O Level English Language Essay Topics

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O level English Essay Topics

O level English Essay Topics

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Describe the activities of religious people in your country

Act of selfishness that caused unhappiness

A food store in your country suddenly closed and caused great trouble

A rich man unexpectedly lost all his wealth

What do you think people of your age can do to improve life in your country?

The ideal school

Someone had a great disappointment that turned out to be a blessing in disguise

A servant or a worker was badly treated by an employer


Time seems to stand still or go much too quickly

Advertising exerts too great an influence on our daily lives

Keeping fit

Describe an old couple outside your family who live an interesting and happy life

Is it more important to enjoy your job than to earn a great deal of money?

Describe the first hour of a day at school

The owner of a local business takes strong action when threatened by outside competition

You just have one more chance to prove you can do it

Waiting for the results

Keeping cool

Write about occasions when you felt extremely bored

How important is it that people should marry and remain living together permanently

An unfair punishment

He had been dirty, hungry and completely without help. Now there was a chance of a new life

You were called upon to take someone else’s place at the last minute. Describe what happened

Is war ever justified?

Describe a time when efforts to please someone ended in failure

It’s probably too late, but at least we can try

That was the first time and I hope that it will be the last time

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

To whom would you turn for help in an emergency?


Write about a time when the illness of someone you know caused great problems

Some of the difficulties parents experience when they have to divide their time between working and bringing up a family

A new-born baby was found abandoned at a bus stop

A friend asked you to keep a small parcel safe for a while. Later you discovered that it was stolen property

Wasted opportunities


Secret hopes and ambitions

It was obvious that she had never intended to keep her promise

The time when I was given some bad advice

The computer is more of a menace than a blessing. What do you think?

Describe a journey that you particularly enjoyed


Rush hour in the city

A busy eating place

Is population control necessary?

You were on a journey with someone who was suddenly taken ill

We were amazed when we heard how lucky John had been

Write about some of the things that make you proud of your country

The signal

How much of your progress at school is the result of your own ability, good luck or good teaching?

After the accident she seemed to be a completely different person

Is it important that young people should know about the history of their country?

Describe an event which took place in a public park. It can be a real or imaginary event

Whatever happened to him…..

All young people, both male and female, should undertake a period of military or community service

Some people like being alone, others are happiest when they are with a crowd of people.

Describe the suspense of waiting for something or someone to arrive , or of waiting for some event to happen

“After school” Write about this topic interpreting the title in any way you choose

Are rich children always happier than those who come from poorer families?

A crowded shopping centre

How do you entertain yourself in you free time

A telephone call which changed your life

A disappointing holiday

What are the effects of the increased use of motor vehicles?

Television has too great an influence on life today. What are your view?

Celebrating the millennium

Which household tasks are you prepared to do and which do you try to avoid?

They did not see the danger until it was too late

The time when you failed to remember a friend’s birthday

Many students choose to travel overseas to study. Write about the advantages and disadvantages of it

“Saying Goodbye”. Write about this subject in any way you choose

Natural disasters

Grandparents are the most important people in society

An unsuccessful shopping trip

A visit to an amusement park

Describe the scene outside a sports stadium immediately before an important match

Fire- Friend or enemy?

Winners and losers

Describe how a family discussion brought about a happy outcome

Repaying a kindness

Crowds are increasingly difficult to manage. What suggestions do you have for controlling the behavior of large group of people

Running away

I made a mistake in telling him or her about my secret

Bright ideas

We had to carry my friend for the last mile of the expedition

A small child who made an important discovery

Write about something you did recently that helped poor, old person in your neighborhood

Space is the only place left to explore

A talent or skill that you wish to possess and how would you use it

Write about some of the things that make you happy and relaxed at the end of a school day

A person who was injured but kept it a secret and caused her friends great trouble

The new bus driver

Important public building in your area

Challenges of life bring out the best in young people


Describe the sights and sounds during the mid-day break in your school

Write about the disappointments you have felt in your life

A story about a person who entered a competition and surprised everyone by winning it

Caring for a sick person at home

Should entertainers and sports stars be paid such large sums of money? What are you view?

Describe the sights and sounds as students gather on the first morning of a new school term

‘Mother knows best’ what sort of problems do you discuss with your mothers

When a family moved to a new house and found that the keys did not unlock the front door

When an accident in a restaurant led to a very embarrassing situation

Which aspects of your education do you think will be most useful in your adult life?

Animals and birds should never be kept in cages. What is your opinion?

