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GENERAL APAPER TIPS AND TRICKS GUIDELINES

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What is General Paper?


Which syllabus is easier for me to enter for this subject?
Which type of questions should I attempt?
Five Ways of Writing GP Essay Introduction
How to write a good paragraph?
Writing a Thesis Statement
Reasoning Ability
Opinions vs Facts in GP Essays
How to avoid irrelevant and unnecessary information?
Approaching the vague questions in GP
How to research for General Paper essays?
Sources of Information for Research
What is WordWeb and how to use it for best results?
Probable Question

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 1

What is General Paper?


In the words of Cambridge:
The AS General Paper is multi-disciplinary, its subject matter drawn from across the curriculum. The
syllabus encourages in candidates the ability to make cross-curricular links; to develop a maturity of thought
appropriate to students at this level; and to achieve an understanding and usage of the English language
which enables them to express arguments, ideas and opinions in a reflective and academic manner.
In the words of students:
GP is a tough subject. It demands knowledge and understanding in almost all the fields of human endeavour
including the world history. It requires the use of sophisticated vocabulary and error free language and so on.
In my words:
It is not a difficult subject because you get many alternatives during exams (out of 15 questions you have to
choose only 2) and it is quite probable that you will find a topic that is most appropriate to you. It just
demands you to know what you are good at. It only tests whether you can give a mature and rational
justification of your arguments on a particular topic or not.
General Paper is a must read subject of A Levels in my opinion. I have benefitted a lot from studying this
subject and I think everyone can get similar benefits if they put some effort into it. It's a very enjoyable
subject once you start feeling comfortable with writing. As a result of that, I'm pursuing it even to this date.
I pledge you all to read this subject with sincerity and devotion because this subject has everything to put
you ahead of others whenever you compete with others. I can say this because writing is really very essential
whenever you want to do something such as writing a college application or job application letter. Even if
you are thinking to become a businessman in the future your journey will start by writing a good business
plan. And the most rewarding benefit of writing is that you become more specific whenever you do
something. This means you know the reason and purpose of whatever you do and that will make you
successful in your aim as you don't have to beat about the bush because you know your target.

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 2

Which syllabus is easier for me to enter for this subject?


As far as my concern goes, I myself had chosen 8004 and had felt that this syllabus is quite easy. Similarly,
this paper is available in both examination sessions however, 8001 is only available in November session.
Considering these benefits and my personal experience I would recommend you to go for it. However,
making a good choice depends largely upon various factors including your ability and nature.
I recommend General Paper 8004 for the students who are:
moderate to highly creative
in the range of weak to good at the usage of English
looking forward to passing the subject easily
confused which subject to go for

What I believe is that an average student can generate some ideas on any given subject easily. So, if she can
be trained to write only the short, simple, grammatically correct and semantically sensible sentences then
half of the battle for her is over. Rest half of the battle lies in content, that is, how far she can go on to
research on the subject matter of the syllabus and how she can make use of her knowledge and facts to prove
her own arguments or thoughts. Most of the students can become able to do this easily but with some
practice and sincere efforts. Therefore, I think that this paper should be considered by most of the students.
If you have very good English and very good analytical skill then only I recommend you to appear for 8001.
This syllabus is more tough and requires good skills in comprehension and analysis. However, due to the
GPA grading system your grades may not be affected severely and therefore, you needn't worry too much
even if your exam doesn't go as expected.

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 3

Which type of questions should I attempt?


Selecting a question to attempt can be a tough task for you because of many alternatives given in the GP
exam papers. In General Paper 8004, you'll get 15 questions categorised into 3 sections and you have to
choose only two of them, each from a different section. (It is quite similar in General Paper 8001; you get 12
questions to choose only one from the list.) Whichever, the paper you are going for, you should evaluate the
given questions on the basis of your knowledge of the subject matter. You need to know what you are good
at, at first. Then, you need to evaluate which questions best match your capability and conscience. You
should go for those essays which you can write better than any other ones. However, you need some practice
to be good at selecting questions, at first point. You will excel more at this with some experience, knowledge
and other skills like good interpretation and language skills. Good language skills will help you understand
the question better and thus you can be able to figure out which questions to attempt more easily.
In most of the circumstances, I recommend you to choose those questions which have a familiar topic, and
on which you can give your best arguments with as many examples, and facts possible. Choosing more
familiar topic reduces the risk of uncertainty and boosts your confidence as you are sure of what you write.
However, with unfamiliar topics you just think you have an argument but you won't be able to generate more
ideas and moreover, you won't be much confident in what you write.
Since general paper is a multi-disciplinary subject you are likely to get questions from subjects like physics,
economics, business studies, mathematics, arts, etc. In such a case, which is quite likely, directly attempt the
question related to one of your subjects. However, you should not underestimate it as easy and do not forget
to make sure that you understand what the question is really about.
For those who want to do their best in GP, I recommend you to be prepared on some topics beforehand by
writing one good essays on each topic from the syllabus after a thorough research. Better write one essay a
week and end up writing only some 20 - 25 good essays during a whole year rather than to write more
essays without any research. Here, with the research you will come across a variety of ideas and these ideas
can fit somewhere in the essays of any questions from any topics like history and war, renewable and non
renewable energy source, etc. You may have wondered while reading the second paragraph above, how to
get familiar on a topic when you are uncertain of which topics will be asked. Yes, this is the way because if
you research for history and war, then you can relate the ideas obtained from them in the questions about
politics, terrorism, violence, human rights, anthropology, and so on - apart from history and war. What I
mean here is that most of the topics are deeply interrelated and you should be able to show their interrelation
in your essays.

