Discussion Forum

Feel free to ask me any questions regarding O’level English Language & Literature, IGCSE English Language & Literature and AS level General Paper.
I’d be glad to help you in any way I can.


350 Responses to Discussion Forum

  1. Fatima says:

    Can you please tell me how many marks
    approximately a person may lose for around 10 spelling mistakes in their creative writing and if the essay meets all the criteria of being in band 1/2 will these spelling mistakes be a big hurdle?

  2. Sarah Wong says:

    I forgot to write the required sentence for English O Levels Paper 1 Creative Writing – Will the whole story be cut and get a zero? Can I still get a credit with the help of my paper 2 and Orals?

  3. Hello…I am wondering you are requires to write no. Of words at the end of composition ( What if you don’t have time or you forgot ) will marks be deducted and if so how much

  4. Sarah Wong says:

    If I forgot to write the needed sentence for the chosen topic, will the whole story be cut and get a zero?

  5. Nurul Nadia says:

    Sir if my paper 1 essay’s word count is under the required word count by 10 words, will there be any penalties?

  6. Uma says:

    Plz answerin English olevels I have NOT included the sentence that was asked in the essay section to be included in the narrative essay which I chose. My language and topic are well knit and the theme is based on that sentence.

    Will I loose marks?

  7. Javeria says:

    I did a little cutting in today’s paper in directed writing. I cutted a line and wrote above it. And added some few more small lines to in a paragraph.I felt the need to do it to cover the point.Overall, my paper went good. My story went really good.
    I wanted to ask if the examiner will deduct marks for the cutting? Will it effect my over all grade keeping in mind that i only did it in one paragraph?

  8. xalmane says:

    Hi sir.
    Is it acceptable if i write an informal essay in the format of formal?

  9. aasma kiran says:

    Sir i need complete guide to how to start READING FOR IDEAS. Plz help me out. Thnx

    • Please consult the following book for detailed guidelines for all the parts of the paper.

      O’level English by Helen Toner and John Reynolds. Cambridge University Press. Printed in 2016.

      • Awais says:

        Sir how to score marks in english(1123) paper 1 directed and creative writing.

        • Awais, I have written some tips for examination on the blog. Please check the post.

          Read the question two to three times. Understand the requirements of the question clearly. Plan your answer before you start writing. Write according to the requirements of the genre, i.e. essay/story/letter/report. Use precise vocabulary and accurate English. Always recheck your work before you submit the paper.

  10. Ruhina Hashmi says:

    Dear Mr Younis, I teach grade 9 and we’re supposed to practice the ‘meaning and effect’ question. Unfortunately no one can explain exactly how that is to be explained to the students. Meaning is clear, but what about effect? Effect on whom? The writer? Us? If you could explain how to attempt this question successfully, I’d be very obliged. Thank you!

    • Dear Ms Hashmi,

      Explain to students that whenever writers write, they write for an audience, i.e. people who will read their writing. In addition to conveying their thoughts/opinions/ideas/information to their target audience, they also aim to influence them in certain ways. They use different words/expressions/techniques in order to create certain kind of emotions in their readers which will be in sync with their purpose of writing.

      The meaning and effect question requires students to work at two levels: uncover the meaning of a particular word/phrase and reveal what is the intended effect that the writer wants to create in the readers.

      The answer of the ‘effect’ part of the question needs to be written from the readers’ point of you and should explain what feelings/emotions the writer wants to create in the readers. ‘US’ refers to readers of the text here. The answer could also explain what aspect of the information conveyed in the phrase the writer wants to emphasise/highlight.

      Please review the following example question from the 2018 Sample Paper:

      • the meaning of the phrases as they are used in the passage
      • the effect of the phrases as they are used in the passage.

      ‘as though they were raindrops on a window pane’ (lines 42–43)

      Answer from the Marking Scheme:
      Meaning: crying continuously / her tears are running down her face / she can’t stop her tears flowing / her tears are wet / small / round (like raindrops)
      Effect: it stresses the extent of her tears / crying // comparing them to rain (on a window pane) makes it more sad / depressing // it makes us more sympathetic

      I will email you a handout about attempting this type of questions in a few days.

      Please email me at younis.farid@gmail.com

  11. sannan says:

    Hello sir ,
    Can you guide me towards getting an A in o level’s English paper 1 ?

    • Well, Sannan, getting an A in English language requires excellent language skills, both in reading and writing. Your vocabulary and grammatical accuracy also needs to be up to the mark.
      You must be well acquainted with the syllabus aims, exam paper pattern and different types of questions/tasks.
      You should prepare for examination by solving at least last five years’ past papers and getting feedback on your work from an experienced teacher.
      Have a look at the Standards Booklet (Students’ Example responses from the previous examination sessions) uploaded on this blog to have an idea of the standard/skills required to get an A/A* in English language.

  12. Humaira Zafar says:

    Hello sir,
    I am facing problems in teaching my students meaning and effect questions as well as fact and opinion extraction from passage 2 and passage 1 respectively. Kindly guide and share some resource if possible. Will be grateful.
    Humaira Zafar

  13. Ghania says:

    What is the best source to make paper for mid term

    • Past Papers. However, there is always this risk that students may already have solved them for their examination practice. Try choosing past papers which are not from the last five years at least and are not the variant used for your country.
      You may also use passages from the practice books written for the O’level examination and available in the market.

    • takura munyame says:

      hello l am takura l need help on that particular subject . l have exams on november

      • Dear Takura,

        You need to study with an experienced English teacher through face-to-face classes to work on your English language skills. I am extremely sorry that due to my present commitments, I may not be of much help to you.

  14. Evelyn says:

    What is the difference between CIE 1123/22 and 1123/21?

  15. Ibtisam says:

    Sir, can you refer a source for writing papers? I cant find writing part 2 of any paper on any site. It says content removed because of copyright issues..

  16. Haaseem says:

    What do i have to put in concl for a formal letter written to the newspaper

  17. Debo Adesanya says:

    How do I teach writer’s effect effectively

    • You will have to first explain to students what different techniques writers use, such as similes, metaphor, hyperbole etc., in order to create different effects in their writing. Show them plentiful of examples of these techniques from different texts.

      Show them the pattern of writer’s craft questions from the sample paper for O’level 2018 examination. Explain to them how the question needs to be interpreted and how the answer needs to be written. Share the example answers from the given marking scheme.

