English Paper 3 Questions and Answers - KCSE 2021 Past Papers

Share via Whatsapp

Answer three questions only.

  1. Imaginative Composition (Compulsory) (20 marks)
    1. Write a story ending:
      I eventually realised how important it is to live peacefully with our neighbours.
    2. Write a composition explaining what can be done to reduce crime in Kenya.
  2. The Compulsory Set Text (20 marks)
    H.R. Ole Kulet, Blossoms of the Savannah
    Misunderstandings in families can cause serious conflicts in relationships. Referring closely to the relationship between Ole Kaelo and his daughters in Blossoms of the Savannah, write an essay in support of this statement.
  3. The Optional Set Texts (20 marks)
    Answer any one of the following three questions.
    1. The Short Story
      Chris Wanjala (Ed.), Memories We Lost and Other Stories
      Distance between parents and their children can be an obstacle to effective parenting. With reference to Lesley Nneka Arimah's story "Light", write an essay in support of this statement.
    2. Drama
      David Mulwa, Inheritance
      Even though some African countries have leadership challenges, they have a lot of potential for economic growth. Referring to Kutula Republic in David Mulwa's Inheritance, write an essay in support of this statement.
    3. The Novel
      John Steinbeck, The Pearl
      True friendship is hard to find. Many people associate with us for what they stand to gain. With reference to John Steinbeck's, The Pearl, write an essay to support this statement.



Co-ordination Procedure

  1. The Question Paper will be discussed together with the Points of Interpretation.
  2. After studying the Marking Scheme the examiners will mark selected photocopied scripts of the Paper with their Team Leaders.
  3. The examiners will mark on their own a set of photocopied scripts and hand in those marked scripts to their TLS.
  4. The photocopied scripts marked by the examiners will be analyzed and points of interpretation and relevance discussed.
  5. Thereafter, more photocopies will then be marked and discussed.

Marking Procedure

    • As soon as an examiner receives a set of scripts to be marked, he (or she) must enter his name, number and the number of his team on the envelope.
    • He must make sure the number of scripts in the envelope corresponds to the number of scripts indicated by the supervisor. Any discrepancy must be reported immediately to the Team leader.
    • Any script sent to the TL or CE must be clearly identified as coming from such an examiner. Each examiner must keep a clear record of any script that passes through their hands.
  1. Team Leaders should keep very clear records of all scripts allocated to the team as a whole and each examiner individually.
  2. The examiners underline each mistake according to the instructions given on page 6- 8 of this booklet. This must be done carefully as both over underlining or underlining can give a wrong impression of the value of a script.
  3. Examiners underline candidates' mistakes in red. Team Leaders co-ordinate in green, ACE in black and CE in blue.
  4. The mark given for the essay must appear at the end of the essay itself and carried to the special grid on the first page of the booklet
  5. For problem scripts, dedudctions should be clearly shown together with a short explanation of the reason for this at the end of the question.

Coordination by Team leaders 

  1. Team Leaders will co-ordinate approximately 10% of the scripts from each packet. The scripts selected for co-ordination must cover a variety of marks. Highest and border marks should be coordinated.
  2. If there are several deviations of 2 marks or more, an additional number of scripts is coordinated and the packet returned for remarking.
  3. If an examiner or a Team Leader is uncertain about any script, he/she is advised to consult other examiners, TLS or CES.
  4. Team Leaders must return scripts for remarking where the underlining is not satisfactory.

Paper 101/3 is intended to test the candidates' ability to communicate in writing. Communication is established at different levels of intelligibility, correctness, accuracy, fluency, pleasantness and originality. Within the constraints set by each question, it is the linguistic competence shown by the candidate that should carry most of the marks.
Examiners should not hesitate to use the full range of marks for each essay.
It is important to determine first how each essay communicates and in which category A, B, C or D it fits
(The marks indicated below are for question one.) 

D CLASS (01-05) - The candidate either does not communicate at all or his language ability is so minimal that the examiner practically has to guess what the candidate wants to say. The candidate fails to fit the English words he knows into meaningful sentences. The subject is glanced at or distorted. Practically no valid punctuation. All kinds of errors. ("Broken English").

D-01-02 - Chaotic, little meaning whatsoever. Question paper or some words from it are simply copied.

D 03 - Flow of thought almost impossible to follow. The errors are continuous.

D+ 04-05 - Although the English is  often broken and we estay is full of errors of all types, we can at least guess what the candidate wants to say.

