Study-smart guide to PSLE success — English paper I & II

Parents take note — don’t let junior fall prey to these common pitfalls; score precious points instead!


Junior’s grammatical and vocabulary proficiency are of utmost importance if they’re to ace the remaining two written papers.

         While prepping with assessment books and attempting past-year papers are a good way to improve proficiency, there are still common problem areas that can spell trouble.

         Duncan Rose, head of schools at British Council Singapore, shares expert ways to overcome some common pitfalls in both papers:

Paper one – Situational Writing

For the situational-writing section, the focus is placed on the student’s functional writing skills — writing letters, e-mails or reports. The writing must suit the purpose, audience and context of the question.

Pitfall #1: Not including all the given information.

Coach junior in reading through the question and take note of critical information they MUST include in their answers. Take special note of names, e-mail addresses and postal addresses.

          “Identify all the important points in the [given] scenario and use it as a checklist,” said Rose.

           Be sure that your child leaves enough time before the end of the examination to double check their finished work against the points in their checklist. Rose adds, “Edit to make sure you don’t miss anything.”

Pitfall #2: Not using the right format.

Don’t let your kid focus all their attention on perfecting one format of writing only. Rose says, “There are lots of text types that might come up. Don’t be fooled into assuming you can study just one and ‘it will all be okay’!”

          The format for an e-mail will inevitably be different from that of a postal letter. Rose says it will help for parents to expose their kids to a wide variety of text types before the day of the exams. It pays to always be prepared!

Plan the shape of the written response before getting started on writing. This ensures there is appropriate flow and you don’t repeat or miss things.”

Pitfall #3: Not knowing where to begin, continue or end.

Reading and learning from well-written pieces are a good method in getting your kid’s writing juices flowing.

          Rose says, “Study the techniques that made [these model answers] good. Memorising phrases will not work as the topics can be varied.”

          Besides knowing how to start, it is also crucial that their composition flow from start to end. Rose stresses, “Plan the shape of the written response before getting started on writing. This ensures there is appropriate flow and you don’t repeat or miss things.”

          Having a plan of attack also saves your young ‘un from the next pitfall…

Pitfall #4: Not having enough time

Don’t forget, there is still another part to this paper — the composition — which is worth more marks than situational writing. Rose stresses these three words: Watch. Your. Time.

Read on to find out how junior can avoid the common pitfalls in composition writing!