      Make them practice exhaustively from the past papers by forming your own writer’s craft questions on the past paper texts.

      You may also get guidance from Cambridge O’level English book, by Helen Toner & John Reynolds, published by Cambridge University Press in April 2016.

  18. Shazer says:

    AOA sir, I recently gave my English language paper olevel in may June. Sir problem is that I was unable to create proper link between story and dialogue. How much marks will be deducted ?

    • By dialogue you mean, the topic given to you?
      If the answer you have written is not relevant to the given topic, it is a major error. However, if your language quality is up to the mark, you could still get a satisfactory grade.

  19. Eshal says:

    What if I cut and rewrite between the given lines in my urdu paper?

  20. imran says:

    Sir will writing make any problem as my writing in isl p1 was not that much good

  21. Iman Suhail says:

    AOA Sir
    I just recently gave my olevels 1123 paper however i forgot to write the amount of words at the end of my composition paper.Can you please guide me if i’ll be loosing any marks of this ?

  22. Mayor says:

    Hello, I want to inquire if there is a penalty for writing an address in letter writing.

    • You should follow the instructions given in the question which usually ask you to start your letter ‘Dear Sir’ without writing the address.
      You may be penalised for not following the instructions by writing the address, but you wouldn’t be losing too many marks for it.

  23. Do u have English notes

  24. Sir I want to know that whether is it a problem that in history paper ans booklet was given and it was written that leave a line after every question and I forgot to do so will this make problem.

  25. minhaal says:

    AOA Sir!
    I want to how many marks are deducted if a candidate has written a letter instead of a report in his/her English p1 Directed writing task eventhought the register and tone is entirely appropriate .

    • Well, the lines are quite blurred when it comes to writing a formal letter or report in a CIE English paper. You can write a report in letter format and it is perfectly fine.
      I don’t think you should be losing any marks for using the letter format for writing the report in the paper, if the question doesn’t specify any other format for writing the report.

  26. Fardeen says:

    Hello sir, I gave my english language B exam today, igcse edexcel. But I forgot to follow the format of the article in section B, will I be heavily penalised ?

    • You should have followed the given/appropriate format for writing an Article. However, format is one part of many other requirements for writing an Article, so you can still a good grade if all other aspects of your response are up to the mark.

  27. Wajiha says:

    Hello Sir,
    Thank you for all the resources you’ve made available online, they’ve been very helpful! I just wanted to inquire if you are currently teaching AS & A levels English language or literature in Karachi?

  28. Rocco Liu says:

    I just wrote an cie English exam for a play, and I made lots of reference to wrong time period. Will this affect my marks a lot? I still feel I wrote well.

  29. Iqra says:

    Can we write below line but in scan able part

  30. aoa, in english passage 2, what if we write the correct meaning of
    complete phrase in EXPLAIN IN YOUR OWN WORDS QUESTION but they are not the synonym of the 2 words,will we get score?

  31. goharbizenjo says:

    Sir in paper 1 English O’level, in report writing what if I have developed all the points linked all the paragraph, have used good formal language however the opinion isn’t developed. Should I expect penalisation? And if yes, in which band my marks are expected to lie?

  32. Usama says:

    Dear Sir,
    The context provided in the passage (2) was: ‘Enumerating the prices’.
    I believe it could go both ways, ‘listing’, and/or ‘calculating’, speaking of its meaning. We were supposed to replace ‘enumerate’ in an own-word question. Both of these meanings seem rational to me, and fit in well, in the given context. However, I’d like you to say a word, or few on the matter. Thanks in advance.

  33. ishwa says:

    Dear sir,
    I have given my olevel english paper and in paper 2, i did paragraphing in summary( 2 paragraphs)
    Will my marks get deducted?

  34. 123ali says:

    Assalam o Alaikum Sir
    Sir i want to ask if any marks will be penalised for not writing the word count blank given at the bottom of the summary writing page,although my summary was within 160 words.

  35. Faizan hameed says:

    Sir i had my english p2 and in summary i wrote 180 words would examiner deduct my marks?

  36. shehroze says:

    Hi sir Younis. Just gave my GCE 1123/12 in which the Directed Writing section contained the instructions to start our report with ‘To the principal’ and should contain Date and our signature. I applied this format
    To the principal
    . Reported By
    . Signature
    . Name


    Please notify me the marks assigned specifically for the format and whether there will be a negative marking for me. Plus I’ve mentioned the word count, dont know if that’s appreciated. Looking forward for your response 🙂

  37. Aina says:

    Sir I gave my gce English paper 1 recently and in that I have done brainstorming with pencil and have not cut it whereas in instruction it was written do it with pen and cut whereas I have not done it but I have clearly mentioned there tha this is brainstorming and return eassy is on the next page I have clearly mentioned that on paper so will my marks be cut or will my paper be penalised or will they consider my eassy ??

  38. IBADSALEEM says:

    Sir, do the given content points have marks for it?

  39. Sir what is the difference between English language 1123/11 and 1123/12 and Similarly 1123/21 and 1123/22

    • CIE has divided the countries where O/A level examinations are conducted in five administrative zones. 11,12 and 21,22 are two variants of the English paper used in different administrative zones. Check in which zone your country lies and then identify which variant is relevant to your country. However, you use the past papers of both variants for your practice. There is not difference of syllabus/pattern/difficulty level between these two variants.

  40. faryal says:

    Aoa!It was my eng lang paper o’lvls.. Sir I did a lot of cutting in my paper.Its quite untidy.But i think what I have written is really good.How much marks will be deducted for such an untidy and poor handwriting? Secondly in the last 1mint i count my words they were either 420 or 520 but i forgot while counting so i wrote 503 how much does this matter if its wrong? thirdly i wrote an informative essay on ‘water’ but my friends are saying I should not have wrote on this topic as extra marks are deducted is it so?Kindly reply this sir!

    • Untidy but legible/readable work is acceptable. You shouldn’t be losing any marks for untidiness.
      Wrong word count shouldn’t create any serious problems for you.
      All the essays are marked based on the quality of writing. It is not the matter of what the ‘topic’ is, but how well you have responded to the topic.

  41. Aisha Ahmed says:

    Dear Sir,
    In the incident report I wrote the subject but only wrote ‘Subject: A report’ thinking that I would come back to complete it if I got a suitable sentence but I couldn’t due to me forgetting about it at the end. I feel like I aced the entire report except that portion. How many marks will be deducted for this?

