PSLE Chinese exam : 10 tips for getting more marks!

Here are 10 great tips to acing the PSLE Chinese exam and scoring more marks!

Before I share, I would just like to clarify that the ‘acing' here refers to scoring a distinction for the subject and this article is probably more directed at advising your child on how to manage examinations.

As parents, we should know our children best and be looking at progress instead of perfection.

Many children are late bloomers, so give them time and lots of love. Believe in them and they will definitely soar.

1) Keep them happy and healthy

Without health, we can forget about everything else. So, keep our children healthy by letting them eat right, giving them sufficient rest and exercise.

Bring them outdoors and to get in touch with the nature, let them run and sweat. T

hough this might be a challenge due to our hectic lifestyle, we should not neglect the "play" part of our children. We must remind ourselves that they are not results churning machines but our children. Don’t you feel happy when you see their smiles?

2) Attitude determines Altitude

As parents, we should inculcate the right attitude in our children.

Parents’ greatest challenge nowadays would probably be that their children hate Chinese.

As a teacher, I have long accepted this but would often explain to my students that hating or liking something doesn’t affect the amount of effort they would put in. The key word is "Responsibility",  we would do our best if it is our responsibility.

To be honest, how many adults actually love their jobs? Attending meetings? Preparing for presentations on topics they have no interest in? But do we call it quits just because we dislike what we are doing? No. We are still going to do it and do the best we can.

It’s challenging to change our environment but we can always change our mindsets.

They can choose to do the things they hate or love the things they do. They can choose to escape and hide in fear (of Chinese) or conquer and scale their mountain of fear. They can choose to not pay attention during class (because they are so bored with the Chinese lesson) or work together with the teacher to improve themselves. It’s our choice at the end of the day.

“天下无难事,只怕有心人”- Nothing is impossible as long as you have a willing heart.

3) Daily Revision

Okay, now that we have laid the foundation well, let’s get to work.

Chinese at Primary School level is very manageable. Revise regularly to ensure that they are able to recognise the characters that they have learnt.

Without word recognition, we can’t progress because every other component will be affected. If your children have problems with word recognition, then they would need to put in more time and effort to revise the words that they have learnt in lower primary levels.

It's not very difficult, just dig out their textbooks and ensure that they know the words taught. (All the words that they are required to recognise and write are listed at the back of their textbooks ).

The words listed here are very important.

“认读字” refers to the words that you would need to understand and recognize.

“ 识写字” refers to the words that you would need to understand and be able to write.

So do refer to this list when revising.

4) Examination techniques

Sometimes, all they lack are the right examination techniques to score the points. So, do pay attention to their teachers to master these techniques.

For Comprehension:
Read - 1st time for a general impression, 2nd time to search for answers.

Underline - Underline the keywords in the question - Who? When? What? How? etc and then underline the answers found in the passage.

Check - Read and check their answers to see if they have made any careless mistakes.

5) Choose your battles wisely

For composition, they have 2 questions to choose from, 1 is by a given topic and another question is a picture composition in which they have to write a story according to the given 5 pictures, the 6th picture is left blank for them to complete the story.

If possible, choose the picture composition as most children have a higher probability to score.

Reason being the structure of the story is already available for the students' reference, it saves them the time to think of a story line and it's also very unlikely that they will go out of point.

Perhaps some may think that the picture composition is very restrictive, but.......we are talking about scoring points marks here. Leave the risks and unleash your creativity during your daily lessons.

6) Read widely 

I know it is a great challenge. So if they don’t read Chinese books, at least read lots of good essays written by their classmates.

It is really different reading model essays in assessment books and model essays written by their classmates because it seems more real to them! Some children just get enlightened after reading their friends’ essays.

They will pick up a few good phrases along the way and these will certainly make their essays more interesting to read.

Instead of writing “他觉得很伤心。” (He’s very sad.), why not write “他的心沉到了谷底。” (literally means that his heart sank to the bottom of the pit)

“一寸光阴,一寸金,寸金难买寸光阴” reminds one that time is precious and no amount of money can buy us time.

I also share good phrases at my Instagram account @pistachiogoh.

After learning these good phrases, try to use them consciously everyday in your conversations.

My advice is to learn a few phrases and perfect them (zero error). Use the phrases frequently when writing.

Memorise them so well that it becomes second nature when using them. Some students like to use good phrases but yet unwilling to practise writing them so in the end they get penalized for it during examinations because there are too many mistakes.

It is a double edged sword, if you want to use it, then learn it well.

7) Converse with them

I always tell parents that oral training doesn’t start in p5 and 6, it starts now, no matter how old your child is. Yes, and for my case, oral training has already started for me with my 9 months old boy.
 
Talk to them a lot. You can talk about anything under the sun and please don’t think that they are too young to understand. Many a times, we underestimate them.

Encourage them to voice their opinions, give suggestions, identify their own feelings, put themselves in other shoes and view things from different perspectives. These little moments will accumulate to train up their higher order thinking skills which will also help them in their comprehending skills.

The biggest problem I see today isn’t about the mastery of the language  (also a problem) but children nowadays are apathetic. Their lives revolve around getting good grades and computer games.

They read a book and throw it aside, they watch a movie and forget about it. They read news articles (if they ever read) and think that the things happening are at the other side of the world and will never happen in Singapore.

They lack reflection and self awareness. Hence, it is a great challenge for them to have a conversation with meaningful content with the teachers during oral examinations. They also face difficulties in grasping the deeper meaning of comprehension passages.

8) Read aloud

It is not impossible for them to score full marks for the reading component during the oral examinations so grab as many marks as you can! It is not difficult at all! However, they would need to work on their fluency and not be monotone.

There are 4 tones in Chinese, students usually read the 4th tone too low.  Try finding a sentence and identify all the 4th tone words and then try reading them at higher tones, they will sound much better.

You may think that only younger children read aloud but older children do silent reading but I would suggest that even at Primary 6 level, they still continue to read aloud, more so if they do not speak Mandarin at home.

Reading aloud would improve their fluency and increase their confidence.


8) A race against time

How do you ensure that you maintain your standard when you are pressed for time and not let anxiety overcome you? The magic word is "Practice".

It is not enough that you do your paper well or write an excellent piece of essay. The question is did you complete all within the time limit?

So as the PSLE approaches, it helps a tonne to do lots of practice papers to familiarise yourself with the examination format.

When practising at home, ensure that you complete the papers and compositions within the time limit by timing yourself. Do not forget to set aside time to check your papers. Practice makes perfect. Every minute and second counts in the examinations, make full use of your time.

9) Don’t let your guard down

I always tell my students that facing PSLE is like going for a battle. We prepare ourselves well and do whatever we can but we never underestimate our "enemey". 

Every single mark counts, components like "Listening Comprehension" sounds easy? But students stumble precisely because they think it is easy and lose unnecessary marks by being careless.

Getting into band "A" is easy because the range is wide but if you want to score an "A*", all components must be done well.

We remain humble and fight till the end and we never relax till the examination is over. The fruits of your labour will taste all the more sweeter if you have worked hard for it.

10) Don’t worry, be happy!

Last but not least, it isn’t the end of the world if you can’t get into the secondary school you want. For all you know, it might be the start of another amazing journey. The road ahead is long and life has many more lessons for you to learn.

Be happy and stay healthy!

Also READ: Here's how your child can ace her PSLE English exams!