CIE’s requirement regarding a Newspaper Report: An Example

Rescuers find trapped student caver alive

Eight Swiss potholers trapped in a cave in eastern France by rising water were found alive yesterday. Rescue teams were preparing to work through the night to bring them to the surface.

Known as Bief-du-Paraud, the cave, which runs for 415 yards but only about 20 feet below the surface, is normally considered a beginner-level site for potholers.

The expedition had been part of a project for the students to develop their ability to face challenges.

Inexperienced, poorly equipped and with one of the group being partially blind, the students were initially given little chance of survival.

The potholers had entered the long narrow cave on Wednesday despite warnings from local people to stay away because rain in recent weeks had made the area dangerous.

Hope for survival of the three women and five men – students and a teacher in their twenties – had been fading when they were found before midday by a driver who swam through a narrow passage to reach a chimney where they had taken refuge.

The diver had discovered them crouched in the corridor above the water level 75 yards into the cave at Goumois in the Doubs department, 30 miles from the Swiss border. They had been trapped there for nearly 40 hours by sudden flooding on Wednesday.

Distraught relatives who had gathered at the site gave a cheer when news of their discovery was announced. The group was expected to be brought out through a hole being drilled into a chimney where they had taken refuge.

Rescuers were pumping water from the cave to avert flood danger from heavy rains over the past 24 hours. Two divers, one of whom is a doctor, where spending the night with the students in the chimney. They brought them food and water and heating appliance.

‘The group took refuge in a dry spot in a chimney, ’Eric Zipper, technical adviser informed. ‘They are in good shape considering their ordeal. They are hungry and a little weak. They have very little food left, but they are in good spirits. There was no panic. They had a little light because they had rationed their batteries.’

Local potholing experts described the expedition as foolhardy, given the dangerous prevailing conditions. ‘They were equipped only with walking shoes, jeans and anoraks’, M. Zipper said.

Markus Braendle, director of the Social Workers College of Zurich, where most of the students came from, asserted: ‘I am so happy this nightmare is over’.

The French authorities are expected to start a legal inquiry into the conduct of the group’s leader, a normal practice in such incidents.


  1. Newspaper reports are often confused with reports written to the principal or some other authority or personnel.
  2. A newspaper report always begins with a heading, a more precise or an accurate term is a HEADLINE, as we have here in the above example. (See my Format of newspaper report for details). Other reports would begin with a subject stating what the report is about or they may have no subject at all (depending how the examiner demands the candidate to open his/her report. Also see my example on report writing for a better understanding).
  3. Some newspaper reports also have a sub-headings either immediately after the headlines or some where in between the text. Those are just to reiterate certain points or draw the attention of the readers on certain matters. There isn’t any here.
  4. You would have noticed from the above example that unlike other accounts of events, newspaper reports generally follow this pattern as written below.
  5. The first paragraph or the first few sentences state the summary of the recent event you are writing about. This would include answers to the questions of Who?What?When?Where? relevant to the event. It in actual summarizes the facts about what happened.
  6. The report proceeds with answering the queries of ‘How’ and ‘Why’?’ it happened at a stretch of a few short interlinked paragraphs. The report expands in covering the background details of the story or event. In the above example it is written in six short paragraphs.
  7. Then it further returns to the immediate situation i.e. to proceed towards the description of what is happening now. Here it is described in two paragraphs: 7 and 8.
  8. The next step is to record the responses of those involved. This includes the official statements by the authorities involved. E.g here we have statements given by a technical adviser, a local potholing expert and the director of the Social Workers College of Zurich, all illustrated in three separate paragraphs.
  9. In the end, the report looks ahead to the near future as we have in the last paragraph above.
  10. This report is adapted from “The Times, 19 May 2001, therefore, the word count is approximately 470 words, perhaps as required.  In that respect, students may cut short the explanation part where they have to describe about the background of the event to keep within the word limit of 200-300 words as demanded in the GCE O-level examination English Paper 1- directed writing.
  11. The language is kept simple yet very precise using Standard English readable for a general audience. Short and compound sentences are  linked with and, so, but.
  12. There are short paragraphs – some even consisting of one sentence.
  13. Direct Speech is added to give an authentic touch to the report. In the examination the candidate may have to assume certain situations.
  14. In the reported speech the verbs should not be repeated. There should be variety of verbs introduced e.g ‘asserted, confirmed, said’.
  15. Vocabulary should be kept sensational to give a sense of drama. This should not be confused with using emotions. Remember! Reports should not have any emotional response or personal views of the reporter, or any direct address to the reader.  In the above example the drama has been kept intact by using words inexperienced, poorly equipped, partially blind, Hope for survival had been fading etc.
  16. Good luck!