    Thank you

  42. Zara says:

    Salaam sir. Sir I didn’t left line after each paragraph in section 2. Will my marks be deducted badly? And only wrote the question number and topic number in the columns. Will my marks be deducted cause I didn’t wrote topic name.

  43. Mohammad Deen says:

    How much mark will be deducted for using the article format in the report writing in Section A of paper 1 of CIE O level examination, or the whole mark will be deducted?

    • Format is one requirement out of several for writing a directed writing response. You shouldn’t be losing too many marks for using the wrong format, if the other aspects of your answer are up to the mark.

  44. Sara malik says:

    Salam sir.
    I have my o levels English language paper one today. But I think I may have forgotten to write the number or may have written the wrong topic number. Will my essay be crossed out?

  45. Hasan Murad says:

    aoa sir we just had our english o level gce paper and in the general report I wrote about the 2nd bullet point first and the first bullet point in 2nd….will there be any negative markin over it?

  46. goharbizenjo says:

    Aoa Sir, I have just given my English writing exam(O levels) and in section 2 and wrote a story below word count. How many marks should I expect to get deducted?

  47. shafayat says:

    Hello sir ! Will there be heavy marks deduction for not using the sentence and incomplete story in section 2 creative writing

  48. Maisam says:

    Sir I just gave my english 1123 english paper. I exceeded the word count in the report by almost 80 words and in the story by almost 100 words. Will marks be deducted ? My friend said he wrote 900+ words and got an A*. I also didn’t mention how many words I wrote in the end,is that even necessary?

  49. Ali says:

    What if your creative essay is below the word limit. Do they just cross it or what?

  50. Mani says:

    Sir kindly tell about the marking criteria if the narrative is nicely developed and good language is used but some part of the writing is left to be completed

    • Well, you are supposed to bring your essay or story to a logical conclusion. If the unfinished part doesn’t hamper the overall plot of the story, you can hope to get good marks for your answer.

  51. Alishbah says:

    Hi I wanted to know if marks for cutting are cut in English language paper in the directed writing part

  52. Rameesha Tahir says:

    A.O.A Sir!
    I Forgot to write the topic number in my O levels GCE English writing paper and started the descriptive writing right away after the directed writing task after mentioning sec 2 Creative writing.Will I get my marks for the descriptive essay? How much marks will be deducted?
    I’ll be highly thankful if you guide me regarding this.

  53. Eleena says:

    Dear Sir
    I wanted to ask if we would be penalized for witing a ‘cliché’ story. It’s an orignal but it was too predictable…

  54. Zernab says:

    Can we use slang words in either our report,narrative etc ? Sir i shall feel grateful towards you if u plz answer my this question.

  55. Zainabb says:

    Aoa Sir! We have been told by our teacher that examiner will deduct marks if we exceed the word limit in Paper1! Is it true?
    We have been also told by our teacher that in Paper2 questions if we write something below the lines which are given by the examiner he will not consider that part! Please reply sir. Gratitude.

  56. Amina says:

    Can you please tell me the format of writing an informal plus a formal letter.I was also having a little problem regarding the writing paper section A of english language kindly help me with it.

  57. stella says:

    Hi, its top urgent, to get the content passage of An unusual Day and Jean Lousie

    • I am sorry I don’t have those passages from CIE. I had developed the passages myself, and they are uploaded on the blog. They are not according to the exact passages used by CIE in the examination, but will serve the purpose to a great extent.

  58. Ahsan says:

    do you have a level english language 9093 solved past paper compilation? I need that

  59. Hafsa says:

    Asa. I wanted to ask, if I feel that my strength in story writing is fiction, can I write a fictional story in my oLevel exam?

  60. Aiesha says:

    Thanks for uploading.
    Just because of u I get good marks.

  61. Hasan Murad says:

    Aoa sir, it says in the june 2013 marking scheme that if the points are entirely verbatim, then candidate is to be given 0 whereas we were taught in our school to exactly copy paste the points(without extra details)…..whats ur take on that??

    • In my limited understanding, it means that instead of selecting the relevant and precise sentence from the text for a point, you copy two sentences for one point, where one is relevant and the other one is not. You can copy the phrases from the text while writing points, but the points should still be selected as per relevance and preciseness.
      The content points will also have to be written separately as bullet points.

      • Hasan Murad says:

        thank u sir….by the way I have a Qs about the 2nd comprehension as well, can we copy the answer exactly from the text for the Qs that dont have the phrase ‘write in ur own words’….?

        • You can. But not in inferential questions, starting with ‘what/why/how do you think’ phrases, which require a logical answer based on your thinking, and not in the words from the passage.

  62. Alexandru280 says:

    Hello, sir ! I have just taken an English examination and for the second task for writing I had to do an e-mail to a friend(informal), but I forgot to add the specifics of the e-mail (from, to, subject) due to runing out of time. Will I get heavily penalized ?

  63. Samia says:

    Aoa sir,
    I was told in a workshop that if we write more than 15 content points (more than 12 according to the new pattern) then those extra points would be crossed out by the examiner even if they are correct.
    Is that so? Can we write more than 12 content points without being penalised?

    • I have heard from colleagues who attended the CIE Training Workshop in Karachi that extra points will be marked. It is preferable to write 2/3 extra points to get full marks even if some points are incorrect. As per the current information that I have, students can write 2/3 extra points.

      • Safyan says:

        Dear Sir,
        I am here to talk with you,that i gave english olevel exam twice time both time i got Ungraded grade,Can you please help to pass my english exam..If u contact me on phone number thats great beacuse this time i need alot gudiance from you..Tell me solution and why i got both time ungraded.In acadmy i got b or C grade.

        • Well, there could be different reasons for it. General lack of English skills, insufficient knowledge about the O’level exam pattern, inadequate practice of the past papers. Unfortunately, I am not teaching any O’level students currently, so I will not be able to help you. Please consult any experienced English teacher/tutor.

      • samia says:

        Thanks for the reply sir.
        There’s another query i have regarding the changes in p2, reading for meaning. Is there any practice material according to the new question types? Or upgraded past papers? Is there any work being done on that? If so, can it be shared?

        • I am sorry I have not come across any material yet. I am currently not teaching any O’level students, so I am unable to devote my time to material developing. Hopefully, by next year the practice material will be available in the market.

  64. Faeq says:

    Aoa, it’s great to see this work, help making the bright future of the students you don’t even know and I am one of them!

