English I: Last-minute Tips

On a reader’s request, here are some last minute (updated) tips to prepare for the grammar (and comprehension) portion of English I:

  • Go through a list of prepositions and prepositional phrases (you can find plenty of such lists on the internet, or in the textbooks prescribed here: https://icsehelpline101.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/textbook-textbook-which-to-choose/) and keep practicing these every night. They’ll help a lot while doing the “Fill in the blank” questions.
  • Practice grammar from previous years’ question papers (which you will find through this page: https://icsehelpline101.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/previous-years-icse-board-question-papers/) as this is your best source to brush up your grammar in the little time left before exams. Some questions related to changing the tense or speech are often repeated.
  • Practice vocabulary (go through the words whose meanings have been asked in the comprehension part of previous years’ papers) as these carry one-mark weightage and such a question is often asked
  • Practice précis writing (if you have enough time left) and make sure you read the question correctly. Is it asking for a summary of the entire passage? Or is it asking you to write what you think of a certain paragraph? Are you supposed to write in general or related to a specific aspect of the passage? Keep these things in mind.
  • Also, if you wish, you may make a rough table for précis writing on the following page and a fair one on the page you intend to write your final answer. This will make your table look neater.
  • Further, do make sure to number the rows and columns of the table for précis writing. I would suggest making a “20 rows x 5 columns” table so that your words are  evenly spaced out.
  • Go through a list of commonly misspelled English words (you can find plenty of such lists on the internet) to improve your writing
  • Go through a list of homophones, synonyms of commonly used words, etc. to help spice up your essays and enhance your vocabulary


Hope this helps! If you have suggestions, do let us know in the comments below. 🙂
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English I: Last-minute Tips by Helpline for ICSE Students (Class 10) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Basic grammar — Where some students go wrong

English I – Improve your writing with these quick tips!

Impact Writing

Present / Past continuous tenseWhen to use and when not to use

Use of present / past continuous sense is

a. Wrong in certain occasions.
b. Undesirable and unnecessary in some occasions
c. Essential in some situations.
a. When it is wrong

I am feeling tired. (Not correct)
I feel tired (Correct)
I am feeling sleepy. (Wrong)
I feel sleepy. (Correct)
I am feeling hungry. (Incorrect)
I feel hungry. (Correct)
b. When it should be avoided

When I was a small tea-shop owner, I was visiting my bank only once a month to deposit the surplus earnings in my wife’s account. (Avoid)

When I was a small tea-shop owner, I visited (or used to visit) my bank only once a month to deposit the surplus earnings in my wife’s account. (Desirable…

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Answer to creative Writing –Model letter to Principal for school menu

English I – Model Letter Writing (Formal Letter)

Impact Writing

The Principal
Nehru International School
Bangalore                                                                                       Date …….

Subject … Suggestions for a better system of canteen procurement

Respected Sir,

I am Duncan Smith, a student of Class seven, Section D. Last week, you generously permitted the Hockey team of our school to go on a study cum recreation trip to a few villages in the outskirts of Bangalore. What we saw and learnt during this trip have opened our minds. Later, it has resulted in a frenzy of discussion among us as to how miserably we, the students of this elite school, are ignorant of our rural folks. As the Captain of the Hockey team, I express my deep gratitude to you for your kindness and sagacity.

The villages we went to are Rampur, Chenapatna and Haridaspur. We, the15 boys in the trip, have come back with some constructive ideas about the way our school can better…

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English I: How to Improve Your Essays

On a reader’s request, here are some ways you can improve your essays:

* Captivate your reader’s mind by making your beginning really interesting.
You can:
– begin with a rhetorical question, ex. “Ever thought what life would be like if…?”
– list a few words regarding the topic, ex “Lights. Lamps. And loads of love. Diwali is truly a time of celebration…” or “Roller coasters. Cotten candy. And lots of fun. That’s right, all these things can mean only one thing…”
– write something which seems totally off topic but is a hidden link to the actual topic.
– provide statistics to your readers, ex. “It has been said that 76% of human beings have a sweet tooth.” (these are not actual statistics)

* Use $100 words, i.e. use better vocabulary wherever appropriate, ex. instead of ‘happy’, use ‘elated’, ‘overjoyed’, etc. Also make use of idioms.

* Make your paragraphs flow. Make sure that one paragraph is linked to the next.

* Do not go off-topic.

* Write at least five paragraphs: Introduction, Beginning, Middle, End, Conclusion.

* Think out of the box. Do not write something that you have read before or something that has been published before. Make your essay your own. Write about something that only you have experienced. If you are writing a narrative essay, make your characters have realistic personalities, ex. write about what your grandmother would say if you broke a vase instead of imagining what a fictional grandmother would say. Such things add a realistic and unique touch to your essays.

* Wrap up your essay in a polished way, but make sure not to make it a summary of the essay, ex. if it is a persuasive/argumentative essay, conclude it by reinstating your stand in a different way than how you did in the beginning of the essay.

These were a few tips that I could think of from the top of my head. Hope they help you while writing your essays! 🙂

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This work by Helpline for ICSE Students (Class X – Class 10) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Simple tips in English grammar

English I – Tips for better grammar skills!

Impact Writing

Navigating your way through the labyrinth of English grammar …



a. We are all taught a plural subject needs a plural verb and a singular subject needs a singular verb. Sometimes, you will have difficulty in deciding in subject is plural or singular. In such cases, go by the sense of the words, find which part /parts of the sentence constitute the subject and, then, choose the verb accordingly.


Twenty tins of Rasgoolas are waiting to be sent to the canteen.
Twenty teens of Rasgoolas is a day’s consumption of the Indian wresting contingent.

Five hundred books are enough for a start-up village library.
Five hundred books is a village library’s minimum requirement to begin functioning.

Three dhoti-kurtas are enough for Anna’s wardrobe.

Three dhoti-kurtas is a whole year’s need of a simple man like Anna.

b. Time, in whatever you write, is written in a…

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