Our Secondary Chinese Tutors share theirTop Tips for O & N Level Chinese for help students score well!

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O & N Level Chinese Tips Shared By Professional Secondary Chinese Tutors!

Secondary Chinese Tutors have highlighted that the O Level Standard Chinese paper is a unique part of the O Level examinations because of 2 reasons. All Secondary students take it mid-way through Secondary 4, around June, and it is the earliest O Level written paper out of all the subjects, which are taken at the end of the year. The extra unique part of it is that students are offered another chance to retake the Chinese paper again at the end of the year should they be unsatisfied with the results from their first attempt. Students are only given 1 attempt at all the other examinable subjects. Want to ace the paper on the first try so that you can proceed to focus on your other subjects in the 2nd half of the year? Here are some tips shared by our professional Secondary Chinese Tutors on how they help their students to prepare them for the Chinese O Level papers.

Paper 1 Tips By Secondary Chinese Tutors

Components of Paper 1:

Paper 1 consists of two separate parts and students are given 2 Hours durations to complete the Paper. The paper contains a total of 60 marks with a 30% weightage on overall results. Additionally, just for this paper alone, students are allowed to bring in to use approved printed dictionaries or handheld electronic dictionaries (e-dictionaries).

Part 1: Functional Writing 实用文

This section requires students to choose between two types of emails to write on – a formal email write-up (eg. a complaint email) or an informal email (addressed to friends). The email needs to consists of 150 words and above.

Tip #1: The Purpose

Before you start choosing and writing, read through each question carefully and understand the purpose of writing each email. For example, the main scope of Informal Email is listed below:

  1. Report – To share about your learning progress and results
  2. Introduce – Introduce the events/objectives indicated in the question
  3. Advise/Encourage – Provide words of encouragement and advise to spread positive sentiments
  4. Opinions – Express your own opinions about the news or events listed in the question

By fully understanding the purpose of the email, you can proceed to write it based on its requirements to secure good marks for the content portion in the marking rubric. For instance, if you are writing an Informal Email to express your opinion in news about the cancellation of Examinations in Singapore due to the COVID-19 pandemic, here are some of the points given by our Secondary Chinese Tutors to guide students:

  • List out the advantages and disadvantages of the different options weighed
  • State your options opinions on why the decision had reached this outcome, and the consequences that follow
  • Refer and compare to similar news and make your prediction on what will happen if the action is carried out

Tips #2: The Format

In Email writing, you must follow a standardised format taught by your school teacher and Secondary Chinese tutor. This is exceptionally important as you will be penalised with loss of marks if some parts of the content are written in the wrong order/part of the email, or even missing. The contents of the email should consist of:

  1. Introduction – state your purpose in writing this email. You can also elaborate on why you decided to write this email
  2. Body of content – craft it based on the questions given. You can refer to # Tip 1 shared above to help you create meaningful content!
  3. Conclusions with names

This is an example of how a standard Informal Email would look like. Source

Part 2: Composition 作文

This section consists of three questions for students to choose from. The questions could vary in these two types of questions:
– Informative essay (eg. expressing opinions, providing suggestions based on news) OR
– Narrative essay (to write about an event or experience)

The essay is to contain at least 500 words, and is graded upon 70 marks. We understand it is a struggle to write a good essay, especially in such a short span of time. Fret not, here are few practice tips recommended by our top Secondary Chinese Tutors to help you ace Composition writing:

Tips #3: Familiarise Yourself with Writing Patterns For Each Type Of Composition Question

Formulating a writing plan/template is like a “cheat code” to help you in your writing for different types of questions. For example: Questions that ask to express your opinions. 根据以下新闻的开头,写出你的看法 有人说新加坡学生只会死记硬背,但在一项 “国际学生评估”中,本地学生解决问题的能力 却名列世界第一。这意味着我们的学生能以创意 的方式,有效地处理复杂的问题。
(Translation: Singapore students can only learn by rote memorizing. However, in a recent “International student assessment”, local students are ranked number 1 in the world in problem-solving skills. This proves that our students are capable of approaching problems and provide solutions in a creative way.)