  65. Marriam from Pakistan says:

    i want to ask that our o level system is igcse and we will give the gce english paper instead of igcse english why????…………….
    why only in Pakistan Islamabad is giving igcse eng paper????

  66. sara saleem says:

    i would like to know how would i get the complete paper of November 2013 as passage 2 is not there due to copyright.

  67. sparkle says:

    asslamu alaikum younis,
    i am a private candidate and i need help in o level English language summaries.i have understood the pattern but i need someone to check it.could you help me in checking my summaries please?.i will really be thankful to you.

  68. hasan says:

    hello sir, i’m new to cie o olevel system and i’m doing private so can you please help me with the registration as i don’t know when cie will release registration forms for may/june 2017 session and i’m eagerly waiting for the forms if you tell me the accurate date it will help me alot and will ease my curiosity

    • Please visit British Council website and get their contact number as well as download the forms from there. Private registration usually starts after the result is announced in mid January. Keep checking British Council website or call them on their UAN.

  69. Beenish says:

    Sir can u please upload insert of paper 2 summary question June 2016 its not there

  70. Ye Wint Nyan Kyaw says:

    Do I get a zero in my letter writing because the location I have to write is incorrect. I wrote all the contents in it though.

  71. Tahir says:

    Is there any online source from where we can find Solved Past Papers for English Language A levels Subject code 8693?

  72. fizza says:

    Sir how many marks are deducted for exceeding the word limit ?

    • In the writing paper, no marks will be deducted for exceeding the word limit. However, the indirect negative effect on the quality of writing when you write a lengthier response may result in loss of marks.

      In summary writing, the exceeding the word limit may result in loss of marks.

  73. Rachel says:

    Hello, i understand that marks would be deducted when you write the wrong format for situational writing , able to give the range of marks lost ?

  74. Saqib sina says:

    Sir How can we make our vocabulary stronger without reading books.

  75. Faizan says:

    Sir? Can ypu uplad latest standards booklet?

  76. tommy sit says:

    what if the wrong format for paper 1 section B is being written. example, email format required but wrote informal letter format instead. Will the penalty be heavy

  77. mimi says:

    can u send the answers of english recent papers

  78. Saba says:

    Moreover could you please list all directed writing categories which students should be prepared?
    Again I will be very grateful.

  79. Saba says:

    Respected Sir,
    Could you please tell me the allotted grade for the marking bands mentioned in the syllabus of GCE O level English Paper 1, Paper 2 and the respective sections? I will be very grateful for your response.

  80. Tanvir Hasan says:

    Sir, the passage 2 about “Akira” from year 2012 November, paper a, is not available. And it says ‘the content is removed due to copyright restrictions.’ Is it possible to get that past paper even then? I see the same with passage 2, November, 2013, paper a and passage 2, November, 2014, paper a too. Would be great if these could be uploaded. Thanks…

  81. Rita says:

    With composition questions that end with Discuss/What are your views? ( Parents demand too much from their children. What are your views?)

    Will the body para be

    Body Para 1 – Point 1/Reason 1 ( Parents demand much from their
    children in terms of academic results …)
    Link (back to qtn Point 1)

    Body Para 2 – Point 2/Reason 2 ( Parents demand …..in terms of..)
    Link (back to qtn Point 2)

    Body Para 3 – However, give Counter Point ( However, parents demanding much does not necessarily mean it is harmful if done in a supportive way to help them fulfil their potential and prepare for the real rigours of school and working life

    Link (back to qtn Point 2)

    So my question is in such questions that end with Discuss and What are your views, we should show balanced views?
    What is the official O level structure on this type of question?

    Appreciate the help. Thank you!

  82. Mariyam says:

    Sir, I wanted to know if we are penalized for not writing the question number or for writing an incorrect question number?
    I think I missed it while attempting the Poems section in my Literature paper. Will they cancel out my entire answer?

  83. Ali says:

    Sir, this is just a general query with regard to marking at CIE. The mark schemes for Section 2 in paper 1 say the ‘focus is on Language’ – does that mean that we can still score well if we think we did well linguistically but not quite so well on content? For example, if someone did the narrative but didn’t construct the entire essay around the given line (and the more she thinks of it, she doubts if a story of cognitive revelation counts as a narrative at all) – can they still manage an A*? If they do fairly well on everything else, and with the percentile in place?
    My grades really do mean the world to me, and I’d appreciate your help.

    • The language is of paramount importance in an answer to Section 2, however, writing a relevant response is also important. If it is mostly relevant and the language used is up to the mark, you can expect an A, if not an A*.

  84. Usama. says:

    Hi there. I wanted to broach the topic we were supposed to write on, in Section A; it specifically mentioned, ‘After-school activity for the younger pupils of the school’. However, i was, somewhat, confused about the term ‘After-school activity’. Therefore, my sole question is pertinent to After-school activities; Is any activity, transpiring after academic hours, is considered to be an After-school activity? Furthermore, was writing about Bake Sale, a legit response? I’d appreciate a prompt reply. (-:

  85. Raffey. says:

    Dear Sir,
    Could we write any activity/program, being conduced after academic time as an ‘After-school’ activity?

  86. Goku DBZ says:

    I have a question. I rephrased wording of given sentence in story writing English olevel paper. How many marks will be cut? I wrote,”I hadn’t called my sister in a while but in this situation I had to.” Please reply asap

  87. Ali says:

    If in a creative writing essay, we did the narrative but increasingly feel that the line to be included had only slight relevance to the rest of the content – does that mean we get a 0/15 for content? Mark schemes say focus is on language and content adjusts mark within that – but I don’t know how that works out exactly

    • It means your grade A*, A or B will be decided by the quality of your language, and your exact marks within the range of the grade (for example, 27, 28, 29 or 30 in case of A*) will be decided by the content of your essay. If your language quality is up to the mark, you can hope for a good grade.

  88. Ahmad says:

    If we write extra content points (e.g. a total of 17) do we have to include every single one of them in order to write the summary? What if we’re on point 12 and have already exceeded the word limit? In short, can we stop including more points in the summary if we have reached the word limit?

    • Ideally you should include 15 content points in your paragraph summary. Writing 4-5 words more than the word limit is okay, but you shouldn’t go beyond this.
      Try to squeeze in as many points as you can into the word limit of 160, if you are unable to include all the 15 points. Practice combining two points in one sentence and stating your points as briefly as possible to keep your summary within the word limit.