Write about an unexpected partnership that proved to be a success

As soon as I heard the news of the special offer, I knew that I must go

The day your neighbor asked you to look after her young baby while she went in to town

How far do you think young people are influenced by what they see on television and in films?

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? Why does it mean so much to you?

Write about a teacher who made an unfortunate mistake as a result of which student suffered

There is no point in preserving the past. We should be looking to the future

Imagine a reunion with three friends from your schooldays in 10 years time. How will your lives have changed?

A time when you were unable to find a passport for your visit to a foreign country

What a wonderful sound! Write about some of the sounds you like the best and why?

Describe a great celebration that you part in

An occasion when a special meal produced unexpected results

One day you made a bad mistake which upset other people

Should we worry so much about endangered species?

Rivalry between two elderly people

It is said that school uniform gives pupils a sense of identity and encourages good discipline

Write about an occasion when a furious argument took place, based on a case of mistaken identity

Should both parents go out to work when their children are very young?


Describe one of the large shopping malls in Singapore. Why does it attract so many customers?

Describe the busy day of someone who works in your area


Advertising has become too great an influence on young people

An incident which made the customers laugh.

Parents and teachers are partners in education of children.

Serious accident that caused a lot of problem for everyone


Choosing a career is the most important decision in a person’s life

549 Responsesto “O level English Essay Topics”

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    O Level English Language

    The key to doing well is to make effort right from the start to listen to and speak correct English. Why?

    The brain is wired in such a way that we absorb info from hearing much faster than through the eyes. This is how we learn our language when we are little tots. Papa and Mama keep repeating words and then we pick them up over time, and we then keep repeating the words until we get them right.

    That’s the way to learn – by usage. Memorising language rules and all that will only get us so far, and then we get stuck.

    Next, you also have to want to improve your English. I have had countless students by now and there are some who learn with me for a year and for the final exam they still do badly. Why? Simple, they have had no motivation to improve. 

    Peer pressure is a powerful thing. If all our friends refuse to speak proper English, we also don’t feel like speaking properly so that we don’t get out of place with them.

    But if we really want to do well for our exams, we really need to speak, read, write and listen to correct English. Our brains will then get programmed over time such that the moment we say or write or hear bad English, the alarm bells at the back of our head will ring.  

    It is in fact entirely possible to pick up proper English without even knowing grammar rules. Take myself for example. I’ve always gotten distinctions for my English. I’m not saying this to boast, but to share with everyone that I learnt my language not by memorising grammar rules but by making efforts to read, speak, write and listen to correct English. 

    Yet, I don’t have a problem communicating with fellow Singaporeans who cannot speak English well because I can speak Singlish too. The thing is that I know the difference between the two and I can switch any time I like, depending on whom I’m talking to and what kind of English I have to use to get my point across. 

    So, we can learn proper English without having to sacrifice our communicative language, but effort must be made. 

    If you’ve been paying attention, you’d also realise that this is how we can do well in the oral component of the paper. The oral component is all about how fluent we are in our spoken language. When we know the language well, we then don’t have to think about what to say or how to say. This helps you to breeze through the paper easily.


    For comprehension, the way to do well is quite simple. 

    “Comprehension” means understanding. The paper tests how well we understand the passage and the questions. 

    Understanding the passage is easy when your language is strong. Even if we don’t know the topic of the passage, just by having a good language foundation allows us to infer or figure out what is happening easily. 

    As for the questions, there are only two things you need to do – figure out whether it is an inferential type of question or an ‘answer-from-the-text’ type of question. This allows us to hunt for the answer correctly (I use a simple formula. My collection of the 10-year series goes back to 1997, and this formula has proved to be effective for answering the questions every year).

    Then for the questions where we have to use our own words, the idea to keep in mind is not to rephrase the sentence word for word. This is guaranteed to kill you, especially if you do this for summary! The method employed by many of our school teachers just isn't effective, and habits once formed, are very difficult to change.

    No! The way to go about it is to take the sentence, understand the idea behind it, then re-express the idea in another way. That’s all! 


    I had a good lunch can be re-expressed as The afternoon meal was good / fantastic / marvelous / wonderful. 

    Is there any word-for-word rephrase?  

    Then how do we learn how to do this? Again, simple, by reading.  

    You see, when we read, we learn new and different ways to see and re-express the same thing. We don’t even need to figure it out on our own. We just learn and copy! Over time, this starts to become more automatic until we don’t need to think anymore. We just do. 

    The new syllabus starting 2013 is very interesting. For starters, there are a lot more inferential questions than in the previous syllabus. This requires students to read widely for without sufficient general knowledge, there is no way a student can understand, can comprehend, what the question is asking for. 

