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Cambridge GCE O’ Level English Language (1120, 1123)

Cambridge GCE O’ level English language course is meant for learners who have proficiency in English close to native/first language level. The course empowers learners to

  • Be able to communicate accurately and clearly
  • Develop and use a rich repertoire of vocabulary, and accurate grammar, spelling and punctuation
  • Adopt a personal style in writing, maintaining an awareness of the audience addressed

This course requires learners to read widely. A good reading habit will help learners to develop skills such as inference and interpretation of material that is read.

Assessment overview

GCE O’ level English assessment has two components: Paper 1 (reading) which is for two hours, and Paper 2 (writing) which is also for two hours. The reading paper assesses students with structured and extended writing questions. There will be two reading texts in this paper. This paper is externally assessed. The writing paper encompasses one directed writing question and a composition task. This paper is also externally assessed.

Assessment objectives for paper 1 (reading)

  • Convey an understanding of explicit meanings
  • Convey an understanding of implicit meanings and attitudes
  • Using appropriate support from the text, analyze, evaluate and develop fact, opinions and ideas
  • Convey understanding of how writers achieve certain effects and influence readers
  • Identify and use information for specific purposes

Assessment objectives for paper 2 (writing)

  • Express thoughts, feelings and experiences
  • Form and structure opinions and ideas for effect
  • Use appropriate vocabulary and sentence structures
  • Use appropriate register
  • Use accurate grammar, spelling and punctuation

Both paper 1 and paper 2 carry 50 marks each.

Students should be able to focus on the writer’s style and use of language and how writers achieve certain effects and influence readers. This influence may include ideas, perspectives, opinions, facts and bias.

Do you want to do well in the writing paper? Well, then you should be familiar with a range of writing skills such as the ability to compose texts with a variety of purposes and forms, such as narrative and descriptive. Students should be able to write emails, letters, reports, articles, summaries and speech.

Details of the assessment

Paper 1 – Reading

Students should answer all the questions. The texts are given in the question paper insert. Dictionaries cannot be used.

Section A Comprehension and Use of Language (25 marks)

Question 1 Comprehension task

Students answer a series of sub-questions based on Text A, a narrative text. These questions test understanding of both explicit and implicit meanings. Text A is around 900 words long and is from either the twentieth or the twenty-first century. The assessment objectives of this section are to test for understanding of explicit and implicit meanings and attitudes. This section carries 16 marks.

Question 2 Use of Language task

Students should answer a series of sub-questions based on Text A. These are short answers that carry nine marks in total. These questions test for understanding of how writers use language to achieve effects and influence readers.

Section B Summary and Short response (25 marks)

Question 3a Summary task

Students should answer a summary task, responding to Text B, which is around 550 to 600 words long. Candidates should write a summary as continuous writing of no more than 150 words. This question tests for understanding of explicit meanings. It also assesses a candidate’s ability to identify and use information for specific purposes, organize and structure ideas and opinions for deliberate effects, and use appropriate vocabulary and sentence structures. This question carries a total of 20 marks.

Question 3b Short response task

Students should give a short response to demonstrate understanding of implicit meanings and attitude in response to Text B. This question carries five marks.

Paper 2 – Writing

Written paper, 2 hours, 50 marks Students should answer two questions, one from section A and one from section B. The texts are given on the question paper.

Section A Directed Writing (25 marks)

Candidates answer one compulsory question, after reading one or two texts which total around 400 to 450 words. You should create a persuasive speech, email, report, letter or article which are persuasive/argumentative/discursive in nature. Candidates should write about 250–350 words.

Section B Composition (25 marks)

Students should answer one question from a choice of four questions in 350 to 450 words.


A descriptive composition about a moment in time, places, or people.


A narrative piece of writing tells a story including connected events. It may be real or fictional.

GCE O’ Level English New Syllabus Summary Exercises

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