  89. Abrar says:

    Sir How we’ll do word meanings from passage 2 please guide… Secondly Can summary extend 10-15 words… Last but not least How to Answer explain fully questions??..

    • Only attempt 05 words out of the given 08 words. Write the meaning in one word or a phrase of maximum seven words. Don’t use a ‘comma’, ‘and’ or ‘/’ while writing the meaning of a word. Read the sentence in which the word has been used to understand the context and always give the contextual meaning. You can guess the meaning as well if you are not sure, as there is no negative marking.
      Summary must not exceed 4-5 additional words than the word limit of 160.

  90. Saif Khan says:

    Sir, can you please tell me that one content point in Q1(a) of passage 1 should be of approximately how many words?

    • It depends. It could be from 3/4 words to 9-10 words long. Try to keep it as short as possible, but don’t skip any important words while doing so.

      Look at the points given in the mark scheme to get a better idea.

  91. Saif Khan says:

    Sir, can you provide any tips regarding not exceeding the word limit in summary writing.

    • Keep your sentences brief and precise and combine two points in one sentence. Don’t write any introductory, concluding sentences on your own, nor add any extra information. Don’t include more than 15 key points in your summary, even if you have written more points in the notes section.

  92. Ahmed Khan says:

    Sir will the marks be deducted if you do not start the speech as asked by the examiner.

  93. Muhammad Usman says:

    I, exceeded word count of directed writing and creative writing by 70 and 20 words respectively.And I forgot to mention topic number of essay as well.How much marks will be penalized.Please reply as soon as possible.

  94. muhammad ijlal chiniot islamia school says:

    Dear Sir
    i would be grateful if you provide details of types of questions in passage 2 of paper 2 and details of how to solve it
    please also provide tips for solving passage 2

    I am getting an avg of 18/19 in passage 2 and 20 in passage 1
    will i able to get an A grade in english 1123
    please reply ASAP
    God bless you sir

    • Well, solving both parts of the Reading paper is a detailed topic which I am not sure I can explain here. It is not something which you should be looking into on the last day before the examination. I’ve briefly written about solving reading paper in my post about Exam Tips.

      Your grade depends on your score in both the papers and the grade thresholds for the session. If you score around 40 marks in the reading paper and do well on the writing paper, you can get an A grade.


  95. Maham says:

    How many points from either portion in summary writing are required in the continuous writing?

    • You have to write 15 points in total excluding the 02 example points given in the question paper. You can keep your points on both the themes balanced by writing 7+8 or 9+6 point to make a total of 15 points.
      You can also write extra points to score marks if some of your key points are wrong.

  96. Daniel says:

    Dear sir,
    If I added one more point to the original 15 in the notes for summary. Will marks be deducted? If so how many?
    Thank you.

  97. Rachel says:

    Dear Sir,
    I m having a doubt,will the examiner deduct marks for cutting and rewriting the words on essay and directed writing??

  98. muhammad ijlal says:

    dear Sir
    I want to know that in note taking can we copy exact sentences from the passage or is it necessary to shorten them
    please reply soon
    please also provide ways to shorten them
    i would be grateful if a quick response is delivered
    GOD bless you Sir

    • Dear Ijlal,

      Surely, you can copy the words/phrases from the text while making notes in your response to Q. 1 (a). However, you need to select your points precisely and write your points briefly.
      You can get an idea of what is needed by looking at the following paragraph from the June 2015 reading paper B (22 variant) and the content points given for that paragraph in the mark scheme. Students were required to identify advantages of social networking websites. The paragraph and the key points are related to the advantages of these websites. The words in parenthesis mean that these words can be written or can be skipped. / shows the alternative words/phrases.

      Social networking sites are a recent and, sometimes, controversial innovation. They enable people, by means of the internet, to get in touch with friends easily, without having to worry about interrupting them in the way that telephone calls might. People can keep in regular, even daily, contact with details of their friends’ lives, such as the clothes they wear and the music they listen to, even sharing photos by way of illustration. The fact that messages can be posted on the site at any time of the day or night makes for almost instantaneous updates; every detail of a day’s events – meals eaten, lessons attended – is there to be shared almost as it happens. Using such social networking sites is obviously much cheaper than long distance
      travel, and maintaining relationships with friends or family in faraway places becomes much easier, making the world seem a small place when, say, a friend goes to a foreign university to study or a daughter emigrates to take up a better job.

      Content points:

      1 People can get in touch with friends easily
      2 (People can keep in) regular / daily contact (with details of their friends’ lives)
      3 Messages able to be posted at any time leads to (almost) instantaneous updates (about people’s lives)
      4 Maintaining relationships with friends/ family / people in faraway places becomes easy /easier // cheaper than long (distance) travel

  99. ahmed says:

    Sir are we penelised for exceeding the word limit specially in part one? I belive i went over the word limit for about 40-60 word? Will they deduct marks? If so how much?

    • In writing paper, you don’t need to very strictly follow the word limit. You can write a little more, and in your case, this will not seriously affect your marks.
      The problem with writing more than the given word limit is that students don’t plan and edit their essays/directed writing responses and they just keep writing for the whole of the allotted time. If an essay/letter/report/speech is written with proper planning and rechecking, most of the students would write a response within the given word limit.

  100. delon says:

    sir, do examiners penalise marks for writing the wrong topic number for essays?

  101. Abrar says:

    I really lose marks in paper 2 in summary Writing can you please tell me how to write a summary in continuous prose to attain maximum marks? I’ll be really thankful..

    • You have to use the same points that you wrote for making notes for your paragraph summary. Use synonyms to replace the key words in the given points in order to write the summary in your own words. Combine two points in one sentence whenever possible, using conjunctions. Use transition words, such as and, furthermore, moreover, in addition, also etc. When you are changing sides, e.g. moving from advantages to disadvantages in your paragraph summary, signal it by using a phrase, like ‘on the other hand.’ Do check your summary for grammar, punctuation and spelling errors. The opening ten words are included in the word limit of 160, so you should write 150 words of your own. Try not to write more than 160 words in your summary by keeping it terse, precise and to the point. Don’t write any introduction or conclusion sentences, not add any additional information on your own.