Source: IGCSE First Language English.






Directed Writing: Speech Writing (Format)

‘Good morning, good morning, everyone, and welcome to our regular lecture on health issues. I am Ms Diana Greenbaum, a Dietian by profession. It is a pleasure to be here. As you all know that this series of lectures is organized by the Students’ Union and is part of the union’s attempt to help you, the students of this university., to stay healthy while coping with study and social life at the same time.

Now, stresses at university, being away from home and having to look after yourselves, learning your way around the campus all contribute to making it quite hard sometimes to ensure that your diet is adequate. So today I’m going to talk about ways of making sure that you eat well while at the same time staying within your budget.

If you have a well balanced diet, then you should be getting all the vitamins that you need for normal daily living. However, sometimes we think we’re eating the right foods but the vitamins are scaping, perhaps as a result of cooking and anyway we’re not getting the full benefit of them. Now, if you lack vitamins in any way, the solution isn’t to rush off and take vitamin pills, though they can sometimes help. No, it’s far better to look at your diet and how you prepare your food.

So what are vitamins? Well, the dictionary tells us they are “food factors essential in small quantities to maintain life”. Now, there are fat soluble vitamins which can be stored for quite some time by the body and there are water soluble vitamins which are removed more rapidly from the body and so a regularly daily intake of these ones is needed.

OK, so how can you ensure that your diet contains enough of the vitamins you need? Well, first of all, you may have to establish some new eating habits! No more chips at the university canteen, I’, afraid! OK, can you all see that? Good, Well, now, as you see, we’ve got three levels to our pyramids. At the top in the smallest area are the things which we should really be trying to avoid as much as possible. Things like yes, sugar, salt, butter…….all that sort of things.

Next, on the middle of the pyramid we find the things that we can eat in moderation. Not too much though! And that’s where we find milk, lean meat and fish.

I hope today’s lecture was informative enough for you all. Are there any questions? NO! Okay then. Thank you students. ‘


  • This is an example of a  formal speech.
  • See how the speaker uses the ‘ing’ form in  her speech.
  • She  has made effective use of fillers like ‘well’ ,’ok’,’now,’ but has used them sparingly.
  • The speech begins with a greeting, presents introduction and then states the purpose of the speech before she nicely ends with a smooth signing off note of  ‘Thank you.’
  • There are many interactive questions asked by the presenter to her audience.
  • There are contractions used as well.
  • The entire speech is enclosed within ‘speech marks.’
  • The candidate(the writer) has exceeded the word count inwriting this speech. This may slightly impact her/his grade.

For more information on speech writing view post of ‘Format of Speech Writing’. Also see the difference in other directed writing genres by viewing posts for the ‘Format of report writing’, ‘CIE provides some important guidelines on Paper 1 for O-Level teachers, ‘How to improve your Written Expression in ENGLISH Language’ and ‘Difference between Account Writing and Report writing’

Directed Writing: Format of Speech Writing

Directed Writing: Format on Speech Writing.