C CLASS (06-10) - The candidate communicates understandably but only more or less clearly. He is not confident with his language. The subject is often undeveloped. There may be some digressions. Unnecessary repetitions are frequent. The arrangement is weak and the flow is jerky. There is no economy of language; mother tongue influence is felt 

C-06-07 - The candidate obviously finds it difficult to communicate his/her ideas. He/she is seriously hampered by his/her very limited knowledge of structure and vocabulary. This results in many gross errors of agreement, spelling, misuse of prepositions, tenses, verb agreement and sentence construction.

C 08 - The candidate communicates but not with consistent clarity. His/her linguistic abilities being very limited, he/she cannot avoid frequent errors in sentence structure. There is little variety or originality. Very bookish English, links are weak, incorrect and repeated at times.

C+09-10 - The candidate communicates clearly but in a flat and uncertain manner. Simple concepts sentence forms are often strained. There may be an overuse of clichés, unsuitable idioms. Proverbs are misquoted or misinterpreted. The flow is still jerky. There are some errors of agreement, tenses and spelling.

B CLASS (11-15) - This class is characterized by greater fluency and ease of expression. The candidate demonstrates that he/she can use English as a normal way of expressing himself/herself. Sentences are varied and usually well-constructed. Some candidates become ambitious and even over ambitious. There may be items of merit of the one word or one expression type. Many essays in this category may be just clean and unassuming but they still show that the candidate is at ease with the language. There httmay be a tendency to under mark such essays. Give credit for tone.

B-11-12 - The candidate communicates fairly and with some fluency. There may be little variety in sentence structure. Gross errors are still found occasionally, but this must not be over punished by the examiner.

B 13 - The sentences are varied but rather simple and straight forward. The candidate does not strain himself in an effort to impress. There is a fair range of vocabulary and idiom. Natural Page 10 less. 18 ore item fm+it and economy of language.

B+ 14-15 - The candidate communicates his ideas pleasantly and without strain. There are errors and slips. Tenses, spelling and punctuation are quite good. A number of items of merit of the "whole sentence" or the "whole expression" type.

A CLASS  (16-20) - The candidate communicates not only fluently but attractively, with originality and efficiency. He/She has the ability to make us share his deep feelings, emotions and enthusiasms. He/She expresses himself freely and without any visible constraint. The script gives evidence of maturity, good planning and often humour. Many items of merit which indicate that the candidate has complete command of the language. There is no strain, just pleasantness, clever arrangement and felicity of expression.

A-16-17 - The candidate shows competence and fluency in using the language. He may lack imagination or originality which usually provide the "spark" in such essays. htt Vocabulary, idiom, sentence structure, links, variety are impressive Gross errors are

A 18 - Positive ability. A few errors that are felt to be slips. The story or argument has a definite impact. No grammar problem. Variety of structures. A definite spark. Many margin ticks.

A+ 19-20 - The candidate communicates not only information and meaning, but also the candidate's whole self: his/her feelings, tastes, points of view, youth, culture. This ability to communicate deeply may express itself in a wide range of effective vocabulary, original approach, vivid and sustained account in the case of a narrative, well developed and ordered argument in the case of a debate or discussion. Errors and slips should not deprive the candidate of the full marks he deserves. A very definite spark.


CLASS                  MARK CATEGORY
                              EACH ESSAY

A                            A+      19-20
                              A         18
                              A-       16-17

B                           B+       14-15
                              B         13

C                          C+       09-10
                             C         08
                             C-        06-07

D                          D+        04-05
                             D          03


  1. The main signs used to indicate the degrees of seriousness of an error.
    1. The following symbols may also be used.
      FAULTY PARAGRAPHING -         //P
      REPETITION                      -         (of words) a circle around the word
      R                                         -         (of ideas) usually in the margin
      ILLEGIBILITY (ILL)             -         (of ideas) usually in the margin
                                                           (If it affects more than one line)
      VAGUENESS (V)                -         vague (in the margin)
      WRONG WORD ORDER (WO) - Underline once and write W.O. in the margin
      ILLOGICAL or CONTRADICTORY (ILL) - (in the margin)
      BROKEN ENGLISH (BR) when the candidate fails to communicate (BR in margin)
      COW (done by the TL) to indicate that a candidate has cancelled his/her work.
      BRACKETS [ ] indicate a part of a D script that communicates.
      * Use an asterisk to indPage 82 tern c18a sentence at the rubrics indicate should be
    2. TO INDICATE AN ITEM OF MERIT use a tick (V) either above a word or in the margin for the whole sentence.
      1.  Almost any error of agreement
      2. Serious tense error
      3. Errors of elementary vocabulary: spelling and misuse
      4. Punctuation errors or missing punctuation which causes serious lack of communication.
      5. Elementary errors of sentence construction.
      6. Ridiculous use of idiom that affects communication.
      7. Misuse of common prepositions
      8. Contracted forms
      9. Misuse of capital letters - Use CAPS. Underline the first page and use CAPS on subsequent pages where the mistake persists.


