Are you a student taking iGCSE this year or interested to learn how to write a formal letter? In today’s blog, we are sharing a model response for IGCSE 0500 PAPER 2 Directed Writing.  




Sample IGCSE ENGLISH 0500PAPER 2 Directed Writing Question:

Imagine you are a pupil in a school who just heard a speech by your headmaster during assembly, announcing that the school will be banning the use of Wikipedia in school. This means that students will not be able to access Wikipedia on all Personal Learning Devices (PLD). 

His main reasons are:

  1. Wikipedia is not a credible source as compared to printed books like Encyclopedia Britannica, which is a most respected reference book in the history of the world as the contents published have been checked by eminent professor
  2. Wikipedia is not a credible source as you do not know who writes the articles in Wikipedia and the writers lack credential. Additionally, the content on Wikipedia can be modified anytime and it can ‘be here today and gone tomorrow.’
  3. Students who use Wikipedia do not fact check and are not aware if the content they are reliable or not. 

Task: Imagine you are a iGCSE student from Hwa Chong International. Your task is to write a letter to your headteacher on behalf of yourself and your fellow students, protesting against the ban and arguing why it should be lifted. 


In your letter, you should

  1. Provide the pros and cons of using Wikipedia 
  2. Explain with reference to the texts, why access to Wikipedia in school is necessary for your education
  3. Argue against the main points of your headteacher’s speech 

Begin the letter with the following template:

Dear Headteacher, 

         On behalf of all students in the school, I am writing to you to reconsider your decision to ban Wikipedia from the school’s computer network. 


Subject: Request to Reconsider the Ban on Using Wikipedia in School

Dear Headteacher, 

I am writing to express my concerns regarding the recent decision to ban the use of Wikipedia as a resource in our school. While I understand your concerns about students using Wikipedia, I believe that in today’s digital age, Wikipedia offers valuable benefits that should not be overlooked.

(Topic Sentence: Link Headmaster’s first concern here and explain your point of view) Wikipedia is a vast repository of knowledge on a wide range of topics, making it an invaluable resource for students like us when we are doing research for our coursework or seek a further understanding of certain topics. This provides students with a comprehensive overview of complex topics like science. 


Topic Sentence 2 : Link Headmaster’s second concern here and explain your point of view) Although we recognise that  Wikipedia may have been subject to skepticism in the past regarding the reliability and credibility of its content, Over time, Wikipedia has made significant efforts to enhance the accuracy and verifiability of articles on the platform. Take for instance, Wikipedia’s rigorous editorial processes, including the use of citations and references, help ensure the reliability of its content, making it comparable to traditional academic sources such as Encyclopedia Britannica. 

Instead of an outright ban, the school can harness the educational potential of Wikipedia and empower our students to become critical thinkers who are equipped to navigate intelligently when confronted with a vast sea of information available in this digital age.


In light of these considerations, I respectfully urge you to reconsider the ban on using Wikipedia in Hwa Chong International. Instead of banning Wikipedia, the school can consider making this a teachable moment. The school can conduct media literacy workshops for HCI students, educating us about the importance of fact checking and to examine information provided from Wikipedia with a few other sources. 


Thank you for considering my perspective on this matter. I am available to discuss this matter further.

Yours sincerely,

[Your Position/Grade]
[Your Contact Information]

Important Note: 

To get a better understanding of the question requirements, students need to refer to the inserts modified by the school / provided by iGCSE for this question. This suggested formal letter response was made with reference to inserts. Candidates are reminded to write about 250 to 350 words.

Need more help? Looking for more IGCSE English tuition or IB tuition?

Whatsapp us today and let us connect you with our strong team of MOE current / ex teachers who are able to guide you in your IB Language Literature or IGCSE English.




SEC 2027 新加坡-剑桥中学教育证书 – 需注意的3个重要点

  1. 谁会受影响?

今年的2024年中一学生。 这批中一学生将成为2027年首次参加SEC全国考试的学生。他们将在2027年参加新的新加坡-剑桥中学教育证书(SEC)考试,取代了我们大多数新加坡人成长过程中熟悉的传统O级和N级考试。


2. 有何改变?身为家长,我必须了解的事项?