With a question like this, our Secondary Chinese Tutors have come up with a rough content template for their students to follow:

  1. Introduction – Consists of elaborations on the news article (eg. you can explain how students in Singapore are doing their studies based on rote memorization only)
  2. Second paragraph – Provide counterpoints to argue against the introduction points above, and provide more examples of how local students are indeed trained in their problem-solving skills
  3. Third paragraph – Write about how honing problem-solving skills can affect one’s actions/decisions when one encounters problems (eg. in your studies). You can also elaborate if there are any disadvantages to be against rote memorization. 
  4. Conclusion – Provide some suggestions on what can be improved to help students in problem-solving.

If you are interested to know about more writing patterns and the thought processes generated by our Secondary Chinese Tutors, send a request in the form above to engage an experienced tutor from MindFlex Home Tuition! Our tutors not only provide their students with “hacks” to write a good essay, but also aid them in preparing vocabulary word banks for the students to use and apply in different question types. 

Tips #4: Daily Reading And Reviews

One way of improving one’s composition-writing skills recommended by our Secondary Chinese tutors is to get the students to read the weekly newspaper subscribed by their school or news from online platforms such as 联合早报 and 逗号. Our tutors will go through these articles with you, helping you pick up on the different writing styles and vocabulary used, so that you can also pick these up to be used in your writing as well. Only by reading widely on these articles would you be able to improve in your language skills and turn your writing skills up a notch. In these reading exercises, tutors will also guide you through the understanding and analysis process too, which would help in Paper 2. 

Things you can do while reading the newspapers and articles: 

  1. Analyse and break down the articles using the 6Ws (Who, Why, When, Where, Which, How)
  2. Records the words and phrases that you do not understand, or those that you feel that can be of great use for your own writing
  3. Practice writing a similar article with the same objective, but using your opinions and points! You can write it with the writing patterns and templates provided by your tutor.

Our Secondary Chinese Tutors can also help you review your own compositions and highlight to you on what can be improved for your future essays! If you would like to know more about the tutors that we can recommend to you, send a request through the form above, it is absolutely free!

Paper 2 Tips By Secondary Chinese Tutors

Components of Paper 2:

Paper 2 consists of an MCQ close passage (综合填空) and 1 MCQ and 1 Open-Ended Comprehension passage (阅读理解) and lasts for a duration of 1 Hour and 30 minutes. The paper has a total of 70 marks for 3 sections and takes up to 35% weightage in the overall score. Paper 2 usually tests students on their ability to understand the passages and apply their comprehension skills to answer the questions. Our Secondary Chinese Tutors have come up with some activities to help students boost their Chinese vocabulary and improve their command of the language.

Tip #5: Improve On Your Chinese Vocabulary

There is a Chinese saying that goes “A slow sparrow should make an early start”, and this is definitely applicable to students who are weak in Chinese. If you do are weak in the subject, you should consider hiring a Chinese tutor to help you, as Chinese as takes months and years of time and effort to build your foundation. One of the ways tutors have recommended to students to help them memorise Vocabulary is to to create flashcards that contain the words and memorise them in your free time. For instance, you can bring 10-20 flashcards with you daily, and while you are travel on buses or MRT, you can simply practice the words. You can also increase the fun by having a mini challenge with your friends and see who can memorise more words every week!


Practise writing your vocabulary daily to increase your writing speed in Chinese!

Tip #6: Know Your Comprehension Questions

A good foundation of Chinese would naturally help students to better understand the passage while doing your Paper 2. For the Comprehension section, you can also increase your scores by familiarising yourself with different questions types and formats, and the way to answer the questions. These are the 6 Different types of questions and their answering methods compiled by our Secondary Chinese Tutors.

