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A Guide to English Language 1123

By Alia Naeem | 24 MAR 2024

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English 1123, in many ways, is one of the easiest subjects. For one, you don’t have to memorize anything, so that’s a relief, but, deal with it in the wrong manner, and it will make you pay for it. Adding to that, no amount of textbooks and teachers can help you fully prepare for it. It’s a subject solely based on your creativity and reading and writing skills. Presenting our comprehensive guide for the updated English 1123 syllabus (2024-2026), on everything you need to know to ace it, along with a bunch of helpful tips.

Paper Pattern

The O Level English Language (1123) exam assesses students’ reading and writing. The exam consists of two papers.

The duration for Paper 1 is 2 hours and it is labeled the Reading Paper. The weightage for this paper is 50 percent. It is worth 50 marks, and there is only one compulsory question. Candidates will have to read 2 texts. The first text, or Text A, is split into two parts: the comprehension task and the language task. For Text B, you will have to write a summary based on the text and answer short questions.

The duration for Paper is 2 hours and it is labeled the Writing Paper. The weightage for this paper is 50 percent and it is worth 50 marks as well. For the updated syllabus, the directed writing is now sort of merged with the argumentative essay, which has been removed from the creative writing/composition section. You will be given a text with two arguments and you have to write an argumentative essay on it.The word limit for this is 250-350 words.

In the Composition section, students are given the choice to choose from 4 prompts, two descriptive and two narratives, and they’ll have to write on just one of them. The word limit for this is between 350-500 words.They need to demonstrate their ability to develop ideas, organize their writing, and use appropriate language and style.

You don’t need much for this paper, just a pencil and a pen.

Paper 1

Paper 1 (Reading) is designed to enhance a candidate’s reading and writing skills while fostering a deeper appreciation for literature, fiction, and non-fiction from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the syllabus, outlining its key components, objectives, and assessment criteria, along with valuable tips for success.

Understanding Explicit and Implicit Meanings

The syllabus focuses on honing candidates’ ability to comprehend both explicit and implicit meanings within texts. Through the assessment objectives R1 and R2, students are tasked with demonstrating their grasp of not only surface-level content but also the subtler nuances and attitudes presented by authors.

In this section, students explore the strategies employed by writers to achieve specific effects that influence readers (R4). By closely examining authors’ language choices, stylistic elements, and narrative techniques, candidates gain insights into how literature can engage and captivate its audience.

Structured Responses to Text A

Candidates respond to a series of sub-questions based on Text A, a narrative text. These short answers test both explicit and implicit understanding of the text (16 marks). By engaging with Text A, students learn to extract and interpret information, identifying the text’s key messages and underlying attitudes.

Language Analysis of Text A

Through a series of sub-questions, candidates analyze the author’s use of language in Text A (9 marks). This exercise encourages students to dissect language elements, such as imagery, tone, and figurative language, uncovering how these choices contribute to the overall impact of the text.

Summarizing Text B

In Question 3, part (a), candidates compose a summary of Text B in no more than 150 words (10 marks). This task assesses their ability to grasp explicit meanings, extract essential information, and condense it into a coherent summary.

Short Response to Implicit Meanings in Text B

For Question 3, part (b), candidates provide a short response demonstrating their understanding of implicit meanings and attitudes presented in Text B (5 marks). This exercise encourages students to delve beyond the surface and infer deeper layers of meaning from the text.


  1. Explore a wide range of genres and text types from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including literature, blogs, essays, and short stories. This exposure enriches your understanding of different writing styles and perspectives.
  2. When engaging with texts, actively identify explicit and implicit meanings, analyze language choices, and reflect on the author’s intent. This practice hones your critical reading skills.
  3. Regularly practice summarizing longer texts to develop your ability to condense information while retaining its core meaning. Focus on capturing the main ideas and key details.
  4. Analyze how writers use language to create effects and influence readers. Pay attention to figurative language, tone, imagery, and other linguistic tools that contribute to the text’s impact.
  5. Expand your vocabulary and tailor your word choice to the context. A well-chosen word can enhance your writing’s clarity and elegance, making your responses more compelling.
  6. Dedicate time to revise and edit your work for clarity, coherence, and accuracy. Proofreading helps eliminate errors and refine your writing, showcasing your language proficiency.

Paper 2

Understand the topic

For paper 1, before you begin writing the directed writing, carefully read and analyze the essay prompt and topic. Identify the main topic or question and understand what is expected of you. Highlight keywords or phrases that will guide your writing. This initial step is crucial as it helps you stay focused and ensures that your essay addresses the specific requirements as half of your paper will be graded on Task Fulfillment. Your essay can be great, with perfect language and engagement, but if you don’t fully understand the topic, you’ll be losing a large chunk of your marks.

Plan Your Directed Writing/Essays

A well-structured essay requires proper planning. Start by outlining the main points and arguments you want to include. Consider the logical flow of ideas and how each paragraph will connect to the next. You can also create a rough draft on what points you’re going to include in your essay – and a few lines on what you’re going to discuss in them. Planning will save you time in the long run and make the writing process smoother. It might also leave a good impression in the mind of the examiner if you make a quick draft (a small bulleted list on the events that are going to take place, or the arguments you will discuss) in the beginning of your essay/directed writing.

