms to strengthen candidates' spelling ability. Teachers should also remind their
students of the importance of keeping their handwriting neat and erasing unwanted words completely.

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Section B

Writing

This paper requires candidates to write an essay of 500 words on one out of 4 discursive topics. Topics generally
concern current affairs, and local issues, as well as more general questions. This year the majority of markers
reported that two questions were especially appropriate as they both touch on candidates' experiences. Question 2
was deemed to be the 'most unsuitable' as most candidates who attempted the question failed to mention what the
project was about.
Table 1
The popularity of essay questions and general comments on performance
Question

Popularity

General Comments

Candidates were required to write an essay


with appropriate title stating whether they
should follow the wishes of their parents or be
guided by their friends when considering
university education. They also needed to
give three reasons to support their views.

48%

This was one of the two popular topics. For


A-level candidates, as this topic was highly
relevant to candidates' experience. However,
not many reasons given displayed maturity
and sophistication.

Candidates were required to write a proposal to


suggest a project the government and members
of the public might do together to create new
Three
opportunities for young people.
reasons to support views were also required.

10%

This was the second least popular topic,


perhaps because it required some thought
provoking answers and it did not seem to have
an immediate connection to candidates'
experience.

Candidates were required to write an essay


with a title to discuss views on the statement
'There is no place like home' with reference to
emigrating from their home country.

8%

This was the least popular topic, yet the better


candidates had some creative and interesting
ideas to share.

Candidates were required to write a letter to


the school newspaper describing the three most
important personal qualities or skills they think
the President of the Students' Union of their
school should have and giving reasons for their
choices.

34%

This was the other popular topic that attracted


candidates of all abilities. The popularity of
the question might be explained by the
relevance of the issue to candidates' school
life. The recent Chief Executive election
helped to provide many relevant examples.

Problems with individual questions:


Question I
If candidates wrote that they listened to parents, the usual answers were they would do it out of respect, or
because parents had lived longer and hence knew what to do, or parents always had their best interest in mind.
Those who chose not to take their parents' advice explained that they were not up-to-date with information on
university education, or parents did not have a chance to go to university, or they had no communication with
their parents because they worked late.
If candidates wrote they took their friends' guidance, the more common answers given were their friends were
faced with the same dilemma so they had better knowledge on which faculty or university would be better, or
friends knew them better than their parents.

Those for parents wrote about friends being too young to know much.

Those who wrote on listening to neither parents nor friends gave answers such as the need for independent
action and thoughts, or to follow their interests and consider their abilities.
Though contents were mostly relevant, there were a lot of uninspired and repetitive answers.
Some candidates thought the question was about whether or not to attend university.

Question 2
As noted above, this question did not attract many candidates.
answers and the concept of a project is difficult to grasp.

Perhaps the topic required more creative

Most off-topic essays were about problems facing young people in Hong Kong nowadays or general
government policies to give them help.

135

If a project was mentioned and name given, most candidates still did not give relevant details about the project,
or wrote on what the government and members of the public could do together to make improvements.

There were memorized essays on the plight of young people in Hong Kong.

Question 3

The problem candidates had with this question was that they did not discuss the statement with reference to
emigration.

Some candidates talked only about the merits or drawbacks of life in another country but made no reference to
the statement given.

Question 4

This was the most popular topic, and attracted candidates with a range of abilities.
highly relevant, most candidates' answers were more or less the same.

Even though content was

Examples using Henry Tang's illegal basement addition or the Chief Executive Donald Tsang's extravagant
expenses were used in many essays to illustrate honesty and integrity. Although these examples seemed
repetitive, they were still relevant ones to aid elaboration.

A small number of candidates wrote only on qualities of leaders in general with no reference to the election of
a President of the school's Student Union.

Language errors
The problem with pronoun agreement as exhibited in Question 1 was serious. The topic was 'When
considering your university education, should you ..... ' Most candidates used 'you', 'they', 'we' in one
sentence with total disregard for consistency in pronoun use.
Commonly-occurring language errors include plurals, subject-verb agreement, tense, parts of speech, sentence
structure, vocabulary, word order, word choice, etc.

Spelling errors were especially rampant, examples like 'furture' (for future), 'lawer' (for lawyer), 'honesy' (for
honesty), to name just a few.
Markers also commented on the use of inappropriate, overused, and wrongly-used stock phrases. These
included 'by no means', 'a rudimentary problem', 'myriads of choices', 'last but not the least', 'in my point of
view', 'it is no doubt', 'in contrary', 'it is ofparamount importance', 'it is crystal clear', 'be that as it may', 'it
is patently clear that', 'students are the future pillars of society', etc.

General comments and recommendations


Although this is the last year of the AS-Use of English examination, good writing ability is still required in the new
DSE writing paper. Students wishing to improve their writing ability are advised to read in English as widely as
they can, including not only textbooks, or tutorial materials, but also good newspapers, magazines, and novels.
They should also read the questions carefully before choosing a suitable one to answer. Mastering basic sentence
structure and practising spelling are two basic steps before learning to use a variety of sentence types and stronger
vocabularies.

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Section C

Reading and Language Systems

General comments
This year's paper consisted of97 items divided into two parts.
Part 1 -Reading comprehension:
"
1 reading passage

15 multiple-choice questions

Part 2 "
"
"
"
"

20 multiple-choice questions
11 multiple-choice questions
12 matching statements
18 open-ended questions
21 open-ended questions

Language systems:
Multiple-choice cloze
Theme cloze
Matching exercise
Summary cloze
Proofreading exercise

Each item was worth 1 mark. Items in Part 1 were worth 6% of the subject mark and items in Part 2 were worth
12% of the subject marie
The mean percentage correct for all of Section C was 52%. In the multiple-choice questions, candidates scored a
mean percentage correct of 54% compared to the open-ended section which had a mean percentage correct of 51%.

