General Paper

GP Resources
About our resources
Many people misunderstand the nature of the GP subject. Some think it is merely English at a higher level while others think it is a test of one’s ability to memorise facts and figures. The truth is, GP is a lot more than both of that combined. To start with, comprehension is impossible without context. A student may be able to read every word in a passage yet fail to understand what the author is trying to say. Likewise, a student may know how to write grammatically flawless sentences yet end up producing a vacuous essay. The resources that we utilise at My Mustard Seed are thus designed to do more than help a student improve on his grammar (although we do also focus quite a bit on that). Most importantly, these resources are meant to be used as teaching aids, not stand-alone guides. We have included some samples of these resources below. You can find out more about our GP lessons here.

~ Liau Chuan Yi, GP Teacher

Readabee
Readabee is bi-weekly compilation of insightful, thought-provoking articles. We use Readabee as the basis for our classroom discussions and as a way to introduce students to ideas and essays that they would not normally encounter on their own. We also use Readabee to dig deeper into specific topics that students are interested in (which helps them write more meaningful essays and AQ responses). By providing students with a distraction-free medium for reading widely and deeply, we hope to immerse students in the most fascinating ideas of our times. If students love reading Readabee half as much as I enjoy compiling it, I will be twice as glad.
Common Mistakes

Sometimes different students make the same mistakes. Other times, the same student makes the same mistake. The more cynical among us might call this “job security”. I call it, a headache. To help my students become more conscious about what they are writing, I have started recording and categorising those mistakes. Common Mistakes serves to provide students with a systematic approach to identifying and correcting their mistakes. It consists of three parts:

  1. An example of the mistake
  2. An explanation of the problem together with some illustrations of how to re-write the sentence
  3. Some exercises for the student to attempt (which usually involves re-writing the sentence)
Argument Clinic
Arguments are central to both Paper 1 and Paper 2 of the GP paper. To write an essay, students must develop sound arguments. To understand the comprehension passage, students must understand the arguments the author is making. Argument Clinic serves to help students develop a conceptual framework for understanding and developing arguments. It uses a structured approach based on Patrick J. Hurley’s A Concise Introduction to Logic. Some of the examples are also taken from that book.
Topical Question Sets
There is nothing special about this except that most of the freely available resources online do not categorise questions by topic and sub-topic. We have done so here to aid in our students’ preparation for their exams. Using these topical question sets, students can get an idea of some of the possible questions they may face in the exams and they may also choose a few questions to attempt. This is not an exhaustive list of questions.
Theoretical Approaches
Although it is not strictly necessary to introduce students to the theories underpinning certain topics, we find that doing so can aid in their understanding of the issues involved and help them to generate ideas when writing essays. The one below is based on an open textbook by Creative Commons (and licensed as such). We have lightly edited it for grammar and phrasing, and included questions that are more relevant to our students.
Supplementary Reading
Blank stare. That’s what teachers get when students simply don’t know enough to say anything meaningful about the topic. Rather than ask students to write whatever comes to their mind, we prefer to provide them with supplementary materials that can help them form an informed opinion on the subject. These supplementary materials typically come in the form of selected extracts from books or full-length articles from publications like Foreign Affairs.
MMS Mock Test
In the lead up to major exams, we provide students with the opportunity to take a mock exam focusing on three or four specific topics. This allows students to concentrate on those topics. We also provide sample essays and essay outlines for the essay questions to aid in our students’ revision.
Answering Guides

When doing practice papers, it isn’t enough for students to know what the correct answer is for a particular question, they need to understand how to arrive at that answer themselves. This is the only way to guarantee that they will do well in their A-Level exams. We therefore seek to go beyond telling students the correct answers, we want students to develop the reading and reasoning skills involved in arriving at these answers. To help them do so, we write our own answers for each practice paper (without copying from the answer sheet or using a thesaurus) so that we can explain the reasoning process involved in arriving at a valid answer or AQ response. It is also especially important for students to see that it is actually possible to obtain full marks for the comprehension and summary components on their own.