Past Question 1 Questions


Examples of Q1 tasks over the last few years:

  1. Imagine you are Aunt Pegg. After one week of looking after the children, you write a letter to their parents in which you: …
  2. Imagine you are a schools inspector and you have recently visited the school described in Passage A. You are not pleased with what you have observed. Write your report in which you: …
  • Imagine that you are Donovan Webster. You are being interviewed for a television programme about your visit to Diudiu in Mongolia. Write the words of the interview.
  1. Imagine you are a reporter, writing from the area. Write the newspaper report which would have appeared a week after the eruption of Vesuvius.
  2. Write a report to the committee that organises the group. In your report give your reasons whether or not Dr. Zinc should be invited to speak at one of the debates.
  3. Write a newspaper report using the headlines printed below. Base what you write closely on the reading material in Passage A
  4. You have recently stayed at the Shamrock Hotel and, most surprisingly, you thoroughly enjoyed your stay. Write a letter to Mr and Mrs Doyle explaining the reasons why you liked the hotel so much. You know that the Doyles will use your letter to advertise the hotel in future.
  5. Imagine you are the writer of Passage A. Write a diary entry in which you explore your thoughts and feelings about the trip so far. You will be sending your diary entry to your friends and family

Oral Exam


Stuck on what to talk about in your oral exam? Try one of these subjects.

  • Facebook and Twitter should only be used by adults. Discuss.
  • Schools put too much pressure on students to produce high exam results. Discuss.
  • Human cloning is the best way to advance medical science. Discuss
  • Having a part-time job harms students’ education and can prevent them from achieving their full potential. Discuss.
  • The law should do more to protect animals. Discuss.
  • All forms of gambling should be illegal. Discuss.
  • It should be compulsory for all young men to serve in the military. Discuss.
  • Working mothers disadvantage their children. Discuss.
  • Man is destroying the earth. Discuss.
  • More should be done to protect sharks worldwide. Discuss.
  • Children should be encourage to follow their dreams, not academic success. Discuss.
  • In the 21st Century children are too protected and therefore miss out on important life experiences. Discuss
  • Advertising images put too much pressure on teenage girls to conform to their beauty standards. Discuss.
  • Football is ‘just a game.’ Discuss.
  • Footballers should be allowed private lives and should not be criticized for their behaviour off the pitch. Discuss.
  • Footballers should give back more to society because of their high wages. Discuss.
  • Man is destroying animals natural habitat. Discuss.

Types of Reading Question Paper 1.


Question types:

1. Understand explicit text details.

2. Understand vocabulary.

3. Understanding vocabulary and appreciate implicit (hidden) suggestions in the writer’s choice of words.

4. Summarise relevant information.


(a) From paragraph 1, give two reasons why the writer wanted to visit the province in the Philippines. [2]

Question (a),requires understanding of explicit textual details.

(b): Explain, using your own words, what is meant by “truly enticing in the frigid winter” (line 8). [2]

Question (b) tests the candidates’ understanding of vocabulary contained in the passage.

(c) Why do you think the writer described the owner of the football pitch as a “vain” man (line23)?

(d ) Re-read paragraph 7, “Following a flat tyre…utterly dreamlike!” (lines 27-33). Choose three words or phrases which the writer uses to describe her enjoyment of this part of the journey. Explain how each of these words and phrases helps you to imagine this pleasure.

Responses to questions (c) and (d) require not only understanding of vocabulary but also an appreciation of the implicit (hidden) suggestions in the writer’s choice of words.

(e) Re-read paragraphs 3 and 4 (“Our descent…end of the day”) and then write a summary of what the writer found unpleasant and what she found enjoyable about the downhill journey. Write a paragraph of about 50-70 words. [7]

Question (e) tests the candidates’ ability to identify relevant points and use them to write a summary of a section of the passage.

Past Tense In Narrative Compositions


Read this narrative and take note of how the writer has kept the narrative in the past tense, you should to the same.

I arrived in Seattle on a cold, rainy night in October. As I stepped off the train and heard the door close behind me, I suddenly realised I had left my purse in the overhead compartment. This stupid event was the latest in a series that had plagued me all day, suggesting I should have just stayed in bed.
Cursing myself under my breath, I trudged along the rain-soaked street looking for a payphone. Finally, six blocks later, one appeared in front of a market to my left. I fumbled in my pocket for some change and the number I had written on a scrap of paper before leaving my apartment twelve hours before. Luckily, the phone wasn’t as grungy as I had expected it to be, so I dropped my quarters in the slot and waited for that familiar voice.


“Sis, it’s me.”