  1. Read and decide on the degree of communication achieved, A-D
  2. After underlining decide on the mark category
  3. Allocate a numerical mark to the essay.

All problem scripts must be marked by the examiner and then sent to the Team Leader with comments.

    1. Consistent distortion of question, evasion of question, writing on a totally different subject with a clumsy attempt at connecting the essay to the subject given, inclusion of memorized passages, etc.
    2. The question is given an unacceptable or questionable interpretation.
    3. Essays contain long, semi-irrelevant digressions or lack coherence.
      The examiner marks the essay, gives a linguistic mark and comments on the nature of the irrelevancy. The essay is then passed over to the Team Leader who judges whether the irrelevancy should be judged as a deliberate attempt to deceive or should be attributed to the candidate's poor understanding of the subject. Deduct up to 4 marks for irrelevancy in the essay. If dishonesty is suspected, the Chief Exam Pagesh 13ld be 18 formed. Qy de+action of 3 marks or more should be referred to the Chief Examiner.
    Since the rubrics may change from year to year, the POINTS OF INTEPRETATION that are part of this MARKING SCHEME must be consulted and adhered to faithfully. Here are some general rules that usually apply.
    1. Read and decide on the category D+, D or D-.
    2. Mark the errors on all the pages of the essay.
    3. Team Leaders should look at a good number of those scripts and ensure that the mark given is fair.
    It should be remembered that the main quality of an essay is how effectively it communicates. If an essay looks too short, the examiner should take time to count the exact number of words. The essay should not exceed 450 words.


A good number of words and expressions are understood and currently used by all Kenyans. They can be used in essays without any need for quotation marks or explanations. We can include among those:
panga, rungu, shamba, murram, matatu
wananchi, ugali, madarasa, harambee, matoke
maendeleo ya wanawake, salaam, ayah, askari
debe, duka, Nyayo, boma, sukumawiki, goat party, manyatta, magendo

Although "English" spelling is more common than "American" spelling in Kenya, examiners should accept spellings and no penalty for should be given for such variations. Penalize for lack of consistency in usage of either.

  1. Imaginative Composition
    1. The story must end with the given statement.
      I eventually realized how important it is to live peacefully with our neighbours
      The story should bring out a situation where someone (or the candidate) received assistance or favour from a neighbours(s) as a result of a peaceul or friendly coexistence.
    2. The composition must be based on the topic given.
      It should be an expository writing explaining what can be done to reduce crime in Kenya.
  2. The Compulsory Set Text
    H. R. Ole Kulet, Blossoms of the Savannah
    Misunderstandings in families can cause serious conflicts in relationships. Referring closely to the relationship between Ole Kaelo and his daughters in Blossoms of the Savannah, write an essay in support of this statement.
    Introduction (2 marks) Either,
    Conflicts in families should be avoided by all means. We can achieve this when we communicate and show deliberate effort to understand one another's feelings. In Ole Kulet's Blossoms of the Savannah, Ole Kaelo, as a father, fails to initiate effective communication with his two daughters and fails to understand them. As a result, the relationship between a father and his daughters is ostensibly strained
    Body (12 marks)
    Ole Kaelo denied Taiyo permission to travel to Mombasa with other young men and women who had been selected by an F. M Radio Station to attend an extravaganza. Ole Kaelo fears that his daughter is not safe away from his watch. The fact that Taiyo would be in company of young men did not go well with Ole Kaelo. It is said that Taiyo "had stubbornly put up a spirited struggle but the battle was predictably and utterly lost. Ole Kaelo indicated that no daughter of his would demean herself by performing in public (P4-5). That left a wound in her heart that was still too raw to probe." (P1-2, P5, 44-45).

    Ole Kaelo refuses to listen to Resian's desire to join the university to study veterinary science and become a veterinary doctor. Even Taiyo confirms the stubborn nature of their father. "She wondered what made her sister think she would be able to persuade their father to allow them to come back to Nakuru and join the University." (P5)

    The relationship between Ole Kaelo and his daughter, Resian is obviously strained. Ole Kaelo had expected a baby boy when his wife got pregnant, but instead Mama Milanoi gave birth to a baby girl, Resian. "From the moment she was born...he detested her." (P10). Taiyo also found this strained father-daughter relationship quite strange and uncomfortable. "For reasons she did not understand, she had alwaagen their father strangely and harshly impatient towards Resian. that had contributed to her tempestuous disposition." (pn34. P40. 41).