  • Repeated questions 复述题: The parts of the answer usually lie together within the same paragraph. Read the paragraph carefully and pick out the important content that is needed to answer the question. Moreover. some questions also contain the same keywords from the paragraph, and thus students can lean to pickup and recognise to use the keywords to identify the correct paragraph
  • Reformation questions 重整题: In these types of questions, the parts of the answers usually reside in different paragraphs. You will need to read and understand the whole essay to pick out the relevant content from differing paragraphs, and combining them to answer the question fully. You can determine how many answer parts to look out for by looking at the total points awarded for the question.
  • Explanation questions 解释题: This question type requires you to explain the meaning of certain phrases or sentences. You can explain by breaking down these sentences into simpler phrases or words. If you do not understand the phrases in question, a tip that you can pick up is to read the sentences before and after, and use that to indirectly infer its meaning.
  • Extending questions 伸展题: These questions test students based on their understanding of the main objectives, intent and emotions that the author is trying to convey.
  • Creative questions 创意题: You are to explain or gives suggestions/opinions based on the essay.
  • Evaluative question 评鉴题: Questions like these tests students’ abilities to evaluate the characters’ personality/actions/expression based on the essay

You can practise your vocabulary by having weekly spelling and dictation test sessions with the assistance of your Chinese tutor. Practising a few comprehension questions from past-year papers or assessment books daily could help you quickly identify the different question types and and eventually make you skilled at responding to each question. If you need assistance in helping you with how to identifying the question types, MindFlex has a large database of Professional Secondary Chinese Home Tutors, send a free request above to learn more!

Paper 3 Tips By Secondary Chinese Tutors

Component of Paper 3:

Paper 3 consists of an oral and listening comprehension (MCQ) examination. Students are tested based on their ability to converse in Chinese and as well as answer questions based on content heard on an audio-recording. The oral examination has two sections, the reading of passages and conversation with the oral examiners based on video stimulus. To speak confidently in your oral and improve in your listening comprehension, here are some practices that our Secondary Chinese Tutor would recommend:

Tip #7: Practise Speaking Mandarin In Your Daily Life

Practice makes perfect! To speak fluently, you should make a conscious effort to speak Chinese for at least an hour every day to help you practice your flows and tones. That is the only way to improve in speaking the language – there are no shortcuts. You can find Chinese News videos on Youtube and learn the pronunciation of special nouns and terms by mouthing after the news reporter. You can also practise your listening skills by listening to the Chinese radio channel!


Listen to Chinese radio channels can significantly help your listening comprehension skills!

Tip #8: Skills For Oral Conversations

During Oral Conversation, students are often penalised for not providing enough information to carry out or sustain a meaningful conversation with the examiner. Our top Chinese tutors have recommended that students express their opinions on the video shown, as well as elaborate on the pros and cons of the event that happened in the video. You can elaborate on the consequences of the event and even better if you can bring in your own personal experiences or the experiences of someone you know to relate to the video content. Lastly to provide an ending to the conversation, give your suggestions with regards to the video. One thing to note is to make sure you are conveying your ideas logically to the oral examiners!

We often hear complaints from students about not having someone to practise Mandarin conversation with daily and it is embarrassing to do it with their friends as they are not confident to do so. A good solution would be to seek help from experienced O Level Chinese Tutor to help you with speech and conversation practice. Many of our tutors have helped their students to maintain good conversational skills and this has translated into their Chinese exam results.

To Conclude

Bring the above tips with you into practice as you work on your Chinese language skills. Picking up and improving in a language is definitely not a sprint, but a long marathon, building your “stamina” all the way from Primary school. If you are struggling with Chinese, you can consider seeking help from an experienced O Level Chinese Tutor from MindFlex Home Tuition! Attending Chinese tuition lessons can really help to improve your command of the language. You can request for intensive lessons nearing the exams and lessons are customised to help you overcome your weaknesses in Chinese. Our O Level Chinese Tutor also provides their student with past year Exam Papers and Prelim Papers from other schools!

Scoring great marks for your O Level Chinese could help you with getting a lower L1R5, and in turn give you a higher chance of getting into a JC of your choice! On the flipside, if your strength is in Chinese and if you have a flair for the language, you may consider taking Higher Chinese as well, as passing the subject will allow you an exemption from taking the A Level Chinese paper! As Chinese is now considered as an important language worldwide due to China’s pronounced presence in the business world (even the former President of America, Barack Obama, picked up Chinese as an additional language!), it is important that we master our Mother Tongue well in order to make ourselves proficient and capable to receive greater prospects in future. To improve your Chinese and score good grades for your O Levels, contact us today and we will be more than happy to assist you! 

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