• Katherine Pan

Review of ES1103: English for Academic Purposes

Updated: Dec 20, 2020

Year taken: AY19/20 Semester 1

ES1103 is a compulsory module if you have received a band 1 or band 2 grade for the Qualifying English Test (QET). It is a bridging module that provides additional language support. ES1103 aims to equip us with the necessary academic writing knowledge that we may use in our course. Note that ES1103 is a prerequisite for other ES modules we may take. As an engineering student, ES1103 was a prerequisite for ES2531. The assessment criteria for ES1103 are as follows:

1) CA1 - 20%

2) CA2 - 20%

3) CA3 - 30%

4) CA4 - 10%

5) Class participation – 10%

6) Presentation - 10%

ES1103 has no final. It is 100% continuous assessment.

Sectional Teaching:

Every week, I attended 2 sectional teachings and each session was 2 hours. Sectional teaching, a mix of lecture and tutorial, starts in week 2. ES1103 was my first class in my first semester in NUS. Not knowing that classes start in week 2, I showed up for class at 8am and I was so confused. There were hardly any students and there was no tutor in sight. Turns out that every other person that showed up for class were as clueless as I was.

Thank god I stayed on campus or I would have fainted. (Source)

After that initial blunder, it was time to attend class in week 2. ES1103 focuses on understanding academic writing and reading other academic texts. Throughout the module, we will internalize and analyse different forms of academic writing. Later on we will apply the techniques in our writing. The notes provided were lengthy and not useful. Hence, I paid attention and took notes in class to ensure I understand the content taught. This way, I did not have to read through the large chunk of text in the notes.


CA1 was a 500 words essay that requires synthesizing academic texts from the same theme and we will write our stance on the issue. In the essay, we must provide our justifications and defend our stance. The academic texts serve as springboard texts for our writing. Hence CA1 is easy to prepare for as I did not have to conduct additional research. For my semester, the theme was on a cashless society. CA1 is not a timed assignment thus we can write at our pace.


CA2, CA3 and CA4:

As an academic writing module, essay writing does not just stop at one essay. After all, the more the merrier, right? CA2, CA3 and CA4 are assessments based on a 1000 words problem-solution essay. The questions were released in week 4 with various themes that we can choose from. Each theme has its problematic aspects and we may choose one problem to write about. Do choose your problem wisely because we have to write a solution paragraph. It was tough researching and I spent numerous nights scouring academic texts for a solution.

CA2 is a 500 words article that covers the introduction and problem aspects of the essay. I was given three weeks to prepare, write and submitted it in recess. Before submission, my tutor offered to read essays and provided feedback. Her feedback was invaluable and I suggest consulting your tutor for advice often.

Trust me your tutor's advice will be indispensable and prevent problems like this. (Source)

CA3 takes place in week 8. It is different as it is a timed assessment. The solution and conclusion paragraphs were to be written within 1 hour and 30 minutes. However, preparing for CA2 gave me a good idea for what to write for CA3. Hence, many other students including myself prepared the paragraphs beforehand.

EASY A? (Source)

After marking CA3, my tutor went through what aspects of our writing could have been improved.

CA4 is a continuum of CA2 and CA3. For CA4, I put together my entire essay and adjusted it according to my tutor’s feedback. There is not much to do for CA4, other than putting together the 1000 words essay and refining it.


The presentation took place on the last session and it was on disciplinary text analysis. As an engineering student, I presented my group’s lab report from MLE1010. I had to point out the usage of various linguistic tool kits, explain the format and purpose of the lab report. The presentation took about 3 minutes and my class presented our slides to each other in groups of 3. Learning about the academic writings from other faculties was informative.

Class participation:

My tutor would often ask the class questions throughout the sessions. I suggest answering as much as possible! The questions can be easy to answer and it is a great way to get participation marks. As a freshman in my first semester, I was shy to speak out and lost out on class participation marks unknowingly. Please do not be like me!


All in all, ES1103 was a manageable module. I spent much of my time reading, analysing, and researching sources for CA and classes. Although researching for information was demanding, I think other modules I have taken were far worst than ES1103.

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