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 4

Five Ways of Writing GP Essay Introduction


Writing an introduction in the absence of proper knowledge can be a challenging task. Similarly, getting
different ideas from different people on this matter might complicate the situation even more. And there are
times when you cannot manage to write a single word. You think of different ideas and yet none of the ideas
help you get on the board. Or you get stuck in the middle of the sentence and no matter how hard you try
your cant move on. Now, in this article I will try my best to wipe away all the confusions surrounding you
and make you able to write an introduction for different types of essays. I hope you wont have these
problems after reading this article.
Now, being candidly honest, there are no hard-and-fast rules about how you should write your introduction
paragraph. Therefore, if two different people give you two different ideas on writing an introduction, then
chances are that both of them are right, especially if they have some knowledge on the field. And this is
exactly what happens most of the time with students, when student complain that one teacher said this while
another said it was wrong.
Since there are no specific rules, first you need to understand the purpose of introduction paragraph to write
it well. The introduction paragraph generally serves the following purposes:
It introduces the topic.
It sets background and lays the foundation for your further arguments.
It states the thesis and informs readers about what to expect in the essay later.
Now, if you meet these purposes, then your introduction will be quite good, no matter however you frame it.
Yet, I've described five ways of writing the introduction for general paper essays, below, to simplify this
process even further.
1. Defining Keywords
One way to introduce is by defining the keywords of your essay question. Using definition in introduction is
appropriate when the meanings of certain terms need to be clarified, when it is either necessary or simply
appropriate and when you need to set limit to the scope (or focus) of your essay.
Here are two example essays which use this method to introduce the essay:
Discuss the arguments for and against vegetarianism.
What role will Artificial Intelligence actually play in human affairs in the next few decades?
2. Using Anecdote
Another way of beginning your essay is to use anecdote. An anecdote is a short and interesting story about a
real incident. Such anecdotes can set a good background for your essay and communicate your argument to
the reader implicitly. If you can come up with one, your essay can be very attractive to your readers as well
as effective in conveying your message.
Essay using this technique:
Would it be advantageous if all the people throughout the world could speak one common language?
LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 5

3. Using quotations and/or rhetorical questions


Quotations can include any famous sayings, or proverbs which are suitable in the context of the question.
Such quotations not only make it easier to begin your essay, but also provide you with more ideas on the
topic. So, it is another useful way to introduce your essay.
Essay using quotation for introduction:
Consider the view that the key to good health is not medicine, but lifestyle
4. Moving from general to specific
Another way to begin your essay is by making a general statement about the topic. You first introduce the
general ideas on the topic and then proceed towards more specific ideas, which youll be discussing in the
essay later.
Examples of the essays, using this style in introduction:
Should society punish criminals more harshly?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of banning smoking in public places?
Is there any point in predicting the weather when we have no control over it?

5. When none of the above are useful


If you find the above discussed techniques unsuitable or difficult to implement on your essay then theres
this last way. This normally doesnt fail and is quite easy. As said already, theres no fixed rule that you
should follow in writing your introduction. But, if you cant work with the above ones, this one can be your
fixed rule which works.
First of all, brainstorm the ideas youll discuss later in your essay. Four to five ideas are enough for A level
general paper. Second, make one or two general statements about the topic and write them in the beginning.
Afterwards, directly state the ideas you just brainstormed. They can be expressed either as short phrases,
each of which separated by a comma, or in the form of complete sentences. Finally, write down your thesis
statement. In this setting, your thesis statement will express your overall inclination. For example, it will
help the reader know whether you are going to discuss for the topic, against the topic or remain neutral on
the issue.
Below is an example of the essay which uses this method:
Assess the advantages and problems of hosting major international sporting events.
Dont forget this guideline:
Devise a first-sentence attention grabber, but make sure that this sentence is on topic and appropriate. (eHow.com) How to Write a Good GP Essay Intro
Additional reading
If you want to read other references on this topic, I recommend you these two additional links:
How to write introduction?
Writing a GP Essay
LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 6

Lastly, if you found yourself stuck in the middle of writing, searching either for the ideas or for the exact
word that describes what you want to express, then here are my suggestions. Without trying to be
perfectionist, express your ideas however you can. If you cant get any idea even after mulling over for a
few seconds, then cross the sentence and write a different idea altogether which you can comfortably write. I
mean do not hesitate to cross your answer and think over on the new ideas. A few mistakes wont do much
harm but if you cannot complete your essay for that matter, perhaps youll lose more. So, move on even if
you know that your idea is just okay and not perfect. - See more at: http://www.generalpaper.com/2012/09/five-ways-of-writing-gp-essay.html#more

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 7

How to write a good paragraph?


First thing you need to know about paragraphs is that one paragraph contains one and only one idea. This is
the most important concept that you should understand prior to writing any paragraphs. This concept
explains us why some paragraphs, we encounter in books and magazines, are very short, with only 1 or 2
sentences, and why some paragraphs are very long consisting of many many sentences. As you will learn
below, you can contract a longer paragraph into a shorter one, even confining the whole paragraph within a
single statement, and expand a shorter paragraph into a longer one by adding various supporting details to
the main idea.
Here are the steps to write a simple but logically correct paragraph:
First of all, write down your main idea on the first sentence. This sentence is also known as the topic
sentence and can be placed anywhere once you master how to write a good paragraph. However, it's a good
idea to put this sentence in the beginning while you are learning how to write. After that provide some
details, examples and so on to prove or support that main idea. For this, you can ask some critical questions
like: How far is the idea valid? What is the background of the idea? Will the idea still be valid in various
other circumstances? Why is the idea valid and why are other ideas not valid in the given situation? What do
the opponents of the idea say? How far is their reasoning valid? and so on. Then draw a conclusion based on
this short discussion and place this sentence at the end of the paragraph. However, as you master writing,
you can outline the paragraphs in your own way. You can begin them with examples, anecdotes i.e. a short
story, your own opinion, a related question, quotation and so on. In short, you are free to construct your
paragraph in any way however, you should not forget the "one paragraph one idea" rule and that's all.
Secondly, use the connectives to link sequence of thoughts or connect one sentence with another in some
way, so that when reading we can infer or know that the events you state are occurring in some kind of order
or sequence. The words used for this purpose are known as connectives or linking words and examples
include firstly, secondly, lastly, eventually, moreover, furthermore, therefore, thus, then, etc. Using these
kinds of linking words is the second basic rule of writing a paragraph (as well as essays or a novel).
Not only you should use connectives to connect two sentences, you should also use some kind of
connectives to connect two paragraphs of an article. You can use words like, first, second, third, last, etc. or
firstly, secondly, thirdly, moreover, furthermore, finally, etc to link the paragraphs of your essays.
Outline of a typical paragraph
Now from the two basic rules that you just learnt, you can write a typical paragraph in the following form:
Put your main idea at the beginning. Then give your reasons or details in an order like: first comes this and
then that. And again comes this. For example, give an example. Therefore, and make a conclusion.
Here, the bold words are connectives and underlined words are directions for you about what to do in place
of those words.
Thirdly, edit the paragraph regularly to omit grammatical mistakes if any. If there are two or more major
ideas then omit them as well because they are also mistakes according to the rule of paragraph. After that
you are done with the third basic rule of the paragraph.
The rest of the things includes what not to do. Avoid those sentences which are unsuitable. For example,
when you are talking about flowers don't talk about other things such as fruits or cow or so on unless it is
related. Don't use informal language which is used while chatting and everyday conversations. Also do some
more research about this on the internet. However, for now this much must be sufficient.
LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 8

