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(2020) KCSE ENGLISH PAPER ONE REVISION TIPS:The grey areas. The making of an A in English

The secrets behind impressive marks in KCSE English paper one


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(2020) KCSE ENGLISH PAPER ONE REVISION TIPS: The making of an A in English by Okioma Francis and Gordon Aywa

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The secrets behind impressive marks in KCSE English paper one

This is a one-stop comprehensive guide for both teachers of English and KCSE candidates 2020

Question 1 is functional writing. It is critical to master the format and content. Note that the content is derived from the question.

Sample question

Q1. There is a high rate of students dropping out of school in your sub-county. A non- governmental organization interested in children’s welfare would like to know the reason for this high rate of drop-out. As a concerned resident, you volunteer to find out why. Write a report on your findings.

This is report writing. The format for the report is:

  1. Heading
  2. Introduction

-Reasons for the research

-Who commissioned the research

  1. Methods of research
  2. Findings (sub-headings)
  3. Conclusion
  4. Recommendations
  5. Ownership.

The content will come from the question. It will include:

a) Reasons for the research

b) Who commissioned the research

c) Methods of research

d) At least 4 findings (in prose with relevant subheadings)

e) At least 4 recommendations (in point form)

NOTE: The language mark usually varies from 4-8


Before attempting a question read the passage three times. This is for the following reasons:

  1. To know the subject matter of the passage.
  2. To know the tense
  3. To look for clues in the passage

When answering the question observe:

  1. Tense
  2. Punctuation
  3. Spelling
  4. Fill in with only one word


The novel begin as Ole Kaelo had been retrenched. the family Is relocating to Nasila. The daughters are not quite happy about there father’ s behavior. However, they had to put up with it.

  1. In blank 1,2 and 7, the candidate does not observe the tense.
  2. In blank 3 and 4, the candidate does not observe punctuation rule
  3. In blank 6, the candidate failed to look out for clues in the passage. The clue is ‘retrenched’


Q3 Homophones

Candidates should not only look out for common homophones but also consider the uncommon-complex ones:







1. Yes/no questions have a rising intonation

Did you see the lion?

2. Questions whose answer is not yes/no have a falling intonation

What is your name?

3. Statements have a falling intonation

We are travelling today.

4. Exclamatory statements have a falling intonation.

What a surprise!

5. Some exclamatory statements have a rising/falling intonation

Oh, what a surprise!

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They looked at him and laughed derisively. On that day he appeared before Nyakio, the whole village turned up. Kasuku got up and addressed Nyakio: “ Nyakio, my love, may I come and whisper something to your ear?”

“Nyakio, my love” can be said with a rising intonation.” May I come and whisper something to your ear?” can be said in falling intonation. The non-verbal cues can be a smile/a wink with outstretched arms as you move forward.

The answer to such questions requires a verbal cue and non-verbal cue.

Intonation in poetry

They had hoped as young hope

To pick up life’s pleasant gains;

But now they walk with bowed heads

Like drenched men from the rains.


How would you say the last two lines of this stanza(2marks)


I would say with a falling intonation, with my head bowed and walking with arms folded on my chest

This is because the question requires a verbal and a non-verbal response.


When asked about the tone of a poem or stanza do not use falling or rising or low or high. Use adjectives like sorrowful, bitter, angry, superior, jovial e.t.c


O my love is like a red, red rose.

That’s newly sprung in June!

O my love is the melody.

That’s sweetly played in tune!

Note that the tone in the above stanza is jovial. The persona of the poem is happy praising his love.

Stress in words

Verbs with two syllables have stress on the second syllable:

Object        Subject

Respect     Produce

Project      Conduct

Refuse       Attack

However, the following exceptions do exist among others

Carry                       Blanket

Contact                   Traffic

Carpet                     Darken

Double                     Interest


Most nouns with two syllables have stress on the first syllable

 Reject                       Challenge

Object                         Margin

Carpet                         Content

Captain                        Athlete


Exceptions still do exist. Note some of them:

Approach                   attack

Advice                         appeal

Alarm                           command

Abuse                           ordeal




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