PSLE English: Top Tips To Conquer The Composition And Comprehension Sections
The PSLE is finally here, with barely 24 hours till your child sits for his/her English paper. We share with you some tips on how to prepare for the composition and comprehension component of the paper.
Teaching creative writing to primary students has taught me one thing: that the Singaporean student is full of creative ideas but their work is not always so structured. In the PSLE, structure and creativity need to go hand in hand. Here are three things to keep in mind when attempting the PSLE composition.
The composition section of Paper One, is an area where you can let your creativity flow and display your linguistic prowess, yet it will all come to naught if you don’t plan.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
Before you start writing your story, think about the five ‘Ws’ and one ‘H’ questions; Who, When, Where, What, Why and How. Once you have a basic idea of what these are going to be in your story, you are already equipped with a structure for the narrative.
Show and tell
Remember to show and not tell. Make your story interesting for the reader by showing and describing the action as it happens. PSLE examiners seem to like it when you show off your knowledge of adjectives, adverbs and semi-colon. For example, ‘his stomach rumbled as he looked up at the clock; he had not eaten since six that morning,’ versus ‘he was hungry.’ One is showing off a situation in a flowery manner while the other is straight-to-the-point.
Another simple way to show is to speak in the active voice through dialogue.
Be true to yourself
Use your own experience to craft your story. This makes the composition believable as well as personal. Rule of thumb: if you cannot imagine yourself doing it, then you’re definitely faking. And examiners can tell if a piece of writing is insincere or insipid.
The last section of Booklet B - the comprehension - is a notorious cause of stress among many students.
Here are the top 10 tips to bear in mind before tackling that PSLE comprehension:
1. Read the passage carefully before attempting to answer any question
2. Do not rush to write down your answers
3. Read the passage at least twice before you begin writing out your answers
4. During the second reading, make notes. Write down one sentence beside each paragraph to describe the main idea of that paragraph
5. Know the difference between a fact and an opinion in the text
6. For questions that require you to explain the meaning of a word, read the sentences before and after that word as these might provide clues to its meaning
7. Underline the question word or words used in the question like ‘who’, ‘why’, ‘when’, ‘explain’
8. Be sensitive to tenses in the question and use the correct tense when answering
9. Do not lift whole sentences from the passage to answer your questions
10. Remember, top marks are awarded to students who manage to accurately answer questions in their own words
With that, we wish your child all the best for the PSLE exams! Parents too, don't worry too much and try your best to give off positive energies to your child to help encourage him/her.