Passing CSEC English is a relatively simple task if you had a sound primary school education, know basic grammar, and can write simple sentences and paragraphs. Paper I consists of 60 multiple choice questions which must be completed in 90 minutes. The main areas tested are grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, sentence construction and correction, and comprehension. The good news is that most of the papers contain a large number of questions from previous examinations so it is important that you do past exam papers and access solutions to them from the internet or other sources.

Comprehension of poetry and persuasive pieces, especially advertisements, is critical for passing CSEC English paper 1. The most important technique to master is to identify the answer to the question in the relevant paragraph or verse. Do not think up or invent answers; look for the answer in the passage.

For grammar and sentence correction, it is important to master subject/verb agreement. For example, Peter and I like bread but Peter likes bread more than I do. Learning how to identify errors due to inconsistency of form is also important. For example, can you spot the inconsistency of form in the following sentence? Peter likes running, swimming and to play tennis. Consistency of form would require replacing “to play tennis” with “playing tennis.”

Paper 2 tests writing skills. You have to master the art of writing short stories, persuasive essays, summaries, and correspondence; for example, letters, email and reports.

To gain high marks in story writing you should try to follow a simple format in which paragraph one introduces your the characters and the setting for the story ( place, time and mood or atmosphere, e.g. sad, happy, tense, etc). You can end paragraph one by introducing an unexpected event or incident that creates the problem that your main character or characters will face and hopefully overcome in the story.

Paragraph two should build tension due to the difficulties presented to your main characters by the unexpected event and the uncertainty of them having the ability or will or resources to overcome the difficulties and become “heroes” in the story. The problem may be a conflict with others or with nature; for example fire or hurricane.

In paragraphs three and four, tension should build as things go from bad to worse and reach a climax, at which point your main character should become a hero by solving or overcoming the problem.

The final paragraph should restore things to order and the main character should have learned a valuable lesson and hopefully become a better person from the difficulties he or she overcame.

The golden rule to follow when writing persuasive essay if to use the Position, Points, Explanation, Examples, Evidence (PPEEE) format for each paragraph after paragraph one.

Paragraph one should state your position, whether you agree or disagree with the statement provided and three points that support your position. Paragraphs two, three and four should each restate one of the points, explain the point, and provide examples from your experience or evidence from research that support the point. Paragraph five should conclude the argument by summarizing the previous paragraphs.

Summary writing requires that you identify the three or so main ideas or points in an article and paraphrase them or restate them in your own words. You don’t need to include any examples or evidence unless they are crucial to understanding the article.

Paper three is creative writing and requires that you summarize the main points discussed in three creative writing pieces, identify any literally devices used in one of the pieces, and outline a plan for an oral presentation on one the main point discussed in one of the pieces. Finally, you will have to write a poem, skit, song or other creative piece on the topic.