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  1. #1
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    Default English exam in 1 week!

    Hello, my name is Bob and English is my 2nd language. I need to learn how to use good sentence structure and sohpisticated language but don't know a clue where to start. I was wondering if any of you kind teachers would like to give me some good tips on studying for an english exam, or even better by marking my essays on a 6 mark scale. As you can see here, i am repeating the words and using simple english, i need to know how to use the big and descriptive words. I can write a good paper with a thesaurus with no timelimit but in the exam room a thesaurus is not allowed and there is a timelimit, and yes i said a "good paper with a thesaurus" so without a thesaurus and with a new timelimit i write a poor paper. My essays are being marked by a 6 mark scale, i always score a 3, sometimes a high low/high 3, however i scored a 4 on my last essay within the timelimit and was proud. I think i am getting better but i need someone to monitor my progression. School is out and i still don't think i'm ready, i have 1 week, i want to write a good essay! I will be writing them with a timer since provincial exams have a timelimit. I think my main weakness is starting a new sentence using the same words. I keep using "it" "to" "thing" "that" "is"..... I need to turn them into sophisticated descriptive words and cannot think of any. I need to stop using informal language but i can't think of any good words to replace them. So what are some really good studying tips to get me prepared for my exams?
    help is VERY MUCH APPRECIATED!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Default Re: English exam in 1 week!

    1 week is not much time...

    I think you may be falling into a trap if you want to use "sophisticated" language and relying on a Thesaurus. You can often tell if someone has been using a Thesaurus to write "sophisticated" English -- it's difficult to understand.

    Words like "it", "to", "that" and "is" are not only perfectly acceptable, they are absolutely necessary. These are words which have a grammatical function, so of course they're going to appear very frequently.

    Language is not meant for showing people what big words you know; language is about communication, and the most important thing is that you communicate your ideas effectively. That means, among other things, not using complicated or obscure words where simple words would do.

    Of course you need to demonstrate that you can use more "sophisticated" language and a variety of sentence structure in an exam, but you shouldn't overdo it.

    A popular British sitcom of the 1980s which parodied the workings of the British government, Yes, Minister, made this point regularly. Sir Humphrey is a civil servant and is always using overly sophisticated language which the minister, Jim Hacker, could never understand. For example:

    Sir Humphrey: "The identity of this official whose alleged responsibility for this hypothetical oversight has been the subject of recent speculation is not shrouded in quite such imprenetrable obscurity as certain previous disclosures may have led you to assume, and, in fact, not to put too fine a point on it, the individual in question was, it may surprise you to learn, the one to whom your present interlocutor is in the habit of addressing by means of the perpendicular pronoun."

    Jim: "I beg your pardon?"

    Sir Humphrey: (anguished pause) "It was I."

    Looking at what you wrote, I'd say your biggest problem is actually the dreaded "run-on sentence". You write several main clauses and separate them with commas, which is very bad writing style. You should try to join some of the sentences up, but don't be afraid to shorten some of your sentences as well. You should aim for a variety in sentence length -- some short, some longer (but not too long).

    For example, you write:

    School is out and i still don't think i'm ready, i have 1 week, i want to write a good essay!

    Hmm. That's four clauses strung together with just one coordinating conjunction. How about...

    School is out and, with only one week left, I still don't think I'm ready. I want to write a good essay!

    A very simple improvement -- and now it's easier to see the relationship between the four thoughts. And that's sophisiticated enough.

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