Part 1- Reading comprehension, Questions 1- 15


This part tests candidates' general reading skills. The reading passage was adapted from an article about
sustainable architecture and how one school is using its building as a model for green design and education.
Candidates achieved a mean percentage correct of 60% in this part of the paper. A selection of items will be
discussed below.
Item 4. This item tests information about the school's structural design:

The three-storey brick, steel and timber building will boast a soaring roof that will provide shade while allowing
for facades that connect the inside with the lush landscaped courtyard outside.
4.

According to paragraph 5, the school building will have which of the following features?
A.
B.
C.
D.

A three-storey building with a roof garden.


A steep roof that keeps sunlight away.*
A building constructed entirely of natural building materials.
Facades connecting the building's interior to an enclosed wildlife area.

(21%)
(22%)
(15%)
(41%)

22% of candidates were able to link 'soaring roof' and 'shade' with 'a steep roof that keeps sunlight away'. In
contrast, almost twice as many candidates (41 %) chose option D, possibly because the word, 'facades' appears both
in the text and in the distractor or they may not have understood the difference between 'a landscaped courtyard'
and 'an enclosed wildlife area'.
Item 8. This item tests a less common use of the word, 'bank'. In the text, 'banks' is used in reference to the
classrooms. Candidates were asked to choose which of the following definitions of 'bank' best fits the context
given the in passage:

' ... zoned air systems will provide conditioned air to 'banks' of classroom spaces'.
8.

The word 'bank' (in line 58) means ...


A.
B.
C.
D.

sloping raised land.


a large mass of clouds.
a row of similar things.*
a place used to store things for later use.

(8%)
(7%)
(28%)
(57%)

137

28% of candidates were able to infer that 'bank' describes the physical arrangement of the classrooms. However,
57% of candidates chose the definition 'a place to store things for later use', possibly misinterpreting 'bank' as
somewhere to store conditioned air.

Item 12. For this item, candidates need to compare the cost of building a green school and a conventional school.

It said green schools cost less than 2 per cent more than conventional schools to build and yet provide financial
benefits that are 20 times as large.
In other words, building a green school costs more than building a conventional school, but the difference in cost is
less than 2%. 44% of candidates choose the correct answer. However, 43% of candidates misread the text to mean
'a green school costs 2% less to build' and therefore chose option C.
12. According to research, the construction costs for green schools are ...

A.
B.
C.
D.

far higher than conventional schools.


slightly higher than conventional schools.*
slightly lower than conventional schools.
far lower than conventional schools.

(3%)
(44%)
(43%)
(10%)

Part 2 - Language Systems


Multiple-choice cloze, Questions 16-34
This exercise tests candidates' ability to identify the correct grammatical patterns and the meaning and appropriacy
oflexical items. The text was taken from an article which supports the use ofblogs and online diaries in the school
curriculum.
Candidates achieved a mean percentage correct of 59% on this part of the paper. A selection of items will be
discussed.
Item 18. This item tests tense which could be worked out by the time indicator 'Eighteen months later' located in
the sentence which follows the item:

'I _(18) _ a video podcast to entertain family and friends -just a little comedy series, ' he said. Eighteen months
later, 19-year-old Day boasts more than 30,000 subscribers ...
18. A.
B.

make
was made
c. was making*
D. was being made

(62%)
(6%)
(29%)
(2%)

'Eighteen months later' signals that the previous the event occurred in the past. However, 62% of candidates chose
the simple present tense, which suggests they may have read the sentence in isolation.
Item I 9. This item tests the use of a conjunction with almost half the number of candidates choosing the correct
conjunction, 'and'. However, over half the candidates thought a relative pronoun was missing (34% chose 'who'
while 22% chose 'which'). Some of these candidates may have been confused by the ellipsed subject, 'he'. The
use of relative clauses in place of simply adjoining clauses, particularly where the subject is a person, seems quite a
common error.

Eighteen months later, 19-year-old Day boasts more than 30,000 subscribers _(19)_ is one of Britain's most
popular YouTubers.
19. A.
B.

and*
but
C. who
D. which

(43%)
(0%)
(34%)
(22%)

138

Item 20. This item, testing vocabulary, proved challenging, even for strong candidates. 36% of candidates were
able to choose the correct answer, option A. However, an almost equal percentage of candidates chose option D
over option A.

Armed with cheap video cameras and the internet, a generation of youngsters is growing up _(20) _ with online
videos- and being failed by adults who are not paying proper attention _(2 1)_ this new medium.
20. A.
B.
C.
D.

publicizing
very public
very publicly*
with much publicity

(22%)
(0%)
(36%)
(35%)

While 'growing up with much publicity' is grammatical, publicity connotes special attention or promotion of
something to the general public as opposed to 'publicly' which means simply in view of the public. D is not a
correct description of how 'a generation of youngsters is growing up'. This item did not highly discriminate
between candidates, which suggests that both stronger and weaker candidates had difficulty distinguishing the
difference between 'publicity' and 'publically'.
Item 25. This item tests collocation. 35% of candidates were able to match the phrasal verb 'working out' with
'relationship'. 45% of candidates chose 'working for' while 16% choose 'working up'.

'Youngsters are _(25)_ their relationship to the outside world and forging an identity.'
25. A.
B.
C.
D.

working for
working out*
working to
working up

(45%)
(35%)
(4%)
(16%)

Item 34. This item also tests collocation. 26% of candidates were able to identify the correct verb that collocates
with creativity, and this item was one of the best discriminating items of this section.

She offered the example of the US President, Barack Obama, who, as a presidential candidate, saw intense interest
from young voters after he encouraged them to _(34) _ their creativity online, instead of simply dictating his ideas
to them.
34. A.
B.
C.
D.

exercise*
test
log on
practise

(26%)
(15%)
(24%)
(35%)

24 percent of the candidature who chose 'log on' might have been distracted by 'online', while 34 percent of
candidates chose 'practise'. Clearly, a majority of candidates were not familiar with this collocation.
Theme cloze, Questions 36-46
This exercise is a discourse completion activity which tests candidates' skills in identifying a coherent flow of ideas
and their ability to recognize the links between sentences and paragraphs. The theme of the text is about the 'braindrain', or shift of well-educated people from developing countries overseas, and the effects of remittances and
emigration on a developing country's economy.
Candidates achieved a mean percentage of 46% in this part of the paper. A selection of items will be discussed.
Item 36. This item tests whether candidates were able to identify the theme of the text. Almost one half of the
candidature was able to choose the correct answer.

