The ICSE PAPER - 1 (ENGLISH LANGUAGE) essentially tests a candidate's fundamentals in linguistic learning. The secret to excelling in this paper is regular practice, a conscious acquaintance with the English language, reading beyond the prescribed textbooks and most importantly, approaching English as a language and not as a subject.
To bring you the best in terms of expert tips for preparing for this crucial paper, we spoke to Mr Anirban Roy, Headmaster of DPS Megacity. Here’s what you must do, according to Mr Roy, to have a confident and assured approach to the ICSE 2023 PAPER - 1 (ENGLISH LANGUAGE).
1) Practise basic grammar on a regular basis, just as you practise Mathematics. In other words, go through the exercises given in more than one practice workbook, multiple times. Some key focus areas that helps you to gain mastery in the language would be:
- Direct and Indirect Speech
- Degrees of Comparison
- Types of Sentences
- Transformation of Sentences
2) You must be having an English Newspaper coming to your house every day, Spend some time in reading it every day. This will help you refine your expression and expand your vocabulary.
3) Consciously converse in English whenever possible, particularly when in school.
4) Besides newspapers, develop a taste in reading in other forms as well.
5) Make yourself write on random topics so that writing also becomes a habit. Maintain an exercise book separately for that.
And now let’s take a look at the…
ICSE Question Paper 2023 - Paper 1 (English Language) Format
QUESTION 1: COMPOSITION
The first question comprises a composition of about 300-350 words. You will be given a choice between the following for this question:
1) Story writing
2) Descriptive Composition
3) Argumentative Composition
4) Narrative Composition
5) Picture Composition
Scoring well in this question depends on how well you are able to understand what the examiners are looking for. And Mr Roy outlines the following things to keep in mind when preparing for the five different types of composition.
1) STORY WRITING
Each story is expected to have the following components and marks might be deducted if any are missed out:
2) DESCRIPTIVE COMPOSITION
Descriptive essays utilise the power of the five senses. The candidate is expected to ‘show’ us through the vivid use of language instead of merely tells us, for example, what the sunrise on the hills is like. What ‘show, don’t tell’ essentially means is that instead of describing or summarising a scene or a situation, you try and convey what the 5 senses would feel in that situation. This usually means prioritising action, thoughts ans feelings over mere descriptions.
3) ARGUMENTATIVE COMPOSITION
When attempting an Argumentative Composition, you you will be expected to establish the following through your answer:
a) Which side of the argument you are arguing for.
b) Why you took your initial position.
c) Factual substantiation to support your points.
d) A few counter arguments or the other sides of the issue.
e) A clear Conclusion.
4) NARRATIVE COMPOSITION
There is a lot of information out there about how to crack this, but the two essential points that Mr Roy highlights are :
a)Writing from the first-person perspective
b) Keep the readers at the centre of the plot
5) PICTURE COMPOSITION
This is a section where you must study the picture thoroughly before planning out your composition. The central idea conveyed in the picture should be at the heart of your essay. Ensure that you maintain the connection with the given picture.
Mr Anirban Roy, headmaster of DPS Megacity Source: Anirban Roy
QUESTION 2: LETTER WRITING
For this question, you will be given a choice between a formal and an informal letter. Suggestions regarding the content are usually provided for both options.
This question carries 10 marks and to score the maximum, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Pay special attention to the vocabulary. The words and sentence construction you use should be appropriate to the topic you select - the formal one or the informal one.
Marks are specially reserved for the layout so ensure you include all the key sections that are a part of the layout, irrespective of whether you think they are necessary or not. These are:
- Sender’s address
- Date in the correct format
- Receiver’s address (in case of formal letter)
- Subject (in case of formal letter)
- Body of the letter
- Complimentary closing
- Your name
A Formal letter should ideally have three distinct paragraphs.
QUESTION 3: NOTICE AND EMAIL
For this 5-mark question, you will be given a specific situation, based on which you will have to:
a) Write the text for a Notice based on the given directions, or
b) Write an email with the same content as the notice.
Tips for Notice Writing.
When writing the Notice, please make sure that the following queries are well answered:
a) By whom has the meeting been called?
b) Who is making the announcement?
c) Specific Date and Time
d) Who is meant to attend the meeting?
On the other hand, if you attempt the Email, please keep the following in mind:
1) The tone needs to be formal.
2)Use clear and simple language in conveying the message.
3) Must avoid short forms or SMS vocabulary and spelling.
4) Traditional rules of punctuation are to be maintained
The marks distribution for Email is as follows:
1) To (address): 1/2
2) Subject: 1/2
3) Salutation: 1/2
4) Opening and closing sentence: 1/2 + 1/2
5) Subscription: 1/2
6) Expression: 2
QUESTION 4: COMPREHENSION
This question consists of an unseen prose passage of 450 words where uncommon items of vocabulary, or structure will be avoided. Here is the structure for this section:
- 1 Question to test vocabulary. You will need to show an understanding of the words/ phrases in the context in which they have been used. This will carry 3 Marks.
- 5 questions requiring short answers will based on the passage. These questions will test your ability to comprehend the explicit content and organisation of the passage and to infer information, intention and attitude from it. These will together be worth 9 Marks.
- 1 summary question that will test your ability to distinguish main ideas from supporting details and to extract salient points to rewrite them in the form of a summary. The question will include clear indications of what they are to summarise. The Summary needs to be written in not more than 50 words and is worth 8 Marks.
A few tips to keep in mind, according to Mr Roy:
- A Rough draft of the Summary always helps you to edit and eradicate linguistic irregularities and present a more precise summary in the Fair Draft.
- I've always emphasised the need to start the English Language Paper with the Comprehension Question. In fact, a substantial part of the 15 minutes of Compulsory Reading time needs to be utilised in reading the unseen passage and planning out the responses. Effectively, it adds on to the 2 hours of response time to the entire paper.
- Moreover, reading and planning the responses will help you to beat the nervousness or the sluggishness and prepare the mind for a more accelerated functioning by the time you reach the Composition or the Letter. Ideally the Comprehension should be followed by the letter writing.
- When attempting the comprehension, read the passage once. Then read the questions and start reading the passage again. Keep your pencil ready. As you find the points and expressions required to construct your responses to the given questions, do underline them or keep them marked. This will lead to precision and better time management.
QUESTION 5. FUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR
There will be a number of short answer questions to test your knowledge of functional grammar, structure and use of the language.
All the items in this question will be compulsory. They will consist of correct use of prepositions, verbs and transformation of sentences.
Here is the structure for this section:
- The first part consists of a passage with a number of blanks which are numbered. Each blank is followed by a word in brackets. You have to fill in each of the numbered blanks with the correct form of the word in brackets. This question will be worth 4 Marks.
- The next part consists of 8 sentences where you have to fill in the blanks with an appropriate word. No suggestions are given here. This question will be worth 4 Marks.
- In the next part you will have to join the given pairs of sentences without using the words ‘and’, ‘but’ or ‘so’. These is an MCQ exercise and will be worth 4 Marks.
- The next part will have a few sentences that you will need to rewrite according to the instructions given after each. Make the changes that may be necessary, but do not change the meaning of each sentence. This is also in the form of MCQ and will be worth 8 Marks.
While the last two questions are in the form of MCQ, remember that this format will demand clarity of grammatical concepts and adequate practice to differentiate and identify the correct option among a cluster of similar looking options.
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