  1. Speeches are to inform, share, support or persuade your audience on certain topics/topic given to you in section 1- directed writing.
  2. Beware that you have to write exactly how you speak before your audience. In  fact, it is the easiest in its writing style.
  3. Start with opening your speech marks.”   “,or ‘     ‘ both are fine.
  4. Begin with greeting your audience.Keep in mind the type of speech being delivered (formal or informal). Eg. ’Good morning friends’, ‘hello’, ‘greeting my dear fellow peers’, ‘good evening ma’am, respected teachers’ e.t.c.
  5. A greeting should be followed by a brief introduction. E.g. ’My name is Sara and  I am representing my class…’,’I am a student of O-level and my name is Awab’,’I am speaking on behalf of my staff members or I hereby speak on behalf of my residential community’ e.t.c.(depending on the type of speech, either formal or informal).
  6. Do not confuse it with a debate. (I happen to give a question on speech writing to my class, many students involved in debates, they commenced their speeches on the same lines as done in debates’ ‘The motion of the house is…’).
  7. Proceed by informing the audience about the purpose of your speech. What is the speech about? ‘I am here with you to discuss/inform/share/ask your views about the raising  rates of the edibles at our school canteen’, ‘I would/will like talk on increasing issues on misconduct of my fellow peers on campus’ e.t.c.
  8. Speech should be written in a way as it must be spoken. Thus, it is the only genre in directed writing where the candidate is permitted to experiment with the  pattern of sentence structure (SVO)  used as a standard in English language. e.g. ‘ On behalf of my class I would like to speak on some imperative issues  never discussed before.’ could be written as ‘There are some  imperative issues, never been discussed, ever, before here on campuson, so on behalf of my entire class, I would like to speak on those, today’.
  9. A speech is a genre where the candidate can use the ‘ing’ form wherever he desire.e.g.‘I am speaking  here in front of you..’,’today we will be discussing…’,’I  am representing  my class…’.
  10. In an informal speech the candidate can use ellipses of fillers to give it a realistic flavor. E.g. ‘hmm, Good morning! friends… my name is SSara’. The repetition of the letter  ‘s’ highlights a stress given by the speaker. And the speech begins with ‘hmm’, another technique that shows whether the speaker is hesitant or either preparing himself to begin his speech.
  11.  Moreover,this technique may help to identifya sense of anxiety or tension projected in the speech. Furthermore, these are best suited in writing an informal speech.
  12. NOTE:The fillers and ellipses should be used sparingly, otherwise, it would give an impression to the examiner that the candidate is deliberately using these tools to show the examiner of his awareness of this technique.
  13. A speech must have rhetorical questions (those questions that do not make your audience think hard about something) to show the speaker is in immediate interaction with his audience. E.g. ‘I hope you understand what I mean?’, “I hope you all are doing well?’, ‘do you have any questions on this matter? I would love to answer those’.
  14. Writing a speech does not permit you to add ‘slangs’ or any nonstandard form of English words like ‘I wanna talk too ya’,’you gotta luv it’,’Hiya chicks’.
  15. Contractions are included. E.g.’ I’m here’ instead of ‘I am here’.
  16. Certain colloquial words could only be included in an informal speech for instance ’hey fellas’, for ‘Hello fellow friends’, ‘This campus is great deal’, in place of, ‘This campus is a great place’.
  17. In speech writing make use of exclamation marks. This would show stress being laid on some spoken words.
  18. The candidate can italicize the words or use upper case like ‘ARE YOU with me!’. Other variations like underlining the sentence or a particular word would suggest a rise and fall in intonation of the speaker. And this would add a realistic feel to your speech.
  19. Remember you have to write as if you are speaking to your audience at present.Hence, whatever you write must show as if you are infront of your audience and aware that speech writing differs from other forms of written genres in this respect.
  20. End your speech by thanking your audience for listening to you.’Thank you all for being with me today.’ In an informal speech you could add a joke stating how the audience put had up with you for so long.
  21. You may also end with asking them to present their queries on the matter.e.g. ‘would you like to ask some questions? I would appreciate to have a question answer session with you all’.
  22. Another way of signing off can be by adding a ‘quote’
  23. In the end a simple ‘Thank you and good evening’, ”Thank you and see you all again’ would do.
  24. Remember not to exceed the word limit.
  25. Do not forget to close the speech marks at the closing of your speech, students often tend to forget it in the end.


Examiner Report June 2012


Click on the text in blue and read the examiner report for June  2012, O-level English Language paper 1123

Examiner Report June 2012


Directed Writing: Topics for practice on Letter Writing

Task 1 Your  Principal has received a following letter: Dear Sir As I walking near your school during lesson time, I saw a student in uniform arguing with a man. Some papers changed hands. As I approached, they both ran off and one of them dropped a wallet. This item I am returning. In it you will find a large sum of money and the name of the owner. No doubt you will wish to investigate this incident. Yours faithfully Sue Hathway You are the student concerned, and it is your wallet. The principal now requires an answer to the following questions in the form of a written statement: State why you out of were school during lessons?

  1. Why were there so much money in your wallet and what were the papers that changed hands?
  2. Who was that man and what were you talking about?

Cover all the above points and add any extra (relevant) details.

Task 2. You are in hospital recovering from an operation. Your parents are away. You need to buy some personal items. You also need various books and notes for examination revision. You have borrowed some things which must be returned urgently. Write a letter to a school friend in which you explain what has happened; ask for help; give news about yourself and your family; ask for news of school and other friends; and add details of interest to you both. Write your letter friendly and informative.