  102. Saad says:

    there was a speech in today’s paper. i wrote it properly with some authentic stuff and valid sentences, the use of pharses, grammer, fromat, everything was okay . i thought the words would be almost 300 . but they were around 410 . I cut some sentences from the paragraphs with just a single line using pencil to make it around 300. Im so confused whether its okay or it will be considered as a major mistake and marks will be deducted? Your prompt response will be greatly appreciated.

    • If you have clearly crossed out the excess sentences, you will not be penalised. The only concern could be the fact that due to crossing out those sentences, the flow and coherence in your writing may be affected.
      You can write a little more than the maximum word limit in writing paper and writing excess words is not strictly penalised.

  103. rauf says:

    can i start my magazine article with first person?

  104. Abrar says:

    Can you Post a link for last minute revision for English 1123 I have a paper tomorrow Please help out…Thanks

  105. Huda says:

    Assalamu Alaikum sir, I have my English Language paper (1123) tomorrow and I’m confused as to whether I should write an address in a letter, when the instructions says to start your letter with ‘Dear Sir’.

    Our teacher is advising me and my fellow peers to write the address either way where as some people are telling me not to write it and just start it with dear sir simply.

    What should I do? Please guide. Thank you.

    • Dear Huda,

      Please don’t be confused.
      If the question says “Start your letter ‘Dear Sir,'” forget the addresses and follow the instruction.
      If you don’t get any instruction about starting your letter ‘Dear Sir,’ you can write the addresses in your letter.
      It is as simple as that.

      • Ahmed Khan says:

        what if it is mentioned to start from good morning in a speech but you start from respected teacher how are you all.Will the examiner cut marks to not start as he had mentioned to.But as far as I know he won’t deduct as there is nor marks for format.Please guide me.

  106. Usama. says:

    Dear Sir,
    I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the meritorious services you’ve been rendering and i wholly adulate your strenuous efforts to assist students! Tomorrow’s my English Language(1123) CIE and i’m sort of obscure over HOW TO PREPARE for the exam. I beseech you to guide me with some preparation tips. Your cooperation will be highly appreciated!

  107. Abrar says:

    Sir is it Important to write a thesis Statement In creative Writing??

  108. Abrar says:

    Sir guide me with best ideas/points for writing a speech please..I need your help…

    • A speech needs to have a beginning with stating the main purpose/topic. You need to use vocabulary and sentence structure which is simple and easy to understand. Don’t write complex or too long sentences.
      Use speech techniques, like a list of three words/phrases, occasional repetition of words/phrases, alliteration, rhetorical questions, emotive words/phrases, contrasting structure (anti-thesis), use of personal pronouns, similes and metaphors, etc.
      Conclude your speech effectively by ending it on a positive/definitive note depending on the topic.

  109. Abrar says:

    Salam.I want to score a best grade so Please give some guidelines and tips for creative writing and Directive Writing…I”ll be really thankful to you …

  110. Mehreen says:

    Sir how to write an article in English paper 1? O’levels.

    • It is similar to writing a newspaper report. I’ve already given its format.
      Use formal language and keep it to the point. You can make it interesting by choosing details carefully depending on your topic.
      Focus on the given content points and write 4-5 paragraphs. Read some good examples of a Magazine Article in your course books.

  111. Talha says:

    As Salam O Alikum Sir,
    Could you kindly give me the link for the formats of different types of directed writing? Would be highly obliged, thank you.

    • Walaikum Salam, Talha.
      Just wrote a post about the formats. I’m glad that I’ve been able to provide you the formats in time for your examination.

      • Talha says:

        Thank you so much sir. Just one more question, in your updated letter formats you didn’t mention the addresses. So if they don’t mention “start with dear sir” in the question, do we have to write the addresses?

  112. Aimen says:

    If we are not asked to start from ‘Dear Sir’ we will have to write the address. so on which side shall we write it and do we have to write both addresses in formal and one in infomal or is it the other way round. please reply me as soon as possible?

    • Dear Aimen,

      Most probably, you would always get ‘Dear Sir,’ in your letter writing question.

      However, if you didn’t, you could use full block format and write both the addresses on the left side in a formal letter, and write one address (the sender’s address) on the left in an informal letter.

  113. Hassan says:

    Sir Please share format of informal letter ASAP.my present teacher says address and complimentary close on right.previous one said all should be on left and paras should be indented.plz help me understand it.

    • Dear Hassan,

      You should follow the instructions given in the question paper about the format. These instructions usually are that you should start your letter ‘Dear ….,” and address is not needed.

      You can follow the full block format which requires your salutation and closing to be on the left side.

      You can indent paragraphs, but you can also skip a line between paragraphs if you don’t indent them.

      • Laraib says:

        Asalmualikum Sir,
        I’m commenting too many mistakes while writing.Like I’m having confusion
        in second form of verb ,I could not understand when to use it .What are the hinting points for the use of second form of verb.

        • Walaikum Salam, Laraib.

          You need to consult a good grammar book to revise Past Tense usage and practice exercises. Oxford Practice English Grammar by John Eastwood and English Grammar in Use by Murphy are two good grammar books. You can get these books easily in Pakistan. You can also get help with you grammar online by consulting some good website. Google will be your best friend in this regard. 🙂

  114. Hania Najeeb says:

    sir i am not doing well in passage 2 of reading paper. i am weak in interpreting questions please provide me with some tips.
    and is it good to attempt discursive topic in creative writing section or should I go for reflective essay?

    • Asslam o Alikum,

      Doing well on reading paper requires you to be a regular reader and to practise solving comprehension exercises extensively. The section 2 of the reading paper often proves to be most challenging for students. For answering questions requiring interpretation, you should first know how to identify these questions. Then read the paragraph critically to look for the implicit information given in the text. Consider different interpretations possible and choose the most suitable one to the best of your understanding. Solving such questions from the past reading papers and comparing your answers with the ones given in the marking schemes will also be quite useful in your preparation.

      You should attempt a discursive essay only if you have sufficient information and valid arguments on the given topic in an examination. Moreover, having done a substantial amount of practice of discursive writing before the examination is also mandatory. Write according to your strengths and the choice of topics in your examination.

      All the best!

  115. Hamna says:

    Sir will you tell me the safe range of words for summary writing, I keep jumping in 170s will this affect my summary mark?

