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8 Top PSLE English Composition Tips by Top English Tutors

PSLE examination is one of the most crucial examinations that students in Singapore will be taking. It determines which Secondary School your child will be progressing to and what streams they will be enrolled in. The English Language is official and essential in Singapore. It serves as a language of administration and lingua franca used as a medium of communication for Singaporeans of different ethnic groups. PSLE English will test the students on their foundation in English via 4 components: 1) Writing, 2) Language Use and Comprehension, 3) Listening Comprehension, and 4) Oral Communication. 

English Composition, also known as PSLE English Paper 1, is probably one of the most challenging components students will have to go through in PSLE English. According to the SEAB Syllabus for English Language, its weightage is 27.5%, consisting of 2 components – Situational (15 marks) and Continuous (40 marks) Writing. For Situational Writing, students must write a short functional piece (e.g., letter, email, report) to suit the purpose, audience, and context of a given situation. In addition, Continuous Writing requires students to write a composition of at least 150 words in continuous prose on a given topic. Three pictures will be provided on the topic offering different angles of interpretation. Candidates may also come up with their own interpretation of the topic. The thought of having to write a sheer amount of words to how daunting the marking scheme seems makes it somewhat off-putting for the students and parents.

This article will provide you with 8 tips on how your child can improve their English Composition Writing and ace their PSLE English. 

Tip #1: Make An Outline of Your English Composition

Before starting an English Composition, students need to understand the topic question before writing the storyline. The basic structure of Composition includes Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. Good storylines do not materialise in seconds. Sometimes, the ideation process can take a while to develop in the students’ minds. It is important for students to always make an outline of their Composition before any writing begins. Set aside time, maybe around 5-10 minutes, to plan, brainstorm or sketch how the story will be. This process does not have to be complicated. All that is needed is a brief framework that includes the critical points that the Students would like to include in their Composition. Our PSLE English Tutors advise students to inculcate the habit of organising the ideas in an order that makes sense regarding what should be presented first, second and third in their Composition. 

However, students should also keep in mind the purpose of their story – Are you informing, explaining, or persuading your readers? Knowing what the goal is allow students to understand how they should piece the information together, which would help to support their main points creating a fluent storyline. Click here to know more about the top exam tips used in scoring well for PSLE Composition Exam!

Tip #2: Time Management 

For PSLE English Composition, students have only 1Hr 10 Mins to complete both Situational Writing and Continuous Writing. Within this period, students must manage their time well for them to achieve their papers on time. According to the SEAB PSLE English Composition Syllabus, Continuous Writing is significantly weighted over Situational Writing. As such, students are recommended to set time limits for themselves and dedicate their time wisely for each section of the PSLE English Composition to complete their English Composition on time. One of the common root causes for students not doing well in PSLE English Composition is the lack of proofreading. Setting aside time (e.g. 5 mins) to check and edit their work for any spelling or grammatical errors or missing punctuations can help to improve accuracy as well as increasing their chance of scoring better. 

Tip #3: Pick Up A Reading Habit 

As cliché as it sounds, Yes, reading plays a huge role in helping students improve their Creative Writing. So students… READ, READ, READ! Start by picking up a storybook or newspaper, magazines, online blogs, and many other reading materials. By cultivating a reading habit, students can gradually improve their vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure and learn ways to communicate their story ideas in writing. Reading exposes students to other styles regarding how to portray expressions, feelings, and actions in words. It exposes students to writing that is better than their own, which helps them improve. 

In the PSLE English Composition syllabus, students are required to “Generate and select relevant ideas, organising and expressing them coherently and cohesively”. With constant reading, students can take inspiration from their writers and gain more creativity in their writing, which they can apply when taking their PSLE English Composition examination. 

Reading more helps in building your imagination for Creative Writing

Books are the keys to your imagination. By reading, the doors to your creativity and imagination will be unlocked.

Tip #4: Start Building A Personal Word Bank

In PSLE English Composition, the 2 components that the markers focus on are 1) Content and 2) Language. To score well in the ‘Language’ component, students are advised to vary their vocabulary and avoid writing a dull story. PSLE English Composition is all about Creative Writing. To bring about a refreshing and creative plot, the use of good phrases and an array of vocabularies will help make a composition enjoyable to read. However, students need to make sure that their story does not digress from the topic given!