“Good gracious, are you all right? I’ve been worried sick!”

“I’m not great, but I’m here. Can you come get me?”

“Before you can hang up, I’ll be there.”

I had been sitting there only a few minutes when she sped around the corner and skidded to a stop in front of the phone booth. The car was battered and cold, but I would have happily jumped into a manure truck at that point. I huddled in my seat and shivered, waiting for her to ask the question I knew she would.


Narrative Hooks


Don’t forget a good hook at the beginning of your narrative.

The first few lines of any piece of writing are essential because they set the tone and, hopefully, make the reader want to read on. This is known as a ‘hook’.

The first line should leave the reader asking a question.

This question should invite the reader to keep reading. (These techniques can also be used to start your paragraphs)

Here are some techniques for writing hooks and some examples:

Description of character:

Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet, and so does Mindy Metalman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden. The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace

Description of setting:

The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling


Peter crouched over the fire, stirring the embers so that the sparks swarmed up like imps on the rocky walls of hell. Count Karlstein by Phillip Pullman


“I’m going shopping in the village,” George’s mother said to George on Saturday morning. “So be a good boy and don’t get up to mischief.” George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl


Ever had the feeling your life’s been flushed down the toilet? The Toilet of Doom by Michael Lawrence

A statement

It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful. Matilda by Roald Dahl

Here are some other famous examples. Identify which one you like and why.

  • Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
  • It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. – George Orwell
  • Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. – James Joyce, Ulysse
  • It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. – Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford
  • Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. “Stop!” cried the groaning old man at last, “Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree.” – Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans
  • It was the day my grandmother exploded. – Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road
  • Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. – George Eliot, Middlemarch
  • “Take my camel, dear,” said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass. – Rose Macaulay, The Towers of Trebizond .
  • Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there’s a peephole in the door, and my keeper’s eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me. – Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum


Journal Example.


May 1st 2013. Our Journey On The Wild River.

Sometimes I wonder what I am doing here; the jungle contrasts so greatly to my normal domain. I am my happiest sitting on my old chesterfield sofa, pen in hand, notebook on my lap. Indeed, that is how I have written my greatest poems. Now the heat of the roaring fire has gone and instead the heat of the Borneo sun beats down on my back. Redmond, whom I have only known for six months, somehow persuaded me to accompany him on one of his harebrained adventures. At least I have this, my journal, and my notebook of poems to escape into when his absurd talk of crocodiles and other jungle creatures becomes too much.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against animals or nature. But I like to see trees in paintings, in photographs or out of the window of my car as I’m driven to the library. I have no interest in listening to Redmond recite the Latin name of hundredth specimen of tree we have passed that day in our rickety canoe. And what’s wrong with wanting to travel in comfort? A ship, a yacht, a ferry: all respectable forms of waterborne transport. But a dugout canoe? I was aghast when Redmond revealed it to me. An expression of barely contained glee all over his rugged face, he was like a child at Christmas receiving his first pushbike. I dread to think where he will take us next.

At night he spreads out his maps and talks of where we will go next. I have heard him mention eagles, lizards and monkeys. Even at night I am awoken from my delightful dreams of stanzas and sonnets by his mumbles about hidden coves and undiscovered whirlpools. Richmond tells me we will be traveling back with the current, so the journey should be faster but smoother. I pray that the next few days are a steady meander over calm waters, allowing me peace and time to compose more works for my next anthology. Needless to say my suggestions are overlooked.

I made the same request for a peaceful course this morning and settled myself at the back of the canoe, put my straw boater on my head and lent back ready to immerse myself in the poetry of Swift, only to be rudely interrupted by Richmond twittering about rapids. I managed to keep Swift dry, but I was drenched in river water. I debated talking to Richmond about searching for a calmer route, but he was already gazing into the sky again at some large and ungainly bird flying by, so I thought better of it and carried on reading. Richmond and I are two men so similar in upbringing and education and yet our interests are so different. It dumbfounds me.

In a few days our ‘adventure’ will be over. Not soon enough for me! If Richmond manages to successfully transport us through this tropical nightmare of creepers and critters we will emerge from the wilderness and arrive at a small settlement, the nearest this backwater has to civilization. I sincerely hope to find a shop selling the amenities I am so desperately craving. Never again will I bemoan the quality of my dear wife’s cooking. Never again will I grumble when my beautiful daughters’ cheerful playing disturbs my afternoon nap. And never again will I allow myself to be tempted to travel to far flung places by the inane ramblings of a mad man.

It was a wise man who said “I have travelled the world through my reading.” Indeed, from now on, the great works of Literature are the only transport I need.