    I personally think this is the right way to go, especially for those who aim for higher studies in JC and university. Not only must our English be good, we also must know what is happening around the world, and more importantly, we must know how to think. Too many students don't know how to think! 

    Then, there's time management. Watch your time! When you manage your time well, there’s no need to rush at all or end up with insufficient time to complete the paper. 

    Even up till now, I have parents and potential students asking me about the new syllabus. I have always said that it doesn't matter what syllabus we do. The basics are all the same, and language is language, how differently can they set the questions? 

    In fact, I'm glad to say that one of my students scored A1 for the paper in 2013, and another in 2014. This proves to me that the student who learns correctly can handle any paper we throw at him, regardless of the question format or examination syllabus.

    Visual Texts

    This section is one where students have the potential to score full marks once they understand what it is all about. For all the questions in this section, in the end, they all boil down to "who is the target audience, and why?", "what is the purpose of the text, and why?" and "how effective is the design of the text, and why?"

    Students can practise this section anytime, anywhere. Advertisements, brochures, posters etc. are everywhere around us. I teach my students to run through the key questions in their mind every time they come across any visual text, anywhere.


    This section tests your grammar. Some teachers put their students through lessons in prepositions, conjunctions etc. To me, an easier way is simply to pay attention to what we read and what we listen to, assuming we are reading and listening to correct English. Once the correct language is programmed into our minds, this section will be a breeze since the errors will pop out automatically.

    I often ask my students, "How does this sound like?" Those who have been practising what I tell them to will be able to tell whether a sentence has any error or not simply from the sound of it. 

    Again, read and listen carefully to correct English at all times.

    Situational Writing

    This section has changed a little and now requires students to think more about how to persuade someone to their views. General knowledge is required because your persuasion needs to make sense! The best way to learn, again, is to read a lot, for by reading, you come across myriad opinions from diverse groups of people to similar topics. You then pick up how other people put their views across to persuade others.

    This section is therefore, in a way, persuasive writing using facts and logic.


    Essay writing is also another simple thing to do. First, we need to know the structure of the respective essay or situational writing we need to do. Then we need to know what each specific essay type is looking for. 

    For descriptive essays, use as many metaphors and figurative language as you can. They enrich your writing and make it more pleasurable to read. Also remember to show, not tell. Many essays typically tell what happened, then what happened, then what happened, then what happened, then what happened, then what happened, then what happened, then what happened… *yawn*

    Boring... utterly and totally... 

    No, you show what’s happening, engaging all the senses and feelings and emotions. Make the reader imagine and feel what you are describing. Make vivid all the colours. 

    Whether discussions or expositions (actually, they are all about the same, even the argumentatives), one important element is to evaluate the topic a little. Do not simply describe or list. 

    As for the argumentative essay, always ensure the topic sentence is in place, together with the elaboration and the example. Argue logically and reasonably too. Of course writing argumentative essays require that we have some critical knowledge of current issues, otherwise, it will be tough to write. 

    For the new syllabus, narratives have been taken out and I'm glad they did. For far too many years, too many school teachers have gotten their students to focus on narratives (even if they themselves don't teach it well!). 

    Without narratives this time round, students have no choice but to read widely so that they can handle the argumentative, descriptive and expository essays. This also requires students to improve their language in order to convey their thoughts clearly and accurately. 

    Again, it boils down to reading, and focus on language. Do these well and it's difficult not to do well.

    In short, in case you still don’t realise, it is a very difficult task to write anything if we have no tools to use. It is by reading and listening that we learn the different ‘tools’ (like words, phrases, idioms, expressions etc.) we can use in our papers. 

    It is by speaking and writing that we practise using these ‘tools’ until we can wield them automatically and accurately. 

    To sum up, there really is no way to master the language or do well in the paper without putting the effort to read, write, speak and listen to correct English. So get down to doing these now!

    Final Words 

    The above are brief details that will help anyone preparing for the O Level English Language paper. Time and space do not allow me to go into too much detail. Anyway, there are things that have to be shown, not write about. 

    In our lessons, we learn exactly how to: 

    - Read a passage to learn the language,

    - Read a passage aloud to score well in the oral paper without sounding fake,

    - Apply the story-teller, news reporter, and best friend roles in the oral paper,

    - Identify the question type in the comprehension questions,

    - Search for the correct answer,

    - Re-express the idea in your own words,

    - Write a good summary in 10 minutes,

    - Use the right structure to write argumentative essays that actually make sense,

    - And many more tips and tricks to do well in the paper.

    If you wish to learn how to do well for your O Level English, details on lessons can be found at the tab above.


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