新加坡-剑桥普通教育证书(GCE O-Level)考试于1971年引入。2006年,它与英国的GCE O-Level考试解除了联系,这是新加坡教育部努力控制考试管理的一部分。

GCE O LEVELS 级考试与由教育部设计的新加坡学校课程密切相关。SEC新加坡-剑桥中学教育证书将取代目前的O级和N级考试。

       以后的中四学生只有一次参加MTL考试机会 , 学生只有一次机会参加母语科目的笔试,不能再次参加考试。

       目前,中学生可以选择两次母语MTL的考试,一次是在六月,如果他们觉得考得不好,学生可以再尝试一次。 有了这个新变化,学生将只有一次机会提高他们的母语成绩,告别第二次机会。

3. 英语考试变成9月-早过其他科目










Top 5 Popular Secondary Schools in the West (Clementi / Buona Vista / Jurong)

With the release of PSLE results in 2023, most parents will be relieved to say goodbye to a significant milestone in their children’s lives and embark on four or six years journey in a Secondary School. 

What’s top on the parents’ mind would be “How do I select the right secondary school for my child?

Secondary School is a crucial juncture that shapes a student’s academic journey and personal development. Beyond academic excellence, a secondary school plays a pivotal role in nurturing a well-rounded individual, preparing them for the challenges of an ever-evolving world.

When embarking on this pivotal decision, it’s essential to consider various factors. One of the most important factors would be understanding the School’s Culture & CCA; the school’s ethos and values should align with the student’s aspirations, fostering an environment where they can thrive. Parents need to look at the CCA (niche) ranging from sports to the arts of the school. A school’s culture contributes significantly to character-building and holistic growth.


Of course, it is hard for parents to determine the quality of teaching staff, but what matter’s most to your child’s development would be a conducive learning environment, is paramount for academic success. Not all students would be comfortable to go a SAP school where there is a strong emphasis to promote the learning of (Chinese) mother tongue and (Chinese) culture. Other students may also find it hard to embrace certain attire and hairstyle requirements (like plaiting your hair every day!)

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the top 5 most popular secondary schools in the West side of Singapore, particularly Clementi/Buona Vista and Jurong.


  1. River Valley High School 

River Valley High School (立化中学)is a Special Assistance Plan (SAP) Autonomous school in Singapore.

Located at Jurong West / Boon Lay, a stone throw from the popular Jurong Point Mall, River Valley is an IP school but it has been admitting JC students via the Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE) from 2019. O-Level students interested in the JC route and who would like an experience in an Integrated Programme (IP) school can also apply to the school. Do note however, as a SAP school, River Valley will assess your child’s ability to cope with their RVIP Chinese Language Programme so student who take Higher Chinese in primary school will have a slight advantage.


There is NO Affiliation for this school and only PSLE students eligible for IP programme will be admitted. 

Admission Criteria: PSLE Cut Off Points for River Valley High School 2023 

Affiliated Non-affiliated
Integrated Programme 4(M) – 9(M)
Posting Group 3
Posting Group 2

Posting Group 1

Niche SPORTS: Floorball (A Division Floorball Girls: Champion), Table Tennis Championships (B Division Boys & Girls – 2nd), Netball, Badminton 

Niche ARTS/MUSIC: Chinese Orchestra (JC/Sec): Distinction, Dance, Chinese dance (Sec): Distinction

CCA available:

(Source:RV Prospectus) 

2. Anglo Chinese Secondary (Independent) IP School (International Baccalaureate) 

Located at Dover Road, just bordering Clementi, ACS Independence is a  prestigious boys school which offers O’levels and IP (International Baccalaureate) Programmes at Secondary Level. Students can gain affiliation admission for O’level track and not the IP track. 

ACS is a dual track school. IP stands for Integrated Programme – a six-year through train course. Students spend six years in ACS (Independent) and are not required to sit for the Singapore-Cambridge GCE O-Level Examination (now known as Singapore-Cambridge Secondary Education Certificate Examination) except for Mother Tongue Language at Year 4 (Secondary 4). In their fifth and sixth years, IP students will do the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) which is an established pre-university course of study. ACS (Independent)’s IP students will sit for the IB Diploma Examination, not the Singapore-Cambridge GCE A-Level Examination. 


The local universities recognise and accept the IB Diploma. University admission will depend on the university and the course applied for. The IB Diploma is a very well-recognised international pre-university qualification. To help your child navigate through IB Diploma, you can reach out to our team of IB Trained Tutors who are highly experienced. Whatsapp us today for an IB Tutor. 

Admission Criteria: PSLE Cut Off Points for Anglo Chinese Independence School 2023 

Affiliated Non-affiliated
Integrated Programme

4 – 7
Posting Group 3 (Express) 7 – 13 7 – 8
Posting Group 2

Posting Group 1

Niche SPORTS: Water Polo, Basketball, Badminton, Cross Country, Golf, Rugby, Cricket, Bowling, Swimming, Track 

Niche ARTS/MUSIC: Music Elective Programme 

3. Nan Hua High School

Located at Clementi Ave 1, next to Church of the Holy Cross, this is a popular feeder school for students from Nan Hua Primary School. Although the school bears no academic affiliation to Nan Hua Primary, the history and culture of these two schools largely intertwined. 

