practical suggestions to solve composition paper method of attempting question paper

You can score high marks in this paper provided that you attempt the paper with a strategy. There is the need to seriously revisit the method of attempting question paper.

Composition paper has two parts. First part consists of first three Questions i.e. Precis, Comprehension and Expansion and Second, Grammar and vocabulary including idioms and pair of words. The actual knack of this paper is your expertise in First Part that is to say how you attempt the first part and in which sequence the questions are written. The real test of candidates is judged the way Precis, Comprehension and Expansion questions are answered.

The most advisable would be to answer the questions of Second Part i.e. Grammar and Vocabulary Questions first because these questions are scoring. You should concentrate in getting score/marks in the first place. Most importantly, these questions do not take much time either you know the answer or you do not know. There is no point in wasting time.

The real strategy would be attempting the Precis Reading Comprehension and Expansion afterwards because these Questions are time-consuming and challenging.

My write-up would further explicate the way to attempt Expansion, Précis Writing and Reading comprehension questions.

How to attempt Expansion
After attempting Essay in Paper one, there seems no logic to answer expansion question. Actually, Expansion question is very tricky because the candidates consider that writing four to five pages would suffice the Expansion and this very method fails owing to not understanding the gist of quotation. Actually, writing more in Expansion is wrought with dangers because you have to write actual sense of the given sentence and if you do not understand the real meaning of given sentence then mere writing pages would not bring marks.

Kinds of Expansion
There are two kinds of Expansion.

General Expansion
The topic is of general nature where you can write any angle that you want to. For instance, there is topic ‘Love, this topic is not restricted and it depends upon you what angle or angles you wish to explore. There is no restriction that to dwell upon any single angle. Writing on General topic is advisable.

Particular Expansion
Mostly sentences are from this kind of expansion where one angle is given and you do not find room to expand that idea. You have to understand the controlling idea of that sentence or quotation. You are limited and you do not have ample room to expand your ideas. Writing three to four paragraphs would suffice this question. The real challenge is to give the examiner feel that you understand the quotation. Most people consider mere writing four to five pages would impress the examiner and this is wrong perception. This question does not test your art of English but it tests your understanding of the given sentence or quotation and your power of expression to write correctly and pertinently.

How to attempt particular Expansion?
Following are the two levels of understanding particular Expansion.

First Level: Denotative
Denotative means dictionary meaning of sentence or quotation. What the question denotes or says is to be understood and that too at the dictionary level. Read the quotation word by word and get dictionary meaning and that is the way to get meaning of quotation. After understanding, the quotation is to be expanded. Mostly quotation are to be understood at denotative level.

Second Level: Connotative
Connotative means suggestive. This is the second layer of meaning or understanding. No doubt connotative level comes when denotative level is understood. This level of understanding of the words banks upon mostly on common sense. The dictionary meaning of for instance red may mean red colour but what red connotes is to be understood where the word red is used. Another meaning is derived when first meaning i.e. dictionary meaning is finished.

Denotative or Connotative level requires that whole sentence word by word be understood, the controlling word of quotation is focused which becomes the main idea of expansion. Second meaning comes from totality of words of quotation. Third, the emphasis of grammar is also seen before arriving at any understanding of expansion.

Précis writing
The most important Question of composition i.e of course Precis writing. Précis tests the skills of composition of candidates. Candidates attempt this Question in different ways. Following method of Precis writing if followed would yield good marks.

Method of Precis Writing
a) Count the words
As soon as you attempt Precis Question, it becomes most important to count the words of original passage. Generally, students avoid counting the words and this proves fatal. Precis or Summary is the one third of total words used in passage or directed otherwise by examiner.  When the examiner does not specifically direct, the general perception goes to one third. Counting the words of passage provide sound base on which edifice of Precis is erected.

b) Casual Reading
This reading is reading only one time that too not serous reading. Reading the passage casually is to get inkling or hint regarding the passage. This one time reading basically releases the pressure and the candidate gets fair idea of the passage.

c) Skimming
Skimming means reading three to four times to find out title or heading of the passage. Title or heading of the passage is usually present in the Topic sentence of the passage. And the Topic sentence contains the controlling idea and this controlling idea controls the whole body of the passage. Technically speaking, Title or heading is to be found before writing Precis.

d) Intensive Reading
Intensive reading is detailed reading. Read two to three times the original passage. It is basically reading word by word. It is also reading between lines

e) Sifting
Sifting is also reading technique means selection of ideas. This is the most important technique of all the techniques of Precis writing. Precis depends upon sifting process. It is basically underlining process. While reading the passage the most important ideas are sifted out from the unimportant ideas. And the most relevant points or ideas are selected from irrelevant points by underlining the original passage. Sifting is mathematical process that sifts only important/relevant points from unimportant/irrelevant points.

f) First Draft or Rough Draft

Sifting material is to be written on rough page as it is. Copy the underlined portions on rough page in the original sequence of passage. Write the sifted material in your own words. You are required to follow the sequence of ideas of original passage and use one-word connectors. After writing the first draft, count the words and check the variation or difference.

g) Final Draft
After writing First Draft, write final draft and bring the required changes in final draft. Make sure that target should not exceed in any way and the final draft should not convey the sense of borrowing of words from original passage.

How to attempt Reading Comprehension Question?
This Question is considered to be the easiest question of all because we have to write the answers by seeing the original passage. Following techniques be followed to answer this question.

1) Casual Reading

Read one time to get inkling or hint of main idea in the original passage.

2) Skimming
Find out title or heading by reading three to four times.

3) Intensive Reading
Read two to three times with concentration and read between lines.

4) Sifting
Sift the most important points from the unimportant points. Underline the most relevant points.

5) Read a Question & understand it
There is a general trend that candidates read Questions first and then read the passage, this approach is not advisable because in this approach you can not write answers of general nature and also where your opinion is asked.

After reading the passage more than six times, then read a question and understand the question fully.

6) Locate an Answer of a Question
After reading and understanding a Question, locate the portion of passage where answer of a Question lies. This locating of answer in original passage be made of every Question one by one with concentration. This step has paramount import of this Question. Your correct answers bank upon your skill or ability to locate correct answers

7) Read located answer
Before writing an answer, read three to four times that located answer.

8) Write Located answer in your own words
After reading three to four times the located portion of an answer, write the answer in your own words. Try to write answer in a detailed wa.

9) Vocabulary-in-context
Word or phrases are asked to explain their meanings. Mostly candidates write the meaning that they know but in this question. You are to explain the usage of word or phrase in the particular reference of the passage or paragraph. You are required to explain through context of the word or phrase.

It is possible to score good marks in these three Questions if attempted correctly and with a strategy. Time management plays key role generally in every paper of CSS but composition paper particularly is dependent upon efficient and proper usage of time.

By: Noor Ahmad Somoon (CSP)


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