These are the kind of workers that countries like Britain, Canada and Australia try to
(36)

A.
B.
C.
D.

avoid
attract*
promote
tum away

(30%)
(46%)
(13%)
(11%)

by using immigration rules that privilege college graduates.


139

Item 38. This item was placed at the start of a new paragraph, and it serves as a transition between the ideas in the
previous paragraph with the ideas in the next paragraph. Candidates need to comprehend the ideas in each
paragraph as well as how the ideas are linked. In this case, the writer was attempting to contrast the ideas.

They fear that it hurts their economies, depriving them of much-needed skilled workers who could have taught at
their universities, worked in their hospitals and come up with clever new products for their factories to make.
~

(38) A. This observation is well known and has been supported by many economists. (25%)
B. Some people have never doubted this belief.
(9%)
C. Many people currently support this analysis.
(II%)
D. Many people now question this point of view.*
(55%)

Several economists reckon that the brain-drain hypothesis fails to account for the effects of money sent home, for
the beneficial effects of returning migrants, and for the possibility that being able to migrate to greener pastures
induces people to get more education.
Item 43. This item tests candidates' ability to follow the development of an argument, namely that remittances more
than adequately cover the cost of education.

But a new study of remittances sent home by Ghanaian migrants suggests that on average they transfer enough
over their working lives to cover the amount spent on educating them several times over. The study finds that once
remittances are taken into account, the cost of education would have to be 5. 6 times the official figure to make it
(43)

A.
B.
C.
D.

a profitable venture
a losing proposition*
financially stable
financially lucrative

(37%)
(18%)
(25%)
(20%)

for Ghana.
The text used a negative argument to support its point of view which may have confused the majority of candidates,
who chose one of the distractors which expressed an affirmative argument.
Item 44. This items test candidates' ability to follow the flow and development of ideas. The main idea in this
paragraph is that college graduates suffer from higher unemployment rates compared to those with less education
because they are 'more demanding'. Candidates need to work out how migration may impact on these demands.

'Studies have found that unemployment rates among young people with college degrees ... are several multiples of
those among the poorly educated, perhaps because graduates are more demanding. Migration may lead to
(44)

A. a more productive pairing of people's skills and jobs.*


B. increased employment opportunities for unskilled workers.
C. increased difficulty for emigrants to find well-paid jobs.
D. fewer job opportunities for graduates.

(32%)
(31%)
(19%)
(12%)

A is the correct answer because there is no indication that the migrants are unskilled.
Item 46. This item requires candidates to choose which adverbial best summarizes the passage. 'Eventually'
encapsulates not only the idea of 'in the end', but also the idea of 'over a period of time'. The other adverbials do
not convey this more subtle meaning.
~

(46) A.
B.
C.
D.

Consequently,
In summary,
Eventually,*
To conclude,

(34%)
(6%)
(49%)
(12%)

migrants may return home, often with skills that would have been hard to pick up had they never gone abroad.
A is not the correct answer because the return of migrants with new skills is not a consequence of an increased
probability of completing secondary school.

140

Matching exercise, Questions 47-58


The exercise is designed to test candidates' ability to recognize cohesive devices and overall text organization.
Statements about the health benefits of exercise were taken from various sources and candidates had to match up
the correct pairing of statements.
Candidates achieved an average mean percentage correct of65% in this part ofthe paper which was the highest out
of the six sections in this paper. The items which posed the most problems for candidates were items 48 and 49.
The correct pairing with Item 48 was Statement G:

48.

Once you've got over worrying about looking daft or getting sweaty, think about all the positive reasons for
being physically active.

G.

Besides meeting new friends and getting a break from the stresses of life, you just might discover a talent you
never knew you had.

Some candidates incorrectly matched Item 48 with Statement L:


L.

It can help people with anxiety and depression, and might even prevent such problems from developing in the
first place.

The 'anxiety' and 'depression' in Statement L better corresponds with 'mental wellbeing' in Item 49:

49.

Physical activity can boost mental wellbeing and change your outlook on life.

In addition to the confusion between items 48 and 49 with Statements G and L, some candidates incorrectly paired
Statement L with Item 58:

58.

For some time now, it has been common knowledge that exercise is good for one's physical health.

Again, the benefits found in Statement L seem to fit well with Item 58. However, Statement J contrasts both the
time period ('for some time now' versus 'in recent years') and categories of health (physical versus mental health)
which makes Statement J fit best with Item 58.
J.

However, it has only been in recent years that the role of exercise in promoting mental healthy has attracted
a great deal of attention.

Summary cloze, Questions 59- 76


The summary cloze tests candidates' ability to paraphrase. Candidates read Version I of a text and then are
required to restore the main ideas in a gapped summary called Version 2. The passage used for the summary close
was a short excerpt adapted from a book by Alain de Botton titled, 'Status and Anxiety'.
Candidates achieved an average mean score of 37% in this part of the paper. Items for which less than 25% of the
candidates scored marks are briefly discussed with reference to acceptable answers and frequently observed
incorrect answers. ('Vl' refers to Version 1 of the text and 'V2' refers to Version 2 of the text.)
Item 61.
(Vl) a rise in the levels of status anxiety (concern about importance, achievement and income)
(V2) namely an (61) ______________ concern with prestige, achievement and salary.
Candidates had to paraphrase 'a rise in the levels of status anxiety'. Acceptable answers included 'increasing',
'increased', and 'escalating', and nouns with a similar meaning to 'a rise' but beginning with a vowel. Frequent
incorrect answer included 'ordinary', 'increasingly', 'important'.
Item 63.
(Vl) ... modern populations have nonetheless shown a remarkable capacity to feel that neither who they are nor
what they have is quite enough.