Admission Criteria: PSLE Cut Off Points for Nan Hua High School 2023 

Affiliated Non-affiliated
Posting Group 3 (Express) 6(D) – 11
Posting Group 2
Posting Group 1

Niche SPORTS: Track & Field, Softball Netball, Badminton, Table Tennis

Niche ARTS/MUSIC: Chinese Orchestra, Dance, Chinese dance, Concert Band, Choir, Harp Ensemble 

4. Commonwealth Secondary School 

Location: Jurong/West Coast (near Teban Gardens)

Admission Criteria: PSLE Cut Off Points for Commonwealth Secondary School 2023 

Affiliated Non-affiliated
Posting Group 3 (Express)

8 – 15

Posting Group 2 21 – 23
Posting Group 1

25 – 27

Niche SPORTS: Cross Country, Badminton, Netball (Girls), Basketball (Boys) & Soccer (Boys)

Niche ARTS/MUSIC: Performing Arts – Band, Choir, Malay Dance, Chinese Dance (Girls), Indian Dance, Drama

Niche COMPUTING/SCIENCE: Environmental Science / Coding


5. Fairfield Methodist Secondary School 

Location: Dover / Clementi 

Admission Criteria: PSLE Cut Off Points for Fairfield Methodist Secondary School 2023 

Affiliated Non-affiliated
Posting Group 3 (Express)

8 – 20

8 – 10
Posting Group 2

21 – 24

21 – 21
Posting Group 1 25 – 28 25 – 26

Niche SPORTS: Football, Badminton, Volleyball (Girls), Basketball (Boys) 

Niche ARTS/MUSIC: Performing Arts – Band, Choir, Modern Dance


Hope these information on PSLE cut off points are useful for parents considering Secondary One Admission.

That’s not all, get in touch with our team of current and former MOE teachers / tutors to get the extra boost in helping your child excel in IP / IB programmes. Our strong team of tutors are available for your selection and hail from prestigious schools like Hwa Chong, RI, VJC, SJI and many more. Get in touch with us for a tutor today. Our tutors are highly experienced, former MOE teachers trained in IB Language Literature, English Literature, General Paper, O’levels Secondary English and more. 


Want free resources, check out our FREE Secondary One English 1184 Package





Congratulations to all PSLE 2023 students for accomplishing a significant milestone!

Secondary School life is going to be the best four years of your child’s life as they embark on another exciting milestone, carving their own identity and developing their interest holistically. To help our P6 students navigate through this exciting new journey, here are some free resources and some candid insights to the currently revamped Secondary One English (EL Syllabus). 

What will my child learn for Secondary One English? 

Starting from next year, your child will be part of the first 2024 Secondary 1 cohort to fully experience Full Subject-Based Banding (Full SBB), this simply means that students will be posted through Posting Groups 1, 2 and 3 respectively instead of being streamed into Express (G3), NA (G2) and NT (G1). 

What will be tested for Secondary One English (G1, G2, G3)?

Regardless of which banding your child is in, your child will be encountering these components 

  • Essay writing
  • Situational writing
  • Comprehension
  • Editing
  • Orals
  • Summary writing

The topics covered for Secondary English will include:

  • Education and the environment
  • Global issues and social trends
  • Arts and the humanities
  • Local issues, Family and Friends

What is new for Secondary English (G1, G2, G3)?

Secondary One students will be required to take English Literature as a subject (or a component under HEM for students taking G1 Humanities) and they will be exposed to genres like poetry, prose and drama. Depending on your child’s school, they will be reading different texts from familiar titles both international like Animal Farm to the Boy in Striped Pyjamas or local like Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed which essentially is a collection of three local plays especially made for lower secondary students. This is an examinable subject which most students will take some time to adjust to but it is most certainly worth it as English Literature will help your child to sharpen their analytical skills and critical thinking skills, preparing them better for challenges in this information-overload world. 


For students taking G1 Humanities, they will study Social Studies and Humanities Exposure Modules (HEM) in Geography, History, and Literature in English to give students the opportunity to gain exposure to the different Humanities disciplines.

What subjects will my child take if he or she took foundation courses at PSLE?

According to MOE, for students who took English, Mathematics and/or Science at Foundation level at PSLE, they still stand a chance to choose subjects that they can take at a G3 level (provided that they make the grade requirement) or they may still be able to take may choose to take these subjects at a less demanding level (i.e. G2), in consultation with their secondary schools.