    Ole Kaelo is a strong champion of Nasila culture and nothing can stop him from doing what the culture demands. He is keen to culture. Taiyo and Resian are are scared his daughters circumcised in accordance with the Nasila and looking for any available opportunity to escape the ritual. Ole Kaelo tells Mama Milanoi authoritatively."... you must immediately start counseling the girls to understand their roles as potential wives of the men of Nasila." (P61). Consequently, this conflict over circumcision coupled with forced marriage informs Resian's decision to flee from home.

    Ole Kaelo's resolve that Resian must get married to Oloisudori escalates the conflict between him and his daughter, Resian. Ole Kaelo does not seek his wife's opinion about this strange marriage perhaps because of his contemptuous attitude towards Mama Milanoi. She lives in constant fear of the husband. She does not object to his blind and unreasonable adherence to Nasila culture. Resian eventually escapes from home when she fails to get support and protection from the family.
    Accept any other relevant point, mark 3:3:3:3-12marks

    Conclusion (2 marks)
    When Ole Kaelo fails to listen to his daughters' feelings, dreams and desires, he is to blame for the many conflicts in his family. Therefore, breakdown in communication and lack of understanding are potential ingredients of strained relationships in families. This is what Ole Kulet depicts in his novel, Blossoms of the Savanna.

    The Optional Set Texts
    The Short Story
    Chris Wanjala (Ed.), Memories We Lost and Other Stories
    Distance between parents and their children can be an obstacle to effective parenting. With reference to Lesley Nneka Arimah's story "Light", write an essay in support of this statement.

    Introduction (2 marks)
    Parents may find themselves separated from their children because of work or study. This distance normally hinders effective parenting because it reduces communication between the parent and the child. "Light" by Lesley Nneka Arimah brings to light the effects of this separation.

    Body (12 marks)
    The distance between the girl in the story and her mother hampers communication. When the girl writes a letter to a boy in her school, "her mother attempts to correct the girl but much is lost in the transmission over the wire" (P29). It is said that "the long distance has diluted much of the influence a mother should have" (P29).

    The girl's father, Enebeli realises that the conversation between the girl and her mother is not effective. He sees this dwindling in the conversation the girl would have with her mother via skype..., however, there was a whiff of distance, as though the girl was talking to her favourite aunt..."(P29).

    It is said that "distance between mother and daughter widens till the girl does not enjoy talking to her mother anymore. She begins to see it as a chore". 

    The girl spends most of her time talking to the house girl. The girl's father, Enebeli is worried that his daughter may learn bad things from the house girl. "... This is what he tells his wife when she is horrified and worried that the girl learning all the wrong ways...." (P30).

    The girl later stops talking to her mother. This is caused by mother's comment that the daughter should wait until her hair grows so that she may look beautiful again. The girl's mother pleads with Enebeli to talk to the girl to soften. (P30).
    Accept any other relevant point, mark 3:3:3:3-12marks

    Conclusion (2 marks)
    Parents who work or study may not have valuable time with their children. This makes it difficult for them to know their children as they grow in their absence. It is important for parents to find time to be with their children. This is what is capture in Lesley Nneka Arimah's story "Light".

    David Mulwa, Inheritance
    Even though some African countries have leadership challenges, they have a lot of potential for economic growth. Referring to Kutula Republic in David Mulwa's Inheritance, write an essay in support of this assertion.

    Introduction (2 marks)
    Most African countries have great potential for economic development. However, poor leadership in some of these countries has curtailed their economic growth. In fact, Africa is home to many valuable natural resources such as gold, diamond, oil, natural gas among others. In David Mulwa's Inheritance, Kutula Republic under the leadership of Lacuna Kasoo is an example of an African country whose economic growth is hampered by bad leadership.

    Body (12 marks)
    Kutula Republic has abundant water. Natural water is key for agricultural activities and domestic use. The government comes up with a plan to construct a dam and diverts all the streams from the valley and it is left dry. This project denies the people of Kutula Republic water and they have to walk for fifteen kilometers to get this precious commodity. (Pp 21, 22).

    The wealth of Kutula Republic is concentrated in the hands of few politicians. Leader Lacuna Kasoo gives out white farms to his friends and relatives. For instance, councilor Chipande is one of the beneficiaries of these prime farms. Chipande uses his closeness with Leader Lacuna Kasoo to acquire more farms from other people. He pays peanuts for these farms. (P29) This denies many people a livelihood.

    Leader Lacuna Kasoo owns almost everything in Kutula Republic. For example, he owns the mines and most labourers here are his relatives. It is said that he employs mainly his tribesman (P34). This unequal distribution of resources can only impede economic growth.

