Report Writing Format: A detailed answer


What is the format to write a report?

Generally short formal reports begin as:





Is the format to write a report in O-Level examination similar?

The answer is the same, no specific format is followed.

Suggested Format on Report writing for O-Level Students

1. However, O Level teachers need to know that in CIE,  Paper1- Directed Writing, formats are not important.

1a. The examiner is only concerned with how well the candidate structures his/her report.

1b .Was he/her able to maintain an appropriate register(Register means the use of accurate words and vocabulary required for a formal report).

1c .Has the student answered all the rubric points.

2. The best expected way to begin a report in O-level English paper is to write ‘Sir and put the date adjacent to it. Just begin your report. ( no specific way to write the date as well. Write is 11th November 2012 or Nov,11 2012…whatever you desire.)

3. The first paragraph should tell what the report is about. If you are reporting about an event then in the first paragraph you should also inform the reader when and where the event took place.

4. The second paragraph should tell how the entire event took place and some eye catching relevant incidents worth mentioning  must be added.

5. The last paragraph should add some suggestions and concluding remarks from your side. But keep in mind that it should be entirely objective. Sometimes in the question the examiner asks the candidate to provide some suggestions, in that case you are free to add subjective remarks.

6. End by writing ‘ signature’ and your name.

7. Keep your language simple and use passive voice to give an impersonal tone to your report. For example, ‘ it was observed’ instead of  stating “I saw” or ‘I observed’

8. The use of ‘I’ pronoun is permitted unless the event is witnessed by you. On the contrary, ‘I’ pronoun is not generally used in reports as it adds a personal shade to your reporting. Thus, the candidate needs to be careful in its use and choose appropriate words to maintain an impersonal tone.

9. Do not exceed the word limit i.e 200-300 words

9. Also view my post on Newspaper Reports to see the difference in writing accounts, reports and newspaper reports.

10. Do not confuse it with letter writing. (Pakistani students often tend to do that as they have been taught letter writing since their early classes).

Good luck!

Syllabus changes O level English teachers ought to know

Some changes since 2011 are made in the syllabus teachers ought to know

 Paper 1-Writing Paper

  1. 1:30 One and Half Hours are allocated to Paper 1, that is the Writing Paper and it carries  60 MARKS.
  2. It is divided into two sections.
  3. The first section is based on Directed Writing wherein the candidates will be given a Task. This Section carries 30 Marks. In this section as per the changes made in the syllabus only three rubric points are given to the students (previously there were 5) and the word limit is 200-300 words. Here 15 marks are allocated for task fulfillment and 15 marks are for the use of appropriate language. This means the proper use of register, language, grammar and vocabulary appropriate for a particular audience. Candidates will have to write to different audiences and thus choose his language accordingly.
  4. In the present syllabus candidates will have to write a write a letter, speech, report and article. There is no mentioning of leaflet or brochures however those could be hinted because if the syllabus says that the candidate has to write  ’ fit for purpose and relevant to the world of study, work or community’ then leaflets should not be missed out in your preparation. Moreover, here candidates have to inform or presuade a particular audience.
  5. The Second Section is the Creative Writing. It carries 30 Marks . Students have to choose any one question out of 5 given essays: narrative/descriptive/argumentative essay titles. In the present syllabus instead of expository essays , discursive essays and the word count is cut down from 350-500 words from 350 -600 words.
  6. The 30 marks are equally divided in testing the language and content.
  7. Candidates have to answer both the questions on a separate answer sheets.

Paper 2: Reading

  1. 1 hour 45 minutes are allocated to paper 2 and it carries 50 marks.
  2. This paper has two sections and candidates answer on the question paper
  3. It is further divided inot 2 Sections The first section is  Reading for Ideas, it carries 25 marks. Students will have to nte down 15 for content points after they scan a factual passage (or communications) of approximately 700 words – e.g. report(s), article(s), advertisement(s), email(s), letter(s). Then making use of these content points they will write a summaryof 160 words. 5 marks are allocated for language and 5 marks for the summary(that means you take a mean of the both-4=3=7/2)
  4.  15 marks are for the content points.. Students will note down information about e.g. similarities and differences, or causes and effects, or advantages and disadvantages, or problems and solutions, or actions and consequences given in the passage.
  5. Next part of this section is answering the main ideas questions. 5 marks are given for this part.  These will be short answer questions worth 5 marks.Candidates then answer questions on the main ideas in the communication(s) – e.g. follow an argument/sequence or identify a conclusion, distinguish fact from opinion, give personal response to a theme in the passage.Reading for Meaning: 25 content only.
  6. The long passage has been replaced with two passages in Paper 2 (Comprehension) One Factual and the Second Narrative.
  7. The second section is Reading for Meaning with 25 marks.
  8. Candidates read a narrative passage (e.g. report, article, story) of approximately 700 words. They then answer short answer questions testing their ability to understand the language (both explicit and implicit meanings).
  9. Note:Equal weighting is given  to both Creative and Directed Writing


O-level teachers’ resource on Formal Letter.

Formal Letter Writing.

Directed Writing


Student Council election is just round the corner. Students interested in the contesting for the post of the Head Boy of the school are requested to write a letter stating their eligibility for the post. They are supposed to enclose their credentials along with the letter. You are interested in the pose

  • State the purpose of the letter
  • Write the reasons why you think you are suitable for the post and  how you are a better candidate than the other contestants.
  • Also state what positive changes you look forward to bring and how would they benefit your fellow students.

Write extra information relevant to the topic under discussion. Write between 250-300 words.

 Activity 2

This is a sample letter written by a  student and it has many errors.