Example of Good and Bad Paragraphs each


Now read this paragraph and compare it with the second paragraph:
Flowers are beautiful. They are colourful and bright. I love flowers. I also love cow because it gives milk for
me to drink. However, flowers also give good smell. Therefore, flowers are beautiful.
Second paragraph:
Flowers are beautiful. Firstly, they are very colourful and bright. Secondly, they have good fragrance and
thus make the environment around them pleasant. Thirdly, they attract beautiful creatures like bees and
butterflies which make our garden lively and more beautiful. All these reasons make it clear that flowers are
beautiful.
Which one do you think is a good one? Yes, you are right; it's the second one. Can't you too write a similar
paragraph? Give it a try at least and you'll be a good writer soon!

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 9

Writing a Thesis Statement


What is Thesis Statement?
Thesis statement is a statement that conveys the ultimate message, intention or the main argument of your
essay. In other words, thesis statement can summarize your whole essay within a single sentence. Your thesis
statement will be enough for the examiners about which side or position you are taking in the discussion or
debate. For example, in the question of do you agree? type, this statement will tell the reader whether you
agree and to what extent.
There are chaos surrounding how the thesis statement should be like. It is natural for you to think that this
sentence should be long and complex, since it should summarize the whole essay. But as you get more
confident with the use of language, you will know that a very short sentence can sometimes state a thesis
more effectively than longer ones. Moreover, since the thesis statement is understood or interpreted in the
light of the contextual information provided earlier, you might express only the core message in the thesis
statement. Therefore, thesis statements can equally be written concisely or laconically. But for that, you
should have a superior vocabulary and experience (practice). The thesis statement is usually written at the
end of the introduction paragraph.
How to write a thesis statement?
Thesis statement by itself isn't any different from ordinary statements. It is unique just because this single
sentence can convey the message of the whole essay. Except this special characteristic theres no any other
difference. You do not need to learn any new - See more at: http://www.general-paper.com/2012/10/writingthesis-statement.html#more rules to be able to write thesis statement. More likely, you might be already
using such statements in your essays without your conscious knowledge.
Now, Ill present a few obvious examples about how thesis statement can be written!
Example 1
James Tan Chuan Xun, Educator in Chief at Future Perfect Education, wrote a thesis statement for the
following essay title as:
Q. "There is little in the 20th century of which we can be proud of" Discuss.
There is much to be proud of, much to be ashamed about, and much to hope for in the 20th century.
This sentence clearly reflects his overall view on the question. He is aware of the positive developments of
which we should be proud of; the negative aspects of those developments of which we should be ashamed
about; and despite what happened there still is a need for us to be hopeful and optimistic.
From this single sentence we can frame out how his whole essay will look like. We can more or less predict
what he is likely to discuss in his body paragraphs. In a nutshell, we can know his overall view on this topic.
Example 2
Similarly, here are other examples demonstrating how to write thesis statement:
Q. To what extent are racism and other forms of discrimination a problem in your society?
LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 10

While racism is absent, caste and gender discriminations are still huge problems in my society.
Here we can easily infer that racism is nonexistent but caste discrimination and gender discrimination are the
burning issues in the authors society. We can also expect that the author will outline the reasons behind such
discriminations as well as justify why the problems concerned are highly intense in his society.
This question is seeking answer to two particular questions:
What kinds of discrimination problems are present in your society? (Identification and justification of the
problem.)
To what extent are they problematic in your society? (Assessment of the intensity of the problem. Is the
problem serious or mild?)
The thesis statement above has concisely answered these both questions.
Example 3
Q. Can democracy be imposed or must it grow naturally?
Democracy will still be the 'rule of people' even if established by imposition, however, for full acceptance of
the people it should be allowed to grow naturally.
From this thesis statement, we are clear that the author is very positive about democracy. Democracy is the
rule of people no matter how we introduce it to a country. People are powered with various rights in a
democratic nation and their decision, expressed through voting and/or referendum, on the major issues of
national interest is the final one. The author seems to understand these facts about democracy.
However, we can infer from his thesis statement that he is also aware of the possible consequences of
imposing democracy. In the question, the word imposing contradicts directly with the principle of
democracy. Can we impose people to be free, even if they dont want to? can be an ethical question, a
question for debate. Perhaps, the people do not want to take their decision themselves. Perhaps they find it
easier, and totally comfortable to follow a dictator. For many reasons including religious, cultural and socioeconomic, people might be accepting the rule of a non-democratic leader. In such conditions, they may even
retaliate or revolt against any other forms of government, especially if imposed by some other people. The
author also understands this possibility. Hence, he thinks that if the democracy has to gain full support from
people, it should be allowed to grow naturally.
Conclusion
A thesis statement need not be difficult and complex. In fact, simpler and clearer thesis statements are better
as they can communicate your argument more effectively than the difficult ones. Moreover, thesis
statements are not that difficult to write if you practice writing them whenever you write a new GP essay.
Just be clear in your mind what you are writing and remember that the length or structure of the
sentence doesn't matter. Only what matters is that it should be able to give a big picture of the whole essay.
Your thesis statement is your answer to the question in a single sentence. - See more at: http://www.generalpaper.com/2012/10/writing-thesis-statement.html#more