141

(V2) Modern Europeans still feel (63)


possessions ...

about their status and their

Candidates had to paraphrase 'neither who they are nor what they have is quite enough'. Acceptable answers must
contain the notion of 'inadequacy' and to connect with how people feel about their status, i.e. 'insecure', 'anxious'.
Common incorrect answers include 'insufficient', 'unsatisfied', 'worry'.
Item 65.
(VI) 'Such feelings of deprivation may seem less peculiar if we consider the psychology behind...
(V2) These feelings of deprivation may be better (65) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ if we consider the psychology
behind ...
The answer for this item could be less explicitly worked out, and candidates had to spend more time making more
complex inferences from text. Acceptable answers included 'understood', 'explained'. Some candidates used
incorrect forms of 'understood' such as 'understand', 'understandable', understanding' clearly not realizing that
modal passive form required a post participle. Another common mistake made was paraphrasing the meaning of
'less peculiar' with attempts such as 'nonpeculiar', 'inpeculiar' and 'unpeculiar'.
Item 67.
(VI) ... how prosperous we are in historical terms.
(V2) We live in a time of (67) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ and yet ...
Candidates had to transfer the 'prosperous' to 'prosperity'. Other acceptable answers included, 'wealth',
'affluence'. A frequent incorrect answer given was 'history' or an incorrect form of the word 'prosperity', such as
'prosper', 'prosperation', or an incorrect spelling of the word, 'prosperty'.
Item 75.
(VI) There are people whose enormous blessing leave us wholly untroubled, even as others' negligible advantages
become a source of relentless torment for us.
(V2) We are not bothered by millionaires and tycoons but by someone who has a (75) _ _ _ _ _ __
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ over us, ...
This item only required a simple transfer of the original text's plural noun 'negligible advantages' to version 2's
uncountable one. Common incorrect answer included 'relentless torment', or 'similar condition/situation'.
Proofreading exercise, Questions 77 - 97
This exercise tests candidates' ability to edit a text. The article was taken from a news report about a sailboat
constructed from recycled materials and its voyage across the Pacific Ocean in a bid to raise awareness of the perils
of plastic waste.
Candidates achieved a mean percentage correct of 47% for this part. Items for which less than 25% of candidates
scored marks are discussed below.

foot
Item 77. The crew of the Plastiki, a 60-(ooted catamaran
Many candidates crossed out the definite article, 'the' in front of 'Plastiki'. Some candidates changed 60-footed
to '60-foot~' or '60-feet'.

along !!during //on


Item 7 8. that weathered fierce storms among its 8, 000 nautical-mile
Some candidates changed 'nautical-mile' into 'nautical-miles' wrongly treating it as a noun instead of a compound
adjective. Another incorrect change was replacing 'weathered' with 'weathering', or inserting 'has/was' before
'weathered'.

threatening
Item 89. threatened the world's oceans. He then considered

142

A common incorrect correction made was to change 'oceans' to 'ocean' or world's to 'worlds'. The verb form of
'threatened' was also incorrectly modified to 'threaten' or 'threatens'.

includes
Item 96. sugar cane and cashews, but include other materials too.
A common attempt to amend the text was by replacing the conjunction 'but' with 'and' or 'also'. Another common
incorrect change was to replace 'include' with 'included'.

General comments and recommendations


Overall, Use of English Section C did well in discriminating between stronger and weaker candidates.
The open ended section of the paper proved to be somewhat easy for candidates with a mean percentage correct of
51% compared with 41% in 2011. The increase in the mean percentage score is likely due to the choice of topics
selected for this section. Exercise, health and conservation of the environment are topics which are familiar to most
candidates, and this might have reduced some of the cognitive reading load.
Candidates are encouraged to continue increasing their exposure to English Language in whatever ways possible.
Different forms of media or developing an interest through the medium of English may motivate the second
language Ieamer to improve their overall reading skills and appreciation for the language.

143

Section D

Oral English

The aim of this paper is to test the candidate's ability to speak in English. Candidates are required to give an
individual presentation and to take part in a small group discussion.
Norm referencing is used and the candidate's performance for each part is assessed on a seven-point scale ranging
from 1 (the weakest) to 7 (the strongest). The HKEAA's publication, Guidelines for Candidates, provides clear and
detailed information regarding the format of the oral examination and procedures involved.
Part 1: Individual Presentation
Candidates are given 10 minutes to prepare for both parts of the examination. Ideally, they should spend about 8
minutes of this time preparing for the Individual Presentation, and the other 2 minutes jotting down key ideas for
the Group Discussion. During the 8 minutes, they are expected to read a text of about 300 words, gain an
understanding of the gist of the reading passage and note down some key points that they can use for the
presentation.
Candidates should firstly acquire a comprehensive knowledge of the passage the presentation will be based on.
This will enable the candidate to present the information in a calm and confident manner. Unfortunately, it was
observed that some candidates started to jot down notes as soon as the start of the preparation period was
announced, without reading the passage first. As in previous years, it was also noted that some candidates copied
sentences or even large chunks of information indiscriminately from the original text, and then joined the points
with linking expressions. Both approaches proved disadvantageous as candidates failed to either demonstrate an
adequate understanding of the theme ofthe reading passage or inform their audience in a comprehensive manner.
At the other extreme, examiners noted several instances of candidates using only one or two points from the
original text, sometimes from the first paragraph, and supplementing their presentation with a lot of personal
opinions or information which was not directly relevant to the original text. It must be remembered that although a
thorough comprehension of the reading passage is not absolutely necessary, each paragraph consists of ideas that
generally contribute towards conveying the main theme of the text. It is expected, then, that a coherent, informative
presentation must include pertinent and important information from the text.
A noticeable number of candidates read from their notecards. Genuine eye contact is necessary for an effective
presentation and candidates who did not make adequate eye contact with their audience failed to communicate
successfully and lost marks for their presentation.
Candidates' inability to pronounce commonly used words accurately continued to feature prominently in examiner
feedback. Past reports have highlighted pronunciation errors and mispronounced words have been repeatedly
identified, but it appears that candidates have not paid attention to this important aspect and have ignored advice
given over the years.

