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FAQs for AS and A Level English General Paper (AS Level only) (8021)



What is the AS English General Paper?

The AS English General Paper is designed as an academic one-year course for students in schools and colleges who are taking other AS and A Level examinations. It has the same value as any other AS Level in terms of university entrance or acceptance by employees.

What skills does the English General Paper AS Level develop?

Through the study of the broad topic areas, learners develop effective reading and writing skills in English. They work with information, ideas and opinions. They analyse and evaluate opinions and ideas. They also learn how to build an argument. These skills are all highly transferable and will help learners in other subjects they are studying, and equip them for higher education or employment.

How many hours of contact time do you recommend?

We design Cambridge International AS & A Level syllabuses based on learners having about 180 guided learning hours for each Cambridge International AS Level. The number of hours a learner needs to achieve the qualification may vary according to local practice and their previous experience of the subject.

What previous knowledge is required?

We recommend that learners starting this course should have studied a Cambridge IGCSE™ or Cambridge O Level course in a broad range of subjects, including English.

Do candidates have to have English as a first language to be able to study the English General Paper AS Level?

No, though it is recommended that candidates have successfully completed IGCSE English Language or equivalent. The level of language used is like that of other AS and A Level courses offered by Cambridge. Every effort is made to ensure the level of the language is appropriate to the level of study.

What topics can be studied on the course?

Learners will have the opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding of issues in these three broad topic areas:

  1. Economic, historical, moral, political and social
  2. Science, including its history, philosophy, ethics, general principles and applications; environmental issues; technology and mathematics
  3. Literature, language, the arts, crafts, and the media.

How is the AS English General Paper assessed?

The AS consists of two papers. Paper 1 is an essay paper (1 hour 15 minutes) where candidates choose one question from a choice of 10. The paper has questions from each of the three main topic areas listed in the syllabus.

Paper 2 is a comprehension paper (1 hour 45 minutes) where candidates answer all questions in each of two sections (A and B) on the paper.

In Section A, candidates are required to explain and interpret the information provided in the material to show understanding. They are also required to write a response that expresses an opinion and justifies a conclusion.

In Section B, candidates are required to demonstrate the ability to read for detailed understanding at word, sentence and paragraph level. They are required to demonstrate understanding of how language features are used in a variety of styles and registers. Candidates are assessed on how they analyse and evaluate the material to show an awareness of the strengths and weakness of different kinds of information presented. They are required to identify and analyse inference.

Can students take dictionaries into the examination?

Dictionaries may not be used for either paper. Candidates are not allowed to take any dictionaries into the examination.

How do universities regard the AS English General Paper?

There is some variation in how universities in different countries view the AS English General Paper. In India, it is acceptable in lieu of a Class 12 English syllabus from an Indian exam board for the purpose of equivalence in India provided students enter for the subject in Year 12 of their schooling. For other regions, therefore, it is suggested that checks are made with individual universities in their respective countries to find out how they receive English General Paper competency. 

What is the difference between the English General Paper 8021 and English Language 9093?

The ways in which each syllabus is examined is different. The best way to appreciate the differences would be to make a direct comparison between the aims of each Syllabus in the Syllabus documents that can be downloaded from the support hub. However, apart from how they are examined, 8021 has a more general approach to subject matter and focuses on communication whereas 9093 involves candidates studying texts and using effective English to communicate their ideas.

What support materials are available?

The following are available from the public website:

  • Syllabus information is here.
  • Specimen Question Papers and Mark Schemes and Past Question Papers and Mark Schemes can be found here.
  • A list of published resources endorsed by Cambridge Assessment can be found here.

For more information and materials on this syllabus, please visit our School Support Hub here

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