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 11

Reasoning Ability
Reasoning is the skill to give your arguments or opinions in a logical way so as to convince your audience
that your opinion is the most appropriate one in the given circumstances. It is also your ability to argue on a
given topic and prove it by means of logical ideas and relevant examples.
Below is an interesting example of my reasoning. Read below and infer what reasoning skill is by yourself!
An Example of My reasoning
For example, you hate politics but as a rational thinker you must realize its importance and its necessity as
well as its shortcomings. The administrative tasks of our countries are running smoothly because of politics.
In the examples below I would criticize politics first and talk about its necessity and due importance in the
second paragraph.
We are divided into nationals, me being a Nepali for example, just because of politics. Otherwise, who on
earth is born with the name of his country and his nationality tagged on his forehead? In my personal
opinion, there is no necessity to feel proud of being a citizen of a particular country where, in fact, you were
born to be the citizen of this entire Earth. If it had been so we wouldn't have the need to go through the
hectic process of visas application and so on, just to go to a different country. We would have been able to go
to any place we like, to travel or to live in. However, due to our own segregation of this world we have
limited ourselves in a small geographical area, where in fact we could have been the nationals of this whole
world.
Nevertheless, all political divisions are the result of our systematic classification and they have helped us to
make our life easier as well. Dividing this world into several countries makes the ruling process more
effective and the implementation of law and order in a country more pragmatic and viable. For example,
polygamy is legal in some societies whereas illegal in others. If we consider this whole world as a single
country then the law of this world should either make polygamy legal or illegal. It would be more logical to
make it illegal but the society where it has been practiced for a long time would oppose this law. Again if the
state chose to treat those society differently with others and made polygamy legal for those societies then
other societies would oppose that law calling it biased and violation of equality or human rights or so and so.
It must be one of the greatest reasons why the larger countries have split their nation, the USA for example,
into several autonomous states, to make state laws by considering the social laws and norms.
In the above two paragraphs I have argued on both sides of the politics. However, I have tried to maintain a
distance with my own likes and dislikes, and yet I have presented my point of views, that is, my arguments
on both the sides of the subject matter. Aren't you convinced with each of my opinions? (Yes, please reply in
the comments section below.) You can do the same in your GP essays as well; make your arguments based
upon the reasons and not just your personal preference. Even if you include your personal preference then
make it sound reasonable by providing sound reasons. - See more at: http://www.generalpaper.com/2012/01/reasoning-ability.html#more

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 12

Opinions vs Facts in GP Essays


Students generally think that GP questions need a lot of factual data, statistical information, and so on. This
is one major blunder they commit to unknowingly. While knowledge of various things obviously helps you,
its not in the way you think. You think that you got good marks for writing data and facts. But in fact, if you
have scored well, then you did so because you successfully proved your point or opinion! Confused? Read
till the end and youll be clear about what Im trying to say.
Quite contrary to what students think, the reality about GP questions is that rather than putting up difficult
topics, they put you in a difficult situation. Consider this question, for example:
Should the key industries of a country be controlled by the State?
Is there any difficult topic in this question? The words are really simple. The question is quite
straightforward. However, can you write an essay on this question easily?
Now consider another question,
How far is it possible for societies to provide equal opportunities for all its citizens?
Again, analyze this question. This isn't any difficult if we consider the topic area: society and equality. Most
of us have adequate knowledge about our societies and equality (in terms of rights the citizens get).
However, writing an essay on this topic is equally painful. Why?
These two are the representative questions of GP paper and you will mostly get these types of question.
These are difficult because they are asking you for your perspective, your opinion, your judgment, your
evaluation, your views, your analysis, your assessment, etc. on the given circumstances. You are finding
them difficult perhaps because although you have facts, you are being unable to form opinions on these
topics! GP asks you to evaluate a situation from your perspective. Not by mugging up the facts and writing
everyone elses ideas, facts, details, etc. in a jumbled manner.
For most of the questions on the controversial issues, you are likely to find contradicting facts, even if you
research well. To give you an example, let us consider the topic global warming. We were taught a lot about
it in science during our secondary level education. We were taught that the amount of carbon dioxide gas,
which traps the heat of the sun and doesn't allow it to escape back into the space, is increasing. So, if these
two scientific facts are true then the global warming should certainly be taking place. However, there is no
lack of evidence to prove it otherwise. One particularly interesting piece of evidence is the temperature
records of past 2 decades which reports that the earth is actually cooling.
Therefore, in such controversial issues, it is difficult even for the experts to reach a convincing conclusion
about what is really going on. In fact, if you do more and more research on the topics like this, youll end up
being even more confused. Therefore, although you can present both side of the arguments and conclude
that it is not possible to reach a valid conclusion for your essay you must understand that data and
information aren't always the deal breaker.
What I dont mean to say is that data and information are unnecessary. Actually, if you have more
knowledge then you are more likely to have more opinions on public issues. So, more knowledge is always
appreciable. However, dont forget the real matter while trying to search for data and statistics. The most
important thing in your essay is your analysis, your opinion, your evaluation, your argument. Use facts to
support it. Dont discuss over facts only without presenting your argument (=opinion). And your opinion
should be like that of matured, which is reached upon after careful consideration and evaluation of the both
LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 13

sides of the story/issue at hand.