General comments and recommendations


The observations in the above section have featured in previous reports as well. It is hence disappointing to note
that candidates continue to disregard advice given and resort to the same ineffective strategies. Candidates will be
well advised to note the feedback given and take into account the following recommendations.
Candidates must discern the underlying theme of the passage, identify the main and supporting ideas given in the
four paragraphs, and paraphrase the information given. While preparing, they should make legible notes which can
be referred to easily and use only keywords and brief phrases on the notecards to pre-empt the possibility of reading
out aloud and reducing eye contact. Information from the text and individual input, such as feelings, personal
opinions and background knowledge, should be incorporated in a coherent manner.
In terms of delivery, candidates should adopt a comfortable yet attentive posture, maintain eye contact and ensure
they communicate the gist of their reading passage in an appropriately paced manner, be natural yet maintain an
informative tone and pause at key points for emphasis. They can prepare for the examination by reading out aloud,
recording such sessions and evaluating them individually or with peers, to identify and improve on weaknesses.
Participation in public speaking events will enhance confidence and also contribute towards improved fluency.

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Part 2: Group Discussion


This part of the examination is a test of effective communication and interaction skills, and assessment focuses on
the range of vocabulary and structures, fluency, intelligibility, effective participation and interaction, and
meaningful contribution.
Candidates are given a situation and are asked to take part in a discussion with two or three other candidates. In
addition to the l 0 minute preparation time before the examination, they are given 2 additional minutes to think
about relevant information from their own and others' presentations as well as what they know about the topic
themselves for use during the discussion. No writing is allowed at this stage of the preparation.
This year, a noticeable number of candidates overused formulaic expressions such as "Let's begin the discussion.",
"Do you mind if I begin?", "What do you think?", "How about you?", "That's a good idea." and "Yes, I agree".
These expressions in themselves are not incorrect, but candidates need to ensure that the situation warrants their use.
Unfortunately when some candidates used these expressions, they were not only used inappropriately at times, but
also constituted the candidates' entire repertoire of the English language.
Some candidates appeared to be more concerned with delivering their points, which they had also written out on
their notecards, than listening and responding to what others had to say. This meant that they responded with
irrelevant points during the discussion because they were simply not genuinely listening. They either repeated the
points previously mentioned by other participants or if listening, summarized points without adding any ideas of
their own.
Some candidates who were unable to comprehend either the situation or the task at hand tended to repeat points that
they themselves raised in their presentations. Stronger candidates were able to supplement the information they
gathered from their own passages and that of their fellow group-mates. This showed that they not only were
listening to their fellow candidates' presentations, but they also had the ability to consolidate the points raised in the
different presentations with their own knowledge of the issue being discussed.

General comments and recommendations


As mentioned before, candidates should spend some time during the initial preparation stage, that is, prior to
entering the examination room (about 2 out of the 10 minutes), preparing for this part of the examination. After
noting down some points for the individual presentation, it is advised that candidates return to the part of the
notecard used for making notes for the group discussion and jot down any additional ideas that can be gathered
after reading the passage.
Candidates should listen attentively to others' input and respond appropriately. By making effective use of
information from their own and others' presentations and responding appropriately, they demonstrate awareness of
good conversational strategies and ensure that they do not merely repeat others' points. Candidates who can
support their points with relevant examples can engage their listeners' attention and make a favourable impression
on their examiners. In general, using the language on a regular basis and keeping oneself informed about current
affairs by watching TV, listening to the radio and reading the newspapers would benefit candidates immensely in
this part of the examination.
It must be remembered that oral English is not something that can be compartmentalized and separated from other
language learning activities. Rather, it extends over many situations throughout the school day. It is about the
improvement of social skills like conflict resolution and sharing of ideas. Candidates should, therefore, make use of
opportunities offered at school to cooperate in a small group, lead a discussion, and negotiate desired outcomes
with peers. There are a range of events that happen on a daily basis at school and outside where motivated learners
can use and improve their oral English. To conclude, good communication skills and language skills can be
developed with constant practice and use, and can be empowering.