How can I help my child prepare and excel at Secondary One English?

For a start, how about some free resources? You can download our selection of FREE testpapers

For English, your child will need to take 4 Papers and you can get some free resources for English below: 


English G3 Syllabus 1184 Paper 1: Writing

Free Model Essays

English G3 Syllabus 1184 Paper 2: Comprehension

How to score in Visual Text (With a free Visual Text Practice from St Margaret’s Secondary School Prelims 2023)

English G3 Syllabus 1184 Paper 3: Listening Comprehension

Listening Comprehension at Secondary Level is a whole new ball game, click here to check out the new syllabus EL 1184 Specimen English Listening Comprehension Paper

English G3 Syllabus 1184 Paper 4: Oral Examination 

As the current EL syllabus (EL 1184) is still very new, you will notice that most assessment books in bookstores like Popular are still selling the old syllabus. Fear not, at the Learning Space, we provide you firsthand insights on the new English Syllabus, you can download some of our free resources here or check out our youtube channel for more.

Need more help?

G3 Secondary English Tuition by Secondary School Teachers in Singapore 

Get a private tutor for your child today! We have a strong team of over 100 MOE teachers both current and ex teachers. They are highly experienced and will be able to guide your child to their academic success! 


Alternatively, you can sign up for our Secondary English Online Group Tuition every Friday 5pm to 630pm or 7pm to 830pm and Sunday from 11am to 1230pm or 2pm to 3.30pm, contact us on Whatsapp for more details. 

Click here to know the tuition rates and contact us for 1 on 1 in-person lesson/group lesson or go Online 1 to 1 lesson / online group lesson. 



A big thumbs up to our lucky GP students and tutors this year because for this year’s 2023 A’Levels GP, our team managed to spot not one, not two but three questions for Paper 1! We look forward to even more good news when A’Levels results are released in 2024.

Don’t be envious, are you looking to improve your GP results?

Join us for our 2024 GP Online Tuition today and get one free class upon enrolment, terms and conditions may apply. Only for graduating students in J2 or MI Year 3, private candidates are welcome. Prefer 1 to 1 in-person tuition? We have qualified current and former MOE teachers available too, whatsapp us for more. 

Now, let us examine Question 3 in this year’s 2023 A’Level GP Paper 1. The very last year of where candidates will have twelve questions for Paper 1. 


Elon Musk: A Million Humans Could Live on Mars By the 2060s

Topic Space Travel  

The start of space exploration can be traced back to the second half of the 20th Century, post World War Two. Yet, despite the decades that have lapsed, the question of whether space exploration and space travel being justifiable is still largely contested.



 Recent developments in Space Travel
  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX shuttling Nasa astronauts to International Space Station
  • Virgin Galactic planning commercial to begin commercial flights in 2022
  • US$3.25billion invested in space start-ups in 2018, expected to be worth up to US$1.1 trillion by the 2040s









The question demands candidates to evaluate if spending on space travel cannot be justified in today’s context. Candidates must recognise firstly that the a popular sentiment about space travel is that the astronomical amount of money invested has been disproportionate to the benefits. Candidates must address the context of today’s world where we have more pressing issues such as on going war in Israel-Palestine, Russia-Ukraine, poverty, diseases, climate issues, hence it does appear to make little sense to spend money on space travel instead of saving lives. 





The Visual Text also known as Text 1 and Text 2 under the New Secondary School English Syllabus 1184 constitutes 5 marks in Paper 2 of the Secondary English Comprehension Paper. For PSLE English, Visual Text 

In view of MOE’s new EL Syllabus 2020 which targets is to develop effective and affective language use in students hence promoting critical thinking amongst our youths, this section has been revamped to one with a comparative nature.

Text 1 is a visual text type such as a poster while Text 2 is a short blurb / extract that can be anything from something akin to a Straits Times forum post or a blog entry by someone. 


What is Visual Text Comprehension?

In this media-saturated world, our student’s sense of reality about the world is often warped through the prism of the media we consume daily. These can be in the form of visual texts which are used to convey messages and communicate ideas in a variety of ways. These texts include print media such as posters and flyers as well as non-print ones like websites and online advertisements.

Visual text comprehension refers to the ability to understand and interpret information presented in visual formats, such as images, diagrams, charts, graphs, maps, and other non-verbal representations. Students need to try to make sense out of the visual elements such as the design of the artwork or photograph used in the poster in Text 1 and try to extract meaning and drawing conclusions from the visual information presented. 

How to do well for Visual Text? 