For the first question above, I will go for a no answer because I think that private management of industries
is better and less corrupted! Now, look at the given issue: It is about efficiency of the management. It is
about which organization can better manage the key industries: government or the private companies? If
government is more efficient then, yes, the government should own the key industries. Otherwise, private
industries should be given the chance. However, in a more realistic situation some industries are either too
large for a private institution or unsuitable as they are natural monopoly (such as water supply). In such
conditions, governments management might be better or more appropriate. These points can be discussed in
other paragraphs of your essay later. You might tackle this essay totally differently than my approach as
well.
Considering more bases in evaluating the given problem, makes your judgment more plausible and more
matured. So, try to view the situation from different angles and perspectives of different people. In the above
paragraph, I've drawn conclusion by considering only one perspective: efficiency. This is okay to present
you an example but not okay in your GP essay. Try to get more bases for comparison while writing the
complete essay. And end the essay by stating which side of the argument you are more inclined to.
Similarly, the second question will make you think, how far the concept of equality is practical and to what
extent? What are the bases of equality and can societies impart equality on those bases? Perhaps providing
equal rights and opportunities is equality. Or perhaps, respecting everyone equally for however they are and
whatever they do is enough to claim equality! Perhaps, there should be a list of bases on which people
should be not discriminated, on following which equality can be ensured. Now what level of equality is
desirable and what level of equality is attainable in real life? You are free to present your views but be
prepared to give strong reasons for the examiners to convince them that your views are valid.
Now while giving strong reasons, it would be appropriate to remind them what they already believe to be
true. Yes, this is where your knowledge of facts and information comes into play. Because it is easy to agree
with the established facts, they work as a medium to justify your argument or views. The stronger (or more
credible) the facts the stronger will be your opinion.
From this article, I think you will understand the subtle difference between your opinions and facts. I hope
you will understand that your opinion is primary in GP essays, and the supporting facts are secondary! When
you take a safer side, you might not need to provide too much fact because your points are either
understandable or true by themselves. However, you should not lack your opinion. In short, GP doesn't aim
to check how much you know about a subject, but rather, it aims to see how well you take decisions in a
given circumstance.
Its not necessary to dictate always that something is your opinion. Do that only to emphasise your point in
special areas like conclusion. Your selection of particular material and trying to establish your claim as true
will automatically show that you have inclination towards that side - See more at: http://www.generalpaper.com/2012/10/opinions-vs-facts-in-gp-essays.html#more

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 14

How to avoid irrelevant and unnecessary information?


Why is omitting information necessary?
Some sources of information are not reliable, and provide you with outdated or fake data.
Some lack quality, thus making reading a waste of time.
Reading all the information causes information overload because there are a lot of texts even on a single
sub-topic of a broad topic and reading all of them is neither possible nor necessary.
Therefore, determining the quality, relevance and validity of the information source is extremely important
to get just the necessary information.
How to ensure the validity of the information source?
First, ensure that the source is reliable or it can be trusted. This is quite difficult but not impossible. One way
to check this is by looking at the citation. Some sites like Wikipedia back up their claims (arguments) with a
reference (or the source of that information) to make the article more authentic. So, look for these
characteristics. Generally, these types of sites can be trusted. Then, what about the source itself? Judge it by
other qualities such as goodwill, fame or reputation, and so on. For example, some news corporations have
earned reputation for their reliability such as the BBC. It was quite popular in Nepal during the civil war and
people preferred it over the national broadcaster Radio Nepal.
How to ensure the quality of text?
First of all, judge the writing. If you think its not well written or the writer is just an amateur then dont read
it unless you are assured of its reliability. Also, there are sites in the internet which just automate the content
based upon your search. Such sites don't have any factual and original content and when you surf two three
pages you can know whether the site is automating its content or not. You can also take help of your
knowledge and experience to judge if the information is credible.
Be selective with reading to avoid information overload
Dont read every topic minutely. Read only the important and popular ones more deeply. To know which
topic is important is quite a challenging task. However, you should learn a way with this too. For example,
when you read about the history of the world, there are some events which should not be avoided, for
instance the French revolution, the Renaissance of the 16th century, the two great world wars, etc. Therefore,
search for such events and read them. The events which bring about the revolutionary (drastic) change in the
life, and lifestyle of people are among the important ones and these should be read. Other unimportant
events can be ignored.
Give more preference to the topics of your interests
Read more topics of your interests and dont waste much time on topics that you are not interested in at all.
Dont worry for the exams because you have many alternatives and so read passionately and in a relaxed
manner. I am advising this to you because it will be easy to understand as well as to remember the matters of
your interest. Thus, your reading will be more effective.
Choose books over other sources for quality and reliability
If possible read physical books more although a habit to research online is necessary. Whenever you have an
option, I recommend books because they will be better in terms of quality and reliability. Also they are good
for your mental health too. Online researches cause more stress to you. Because although you get the results
instantly you have to struggle really hard to find the required information afterwards.
LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 15

Approaching the vague questions in GP?


There are certain questions in GP which create confusion in students. For example:
To what extent is design important in your society?
What does your society mean in this question?
Think for a second and youll find out that this is totally subjective. Your society can mean:
Your locality (the immediate geographical place where you live e.g., your village, town, city, etc)
Your community (related to your race, culture, religion: e.g., Hindu community, Muslim community, and the
like.)
Your country
Your region (for example, Middle East, South Asia, and so on), etc
Here, the term your society has multiple meanings, which makes the whole question vague! So, doesn't
this create confusion?
Yes, it does. So, whats the workaround?
Upon evaluating the mark schemes and examiner reports, about which you can learn more in the links I have
inserted here, I have found out that such GP questions can be attempted very very flexibly! I mean, you can
interpret the meaning of the terms like 'your society' to mean any of those meanings I have mentioned above
or whatever you understand by society! That definition should be somehow agreeable and your essay will be
fine. - See more at: Similarly, in the following question:
How are young offenders dealt with in your country?
What is the meaning of the word young here? Isn't a 25 years old offender, young? If he is then, is it the
sensible question? Just think!
However, I guess you already know that young here means the age at which we one cannot be held
accountable legally for his/her illegal act. Generally, the offenders under the age of 18 years are considered
minor; however this is not a universal rule. Laws in different countries have defined minor differently.
Moreover, different acts within the same country define it differently. This confusion provides you an
opportunity to interpret the meaning of the phrase young offender as you wish. For example, you can
interpret the term as less than 14 years! However, linking it to your country and using the knowledge about
your country can help you deduce the closer meaning of such vague words and get more marks. However,
you still have the freedom to interpret the meaning on your own and write an essay accordingly.