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Section E

Practical Skills for Work &

In this year's paper, candidates had to assume the role of an employee at an arts fair company. They were asked to
complete two writing tasks: to write a 400-word project description and a 300-word information email. Candidates
had a variety of texts from which to select information to complete the tasks.
Task 1
In Task 1, candidates were required to write a 400-word project description to be included in a grant application
form. They were instructed to cover the following information about the project: the company background, the
company goals, project objectives, project outline, other added attractions and benefits of the project.
The Data File included a variety of texts for this task: an email, minutes from a meeting, a radio transcript, a news
article, an online forum and a venue layout.
Apart from the ability to comprehend the source information, locate relevant content points and interpret and
present them in order to fulfill the task requirements, this task also assessed candidates' ability to write accurately
and to organize the project description using a tone and style appropriate for the purpose.
Candidates' mean score for this task was around 47%, slightly highly than that for Task 2 which was around 40%.
There follows a discussion of candidates' performance in the different aspects of the task.
Content points
There proved to be a wide range of item difficulty in this task. Around 93% of candidates were awarded a point for
the easiest item in the task (item 1.15). In contrast, slightly over 9% were awarded a point for item 1.31. Among
the six sections that candidates needed to include in this task, candidates were most successful in items related to
'Company background and activities' (around 48%- 72%) and 'Added attractions' (around 46%- 76% apart from
less than 10% for 1.21 ). Among the five source texts which provide the actual content points, candidates seemed to
have more difficulty in accessing the online forum page.
Among the 32 content points, 11 items simply required candidates to locate, comprehend and incorporate
information into their own writing. Of those 11 items, five were characterized as including explicitly stated
information. The majority of candidates included these points. Three other items, where the information was still
stated explicitly but where synonyms were used, were included by around half the candidates. The remaining three
points appeared in the Data File in the online forum page and only around 40% of the candidates included these
explicitly stated points.
Around 20 of the content points required some interpretation of the source data. In these items, candidates needed
to incorporate the information into their own writing by adapting the language. Six of these items were
successfully included by at least half of the candidates. As expected, more candidates managed to gain points for
those items which were well contextualized and explained in the source texts. For instance, 1.23 and 1.24 are both
related to examples of additional attractions. They were introduced as a successful experience from another fair.
Candidates were told explicitly that these attractions would also be included in the project being proposed. Over
60% of candidates included these points. However, five content points were successfully included by less than
25% of candidates (1.8, 1.12, 1.20, 1.21, and 1.31 ). The information in these items was more embedded or required
more thorough reading. The difficulty encountered by candidates in these items may also be related to the text type
of the source information. For instance, 1.8 is included in the online forum page. Only just over 19% of candidates
received a point for this item.
Two of the most difficult content points ( 1.21 and 1.31) required them to interpret and synthesize information.
These points did not have explicit signposting words and required a fuller comprehension of the Data File and the
task requirements.
Coherence and cohesion
The same detailed scale for this aspect of performance used in previous years was again adopted in order to
facilitate the discrimination between candidates.
The mark distribution for Coherence and cohesion was as follows: 0 marks around 26%; 1 mark-around 49%; 2
marks-around 23%; 3 marks-around 4%.

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.1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .-

A total of little over 27% of the candidates were judged to have used more sophisticated cohesive devices
accurately in making their project description reader friendly. Examples of such devices were the use of clear
headings or topic sentences to introduce the different sections and the use of integrated connectives, advance
labeling, substitution and general nouns instead of mostly non-integrated connectives as practised by weaker
candidates. Only around 4 % of candidates were judged to have used a range of cohesive devices successfully and
accurately. Performance of the stronger and the weaker groups can be demonstrated in the examples below.
Stronger candidates used a range of methods to link the ideas in their report correctly.

'Handi Handy Hong Kong (HHHK) is a community arts and crafts fair promoter which was
established in 2008. Our company was set up by a local Hong Kong fashion designer, Josie Kwan and an
Australian artist, Macey Revelle. Apart from Hong Kong, HHHK also has its branches in Sydney,
Shanghai and Singapore. The activities that are involved in the company include holding art fairs, music
festivals and school visits, etc. For example, HHHK has held the Teenage Jewellery Fair in Tai Wo Hau
in Hong Kong.
Our company's goal is to give the local community of artists and designers space and opportunity
to present what they can do. This has been achieved through holding various art fairs in the local
community. The other objective of our company is to try to educate school children in Hong Kong. This
has been done by visiting primary schools and to offer art workshops to raise the students' awareness
about art. Apart from the above objectives, providing chances for local unknown and unjinanced artists to
develop is another aim of our company. HHHK has set up the Moon's Milk studio in San Po Kong and
free booking for the space for artists.'
Weaker candidates used mostly non-integrated connectives and section headings.

'Goals o(HHHK
Handi Handy wants to hold an event for both amateur artists to display their creations next to
each other on an equal footing. So it will hold similar large scale fairs in Hong Kong, Singapore and
Shanghai.
HHHK as one of the branches, wants to give the local community of artists and designers space
and opportunity to present what they can do. So HHHK is going to hold the HKCEC in June.
Also, HHHK aims to educate Hong Kong School children by going round primary schools and
offering art workshops to raise their awareness about art.
Main objectives o[the (air
The first objective of the fair is to make ... Also, to give them a chance to appreciate ....
Another objective is to help local artists to establish their name and products around Hong Kong.
Moreover, the fair wants to get visitors and local people top go and see what Hong Kong can do
in the way of art work. Also, to give .... '
Grammatical Range and Accuracy
Candidates were assessed on their ability to manipulate source texts to create grammatically correct sentences
through a wide variety of language adaptation/paraphrasing strategies. Such strategies included changing tenses,
changing pronouns and the regrouping of points. The mark distribution for Grammatical range and accuracy is as
follows: 0 marks- around 20%; 1 mark- around 52%; 2 marks-around 25%; 3 marks-around 4%. Around 52% of the
candidates adapted the language simply by changing the tense and/or pronouns. The texts these candidates
produced were, however, characterized by numerous errors. Around 27% of the candidates wrote generally
accurately and used complex sentences when adapting. Only around 4% of the candidates were judged to have
written highly accurately.
The following example shows how a stronger candidate manipulated phrases from the Data File (underlined) to
create grammatically correct sentences through the use of a variety of language adaptation.

'Different workshops like letting people learn to paint on fabrics and jewellery-making will be held.
Clothes. jewellery and ceramic work, like bowls and vases will be sold at the Fair. Apart from the
workshops and stalls, we would invite local singer songwriters to perform for us.'
Though most scripts were intelligible, markers observed that many candidates made mistakes at the basic level.
Common errors include number agreement, subject-verb agreement, tense and verb form. Two pieces of
candidates' work are included here to demonstrate two levels of weak performance.
The first is an example of a candidate who sometimes adapted phrases from the Data File to create grammatically
correct sentences though the text is characterized by errors.
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'In addition, there are added attractions that will encourage people to come to the [air. There will be
some performance, such as the fire-eaters, the gymnasts cartwheeling and doing all sorts o[weired things.
We also had workshops where kids can learn to juggle. We have other workshops which is people
learning to paint on fabrics. There is also jewellery-making workshop. There is local singer songwriters
singing on a stage. '
The second is an example of a candidate who used little of his/her own language and lifted chunks from the original
texts. The comprehensibility of the text is undermined because of this.