 Respected Sir,


With due reverence and humble submission I beg to submit to you and I learn that there is a Student Council Election taking place on the 5th May 2011. I am standing for the post of a Head boy. I am a very intelligent student, Sir, I please request you to except my request and select me as for it. I have been standing first through out my school. I deserve to be the head boy. Worthy Sir, I am also being a student of Literature and I am very deadly desirous to be serve my school with my skills and I promise I will do what ever will be asked from me and I as u have asked me to send my certificates I will humbly send them to you. Secondly I am a very good debater and I am also a very good student. I won many prices in the future. So I deserve this post. So I request you to select me. I deserve it.

Thanking and please see if this is possible.

Yours faithfully

Check list


First Paragraph stated the purpose  YES/NO
Second paragraph explained the purpose  
Letter ended with a proper salutation  
Accurate use of language  
The tone of the letter was formal  
Complimentary Close was accurate  
When you know someone you write ‘Yours Sincerely’  
No Spelling Errors.  
The sentences  were short  
Standard use of English Language  
Word Count was accurate.  
Tenses were correctly used.  
No indigenous words used.  

Activity designed by Zakia Shahzeb



Useful websites for O – Level students

Useful Websites

The websites listed below are useful resources to help you study for your GCE/GCSE/IGCSE First Language English. 
Is free sample from Q&A Resources. It is taken from a 30+-page Study Guide, specifically tailored to CIE First Language English, available for purchase. 
Is the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. It is up-to-date and free to use. 
Is an excellent free site with lots of grammar and language exercises you can try out to test yourself! 
Is the Grammar Slammer site, which explains the rules of English grammar and usage with examples. 
Is a site with many useful examples of argumentative and discursive writing. It would also provide possible topics for coursework assignments. 
Is the BBC Bitesize website which contains many exercises and activities. Although aimed at home-board GCSE/GCE candidates, many parts are relevant to First Language IGCSE tasks.

Other general English GCSE/GCE revision sites which are relevant (at least in part) are: 



Revision Guide for O-Level Students

Check list designed by  CIE examiners for the preparation of O-Level English Language subject code-1123

Checklist – tick if against the column you have worked on something similar

Skill: All students should be able to: Those taking the Extended examination should also be able to Ways in which the skills might be practised (appropriate contexts
Reading.Locating specificinformation asquickly as possible =Skimming Read short non-fiction texts, such asleaflets, news reportsand advertisements Cope with more detailed andextensive informative texts • Looking at leaflets, reports, guidelines
• Analysing brochures
Reading.Locating more detailed information;looking morecarefully= Scanning Read longer non-fiction texts, such as articles from newspapers andmagazines Cope with longerand more challenging articles • Reading similar articles (in style and in length) to those seen frequently in past examination papers
• Reading factual articles
• Extracting relevant information from articles
Reading & Writing.Integrated reading and writing 1. Read a text which contains information andrespond using therelevant material from the text Convey a thoroughunderstanding by writing a lengthy response in adifferent genre from the original text • Practising using the same material in different genres
• Practising writing formal letters
  2. Understanddescriptive texts and select relevantinformation and phrases from them Select, explain and analyse the effect of the usage ofcertain phrases in the text • Reading passages from literary texts and identifying the ways in which feeling or atmosphere have been         created
  3. Adopt an appropriate voice in which to express a response to a text Adopt a sophisticated orofficial persona • Practising using different registers and styles for different aims according to                                                specific tasks
  4. Show awareness of audience Target your audience • Practise using devices which show ability to address your audience directly and manipulate its response
  5. Write short summaries Summarise through Note-taking • Writing a summary based on a set of notes of between 7 and 15 points
• Practising the use of own words
• Becoming familiar with the concise and precise language of summary style
Writing 1. Describe, discuss, argue and narrate Carry out longer writing tasks on a range of topics, paying attention tostructure, sequence and style • Writing descriptions of events,places, people using all five senses and imagery
• Planning openings and endings to stories
• Structuring and supporting points for an argument
  2. Use language for a specific purpose, e.g. to persuade, toconsider, to evaluate, to inform, to entertain, toconvey an impression Create sustained and cohesive responses tocontinuous writing tasks,showing an awareness of the generic characteristics ofdifferent types of writing • Writing (and performing) debate speeches
• Balancing ideas for and against a discussion topic
• Analysing the devices used in letters, articles and editorials stating a point of view
• Writing stories which have gripping openings, pace,dialogue, climax,strong endings



O – Level English Language (1123) – Syllabus for 2012-2014

Here is a complete syllabus  for   GCE-,O-Level English Language, subject code 1123,Cambridge International Examination session 2012,2013 and 2014:  Paper 1(Writing) and Paper 2(Reading) 

Check the PDF Files for more information.( See more on ‘Sample Papers and Examination’ guide for O-Level Students,   next in this category) 


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Fresh resource for teachers on Summary Writing

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Check-list for Descriptive Essay -Section 2

  • Students should use this grid to assess how far the writer has fulfilled the demand of acquiring an ‘A” Grade in Paper 1, Descriptive Essay (section 2)
  • There are some points given in the table to give you an idea what examiners really look for while checking a descriptive essay.

Note: Now go through the MARKING SCHEME FOR PAPER 1-SECTION 2. (see the Teacher Resources Section)

Check list





To some extent


Good use of vocabulary      


Varied sentence structures used e.g. complex, simple, compound, long and short       


Words are appropriately and accurately used      


No spelling mistakes      


Essay is coherent and well structured      


Meaningful images used to create effective atmosphere.      


Descriptive Tools appropriately used      


Word Limit obeyed      


No overdone of vocabulary      

By Zakia Shahzeb