Every year, students diligently study for the PSLE English language, Mother Tongue Language, Science and Mathematics. Most of them anticipate the challenge of these Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) subjects.
At this time, our children can't help but stress themselves up in hopes of passing. When it comes to the annual PSLE, they especially aim to pass to avoid repeating. If they don't achieve favourable results, our kids might not get accepted to their dream schools.
As parents, we hope to ease their pressure by helping them prepare for what to expect in the PSLE English language. We specified this particular subject because it gives mums and dads the option to subtly help their kids with English conversations.
Moreover, the English language subject is just one of the subjects that our kids work hard for in preparation for the PSLE. To help parents and kids, we came up with effective tips and tricks for studying PSLE English.
6+ Effective Tips to Help Kids Prepare for PSLE English Exams
After preparing for a whole year, we want to reassure our kids of passing their PSLE. Most parents aim to help their children how to study for PSLE English language and other subjects.
For this article, we came up with tips and tricks on how to prepare for PSLE English because it encourages engagement. This subject also allows children to practice by conversing with their parents. Here are a few tips to get both students and parents ready in the last stretch:
Lead-up to the Exam
Just ‘practice’ isn’t enough! Now that we are all weeks, days, and hours (minutes!?) from the exam, any practice needs to be smart. It's definitely not the time for learning new words, phrases and whole model answers – there simply isn’t time to learn how to use them well.
For example, ‘syncopation’ is a really great word that your child could learn to spell quite easily but using it in context would be beyond most. In fact, in most cases, it would be the obvious ‘sore thumb’ in an otherwise good continuous writing piece!
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So, don’t try to cram in more. Celebrate and augment what is already there. Smart practice can encompass 3 areas:
Celebrate and Augment Your Child’s Strengths
This is important. It is easy to focus on weaknesses to address but make sure these do not cloud and undermine the good that everyone has. Ask them about the aspects they enjoy most like the areas they already test well in.
Then, encourage them to talk about why they are good at them and the satisfaction they feel when they complete the task. At this stage, your role is to try and make sure they feel confident in themselves for the big day.
Target 1 or 2 Areas of Weakness
For this tip, we suggest you use PSLE English composition or comprehension cloze. Your child should be able to tell you specific tasks that they find most challenging.
Agree to prioritise with them and think about how you can work together to improve the item. You may be able to help them yourself but if you can’t, dedicated self-study books might give practice or even someone else in the family. The point is not to try and fix everything.
Exam Skills Practice
Your child will not be able to absorb much more language to use in the exam. The important thing is developing the most basic of all exam skills – time management.
Many highly fluent and skilled students do badly in exams because of poor time management. If you want your child to practice, do short, dedicated practice activities. Meanwhile, make sure you are setting time limits. Dust that egg timer off!
Time Management When Doing the Paper
Scores matter a lot for continuous writing and the effectiveness of your method of how to study for PSLE English. Setting time limits and keeping them works great for prepping for PSLE English composition.
Your children will have their own interpretation of the ‘maths’ for apportioning time. You need to take note of their efficiency in every mock exam. This tells helps them improve on how to score well in PSLE English composition.
However, everyone is slightly different so there is little right or wrong. The biggest loss of marks for everyone always comes from not calculating checking and editing time into their equation.
Five minutes while sounding like a huge amount of time is a good number. This especially applies to those who tend to make lots of errors.
Moreover, you need to know if they need more time to reduce the number of unnecessary mistakes. For fast PSLE English learners, five minutes of considering word choice and precision will add polish.
As a general comment, writing less and checking more will improve your accuracy scores more than writing more and checking less!
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This serves as an extension of our earlier tips on how to prepare for PSLE English. In the situational piece, half the battle is checking that all the content points have been clearly addressed. The checklist is part of the question so do make sure you have time to use it!
For the continuous writing piece, some lucky students can just sit down and write a well-structured piece! Most can’t.
Your child is more likely to run out of time, especially on continuous writing. This happens if they do not have a clear structure. Writing without an ending in mind tends to result in a piece without…an ending! Get that clear first.
Remember always, always to leave time to check and edit your work (see tip above). Checking with your child about the individual feedback that they have received over many, many years of ‘compo’ practice and making sure they at least respond to this will mop up the most obvious errors.
Once they improve on PSLE English composition practice, it's time to focus on comprehension. Parents often use this tip to improve their children's English reading skills.
Everyone has their own approaches by now. To read the text first or the questions first is a personal preference. The most important thing is to make sure that your child reads the text in full before answering any questions.
Doing this ‘global’ reading activates a much wider and deeper framework. Teachers call this a schemata and it is how your brain connects various strands of general knowledge essential for a deeper appreciation of texts.
This helps them understand the piece more than a sentence-by-sentence approach. Without this, open-ended questions (the questions that concern personal opinion) become more difficult than it needs to be.
There are several cloze tasks in PSLE English. However, the comprehension cloze hails as the hardest in the test.
Unlike the others, there are no helper words and with 15 marks on offer, this is an important part of Paper 2. Like comprehension, a global understanding of the text will only help with inferential gaps.
Meanwhile, most of the skills for comprehension cloze are close reading ones i.e. looking for contextual clues on either side of the gap.
Before writing anything, ensure that you have read the section directly after the gap and before it. Look for common clues that hint at an antonym rather than a synonym e.g. ‘but’, ‘however’, ‘whereas’, ‘as opposed to’.
If adding a noun, check that it agrees with the verb i.e. does it need a plural ‘s’? When thinking about word choice, do think about who the text is aimed at.
Other clues would be looking for articles (a, an; the) – these would most likely be followed by a noun or if the noun is the next word after the gap, an adjective.
For example, ‘a_______ student’ is likely to be an adjective because ‘student is a noun but ‘A _______ went to school’ is likely to be a noun because it comes after an article and before a noun and this sentence needs a subject.
This is the simplest example of why students should read forwards and backwards before writing anything!
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Support Smart Practice
Outside of study, your children will tell you all kinds of advice they’ve been given for surviving the PSLE period. This includes getting sufficient sleep, eating healthily, and exercising.
Additionally, you need to encourage them to talk to someone if they feel overwhelmed. Just remember to always show your support while they prepare for PSLE English and other subjects.
On the other hand, this is a stressful period for parents too, getting sufficient sleep etc is something we would all benefit from. In short, 15 minutes of shooting hoops (or whatever you enjoy doing) with dad is good for everyone!
Additional PSLE Engish Tip: Conversation and Engagement
For this PSLE English practice tip, we encourage you to further improve your kids' English skills with conversation. While at home, try to set a time when you only talk to each other in English.
Meanwhile, this step also works well when prepping for the PSLE Mother language. To further assess their skills, we suggest you plan a schedule where you practice conversing with different languages with your kids. In doing this, both you and your kids learn and improve in speaking the languages.
This article was updated by Kaira De la Rosa.