Thursday, 31 December 2009

Continuous Writing (1)

Continuous writing is assessed in Paper 1 of the SPM English paper. It is a test of writing skills and carries a lot of weight in order to do well in the SPM. This section alone is worth 50 marks. Some preliminary information about continuous writing:

You will be given about 5-6 topics based on different genres such as narrative, descriptive, factual, one-word/open-topic, argumentative. It is therefore important that you get enough practice on all the genres or follow your strengths. I always focus on narrative in the classroom because you can never go wrong with a story! Even if your story ends with you falling off your bed as it was all a dream (sounds familiar?), you will never go wrong. Besides you can be imaginative too.

You will be given one hour to complete the essay- meaning you should do some planning at the beginning (say about five minutes) instead of jumping straight into writing your first paragraph. You should also spare the last five minutes to check your grammar, especially your tense! Do not let the other candidate who starts writing furiously affect you! If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

You will be instructed to write in about 350 words- please do not count the number of words as this will waste precious time on your part. Writing between 350-600 words should be fine. I always tell my students to estimate in terms of the number of pages of your testpad and the size of their handwriting.

Choosing Your Essay

Before even attempting to write, the rist thign you should do is to read the entire question paper carefully. Which of the topics gives you the best oppotunity to write at the rewuired length? Sometimes, it may not be what you like but what is practical! You may like to write about "Homework" for example, but you do not have enough content and so you will not last the 350 words minimum. So, make a wise choice. The following will guide you as to which you are good at:

Consider the compositions you have been writing in the classrooms- which ones were the most successful?
Do you find it easier to write stories than say to construct arguments? My tip in the classroom will always be this- if your command of the language is strong, you may choose any of the topics. However, if you are average and below, my advice is to go for stories.

Are there any topics that really interest you? You may be lucky to find one that is close to something you are interested in BUT be careful- can you write up to 350 words on the topic? A short answer will not be able to convey the full extent of your ability to write. It will not give the examiner a complete impression on your ability to write using good sentences, vocabulary, punctuation, paragaraphing and interest value.

Coming up...The Planning Stage


  1. Rina (MRSM Betong, Sarawak)17 October 2011 at 21:49

    salam kak rahmah,
    What might come out in this year's paper 1? My students this year might be too tough to handle as they seem weaker than last year's especially when it comes to paper 1.

  2. wassallam rina,
    i understand your predicament but it is difficult to predict the writing paper. perhaps a talk for d.w and you know that c.w is impossible to predict :) all the best!


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