Task 3. Write a letter to your relative about a sports day that was recently at your school. Your answer should include the following

  • What people were involved in the sports day?
  • How did the situation at the event change the atmosphere of the entire day?
  • Discuss the contributions of the teachers and students in making it a success. Add any extra detail if possible.
Task 4: Write a letter to an alien from another planet, describing life on Earth. (a friendly letter)

Task 5

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 post

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

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

Task 6 .The government is planning to build an airport near your area. Write a letter to a local newspaper, setting out your views and arguments about the issue. Your answer should include the following

  • Discuss how this will positively affect the nearby areas.
  • State any further suggestions on this issue.
  • Mention any negative possible points regarding the plan that could prove beneficial for the residents.

Add any extra detail if possible.  

See more topics for letter writing practice

School Magazine Article: A Specimen from CIE

This is a sample school magazine article written by a candidate in response to a question in CIE O-level paper.

Check out the way this student has effectively used the “we” pronoun that thereby shows his understanding of its usage for a particular  audience. He has also been very careful in choosing the right vocabulary appropriate for the format of a school magazine article.

Note: As this question appeared in 2003 therefore there are more than three rubrics provided for the candidates. Beware that in the present syllabus (since 2011) only 3 rubrics are given in the question.

2003 June

You recently represented your school in a competition with other local schools. You were very pleased with the result and have been asked to write an account of the event for your school magazine. You must include the following details:

  • When, what and where the event was held
  • How you prepared yourself for the competition
  • Some details about the event itself
  • Your feelings when the result was announced
  • The reactions of your friends and family

You may add further details if you wish.

When we arrived at the padang to take our places, I could see the cynical look on the faces of our opponents. There were whispers and side-glances and bemused smiles. We were the only competitors from a ‘neighbourhood school’ which had reached the finals. Bruce spoke to us in his usual confident manner; we would make use of their cynicism to our advantage. They would be caught off guard; their underestimating us would be their undoing. Major Lim, our commander, agreed and smiled his famous wicked smile.

We were the last to perform. When our turn came, Agnes, our Sergeant-Major marched out briskly. I could see that the judges were visibly shaken when she bellowed her orders. They started! Then Bruce marched in and took over the platoon. As he barked command after command, we put in all that we had rehearsed all those weekends. I could see what everyone was doing, but I could hear the precise movements. I swell with pride when I realize that I belong to a ‘swell’ company of army cadets.

The end was inevitable; we were unanimously voted champions by the judges – a panel of military professionals. The chief judge made a comment while announcing the results, ‘I want to especially commend the platoon commander and sergeant-major of the champion platoon, I sincerely hope you make the army your career. We need people like you’

After the results were announced, our supporters rushed into the field and literally carried us in triumph. We were proud that we have done our school and our parents proud. I want to tell all of you that we did it all for you; and succeeded because of your support and your faith in us. To all of you, a big ‘Thank you’.

Checklist for the students:

  1. The article has no ‘Title’, which is expected to be in a school magazine article. However, this does not make much of a difference because the writer structures his/her entire content in a very appropriate manner requisite  for acquiring a good grade in this section.
  2. See how the candidate begins forcefully and engages the attention of the readers from the start.
  3. The refrain of the pronoun “we” shows how the writer of the article takes pride in being a part of a group of students in representing his/her school in a competition. In addition, the jubilant victory is experienced  not just through the writer’s eye alone but by involving a group of students along.
  4. Moreover, the use of ‘our’, ’us’ and “you” pronouns invite the entire students of the school (audience) to participate in the winning experience with their fellow school mates who represented their school in a competition.
  5. The candidate has covered all the points asked in the questions, along with providing extra relevant details to his/her readers.
  6. All  paragraphs are coherently linked together.
  7. The writer appropriately uses a  friendly register throughout the article.

Note: Check put my post on Use of Register for various genres

Directed Writing: Format of a School Magazine Article

Format of a School Magazine Article

  • News about school clubs and societies, school trips both at home and abroad, exchange visits with language students, exam results and original contributions written by students of all ages.
  • It is written by students for students – that is people of about the same age as you and with almost the same education, background, culture, ideas and outlook on life as you.
  • It is like writing to a large number of friends all at once
  • Personalise Replace ‘I’ with ‘We’
  • Share any point you have common with the readers(attitude of parents,school work, friends ….
  • Be interesting, remember that most of the readers are at school with you, they know the things you know- present information about a different, more interesting angle.
  • School magazine articles can be divided into the following different sections:
  • Always give the article a title and underline it Make it interesting, from the beginning show the examiner that you know exactly what you are doing. Try to think of an effective, interesting title.Choose something opposite/contrast to the article.
  • An effective introduction starts with a question to involve the readers and encourages them to continue reading. Example: Are you one of the many students with exam nerves?
  • Paragraphs should be nicely linked through transition words The points should be properly structured in your article like you do in essay writing.