One way to instill good vocabularies in students is for them to start their own personal word bank. Keep a lookout for new words or good phrases and record them in a book. Write down their definitions to clarify their meaning to prevent the risk of misusing the words in their English Composition. The students can also include synonyms and antonyms for the word that they have added in their book to expand on different forms of expressions. Categorise the ‘new’ words into groups such as feelings, actions, expressions, places, etc. This form of practice can help students to improve on their writing as well as communication skills. 

Write down any new words learnt will help improve your vocabulary knowledge and improve your PSLE English Composition Writing

Spotted new words or interesting phrases? Write them down in a notebook! You’ll never know, it might very well be useful for your PSLE English Composition Writing.

Tip #5: Do Not Go Off-Topic in Your Composition

One of the most common mistakes students make in their PSLE English Composition Writing is going out of topic. This issue usually arises when students do not understand the topic question, did not address the topic elaborately, or forget to refer back to the provided picture. Students’ main reason for writing out of topic in their PSLE English Composition is the lack of planning or outlining before they start writing. Students would tend to make up points as they go along the story, which would lead to going off-topic by coming up with irrelevant content. 

2 ways students would go off-topic – 1) Lack of awareness on the core theme of the story, and 2)Lack of essential writing skills. Students would then make up for it by creating more additional complications to make their story interesting. Because of their focus in writing, they tend to forget about the theme they are supposed to approach. As such, our PSLE English Tutors advise students to read the topic question carefully and always plan out the possible ideas and main points on a piece of paper before proceeding. 

Tip #6: Improve Your Grammar and Sentence Structures 

Students can score well in their PSLE English Composition through the use of correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Grammar constitutes about 55% of most English exam papers. It places importance on writing as it helps to improve the quality of the story. When students use proper tenses and punctuations in their English Composition, it creates a clear and fluent sentence. By mastering grammar rules, students can also provide complete and clear sentences that create clarity, allowing their points to be brought out clary to the reader. To understand the importance of grammar click here. 

Tip #7: Do Not Forget The Punctuations!

Punctuations – full stop, comma, exclamation, apostrophes etc., may seem insignificant to you or the students, however, the lack of them might cost students several points off their English Composition. The use of punctuations in PSLE English Composition is essential, and students are advised not to neglect them. Using punctuations in compositions helps the reader, in this case, the PSLE marker, clearly understand the message or points that the students are trying to convey in their writing. It helps to indicate the proper pauses and places emphasis on ideas discussed in the story. So, to prevent the unnecessary deduction of marks, our PSLE English Tutors highly recommend students to read their Composition from the beginning to the end and add in whatever punctuations that were missing or are required to make the story flow fluently.

Tip #8: Keep Practicing to Ace Your PSLE Composition!

Becoming good at English Composition is not a skill that can be attained overnight. The most effective way to improve English Composition is to keep practicing. Focus on areas that require improvements and find ways to work on them. Practice picking up habits like brainstorming before writing to lessen the possibility of experiencing mental block during an actual examination. Students can also compile a list of essays that they think are of good quality, such as articles, blog write-ups, or even sample essays provided by the teachers that can be comprehended easily. This can help generate more creative ideas for the students to write during their PSLE English Composition Examination. In addition, students should also retrieve their old compositions that they had done for school or tests and review them. Old English compositions contain errors that they make regularly.

By reflecting on their mistakes, the students can work their minds and think about what they can improve on and the things that they should avoid committing again in their English Composition. Remember, the more the students write, edit, and proofread their composition writing, the better they will become!

Practicing English Composition

The more you practice your English Composition Writing the closer you will be to scoring an A* for PSLE!

Conclusion – Consider Engaging a PSLE English Tutor

Whether you love or hate English, it is no doubt an essential language in our society. Having a good command in English is crucial in many aspects of everyone’s life. In Mindflex, we aim to provide you with tutors who helps students reach their fullest academic potential in life. Hiring an English Tutor (Click here for the different tutor types available) offers the child a personalised support that hones their skills in English language as well as achieving top marks. Our tutors will use the first session to assess the students’ strengths and weaknesses, and adapt their teaching style that is tailored specifically towards the students’ learning needs. Our committed private english tutors takes student’s learning seriously and will impart the necessary creative writing skills into the students to ensure that they score well for their PSLE!

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