Don’t take English for granted

The subject English in your curriculum might not pose the problem of passing or securing reasonably decent marks, but if neglected, it can be the disastrous for many a student. It can act as a catalyst and provide both the necessary impetus to your result as well as bring the percentage crashing down depending on your approach to the subject.

The Boards begin with the English exam and since ‘well begun is half done,’ let’s see what can be done to make you smile as you walk out of the examination hall on March 1, 2013. For starters, we have to get rid of the myth that English does not need any written practice. Key writing skill elements such as format, organisation, expression, adhering to word limit and time management can be learnt without practice. You will be able to optimise your output in the exam only with regular practice. And since what to say and how to say it go hand in hand, content building for the exam is also essential. It’s never too late to read up on certain important social issues which will not only make your content more relevant but also equip you with the requisite vocabulary.

Note-making is often misunderstood by the students. It is important that you solve a few note-making questions and get them checked by your teacher. As you read the passage, ask yourself what the passage is about and put that down as the heading of your note-making exercise. Next, you should think of the various headings under which that topic has been developed and those then become your subheadings. Please remember that paragraphwise subheadings have to be avoided as it could result in repetition and overlapping of ideas. Using abbreviations is mandatory but limit them to six or seven.

Finally, to write the summary of the given passage, expand each subheading and its points into meaningful sentences.

Literature comprises a major chunk of the paper and must be given the attention it deserves. Read the chapters a number of times so that the facts sink in. The examiner is looking for details, therefore, quote from the text to create the impression of a person well versed with the text. Don’t make the mistake of narrating the entire story in every long answer question; your answer should explain the question asked.

A neat presentation will always give you an edge over others. So let’s make it easier for the examiner by writing legibly, in paragraphs and underlining the main points. Further, all questions of a section must be done together.

A high score in English is completely possible provided that you give the subject its due. Read a lot, write some and do well.

Authored by Monica Kalra.
Published in Hindustan Times, New Delhi, January 29, 2013.
(Monica Kalra is the Head of the Department for English at Studymate- Learning Centers from Hindustan Times).