Understanding how to process and think critically about the messages that we encounter both online and offline is an important skill that students need to have in this 21st Century.  The visual text precisely test the students’ ability to process and interpret both visual and written texts. Mastering Visual Comprehension skills will also help us deepen our skills needed for scoring in the entire Paper 2. This is because the question and answer techniques are similar and can be applied across the different texts.


Here are three tips to score for your Visual Text

  1. Know your PAC (Purpose, Audience and Context) 

Understanding the context in which the visual text is presented is crucial. It may involve considering the source (who produce the poster/advertisement?), what is the objective or purpose of producing such a poster or writing the blog? Who are the audience for the poster?  For Text 2, students must look closely at the accompanying textual information to fully comprehend the visual content.

   2. Extracting Information in relation to the question

Students must study the images or pictures carefully and read the questions closely so that students can extract relevant information from the visual text, which may involve reading numerical values, identifying the symbols or logos in the visual text drawing conclusions based on the visual cues. 

3. Be clear and precise in your answer

Very often in Visual Text, creators of the visual text may use words that are intended to have impact, also known and imparted to you by your English Teachers as “Language for impact” . This simply means the visual text uses  language in a way that captures the audience’s attention, conveys the intended meaning clearly, and leaves a lasting impression. Students must be sensitive to any metaphors, similes, and other forms of figurative language can add depth and vividness to the text. They must be able to the explain the effect fully to suit the questions requirements.


Thank you for reading the entire article, to reward you for all that eyeballs, here’s a Free English Comprehension Sec 4 Prelims Visual Text Practice from St Margaret Secondary School with answer from our 2023 Secondary 4 English Prelims Papers based on the latest MOE Syllabus 1184. Looking for more free test papers

The Learning Space SG SMSS 2023 Prelims Visual Text with answers 

Are you looking for more help? 

English Tuition by Secondary School Teachers in Singapore 

Sign up for our Secondary English Online Group Tuition every Friday 5pm to 630pm or 7pm to 830pm and Sunday from 11am to 1230pm or 2pm to 3.30pm, contact us on Whatsapp for more details. Prepare for your O’levels English with our team of MOE/NIE-trained teachers today. You can get an experienced teacher to guide. Click here to know the tuition rates and contact us for 1 on 1 in-person lesson/group lesson or go Online 1 to 1 lesson / online group lesson. 



 Some Stufd


Video: Candidates were shown a 1-min of students in a science lab.

How to tackle the Oral Planned Response Question:

For planned response, students must present a 2-minute response (usually this means two PEEL Paragraphs) to answer the question. You can refer to your written notes. Use 5Ws and 1H when you are brainstorming for answers. Be certain to answer the prompt, identify keywords and present your thoughts confidently. Refer to our earlier post on O’levels 1184 Planned Response Format

Planned Response Question:

“Would you and your friends prefer hands-on-learning as shown in the video?” Why or Why not? 

Suggested Approach

Candidates can briefly share their own experiences on how and why experiential learning is preferred with reasons like less mundane and more engaging. Most can share experiences like how hands-on experience in science labs help them to master content and gain a deeper understanding of the concepts they are learning compared to pure regurgitation of content or being confined in the walls of classrooms. Some may even share how in the scenario of classroom learning, the sound of the teacher’s voice may become a drone after an hour of class, or the words in a passage of text may blur together as eyes become tired. 

Candidates should be able to recount their own ALP experiences in school where they had the opportunity to delve into real-world projects. For instance, (Maker Workshop / Design Thinking Workshop). Some candidates can share their hands-on learning experiences in constructing science-related modules like building a solar toy car or learning coding with Microbits so as to solve a real-world challenge related to “Energy” or “Aging”. 

For well considered responses, candidates should point out while traditional methods of learning have their merits, there is something uniquely captivating and enriching about engaging in hands-on experiences that invigorate their curiosity and ignite their passion for knowledge.  


Note: You should address the examiner’s question directly and focus on building two PEEL paragraphs and relate the video (briefly) to the question. The two points for your answers should not be too similar and it should have personal observations / examples. The planned response is around two mins long. (2 PEEL 1 adjective + explain with evidence)

Spoken Interaction (Studying)

  1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of studying in groups? 

Suggested Approach: Candidates can start with briefly explaining the pros and cons of studying in a group such as distractions in group setting or how some members in the group can be more dependent on others / contribute less to the group.

Merits could include how group study allows students to collaborate and learn from each other. By discussing concepts and sharing ideas, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Candidates need to share their own experiences such as how they managed to benefit from group studying. For instance, candidates could have struggled with understanding science concepts and decided to form a study group with a few classmates. In their study group, each member took turns explaining specific topics they had researched, and they engaged in lively discussions to ensure everyone understood the concepts thoroughly. 

