STUDENTS can perform better in English exam by paying attention to each question and avoiding common mistakes, according to two experienced language teachers. Chan Bing-fui, a teacher from Lok Sin Tong Yu Kan Hing School and one of the speakers at a recent seminar titled 'How to Tackle the Writing and Oral Tests of Use of English (AS-Level)', said it was important for students to master various examination skills. The seminar was organised by Lok Sin Tong Young Ko Hsiao Lin Secondary School as part of its fifth anniversary celebrations. About 500 Form Six and Seven students in Sha Tin attended the seminar. Mr Chan said attempting the right question was the most important factor in the written test. 'Choosing the right question does not mean just selecting the subject you have many ideas about. Sometimes, you may not have the right vocabulary to express your ideas,' he told the students. Mr Chan mentioned the question about 'sex education' in last year's paper, as an example. 'Many students found the topic very interesting - they had a lot of views to offer. But they did not have the basic vocabulary, such as pregnancy, contraception and abortion, to express their ideas correctly. While writing an essay, Mr Chan said, students should pay attention to organisation, content, and most importantly, language. 'Language at your stage can be simplified as just grammar and style. 'There is no such thing as perfect style in English. The discriminating factor is the situation you are relating your essay to. For example, the way you ask your classmate to open a window may not be the same as you ask a stranger to do so on a bus.' He advised students to spend their 75 minutes in the examination hall wisely. 'Use seven to eight minutes to read the questions. Make your choice carefully and then plan your essay. The candidates should spend 50 to 55 minutes writing the essay, paying extra attention to grammar, he said. 'In the last eight to 10 minutes, revise your essay and correct the mistakes.' Leung Fook-kay, a teacher from Lok Sin Tong Young Ko Hsiao Lin Secondary School, said intelligence and accuracy played a big role in oral tests. 'You have to make sure that what you say is easily understood by the examiner. Pay attention to your pronunciation and grammar as well,' Mr Leung advised students. He also told them not to use complete sentences when taking notes. 'You should be able to read your notes easily, so try using key ideas and words, abbreviations and symbols, headings and sub-headings, and even numbers.'