'At the HKCEC fair, we had performance from the usual crowd favourites, the fire-eaters, the
gymnasts cartwheeling and doing all sorts o[weird thing. We had people learning to paint on fabrics.
And we also had workshops where kids could learn to juggle. That will be the added attractions.'
Appropriacy
A reasonably formal, informative and professional document was required for this task in order to create a positive
impression for government officials reading the company's proposal. Only 9% of candidates were judged to have
maintained a consistent tone and style. Around 38% the candidates showed very little awareness of the need to
adapt the tone or style of the Data File materials to create an appropriate text and instead included phrases with an
inappropriate tone. These included 'happen to wander around the area', 'doing all sorts of weird things' and 'lots
of smiling happy face'. Some scripts included inappropriate openings, e.g. 'I am writing on behalf of Handi Handy
Hong Kong (HHHK), which was ... '; and endings that directly ask for the funding, e.g. 'Please support us with
funding'. Some candidates provided a complimentary close and signature as if it were a letter.
Relevance
Less than a third of the candidates managed to include only relevant information. Those candidates who were not
awarded a mark for relevance included excessive detail, which often undermined the effectiveness of the writing.
The task was to compile a brief project description. However, many candidates included details like delivery times
of the fair, a detailed description of the venue layout and names of the food vendors thus showing little concern for
the audience for the document or the document's purpose.

Task2
Candidates' mean score for the whole task was around 40%. This would seem to indicate that this task was slightly
more challenging than Task 1 for most candidates.
In this task, candidates were asked to write an email to provide information to sellers who were going to take part in
the fair described in Task l. The Data File included a variety of texts for this task: emails, minutes of a meeting, an
extract from a terms and conditions document and an extract from a web page. To fulfill the task requirement,
candidates needed to locate relevant information and write the email using Plain English. Candidates were told to
organize the email using two major headings: before the day of the fair and on the day of the fair. They were
reminded to include a section on useful things to bring, and to reiterate the loss and theft of goods policy.
Content points
The percentage of candidates who were awarded a point for related content points in this task ranged from over
68% for item 2.22 to around 11% for item 2.5.
Apart from locating the information, candidates needed to be able to categorize and synthesize the information and
then use Plain English to prepare the email. The task proved to be extremely successful in discriminating
candidates who could employ and manipulate the correct language to complete it. Over 60% of the candidates
managed to get points 2.4, 2.12, 2.17, 2.18, 2.22. However, less than 15% managed to get points 2.5, 2.8 and 2.19.
As we have seen in Task 1, the less demanding it was to adapt information from source texts, the better candidates
managed and vice versa.
Content points for which the majority of candidates were awarded a point were those that simply required them to
locate the information. The more challenging items were content points that required candidates to interpret the
located information and have a concrete understanding of the relevance of the source information in relation to the
completion of the task.

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For instance, only around 13% of candidates were awarded the point for item 2.8 although many more had actually
located the point.
Source information: 'The sellers unloading their products was an absolute nightmare. We had this big
traffic jam to deal with and half the stalls didn't open on time. I'd say they should be
there an hour and a half before the opening time.'
Content point: 'vehicles should be there at latest by 8.30 or l.Shrs before opening'
A stronger candidate's work: 'As the fair will open to customers at lOam, please be at the venue at 8.30am
because it takes a lot of time to unload the products. '
A weaker candidate's work: 'You should be there an hour and half before the opening time'
The first content point (2.1) assessed if candidates were able to include an appropriate email subject, a skill not well
mastered by candidates in previous years. An appropriate subject illustrates candidates' understanding of the
purpose of the task and who their target audience is. Only around 36% ofthe candidates were awarded a point for
this item. Stronger candidates included subjects which were receiver-friendly, thus informing them of the overall
purpose of the email. However, weaker candidates either included an inappropriate heading, covering only part of
the content of the email, or did not include a heading at all.
Examples from stronger candidates:

'Information about the HKCEC Fair', 'Things to be notedfor the HKCEC Fair'
Examples from weaker candidates:

'What to do before and during the fair', 'To-do list for the Opera house fair'
Appropriacy- Tone and Style
One key skill assessed in this task was the ability to adapt the language from source texts written for other purposes
to compile an email using Plain English. For that reason this aspect of performance was weighted heavily in this
task, with 6 points being awarded. This area had also proved to be a weakness of many candidates in previous
years.
Candidates were asked to write an email to be sent to sellers who had rented fair stalls from their company.
Stronger candidates adopted a friendly but assertive tone. They built a link between themselves and the receivers
by thanking the sellers for signing up to the fair or stating the purpose of the email or introducing themselves at the
beginning of the email. They also used 'we' and 'you', active verbs, softening devices and simple imperatives
when listing the guidelines. Weaker candidates tended to copy information from the Data File without making
sufficient effort to write in the correct tone. Some parts of weaker candidates' emails were so inappropriate that
they may have offended or annoyed the receiver if they had sent it in a real life situation.
To fulfill the task requirements, candidates were required to adopt a style consistent with the given advice.
Stronger candidates used concise language, bullet points, section headings and everyday but not overly informal
language. Weaker candidates usually used a similar layout but they either used over-official or over-informal
phrases lifted from the Data File.
The examples below illustrate the appropriacy-related performance of stronger and weaker candidates.
A stronger candidate's work:

'Dear Sellers,
Thank you for taking up a stall in our upcoming fair held in the Hong Kong Covnention and Exhibition
Centre (HKCEC). The dates of the fair are confirmed as 2-3 June, 2012 (Saturday and Sunday), starting
at I Oam and ending at 8pm. The following are information about what to do before and during the fair.
Before the Day o(the Fair
011
The venue is available for delivery and pick up of goods from 6:30am to 9pm on both days, and you
need a Vehicle Permit to do so. You can apply for one from our website before May 15 2012.
011
We can provide electricity sources at your stall. Ifyou need one, you should submit your request to us
before May 15 2012.
011
We will be sending you an e-mail on the day before the fair (June 1 2012) with the weather forecast
for the weekend. Please remember to check your e-mail then.