Important Note: You should use strong vocabulary, provide examples / own personal experience to substantiate your points. Do not get flustered if oral examiners ask you additional questions. 

2) Some say that academic grades are not as important as what you learn in school. What do you think?


Suggested Approach: 

State your stand clearly. Some candidates may lament that in a hyper competitive society that we live in, it is hard to not place emphasis on academic grades (given the pressure society and parents (ourselves) put upon us). Others may also mention how grades open doors, how the civil service for example look at grades first before even extending any opportunities for interviews or scholarship. 

For well considered responses, candidates should acknowledge how some may feel this way but go on to assert their own views. They may point out how the goals of education such as importance of schooling lies in the learning experiences that shape individuals into well-rounded and capable individuals.

For instance, candidates can point out how they learn about character development in schools through camps, CCE lessons and how values such as empathy, resilience, and ethical decision-making are being instilled in school. All these being essential skills they need to thrive in their future careers, much more than just grades. 


Want to improve your grades? Get professional help now. Reach out to our team of professional and highly experienced tutors for 1 to 1 Private Tuition to help you get the distinction you deserve. Contact us today.

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Subscribe to our channel for exclusive videos, see below for oral tips like commonly mispronounced words by Singaporeans





O’Levels English Literature Tuition 2065 – How We Live Now

Humanities (Social Studies, Literature in English) 2262 Elective Literature/SS 

 ‘How We Live Now’  is a chosen text for students taking O’Levels Literature in English (Syllabus 2065). It is a MOE Cambridge O-Level text for students taking exams from year beginning 2024. 

This book is a compilation of Short Stories by Writers in Singapore, revolving around issues, themes concerning Singaporean settings and daily living on our sunny shores. 

Close to Home By Jinny Koh

An excerpt

Plot Summary:

Told from the first person perspective of Nicky, readers are given a first hand recount of the narrator’s experience of being sent to live with a neighbourhood Aunty as his mother who is suffering from cancer could no longer take care of him for the moment. 


During the short stay, Nicky discovers Aunty Loh’s past and current struggles, from an estranged husband to her own daughter suffering a miscarriage. On a fateful day, Aunty Loh’s flat caught fire. After the fire, Aunty Loh sold her flat and disappeared from Nicky’s life. 



Nicky the Narrator Aunty Loh Nicky’s mother
Nicky’s Father  Aunty Loh’s Daughter Peifen  Aunty Loh’s husband Uncle Loh

Points to note for this short story:

Relationships: Nicky and Mother

What is the relationship between Nicky and his mother like? Does Nicky openly express his views and feelings to his mother? Does he have love and affection for his mother? Why does he fear that ‘each time her eyes closed, they might never open again.’ (Pg 27) How was he like when he was preparing Mother’s Day card and why was he “embarrassed” by his own card? Do you think he yearns for her mother while being separated from her? How was that revealed? Was it through his actions such as how he often ‘peer(s) outside Aunty Loh’s window at the common corridor’ with the hope of ‘(catching) a glimpse of (his) mother’. 

Relationships: Nicky and Aunty Loh

How would you describe Nicky’s connection with Aunty Loh? Did his opinions of her changed over time or was it always the same from beginning to end. Do you recall how Aunty Loh greeted Nicky when he arrived (see page 24 of the text) what did she say? What does that tell about her attitude? Similarly, was Nicky acting the same way to Aunty Loh from the beginning of his stay at Aunty Loh’s house to the end? Many interactions between them shows how their relationships evolved, for instance, Nicky helping to thread the needle for Aunty Loh when sewing the pillow for Peifen’s baby. We witness how she taught Nicky how to thread the needle and Nicky helping to clear up the sewing materials when Aunty Loh dozed off. (see page 32 of the text).  


Preparing for Exams:

Possible Question:

How does the writer make Aunty Loh an likeable / affable character?

Characters bring the readers on the journey. Writers often capture the interests of readers by creating relatable, likeable characters.

In the short story, ‘Close to Home, Aunty Loh is presented to be someone relatable that quickly captures readers’ hearts.

Here’s a quick questions-checklist that you can use to see if writer manages to make you like her.

1) Is Aunty Loh relatable? Most of us reader prefer characters that are interesting and relatable.

2) Is Aunty Loh’s behaviour, antics funny? 

3) What makes Aunty Loh stand out?

4) Does Aunty Loh have sympathy? 

5) Did Aunty Loh encounter some personal setbacks?