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 16

How to research for General Paper essays?


The problem with general paper and a need for a research
General Paper doesnt have a textbook; neither does it have an elaborate syllabus. The topics given in the
syllabus are suggestion only and these are not exactly the content of the syllabus. Perhaps, this is why it is
called general paper, and not specific paper! Thus, without specific guidelines and syllabus its obvious for
you to get frustrated about what to read, how to get the educational materials, how to get better grades in
exams, etc. In this article I will try to soothe your frustration by explaining you what and how to research for
GP essays to get relevant content, facts and examples.
First, let us know about the basics of research. You dont have to do it formally and regularly but considering
certain aspects could reduce much of your headache and deliver you with better results. Below,
How to optimize web search?
Everyone agrees that, the Internet is a huge source of information which is available at any time. However,
the problem with this is how to extract just the required information and avoid all the irrelevant results. This
type of problem is termed as information overload. To do away with this is quite difficult but, you can learn
how to perform advanced search and read these tips, to optimize and refine the search to get more relevant
results. Also determining the quality and authenticity of the information source is another way which helps
you to reduce information overload and is discussed in the next page.
What to research?
The topics presented in the syllabus can help you get started. Since, most of these topics are less specific
(general) and you need more specific (particular) topics you just don't get what to research. For example, the
first topic on the syllabus is The role of history and war; terrorism. What would you search with this topic?
This topic is very broad because history = history of (the USA + the UK + Germany + Japan + China +
Russia + all other countries) and war = (all the wars fought within and among the countries including the
great World War I & II). And terrorism, related to war and other form of violence, is a broad topic too. What
to search? Therefore, you need to narrow down your topics into simple subtopics to make your research
more efficient and effective.
How to narrow down the topics and simplify research?
As you learned above that broad topic create more problem and confusion you should break these broad
topics into simpler ones. First of all, search information on the broad terms which will help you get
subtopics on which you can search more to find out the subtopics of subtopics. For example, you could get
various results when searching for history, war, or terrorism. From these you could learn about Vietnam War
or the World War. Now, search again for these terms to know more about them. And in case if you find more
subtopics, which seem to be important as well as interesting, you can search on them as well. In this way,
you can narrow down your search.
Sources of Information
You might be unware of all the sources of information and thus getting depressed. You can give a look on
this page to discover which sources of information are appropriate for you and which are not.
How to avoid irrelevant and unnecessary information?
However, you should learn to omit the unnecessary information to avoid information overload because there
LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 17

are a lot of texts even on a single sub-topic of a broad topic and reading all of them is neither possible nor
necessary. Therefore, determining the quality, relevance and validity of the information source is extremely
important which is explained here in detail.
Some more Tips
When you perform research with a purpose you can make notes of what to research and what you found out
from a research. Also you can keep a journal or diary regularly and this will also make you more aware
about where, when and how to research. A good research skill develops gradually and you should perform
research continuously to be able to search and get information about a particular topic more quickly.

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 18

Sources of Information for Research


While doing a research dont take a very strict approach. Instead make a flexible plan and seek for various
alternative sources of information. To draw knowledge from various sources you should know about the
benefits of each of them first. For example, internet is a huge source of information but the information
found there may not be reliable. On the other hand, books (not eBooks) have information only on a limited
topic and all the necessary information may not be included in them; however, they are quite reliable.
Similarly, your other sources of information can be your GP instructor, friends, newspapers, radio,
television, informal seminars, webinars and many more apart from the more obvious sources like the
internet, library (which is also available in the internet) and so on. You should take help of them in a
proportionate way to get knowledge on diverse topics.
Since most of the people cannot read for a long time. If you too feel the same then you should read for a
short time but more frequently such as daily or twice a day. The source can be anything, diverseness is
preferable, because even if the information is wrong you will get to think upon it and generate your own
opinion about it. Most of the people seek for information only when it becomes necessary to know it. If you
too have the same habit then its now time to change it because you will be at pressure when you have to
read all at once.
Sometimes you are neither planning nor wanting to research; however, you may hear some anecdotes or
mythological stories which you mostly ignore because you dont need that information right then or simply
you feel that you dont need it at any point of your life. However, from now on, I suggest you to listen to that
kind of information as well because it can be useful later in your GP essays as well as real life and this is
how you accumulate knowledge, by learning things one by one. So, try to listen to others intently even if it
doesnt concern you. This way you get information effortlessly. However, that information may not factual
(based upon facts) and therefore, you need to verify it once from a reliable source such as printed books and
trusted websites.
In short, what I mean is that you should try to know more from various sources utilizing your limited time
and energy. In the next page you will learn "How to avoid irrelevant and unnecessary information?" which is
vital to avoid information overload.

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 19

What is WordWeb and how to use it for best results?