Structure Your Essay

A well-organized essay has a clear structure that guides the reader through your arguments. Generally, argumentative essays follow an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion format. The introduction should grab the reader’s attention, whether you’re writing an argumentative essay, descriptive, or narrative. One of the most important lines in your entire essay is your starting line. This is where, in one line, you have to write about what the essay is about and what you’re going to discuss in it if you’re writing a descriptive or argumentative essay. For narrative, your first line should want to make the reader invested.

For argumentative essays/directed writing, the body paragraphs should develop your main ideas with supporting evidence, analysis and arguments – all while keeping in mind the points you have to cover in the essay that is given. Finally, the conclusion should summarize your key points and, as the name suggests, conclude what the entire essay was about.

Develop Strong Arguments

Each paragraph of your essay should focus on a specific argument or idea. Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that introduces the main point. Support your arguments with evidence, examples, and logical reasoning. Use academic language and avoid excessive personal opinions unless requested. Remember to analyze and interpret the evidence, showcasing your critical thinking skills.

Descriptive Essays

A descriptive essay is a type of essay that requires you to describe something in detail using sensory details such as sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. To write a descriptive essay for the subject English O Level 1123, you should start by choosing a topic that you want to describe and that you have a personal connection with. Then, use sensory details and figurative language such as metaphors and similes to create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. Organize your essay by creating an outline that includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Use transitions between paragraphs to create a smooth flow of ideas. Finally, use academic language and avoid excessive personal opinions unless requested.

Maintain Coherence and Cohesion

Ensure that your essay flows smoothly and that there is a logical progression of ideas. To maintain coherence and cohesion in an essay, you can use appropriate transition words and phrases to connect sentences and paragraphs – check out our compilation of transition devices alongside their uses here. This will help your reader follow your line of thought and make your essay more coherent and readable. You can also avoid abrupt shifts or unrelated tangents that can confuse your audience. In addition to the above, you can use the following techniques to maintain coherence and cohesion in your essay: Use topic sentences to introduce the main idea of each paragraph. Use supporting sentences to provide evidence or examples that support the main idea. Use concluding sentences to summarize the main idea of each paragraph and transition to the next paragraph. Use parallel structure to create a sense of balance and symmetry in your writing. Use repetition of key words or phrases to reinforce important ideas. Use pronouns to refer back to previously mentioned ideas or concepts. Use transitional words and phrases such as “however,” “in addition,” “furthermore,” “therefore,” etc. to connect ideas and show the relationship between them.

Revise and Proofread

After completing the first draft, take the time to revise and edit your essay, whether you’re practicing or sitting in the exam hall. Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. When writing an argumentative essay or on the topics of directed writing, ensure that your ideas are well-expressed and your arguments are supported by evidence. Consider the overall structure and organization of your essay. Revise until you are satisfied with the clarity and effectiveness of your writing.

Now that we’ve covered how to write and prepare for Paper 2, here are some tips on how to improve both your writing and reading skills.

Analyze well-written essays

Read high-quality academic essays to understand effective writing techniques. You can find these essays online (some exam boards give sample essays), read your peers’ essays, ask AI ( such as Chatgpt or Bard ) to write you an essay or check out Mojza’s very own compilation of handpicked narrative essays. Analyze the structure of the essay’s arguments, present evidence, and maintain a coherent flow. Pay attention to their use of language, transitions, and critical analysis. Then implement them in your own essays. 

You can also find a specimen paper on the new Paper 2 on Cambridge’s official website that will help you practice. 

Read extensively

Expand your reading beyond your academic textbooks. Read a variety of genres, including fiction, non-fiction, and scholarly articles. This will enhance your vocabulary, expose you to different writing styles, and broaden your knowledge base. Reading a variety of texts, both fiction and non-fiction, that will help you write better and improve your vocabulary (for more on improving your vocabulary, check out our blog!). Here are some books that can help you write better, and novels that have rich language you can learn from.

  1. Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)
  2. Writing Down the Bones (Natalie Goldberg)
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
  4. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
  5. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

By reading, you enhance your vocabulary and understand and familiarize yourself with great writing styles. However, avoid using complex words unnecessarily; clarity should be your priority. What’s the point of knowing some complex vocabulary if you don’t know how to utilize it properly?


In a nutshell, O Level English offers both challenges and rewards. It doesn’t demand rote memorization, but instead, it taps into your creativity and reading and writing skills. Through Paper 1 (Reading) and Paper 2 (Writing), you’ll explore meanings, analyze language, and craft essays.

Paper 1 immerses you in explicit and implied meanings, honing your language insight. Paper 2 guides you in directed writing and essay crafting, where planning, structure, and strong arguments shine. Good luck, readers; you’ve got this!


Author: Alia Naeem
Proofreaders: Syed Muhammad Shaheer Ali


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Published: 24 March 2024
Last Updated: 24 March 2024
Written by Alia Naeem