Want to improve your literature grades? Stuck with understanding poems? Get professional help now. Reach out to our team of professional and highly experienced tutors for 1 to 1 Private Tuition to help you get the distinction you deserve. Looking for Literature tuition or IB Language Arts tuition? Contact us today.




Video: Candidates were shown a 1-min of Marina Barrage, which some may know as a place of recreation. The rooftop park part of the dam is especially popular with families as they spend time there picnicking and kite flying or simply taking in the stunning sunsets.

How to tackle the Oral Planned Response Question:

For planned response, students must present a 2-minute response (usually this means two PEEL Paragraphs) to answer the question. You can refer to your written notes. Use 5Ws and 1H when you are brainstorming for answers. Be certain to answer the prompt, identify keywords and present your thoughts confidently. Refer to our earlier post on O’levels 1184 Planned Response Format

Planned Response Question:

“Should there be more of such open spaces in Singapore?” Why or Why not? 

Suggested Approach

Candidates must pay attention to the setting and think where/what is this place/event and what’s going on? Candidates can consider the advantages of having such greenery in a modern city like Singapore where we are often called a concrete jungle. Through sharing of their own personal experiences such as how these open spaces and greenery provide areas for candidates to do recreational activities, exercise, and relaxation, contributing to a healthier and more vibrant lifestyle.

For instance, candidates can express their own preferences for such open spaces as it allows them to step away from their devices or take a break from the monotony of their student lives/studies and go outdoors or how it helps them to reduce stress, anxiety. Others may recount learning journeys they had to green spaces such as Botanic Gardens and how they enjoyed it immensely.  


Note: You should address the examiner’s question directly and focus on building two PEEL paragraphs and relate the video (briefly) to the question. The two points for your answers should not be too similar and it should have personal observations / examples. The planned response is around two mins long. (2 PEEL 1 adjective + explain with evidence)

Spoken Interaction (Neighbourhood)

  1. What suggestions can you give to improve your neighbourhood? 

Suggested Approach: Candidates can start with briefly explaining where/what kind of neighbourhood they reside in. Possible ideas include having more cycling paths or existing footpaths  to be widened so as to create more space for walking and cycling. Candidates can mention how they feel that more cycling paths will allow them to travel to school safely, reduce morning / peak hours congestion and how these improvements will promote walking and cycling promotes physical activity and a sense of community.

Other candidates may feel strongly that their neighbourhood can have more facilities for youths such as study rooms at void decks, parks with features that appeal to young people, such as skate parks, outdoor fitness equipment, and spaces for creative expression and art installations.


Important Note: You should use strong vocabulary, provide examples / own personal experience to substantiate your points. Do not get flustered if oral examiners ask you additional questions. 

Green spaces play a role in climate change resilience by absorbing carbon dioxide and providing shade, helping Singapore adapt to the impacts of climate change.

2) Do you agree that it is important to have greenery in your environment?

Suggested Approach: 

State your stand clearly. 

Candidates should first point out that in an increasingly urbanized world, cities like Singapore face numerous challenges, including pollution, mental health issues, and declining biodiversity due to urbanisation. Amidst these challenges, the importance of greenery in cities cannot be overstated. Green spaces, such as parks, gardens, and trees, play a pivotal role in enhancing the quality of life for urban dwellers and society as a whole.

For well considered responses, candidates need to point out that Singapore is a land-scarce nation, allocating space for greenery may be challenging (citing the zoning of Bukit Brown and Dover Forest in Ulu Pandan for residential use. Candidates of the opposing view may cite how while greenery / nature is an important buffer against climate change, Singapore being a small nation had to make difficult trade-offs because of its size and to ensure future generations had a place to live. 

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An Inspector Calls Literature Notes 

The Inspector Calls by JB Priestly is an arguably most fascinating play that is most commonly taught and in Singapore secondary schools. In this series of “Like Lit or Not?” we have consolidated some character traits with quotations. These are quality and useful notes for students who are currently reading this book as part of IB Language Literature syllabus or their lower secondary literature. These notes are completely free and if you are still struggling with English or English Literature, reach out to our team of current and ex MOE tutors for tuition. 

What is the play about?

“An Inspector Calls” is a play written by J.B. Priestley, first performed in 1945. The play is set in 1912 and follows the Birling family, a wealthy and privileged family living in England. The family is celebrating the engagement of their daughter, Sheila, to a wealthy businessman named Gerald Croft, when an unexpected visitor arrives – an Inspector who is investigating the suicide of a young woman named Eva Smith/Daisy Renton. Through the series of interrogations by Inspector Goole, the audience witness how the family members slowly reveals their various roles in the woman’s death, as each character is forced to confront their own culpability in the tragedy.