What is WordWeb?
WordWeb is a digital dictionary available in both free and pro versions. It is handy and quite fulfilling for
our current needs. It occupies less space in memory as it is small in size, it has easy interface and it can be
easily downloaded from the internet. So, I recommend you to use it.
Why use WordWeb?
Imagine that you are reading eBooks or a blog post or news from RSS feeds. Imagine that you encountered a
word whose meaning you don't know. So, what would you do with other dictionaries? Launch them and then
type in the word which you want the meaning of. Quite uneasy! And time consuming too.
But with WordWeb you simply have to place the mouse pointer over the word and press Ctrl key and Click
on the Right mouse button simultaneously and you are done. It's as simple as that.
Additionally, you can modify these hotkeys to suit your convenience by changing its settings
from Options menu >> WordWeb Hotkey. submenu.
Synonyms, Antonyms and Similar Words are all listed in the Tabbed Dialog below and so you get to know
the friends and enemies of the word along with its meaning.
Is it that much?
Oh! I forgot to mention one of its coolest features, the Bookmaking feature.
Bookmarking the words is a very useful aspect of WordWeb which is why I have recommended this small
portable dictionary for you. It will help you keep record of the words you have learned. Of course you will
have to do this manually by clicking on the 'Bookmark' menu and then clicking on the 'Add' submenu for
each word you bookmark. This is a little disappointing part of this feature which too has a solution. Learn to
use the keyboard shortcuts to do this and you will save your precious time. Press Alt and then B and
then A and you are done, i.e. you have bookmarked the current word displayed in the 'Lookup' Field.
What about other dictionaries?
You definitely need a dictionary to learn meaning of new words because you can't always rely on guessing
(from the context) while reading something. So, the question here, is not about "Whether to use dictionary or
not?" but about "What sort of dictionary should be used?" And my emphasis is on two must have features.
Small in Size, so that it loads faster and doesn't consume much memory.
Easy to use, so that it saves our time.
If you are already using a better dictionary with more facilities then you needn't go for WordWeb.

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 20

GP Probable Question
First of all, I would like to share something with you:
I have tried to guess probable questions like this for four sessions with this one being the latest and in my
past guess-works, what I have experienced is that most of the students blindly rely on them and prepare only
on the topic areas listed here. And when the questions do not fall from the areas I have listed there they
simply show aggression. One person wrote in my Facebook Group in a satirical manner that, 100%
questions were asked from my predicted topics.
Now, read an article on another blog. Ms Adrienne de Souza writes how students get tricked by reading
probable questions. She frankly says that her predictions have been wrong before, like mine! And I've
always included "a note of warning/disclaimer" in each of the earlier predictions.
The reality is that, GP questions aren't difficult or from different topics than listed in probable questions
and/or syllabus. They are just contextual, and situation-based. You need to answer the question by being
bound within the limits or boundary set by the question on a specific topic. Therefore, a slight change in
wording makes a GP question totally different from the previous one. You are asked to analyze
the situation and build appropriate answer based on it. And you think that it is all about facts when, in
reality, the questions demand your opinions and reasoning. Please understand this. I've written an article on
this matter already.
My advice for you here is: Rely on these predictions at your own risk! Or don't take them as predictions at
all and read just for information.
Rationale of this Article
From what I have said earlier, you may infer that you should not read this article any further. I do not mean
so! If I was to say so, why would I write this article in the first place?
I really want you to read this article. Yea, I really want you to read, not because my predictions will be
correct but because this article can provide you a lot of ideas on the topics listed in syllabus. Also these
questions will help you acquaint yourself with the nature of questions that will be asked in the GP exams.
Another reason I wrote this article is because many students asked me to do so. So, here you are guys. Take
them as probable, not as certain! :D
Probable Areas for Question selection

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 21

Section 1: Historical, social, economic, political and philosophical topics


Marriage and family life
The probable question from this topic include
Discuss the changing pattern of marriage in your country.
Has the technological revolution brought change in the lifestyle of people (in your country)?

Assess the impact of nuclear family upon the socialization of children (in your country).

How are disabled people treated in your country?


Sports
Recent Olympics games in London can be a current issue for this topic. Similarly, Paralympics is the
Olympics of the handicapped and disabled athletes, which takes place in winter. To learn more about these
topics, please Google them.
What are the impacts of sporting events like Paralympics in the life of disabled peoples?
Disabled people are useless at sports. How far do you agree with this statement?
History
History is another topic area for question selection from which the questions as follows can be asked.
Discuss the most important historical event of your country.
Technological developments have made historical knowledge ubiquitous. Is this true?
Is the human civilization going to end in December 21, 2012?
Advertisement
Is social advertising any worth? Discuss in the light of Facebook advertising.
Is online advertising the future of advertising?
TV advertising is obsolete. How far do you agree?
"It is not necessary to advertise your business anymore. People will find your product themselves by using
Google, if they need it." Is this a fair comment?
Television shows
How far is it true that television ruins our life?
Television is synonymous to advertising. Do you agree?
Economy
The gap between rich and poor cannot be minimized. How far do you agree?
What is the situation of unemployment in your country?
LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 22

The effects of globalization have been felt far and wide. What is your view?
Has the global financial crisis settled down?

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 23

Section 2: Science, including its history, philosophy, general principles and applications;
environmental issues; mathematical topics
Science and Technology
Is science superior to nature?
In the future, there will be more robots than humans. How far do you agree?
Smartphones and the internet technology are jointly changing the way people lead their life. Discuss.
Environment
Is it enough to celebrate World Environment Day only once a year?
Environmental issues have lost importance in the recent years. How far is this true?
Will science ever be able to recover our environment to the state prior to industrial revolution?
Energy
How far will science be successful in inventing a clean energy?
Will it ever be possible to meet the ever growing demand for energy through green energy sources?
Is you country prepared to deal with the exhaustion of fossil fuels?

Section 3: Literature and language, arts and crafts


Art (photography, painting, sculpture, artifacts)
Art has lost importance because of photography. Do you agree?
Account for the importance of ancient arts.
Are all rare objects of arts valuable?
The digital arts and illustrations are replacing the older forms of arts. How far is this true in your country?
Is 3D Printer a new sculptor?
Literature and language
Write a review (or criticism) of the novel you read recently?
The internet is promoting English language only. How far is this true?
Is the importance of ancient literature fading nowadays?
Some Hot/Current Issues
Arab Spring is a term used to denote a series of protests and demonstrations from the people in countries
like Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, etc of the Middle East and North Africa against
the dictatorship or absolute monarchy, human rights violations, government corruption, economic decline,
unemployment, extreme poverty, etc. The movement started in 2010 in Tunisia, and after its success it
replicated to other countries.
Patent wars in US are the legal battles claiming the ownership upon the intellectual properties like design of
hardware, software, etc. They are court trials, where one company either claims upon the intellectual
property of another, or blames another company for infringing its patents by copying/using them without
licensing them from the innovating company. The recent trial of Samsung and Apple, where Samsung was
ordered to pay one billion US dollars to Apple, was really a spectacular event in the tech industry.
Since these are only the guess-work, I suggest you to read other topics as well.