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


CIE examiners’ concerns regarding the format for Letter Writing.

Paper 1 is divided in to 2 sections. The first part is called the Directed Writing wherein students are given a task to fulfill. Now in this section students have to write a letter, report (which are the most popular amongst the examiners), school magazine articles, news reports, newspaper articles, brochures or leaflets and speech writing. There is no choice in this section, thus students should be aware of all what they should know about the genres inclusive in Paper 1 –Section 1

Format for letters: This is the most confusing part for O-level teachers while preparing students for their CIE. What format to follow for writing a ‘Letter’? Should the students write the address on the left hand side or on the right hand side? Should the date come first or the subject line? Should there be a subject at all?

The best answer is that CIE Examiners are not concerned with the format at all.

1. Try to begin with Dear Sir/Madam.The examiner is concerned with how the candidate begins his/her letter and structures it and it would not make much of a difference in his marking.

2. Do not waste time thinking where to write the address…just begin!

3. Do not exceed the word limit..(otherwise you will lose marks)

4. Focus on your audience…this will help you maintain your tone and register.The examiner would also want the candidate to use an accurate ‘register’ for the letter. Register means the use of accurate words and vocabulary for an appropriate audience. In this case of formal and friendly letters may have a variation in tone and use of words.

5. Always answer all the rubrics mentioned in the question. Provide complete information the examiner seeks.

6. Try to keep your vocabulary simple.

7. Before you begin you must beware of the  rules applied for formal and informal registers. For example candidates can use contractions in a friendly letter but it is strictly refrained in a formal letter.

8. End your letter nicely.

9. Always proofread your work for spell checks and to avoid silly grammatical errors.


General information:

There are two formats given in a book recommended for O-Level English ‘Revision Cambridge Guide’. However, that is just to give students sense for a pattern used in letter writing. As a result students should know that letters are actually written in a certain format. For example 4 to 5 formats are followed in practical communication: Block form, modified form, semi block….. But if the students choose any one of it in the examination or even begin with a salutation “ Dear Sir’ that would not make much of a difference in his marking.

I hope your query is answered?



Classroom Activity 2 on Formal Letter Writing: A teachers Resource



First, read the  letter given below and discuss if it is appropriate as a formal letter or not.

Note: Refer to the check-list given in the ‘CIE Marking Scheme’

To celebrate World Cleanliness Day, you went to Liberty market Lahore along with a group of your classmates. You planned to pick litter from a street adjacent to the market and thus raise awareness of people regarding cleanliness. Your group went there and successfully began picking up litter from the street. In a very short while, people from the locality joined you and in a short while you managed to clean the street from trash. Once you finished the task, you saw a few cameramen from local channels wanting to interview members of your group. Since, you were over with the task you began to talk to them, without realizing that a crowd had gathered around you and had blocked  road. In just a few minutes, there was a traffic jam on the road. By now you have finished talking to the media and leave the place with your group. You feel very satisfied at the success of your mission of raising awareness among people regarding cleanliness. However, the next day you are astonished to find an unfair account of the event in a newspaper. Someone, apparently, without knowing about the details had commented on how ‘a group of young girls from a posh school found it enjoyable to pose for a camera in the middle of a road and caused inconvenience to many who were heading back home.’ You genuinely feel disturbed and decide to write a letter to the editor of the newspaper and give a clearer picture of the event.

Now, write a letter yourself to clarify your position.