    Leader Lacuna Kasoo's style of leadership thrives on creating paupers of innocent people. He heavily borrows money on pretext of development only to bank the same in his personal bank account. Goldstein wonders, "...borrow in their people's names and bank it in their individual account with the same bank that lent them (Pp60, 61). This is an economic plunder that cannot allow a country to develop.

    During the national celebrations, a lot of money is spent on imported coffee, wines, whiskies and canned beer. Robert comments, "In that lavish banquet, what exactly came from the locals? What do they have to sell...?" (P61) (Pp 59, 60). This means that the country does not buy from her own people. This gesture cannot spur economic growth.
    Accept any other relevant point, mark 3:3:3:3-12marks

    Conclusion (2 marks)
    Lack of deliberate effort by African leaders to promote economic growth is aptly captured in David Mulwa's Inheritance African countries suffer from lack of sound economic policies and poor leadership styles. Even though these countries boast of large deposits of minerals and other invaluable natural resources, the realization of economic growth remains a dream if poor leadership persists.

    The Novel
    John Steinbeck, The Pearl
    True friendship is hard to find. Many people associate with us for what they stand to gain. With reference to John Steinbeck's The Pearl, write an essay to support this statement.
    Introduction (marks revision.com/membership-join/
    It is good to have friends. They are sources of great inspiration, emotional and material support. Naturally, there are good and bad friends. Good friends would stick with you even in the face of adversity while bad ones would forge relationships with the intention of exploiting us. In The Pearl, Kino is a victim of fake friendship. People who interact with him harbor malicious intentions. They are selfish and opportunistic.

    Body (12 marks)
    Coyotito suffers a near fatal scorpion sting. The baby is in real danger. It is feared that Coyotito may die of tightened throat and cramps in the stomach. When Kino and Juana take the sick baby to the doctor, he blatantly refuses to see the patient. The doctor's servant informs him about the couple and the doctor retorts, "Have I nothing better to do than cure insect bites for "little Indians"? I am a doctor, not a veterinary" (P28). Later when news reaches the doctor that Kino has chanced on the Pearl of the world, he claims that Kino is, "a client of his, I am treating his child." (P42). He hoped to benefit from the sale of Kino's Pearl.

    Kino had wished to wed Juana in church but he could not because he lacked finances. The priest had to be paid too. Interestingly, when Kino gets the extra ordinary pearl, the priest even purposes to visit the family. The priest forges a close relationship with the Kinos in order to benefit from the sale of the pearl. He says, "I hope thou wilt remember to give thanks, my son to Him who has given thee this treasure, and to pray for guidance in the future." (P47). It is indicated that the priest considered people as children and treated them as so.

    Beggars who had initially despised Kino and Juana later, change their mind upon receiving news about Kino's pearl. The poor sight of Kine and Juana would not draw the beggars anywhere near the couple. The news Page 18 par 18 makes the ggat giggle with pleasure, "for they know that there is no alms-giver in the world like a poor man who is suddenly lucky." (P42). The main reason the beggars are warm towards Kino is ti benefit from the proceeds of the pearl.

    Kino's neighbours behave strangely towards him. It seems that they have abandoned their daily activities and shifted their attention to Kino's pearl. They are concerned about Kino's life than never before. The neighbours offer to escort Kino to the pearl dealers. It is indicated that the neighbours were watching Kino's door through the crevices in their brush houses. To them, it was a historic moment and the "would be crazy if they did not go. It would be almost a sign of unfrienship." (P66). This strange preoccupation with Kino's pearl is quite intriguing and the main intention could be to benefit from the sale of the pearl in one way or the other.
    Accept any other relevant point, mark 3:3:3:3=12marks

    Conclusion (2 marks)
    The doctor, priest, beggars and neighbours in this novel display questionable closeness with Kino's family which can only be explained in the light of selfishness and opportunism. The friendship they purport to develop with the Kino's is aimed at benefitting them and not Kino and Juana. It is therefore plausible to argue that not all our friends have benevolent reasons for their close association with us.

Join our whatsapp group for latest updates

Download English Paper 3 Questions and Answers - KCSE 2021 Past Papers.

Tap Here to Download for 50/-

Why download?

  • ✔ To read offline at any time.
  • ✔ To Print at your convenience
  • ✔ Share Easily with Friends / Students

Get on WhatsApp Download as PDF
Subscribe now

access all the content at an affordable rate
Buy any individual paper or notes as a pdf via MPESA
and get it sent to you via WhatsApp


What does our community say about us?