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 24

What are the probable questions (guesses) for the upcoming exams?
The questions of General Paper are asked in such a way to incorporate as many variations possible. For
example, you get questions on all sorts of disciplines such as arts, humanities, anthropology, sociology,
science and technology and so on, ranging from historical events to the most recent happenings. Therefore, it
is not easy to figure out and provide you with some guessings about which question is probable. However
there are some ways you can get helped on this.
You can choose some topics from the syllabus and prepare them for your exams. For example, you can
prepare for some specific sections such as Science and Technology and Arts or any suitable combination for
you. Regardless of the topics, get in touch with the latest news and their environmental and social
implications because whether it is science, arts, or philosophy most of the concerns are for mankind and
therefore, social and environmental contexts are very important in almost all of the areas of human concern.
And you should take care of them most!
Also do not forget to see past papers. They are very useful when it comes to getting better grades. Again
there are two major advantages of solving questions from the past papers. First, is that the questions from
those papers are likely to repeat in the coming exams. If you compare among the past papers of different
years you can find some questions being repeated. Therefore, there is possibility that they can be asked again
in the upcoming exams. Second benefit is that the past papers can give you insights on what types of
questions will be asked in the exams. This will help you become prepared for the exam as well as guess the
probable questions yourself to some extent.
Should every country be given a right to possess weapons of war?
Note: This post is not a complete essay but will help you brainstorm to write one.
In the question like this, it would at first seem that possessing weapons by every country would be
undesirable or even dangerous especially for the proponents (or advocates) of peace and harmony. However,
I would take the side of yes and show you how we can have stronger points from that perspective.
First of all, which body is there to grant or take away the right of the countries to possess weapons? As far as
I know, there is no such body which can dictate which country can possess weapons and which cant. So,
this question in itself is a hypothetical question.
Again if such rights are granted to some nations and prohibited for others wouldn't it be an unfair act?
Obviously and hence such provisions will arise equality issues among the nations. Therefore, only viable
alternatives will be to either allow all nations to possess the weapons or disallow all of them for the same.
Now, if we disallow all of the countries to possess the weaponry again there will be an issue of trust. How
can the countries be sure that the other countries do not secretly possess the arms and ammunition of war?
There is either a difficult way or no way to know this. Therefore, allowing the countries to have weapons
would be a better alternative.
Furthermore, if such rights aren't granted, then there will be a huge debate on who will enforce such law that
prohibits the right to possess weapons. If for example, an individual country took such a position to disallow
other countries in possessing weapons then that country might abuse its power. Again, if the INGOs like the
United Nations took charge of this responsibility then it will still be untrustworthy for all nations because of
the possibility of bias such as favouring one country over another and allowing it to possess weapons. In
other words, such organizations would also not be completely trusted by all nations. So, there will be a huge
debate as the issue is quite sensitive one. Even if they succeed in gaining the trust of all nations and reached
a consensus that no one will produce weaponry, the implementation of this agreement will be skeptical.
LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 25

Moreover, such a law becomes an opportunity to nations with evil intentions. While the rest of the world
destroys its weapons, such nations will start to build weapons even more aggressively, to materialize their
evil cause as soon as possible. So, this law will essentially leave a huge security hole. However, more
realistically, even if such consensus is reached and enacted, almost all the countries will secretly further their
weapon research because they assume that other countries are also doing so and that they might pose threat
to them in the future. Therefore, every country should be given the right to own weapons. Granting rights to
produce weapons will not be as much a vice as we think of it. Since, all countries will be investing some of
their resources in weaponry, all will possess weapons. However, no country will be able to estimate the
power of other nations exactly. Because of this reason no country will try to start war with other countries.
However, even if one or two power-obsessed countries try to conquer another country, the entire world will
be polarized against such nations because such countries will be a source of threat to all other countries.
Therefore, they will all support the weaker nations and pressurize the powerful nation to setback. So, there
will ultimately be peace and people will be safer this way. Therefore, by all means, I think that every country
should be given a right to possess the weapons of war.

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 26

What does Grade Threshold mean?


The minimum marks required to obtain a grade is known as grade threshold. For example, if at least 35
marks are required to obtain grade A then the grade threshold for A is 35.
Similarly, CIE publishes grade thresholds for B and E grades. The thresholds for C and D are obtained by
dividing the mark interval (range) between the thresholds of B and E into three equal divisions. For
example, if grade threshold for grade B and E are 30 and 18 respectively. Then the interval of 12 is divided
into 3 divisions of 4 marks each. Now, the grade threshold for C and D are computed as 26 and 22
respectively. If dividing the interval by three results in a fraction of a mark, then the threshold is normally
rounded down. This increases your chances of getting a better grade.
The threshold for A* grade is calculated using the difference between A and B as a starting point. However,
A* grade does not exist for General Paper since it is an AS level subject.
The thresholds for the syllabus are determined first by adding together the thresholds for the
components taken by the candidate. A reduction may be made at the higher grades depending on the
correlation of the papers. If the maximum raw marks for the components are not in the
weighting/relationship specified in the syllabus, a weighting is applied to arrive at the overall thresholds.
According to Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), grade thresholds are published for all GCE
A/AS and IGCSE subjects where a corresponding mark scheme is available.
Sample Grade Threshold
To provide you a sample view of grade threshold provided by Cambridge, I have cropped the table from a
Grade Threshold file

LHS GP TIPS AND TRICKS 27