  116. jacqueline melling says:

    I have started teaching General Paper (AS) and would like your advice on which coursebook/website to use for my preparation. The topics seem so vast and I’m hoping my student will not become over-whelmed.
    Thanks in advance,


    • Hello,

      Good to know that you have started teaching General Paper syllabus. The range of topics is quite vast and varied, and you are not required to cover all of them. Students ares supposed to use the knowledge and understanding that they have developed in other subjects to write GP essays. Looking at the last five years’ exam papers of GP will give you some idea about the issues/topics regularly given in the examination, and you can cover them on priority basis in your classroom.

      The books generally used in Pakistan include, General Paper by Paul C. Verghese, A Guide to General Paper by Simon Wong & Accelerated Learning by Lubna Agha. However, you can always prepare your own notes on the topics outlined in the syllabus and have discussions followed by essay writing practice in your classrooms.

      You should mainly focus on teaching students essay writing techniques and strategies, building and supporting arguments in writing and widening their knowledge and understanding about the main issues/topics outlined in the syllabus.

      I wish you all the best for teaching the GP course.

  117. Talha Hanif says:

    Assalamu-Alaikum sir
    sir can you please update the format of the speech report letter and the account writing.. it will reallly help me out

    • Walaikum Salam, Talha.

      Good to hear from you. I will upload these formats soon insha’Allah. Several students have asked me about them. My schedule has been quite hectic recently and I have not been able to sit down to write a detailed post about it.
      All the best for your upcoming examination!

  118. Sara Saleem says:

    What is the cie rule if the students exceed the word limit of 500 words in the creative writing section do we cancel the work and cut their marks or do we read it and mark them anyways.
    Could you please reply soon. Thanks

    • To the best of my knowledge, no marks will be deducted for writing more than 500 words in the creative writing section and it will be marked.
      However, if students write a lengthier essay, the quality of writing may deteriorate due to insufficient time spent on planning and editing their composition, which, in turn, will result in loss of marks.

  119. Erumkhan says:

    I just want to know this that,is it possible to first plan i-e
    write the rough notes in paper1 creative writing and cancel the rough notes and then proceed because some ex -students say that its better to just start the essay because time would be less What strategy should be adopted pls reply
    Regards erum khan

    • Walaikum Salam.

      Planning your essay is always recommended, however, you need to keep in mind the time constraints while doing it. Writing the whole essay as a rough draft, revising and editing it, and then writing the final draft within an hour may not be possible for most students. I would suggest you plan your essay through any brainstorming technique, like listing, mind-mapping, questioning etc, and then proceed to write your final draft from it. You can always make corrections by crossing the words/sentences neatly at the editing/rechecking stage.

      Hope my suggestion will be helpful for you.

  120. Syed Muttaqui says:

    Sir, I just wanted to ask you that how many questions will be there in cie english paper 1 and what type of questions will be asked.

  121. aisha says:

    On paper 2,second passage on the vocabulary part do we use phrases in the passage or make up our own???

  122. maheen says:

    Can u plz guide me how to acquire technical knowledge regarding 1123 as my students will appear next year in the paper. They just have few months n m new in this field.

    I need details like paragraph breaking, speech writing in commas or not, what is the difference bw account, report and article writing and how to begin and then end them. And anything related to technical detail.

  123. Ranmina says:

    May the Noble Triple Gem bless you for your kind service

  124. mehreen says:

    Sir, could you please provide me with the correct format for writing formal and informal letters to be followed for O level English Language (1123) paper 1.
    Some resources say that the examiners are not concerned about the addresses or the format in general and we just have to begin with “Dear…”
    According to Helen Toner and John Reynolds, sender’s address should be on top right which many teachers do not recommend. Also, is it necessary to include the subject line or reference number in formal letters?
    Please give me a detailed response.
    Thank you.

    • Dear Mehreen,

      Although writing addresses and date in your letters in real life is compulsory and this is recommended in all books, including Toner’s and Reynolds’ as you mentioned, examination paper is a different situation. In O’level examination, you have limited time available and it is important to avoid spending time and energy on unnecessary details/aspects of any given task.

      You should follow the instructions in the exam paper and start your letter with “Dear…” Including a subject is optional, according to my limited understanding and reference no is not required. Hope it answers your query.

  125. Abdul Rehman says:

    Sir I have commented earlier but there was no reply,
    Please tell me that can a student write a narrative essay including a real historical event and shape his essay accordingly?

    • Dear Abdul Rehman,
      Please accept my apologies for a delayed response.
      According to my limited understanding, you can use any real historical incident as a backdrop/setting for your narrative composition, but the plot, characters and conflict should be fictional. Your narrative should not become a mere factual account of the historical incident.
      If any other teacher would like to comment on this, I would welcome their contribution and publish it here.

  126. Rizwan Javed says:

    Hi, I posted something regarding standards booklet on this blog, but unfortunately didn’t get any response. If it is possible, please send me the pictures of this standard booklet on email: rizwan.devaj@gmail.com

    thanks in advance.

  127. Zain says:

    I wrote a comment here a few days ago but I don’t see it anywhere. I need to ask about how many bullet points I’m suppose to write in the summary writing question of paper 2 (O Level). Are the 2 given points marked or do I have to write 15 additional points?

    I have my English exams a week from now and some help from your part would be invaluable. Thank you.

  128. Mahsa says:

    Dear Mohammad, Would you kindly let me know if in a report they say start with a sentence, should the the report still have a title?
    many thanks

    • Dear Masha,

      To the best of my knowledge, it is more appropriate to follow the given instructions in the report writing task and skip the title. As a rule, always follow the instructions regarding format in any directed writing task.

  129. Fahad says:

    hello. if the directed writing part states “begin your letter with “dear Sir”” do we skip out on the letter formatting (addresses on top etc) ? or we still write it out as a proper letter and just use Dear Sir as an opening greeting?

  130. Noor Ali says:

    sir, i am having problem in literature can u pls guide me how to prepare or atleast books or any kind of notes that may be helpful…………..

    • Well, if you are preparing privately, it will be a tough road ahead. I would suggest you take regular classes from a seasoned teacher.

      You need to thoroughly read your texts to develop an in-depth knowledge of the prescribed texts. Spark notes are freely available online. York notes are also quite helpful, but they are not free. These notes can be used just to get some additional help about the themes, characterisation and important plot events, but they can never be enough for your preparation. You need to read the text thoroughly on your own, develop a detailed insight into it, have informed discussions with your teacher and practise wirting responses according to the CIE requirements.

      I wish you all the best for your preparation.

  131. SULAYMAN BAWA says:


  132. Zain Mughal says:

    I want ask that in olevel reading paper A how to answer a question that say “Explain in your own words“.