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On the Day ofthe Fair


Before Opening

Please arrive at 6.30am on the day of the fair, and be set up and ready by 9.30am.

If you are using vehicles for delivering your goods, please do not leave your vehicles in the loading
area. Otherwise, these vehicles will be towed away.

Please do not bring children to the fair. Ifyou have to, please keep them at your watch at all times.
Useful Things to Bring
A floor length cloth or similar for covering the table
e
Stationery items
e

Drinks are not required as free water/tea/coffee is provided all day.


We hope to see you on the day of the fair. Please contact us for further assistances.
Regards,
Sammy Yip
Handi Handy Hong Kong
A weaker candidate's work:

'Dear all,
Please all ofyou should know following information:
- All stalls must look well presented It is the responsibility of the stallholder to cover the table with a
floor length cloth or similar.
In the unlikely event of the fair being cancelled owing to circumstances beyond the control of our
company, such as inclement weather, requests for the refunding of rental charges will not be
entertained
All fair staff (including the sellers) are provide free water/tea/coffee all day.
Owing to health and safety issues, stallholders are advised not to bring your children.
Stationery such as pens, paper clips, post-its, drawing pin etc. will not be provided by our company.
During the aforesaid period, a Vehicle Permit is required for loading and unloading of goods.
Electricity for use at the stall shall be supplied to stallholders upon request:
All requests should be summited to our company for prior approval on or before May 15 to be
confirmed by our company.
This big traffic jam to cope with and half the stalls didn't open on time. They should be there an hour
and a half before the opening time.
- You should check your em ails the day before.
- You should bring plastic bags and bubblewrap and name card.

Ifyou have any problem, please contact me.


Best regards,
Sammy Yip'
Grammatical Range and Accuracy
Another skill assessed was the adaptation of language from source texts written for different purposes in an
accurately written information email. Around 26% of the candidates successfully manipulated phrases from the
Data File to create grammatically correct sentences while 24% of candidates were found to have used little of their
own language throughout and so were awarded 0 points for Grammatical range and accuracy. The majority of the
candidates, around 54%, adapted the language simply by changing the word order and using active verbs. However,
weaker candidates' texts were characterized by numerous errors.
Examples showing the differences in candidates' performance:
Source information (2.11 ): 'All stalls must look well presented. It is the responsibility of the stallholder to
cover the table with a floor length cloth or similar.'
Stronger candidates' work:
'Useful things to bring: -A floor length cloth or similar for covering the table. '
'Cover the table with a full length cloth. '
'Bring a floor length cloth to cover the table. '

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.....................................................

Weaker candidates' work:


'All stalls must cover the table with a floor length cloth or similar. '
'During the fair, please look well presented. It is_sellers responsibility to sellers cover the table with
a floor length cloth or similar. '
'All stalls must look well presented. It is the responsibility ofthe stallholder to cover the table with a
floor length cloth or similar. '
Coherence and cohesion
Around 39% of the candidates were judged to have created a coherent text. The conceptual links in these
candidates' work between clauses and sentences were made clear giving the impression of a coherent text within
each section. The examples above included under Appropriacy - Tone and Style demonstrate also the coherence
and cohesion performance of a strong candidate and a weak one respectively.
Relevance
To make the email reader friendly, candidates needed to include content points selectively. Over 61% of candidates
included irrelevant information such as under what conditions bookings would be rejected, the fact that there was
no refund if the fair was cancelled due to bad weather, names of colleagues working in Singapore, and examples of
previous incidents. Less than 39% of candidates demonstrated that they understood clearly the purpose of the task
and included only relevant information in their emails.

Overall comments and suggestions:


Section E of the Use of English paper assesses candidates' language ability in completing work- and study-related
tasks. These are multi-faceted tasks in which candidates are judged on different aspects of their language use.
These judgments include understanding the task instructions, analyzing the needs of the audience, understanding
the source data and presenting the writing accurately and coherently according to the requirements. This year, less
than 5% of all candidates were judged to have manipulated the source texts successfully and to have written highly
accurately. This may reflect the general need for training on language accuracy and range, vocabulary building,
and paraphrasing. Candidates' performance in writing with an appropriate tone demonstrates the need for exposure
to a wider range of text types. The following summarizes some suggestions from markers based on candidates'
performance in Section E.
Understanding the purpose of the writing tasks
The writing tasks were designed to assess if candidates were capable of achieving a particular communication
purpose through their writing. To do this, candidates were required to spend time on analyzing the task instructions
instead of simply locating answers for reading comprehension questions. When reading a text, they were required
to identify the target audience and appreciate the tone adopted so that they could apply the same skills in their own
writing. They needed to master the use of formal and informal language so that the correct language can be
adopted for the right purpose.
Grammatical accuracy and range
To be ready for further studies and work, Secondary 7 graduates' writing should be characterized by a wide range
of sentence structures, complex noun phrases and accurate constructions in order for them to present their ideas
precisely and effectively. Basic errors like spelling, subject-verb agreement, verb tense and word form are not
acceptable. Candidates are encouraged to practise writing in English in a variety of styles and registers to improve
the accuracy and the complexity of their language use.
Paraphrasing and reading comprehension
Candidates should work on increasing their range of synonyms, near synonyms and antonyms to enhance their
paraphrasing skills. Improving candidates' syntactic complexity and mastery of noun structures may also be useful
to their development of paraphrasing skills. Successful paraphrasing also relies on effective reading comprehension.
The development of this skill is a long-term one and candidates should engage in meaningful reading tasks on a
regular basis.
Coherence and cohesion
Candidates need to appreciate from authentic texts that the coherence of a text is not achieved by mechanically
stringing ideas together using non-integrated connectives like 'firstly', secondly' or 'in addition'. Candidates are
encouraged to draft an outline of the main content points before writing and then apply sophisticated cohesion
methods to present the text in a reader-friendly manner.
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