What are the themes? 

The play explores the following themes 

  1. Social responsibility
  2. Class
  3. Morality

An Inspector Calls is scathing in its criticism of middle-class hypocrisy. The play gives voice to Priestley’s strong socialist principles, and carries a clear moral message, stressing the importance of social responsibility: ‘We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other’. The play raises questions about the interconnectedness of all human beings and the impact of our actions on others.


Who are the characters?

The central characters in the play are members of the Birling family and Inspector Goole. 

  1. Arthur Birling – the patriarch of the Birling family in “An Inspector Calls,”  He is a wealthy and successful businessman who values profit and social status above all else. As such, he represents the values of capitalism, individualism, and self-interest. Character Traits:  He is a proud and arrogant man who is focused on maintaining his social status and power. We can see this in his opening speech, where he suggests that “a man has to make his own way – has to look after himself – and his family too, of course.” From this, we can see the self-serving attitudes of the wealthy and powerful people in the society.
  2. Sybil Birling – Arthur’s wife and a member of the local Women’s Charity Organization. She bears testimony to the hypocrisy and class prejudice of the wealthy upper class in England. Character Traits: She is hypocritical and lacks empathy. We can see this when she says ‘I’m sorry she should have come to such a horrible end. But I accept no blame for it at all.’  Mrs Sybil Birling considers herself a champion of social justice and charity yet her attitudes towards those she deems beneath her, as well as her refusal to accept responsibility for her role in Eva/Daisy’s death, highlight her lack of genuine concern for others. 


  3. Sheila Birling – The daughter of Arthur and Sybil, and engaged to Gerald Croft. Sheila has a complex and dynamic character arc. Unlike her parents, she is a character that experiences growth and change throughout the play. She is initially portrayed as somewhat frivolous and shallow, but comes to show a greater sense of empathy and social responsibility as the play progresses.  Character traits:  Materialistic and Superficial  We witness how Sheila Birling is materialistic in Act 1 when the Birlings are celebrating Sheila’s engagement. 

    Sheila: (who has put the ring on, admiringly) I think it’s perfect. Now I really feel engaged.

    Sheila’s desire for material possession and her need to have the ring in order to feel engaged shows that she is rather materialistic. 

    However, we witness how Sheila changes throughout the play. Initially, she doesn’t take the investigation seriously and assumes that her family’s social status will protect them from any consequences. But as the play progresses, when the Inspector reveals that Eva/Daisy was a factory worker, Sheila is shocked and says, “But these girls aren’t cheap labor – they’re people.” This shows her growth in the course of the play as Sheila begins to recognise her own complicity in Eva/Daisy’s death and starts to take responsibility for her actions. 

  4. Eric Birling – The alcoholic son of Arthur and Sybil, who is portrayed as a troubled and insecure young man who steals from his family and hits the bottle to numb himself from life realities Character Traits: Eric is initially portrayed as irresponsible and immature, often turning to alcohol to cope with his family’s issues. He is also shown to be apathetic towards the struggles of the working class, as evidenced by his flippant attitude towards Eva Smith’s death. However, as the play progresses, Eric begins to take responsibility for his actions and express remorse for his mistakes. He acknowledges his role in Eva’s death and admits that he needs to change his ways, stating “We’ll have to start all over again, getting to know each other” (Act 3). 
  5. Gerald Croft – Sheila’s fiancé and the son of a wealthy businessman. At the start of the play, he is described to be “an attractive chap about thirty … very much the easy well-bred young-man-about-town.” Character Traits: As the play progresses, we see how he is actually an unfaithful man who cheats on Sybil Birling and toys with the feelings of Daisy Renton/Eva Smith. He manipulated the feelings of Eva and not only did he not love her as he confessed to not ‘feeling about her as she felt about’ him. He even tries to defend himself by saying that he made a mistake just like ‘nearly any man would have done.’
  6. Inspector Goole –  A highly enigmatic figure whose name rhymes with Ghoul. He arrives at the Birling house unannounced and starts to investigate the death of Eva/Daisy. He represents a force of morality and justice, and his questioning of the characters ultimately exposes their various roles in the tragedy. Throughout the play, the Inspector’s identity and purpose remain ambiguous. Was he a supernatural figure that represents the spirit of divine justice? Others have argued that he is a metaphor for Priestley’s own socialist beliefs, which emphasize the interconnectedness of all people and the need for collective responsibility.


Hope these notes are useful to students are are preparing for their literature exams or IGCSE, IB individual oral commentary (IOC).

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