    • Walaikum Salam,

      This type of question has its answer explicitly given in the passage, but you need to write the answer using your own words, or else you will not score any marks.

      You should follow the following steps to answer ‘Explain in your own words’ questions.

      1. Find the exact answer given in the paragraph. It can be one particular sentence or a clause or even a phrase.
      2. Select two key words in the given sentence in the passage. These two key words will be the exact answer of the question. They will be nouns (abstract especially), adjectives, verbs or adverbs, and will be more sophisticated/difficult vocabulary items.
      3. Write your answer in complete sentence providing the synonyms of those two key words. Even if you do not change any other word except those two key words, you will get full marks.

      When you practice past papers, do check the answers in the marking scheme for ‘own words’ questions to monitor how accurately you are able to find the two key words.


  133. Assalamalaikum,
    Glad to see your blog.I had been an O level teacher a decade ago. Currently I’m teaching undergraduates.
    I have to codcuct a workshop for O level students explaining in detail the marking scheme for course # 1123 with students’ sample work. This report is provided to Cambridge Schools which they share with their teachers. As I do not belong to a Cambridge school, I couldn’t get access to it online.
    Could you please help me in this regard?

    • Walaikum Salam,

      Thank you for your appreciation.

      The material you are looking for was published by CIE in a booklet form in 2004 and it is called Standards Booklet. It contains students’ actual CIE papers, along with examiner’s detailed comments. I have the printed copy of the booklet, and unfortunately, the soft copy is not available on the CIE Website.

      Students’ marked papers are also provided to teachers in the CIE workshop, conducted by the examiner in Pakistan every couple of years. I have those papers from the CIE workshop, but they are also in printed form.

      So unfortunately, you will not get the required material on line. Let me know how I can further help you in this regard.

  134. Sara Saleem Ansari says:

    Asalaam alaikum. I would like to know the correct format for speech writing because my faculty is having problems to come to final format as some say that it should begin and end with inverted commas, but the others say that as the speech has to have quotations therefore it cannot have double inverted commas. also is it ok with CIE to write quotations and sayings in any form of writing,

    • Walaikum Slam.

      To the best of my knowledge, writing a speech would not require any kind of inverted commas in the CIE paper. The sample of speeches in some O’level books did not include any commas.

      You can, of course, use quotations and sayings in essays and stories. However, they may not be appropriate in reports and formal letters.

  135. nudrat says:

    Aoa,i have just recently started teaching o levels….can u help me with any notes or help material with which i can guide my students?i am raw but really wana be a good teacher for my pupils..waiting for your reply…

    • Walaikum Slam.

      Good to know that you have joined the profession. Tell me which city you are in. I will guide you about where to get some useful books to prepare your notes/handouts to use with your students. You will find the Cambridge published Scheme of Work to be very useful as a guideline to prepare your course outline/syllabus. You can email me @ younis.farid@gmail.com for further guidance.

  136. Aiza says:

    Aoa sir i m o levels student n going to appear in 2015 … kindly tell me that narrative is more suitable with flashback or simple narrative is better to score good grade? thanks..

  137. veronica says:

    and is there no examiner comments for the 2014 june papers? sorry for asking so much!! tmr im taking for my olevel english paper already im so scared 😦

  138. CoolKid says:

    Dear sir does Cambridge sets new papers every year or do they repeat like after 2-3 years. I wanted to know as i am having my next IGCSE language next week. Thank You.

  139. eman says:

    I would like to inquire about the word count in first language 0500, if the student uses more than 450 , would the examiner continue reading or s/he would disregard the rest of his/her essay?

    • If you write more than 450 words, you will not have time to plan and edit your essay in the available time. It is better to spend time on planning and editing your essay, then writing more than 450 words. However, if you write more than 450 words, the excess words will be checked as well and you will not be penalised for writing more than the word limit.

  140. Mala says:

    This blog helped me to well in exams,thanks for creating this blog.:)

  141. humaira says:

    Sir will u be kind enough to provide me the passage 2 for paper 2 of english language 1123 for year 2013. Both zones. I ll b grateful.

    • Asslam o Alikum,

      I am afraid Cambridge has not provided the passages due to copyright infringement issue, so I have not been able to post it on the blog. I will try to arrange it for you. Please check the blog in a week’s time.

      • Humaira says:

        Thank U sir. Stay Blessed.

        • Humaira says:

          Hi Sir,
          This is me , Humaira once again. sir my current batch of studens is really not doing well in summary question. Will u please help me how to resolve this issue.

          • Asslam o Alikum,

            Sorry for responding late. You can contact me at younis.farid@gmail.com for quicker response.

            Please share with them strategies for identifying key points. Solve one summary passage with them in the class. Tell them that the points about one side will be written in the first 3 paragraphs and points about the second side in the last 3 paragraphs. The points are to be written in a precise and brief manner, without using your own words. Examples are not counted as separate points, neither the repetitions. They can write one or two extra points as well.

            Show them the marking scheme after they have solved a passage to compare their points with the points in the the marking scheme. Provide them exhaustive practice from past papers.

            Hope it helps your students.

  142. mala says:

    It was really helpful.

  143. marmlax says:

    Sir it’s me Mohammad BT. I love to see your blog and it’s just awesome. This will really help me in my O’levels.

  144. Zara says:

    good work.
    try to add other papers as well as it is a great source.
    hope u’ll look forword to my request.

  145. bintenadeem says:

    Aoa sir if the question says that start ur letter with Dear sir and of we don’t wrote the format will the marks be deducted? ?

    • Walaikum Salam,

      It is advisable to follow the instructions given in the question properly. If it is mentioned to start your letter with ‘ Dear Sir,’ you should simply do that and you will not lose any marks.

  146. Thank you so much for this, really helped a lot!

  147. faisal aien says:

    This is really helpful.

  148. Nice to see this all bro.
    Very good Job ……..

  149. maria says:

    right, so sir i will get back to you with a query once the school reopens.

  150. Muhammad Irfan Attari says:

    Hi there, it is good to see you are here to help regarding O’level English Language & Literature, IGCSE English Language & Literature and AS level General Paper.

  151. Sourov says:

    as-salamu-alaikum brother, can i ask u about sth other than English. perhaps about this blog of urs

  152. imran says:

    Please update the blog

  153. aoa,i want to ask about the format of report writing like the date n everythin we hav to write in a proper way

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