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Exam Tips for Listening

1. Spend your time wisely

Before the exam starts, there are a few minutes for you to check the q
uestion paper. You can also make use of the time to take a look at the q
uestions first to get the main points. This certainly enhances your unde
rstanding of the materials during the listening exam.

2. Be quick

All exam materials will be played ONCE only. Some candidates write do
wn key words or the first letter of some new words in order to rememb
er the main points of the speech. You have to make sure that you spell
out these words properly or write down all key words; if not, they will b
e merely scribble and useless to you.

3. Write legibly

Candidates have to use a pencil to write the answers. Remember to wri


te neatly and legibly even though you need to write fast.

4. Don't miss "units"

Every answer carries one mark no matter it is a long sentence or a sing


le word. Some answers need a unit such as "a.m.", "HK$" or "per year",
etc. Missing these units will score no marks.

5. Write in proper places

Write your answers in the appropriate places provided. If not, you may
lose marks.

6. Spelling and meaning

Don't misspell words which may change the meaning completely, for e
xample, "two kids" to "tool kit", and "glass" to "glasses".

Last minute preparation

Bring your tools such as a radio of good reception, and extra batteries,
pencils and rubber for backup.
Design your own set of abbreviations for taking notes in the exam, suc
h as ▲s for people (make sure you distinguish the singular and plural fo
rms).
Try past exam papers. Listen to the tapes again and again to read the q
uestions and answers. In this way, you can practise listening as well as
find out in which parts of the text may answers be usually found.
Keep calm during the exam. Don't waste time thinking of the answer to
a single question only. The exam materials will be played ONCE only. Yo
u have to fill in answers one after another. Therefore, it is better to skip
one which you do not know instead of giving up all the other questions.
A clear mind can certainly help you understand the questions, organize
the answers, write faster and listen better. Remember to have meals in
the morning and afternoon on the exam day. You will feel less nervous i
n the exam if you can practise watching or listeing to English TV or radi
o programmes a few days before the exam.
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Exam Tips for Writing

Writing is allocated 18% of the total subject mark. Candidates have to


write about 500 words on one of the 4 topics within 1 hour and 15 min
utes.

Marking scheme

The "Double Impression Marking" method is used to mark the exam pa


pers. Two markers will read candidates' articles. Based on the content
and grammar of the articles, markers will give an impression mark (the
highest is grade 9 and the lowest is grade 1). The average marks of the
two markers will be the final grade for the candidate. Grammar, senten
ce structure, vocabulary and organization play an important part, and c
andidates' English standard can be identified easily from these categori
es. It is hard to improve these areas overnight, but the following skills a
nd preparation may help you a bit.

Exam techniques

Each topic may include 2-3 parts. Read the topic carefully to make sure
that you understand all the requirements. You have to answer every pa
rt of the topic so as to get high marks.
Different types of articles have different formats and styles. Don't write
in the format of minutes of a meeting if the topic requires you to write
a letter. Remember to give a title if it is required.
Write your 500-word article in at least 5 paragraphs (6-7 will be better).
If the number of words is more than 500, then increase the number of
paragraphs in proportion. The ideas and content in each paragraph sho
uld be supported by sufficient and sound arguments.
Do not write less than 500 words or use idioms or stock phrases.
Illegible writing will give a poor impression to markers.
Remember to write down the question number. Write on every line. Do
not use real name, address or school name. It is a pity if you lose mark
s for breaking these basic rules.
Preparation

Set aside 1 hour and 15 minutes to practise on one past exam topic. Wi
thin the 75 minutes, study the topic, decide on the structure of your art
icle, and organize the content, without using the dictionary and messin
g around. Try to complete what you need to do in a real exam. If you pr
actise a few times in this way, you can minimize your exam pressure.
Analyse past exam topics, format and content requirements.
Formats

The following are the major formats of English writing. Learn their char
acteristics so as to minimize making mistakes.

Essay
Newspaper or Magazine Article
Letter to the Editor
Formal Letter
Informal Letter
Circular Letter
Proposal
Requirements of content

The topics are diversified, but candidates are expected to communicat


e the following. If you can master four or five of these, you can handle
most topics.

Major Communicative Functions

Expressing writer's opinions


Discussing other people's opinions
Describing/discussing trends, phenomena and problems
Giving recommendations/suggestions/advice
Outlining and discussing reasons/causes
Outlining and discussing effects (especially benefits and drawbacks)
Persuading
Arguing for/against an issue
Stating priorities