Zulaikha Nimra

House Number 777, Street 13,

Heaven’s Neighbourhood, Lahore

April 14, 2010

  The Editor The Daily Dawn Lahore Dear Editor, I would like to draw your attention to a false news story that was published in yesterday’s Metropolitan of your ‘esteemed’ paper. I was shocked to see how your reporter hid the actual story and raised hue and cry about an issue that otherwise was a trivial one. Honestly speaking, my mother told me that your paper was the best in the country, but after having read how your reporter highlighted a part of the story while overlooking the rest, I feel as if it is one of the worst. The true story is that girls from our school were not there to shoot for photographs for our college magazine, but we went there to raise awareness about cleanliness. We picked up litter from a street adjacent to the liberty market, talked to the shopkeepers, the boys who work for them and the customers. We told all of them (and believe they were all ignoramuses!) about the importance of cleanliness. Since, many of them were on cars that is why we talked to them while they were about to leave or were coming to park their cars at the food outlets from where they drive through to get their food. Because of our great service that we were doing for humanity, an excited crowd of onlookers gathered around us to see what we were trying to do. It was such a spectacle! You must have seen it uncle. With our bright green pullovers painted with white doves with an olive branch in their beaks all of us girls looked fabulous. It must have been such a beautiful sight that a few television channels cameramen appeared suddenly out of the blue and began to interview us and take our pictures. It was because of this media attention that our team got surrounded by cameramen in the middle of a road and only after some time we realized that it had resulted in a huge traffic jam. It was not that we were only interested in posing for the camera and forgot about the actual objective for which we were there. Your reporter mercilessly blamed us for disrupting the traffic at the rush hour. Without talking about our positive and noble aspirations—for a cleaner Pakistan, he presented us in a very negative way. We the future of this country feel very bad about it and want your paper to publish an apology for presenting us in such a negative manner. If your paper ignores our request than surely yours must be a very bad paper. Yours affectionately Zulaikha Nimra Activity designed by Zakia Shahzeb

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




Writing Paper (Paper 1)

These revision guidelines presented by the CIE examiners will help you get a good grade in paper 1. Here are many unanswered queries which students never get to know even getting through their O-Level examination.  So, go on and read through the tips very carefully….GOOD LUCK!

 Directed Writing   Section  1

•This part of the question requires you to adopt varied writing styles according to different genres, and you will be required to show awareness of style characteristics, persona, and audience. Put yourself into role, and address your audience directly.

• Paper 1 is divided into 2 sections where the candidate is expected to expected to attempt two questions:one from directed writing and an essay.

• Topics in ‘Directed Writing’ fall in a different genres as compared to the topics given in the essay writing-Section 2, therefore, this is challenging task for the candidate as he/she will have to vary the writing styles accordingly.

•Students are often confused as to what format to adopt in directed writing. The candidate’s response is entirely depended on the wordings of the question and how the question is structured. To quote from the principal examiner’s report: ‘Candidates should always bear in mind the importance of structure and a sense of audience is an exercise such as this’.

  •  Then you will have to decide which of the options provided in Directed writing  (in letters, school magazine or even a newspaper article) would be better and worthy to attempt in the examination.You should be very clear why you have chosen a school magazine article over a newspaper article. The kind of register to be chosen for either these should be nicely understood and practiced. 

• Make strong transitions between points/paragraph through the use of appropriate transition words s e.g. ‘Yet another reason to support this proposal is…’

• Read the question carefully and properly. Very bright students tend to lose marks only by misinterpreting the question and miss out the key point that is asked. Do not get distracted by peripheral issues; for instance if you are asked how money should be spent, don’t discuss the fund-raising methods.

• The opening needs to clearly introduce the situation and purpose of the task, and will be rewarded if it puts the reader in the picture.

• The aim of the response is likely to be persuasive, and paragraphs should be linked appropriately for the structure of a progressive argument.

• Remember to be consistent in your adoption of style and voice, and keep in mind the purpose of the piece of writing. Use rhetorical or other persuasive devices if appropriate to the task.

• Do not be overly casual in what is a formal piece of writing. Even if it is for your peers in a school magazine, written language for publication is less colloquial than spoken language.

• On the other hand it would not be appropriated to adopt a pedantic style containing specialised vocabulary for the task of communicating opinions clearly and persuasively.

• Do not leave your written piece is left without an ending. It has to be definite and provide an effective and satisfying conclusion to the piece.

 Paper 1-Section 2-Essay Writing

 • The openings to compositions are important because if they fail to engage the reader’s attention this could highly affect the examiner’s attitude from the beginning.

• Students generally plunge onto a question not thinking properly if it suits their writing abilities and students are rarely equally proficient in all three writing genres. Thus, it is essential that you choose a question out of the six available carefully, .

• The three genres of question are marked differently for Content and Structure; They are marked according to the same mark scheme for Style and Accuracy. The style of expression of the three genres is very different, so you need to be aware of the characteristics of each.

• Whichever type of essay you choose, it should be planned first. If after 5 mins you have only managed to collect a few ideas for your choice of title, switch to another one. The plan should contain between 6 to 10 points or ideas, which can be developed into paragraphs, if the essay is going to be of a suitable content and length. Aim for approx. 8 paragraphs and 500 words

• Generally, maturity of content and expression is required for higher marks i.e. maturity for a 16 yr old.

• This is the only part of the 1123 exam in which you can show off your range of personal vocabulary, so make good use of the opportunity.