PSLE English 2018 – Tips & Strategies for Parents and Students

The Art of Planning

Pre-planning is a crucial first step. Set a goal and plan a schedule that will allow your child to reach the heights academically. Allow for rest, recreation and reward but plan the schedule with your child and commit to the schedule together. Be in agreement concerning targets and intended outcomes. Redefine success beyond grades attained – develop confidence in your child over the next few weeks by acknowledging and praising hard work, determination, focus and fortitude.


Writing ( Paper 1 )

Situational Continuous Writing

Students will be required to write a short functional piece (e.g., letter, email, report) to suit the purpose, audience and context of a given situation and 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. Students may also come up with their own interpretation of the topic.

Remember to read the question carefully and determine the required format. Select and extract relevant information that will assist to fulfil the task and arrange your paragraphs in a way that showcases connectedness, continuity and coherence.

Organisation is very important. Effective and consistent paragraphing reflective of clear and concise topic sentences (at the start of every paragraph) will help with the organisation, development and progression of your content but also assist the examiner to find your main points and award marks for them promptly.

Use a variety of appropriate vocabulary – avoid mundane and repetitive words or phrases.

Consciously vary your sentences and expressions by injecting synonyms, idioms, metaphors, similes etc. where possible.

After you have finished, remember to edit for G.P.S – check your grammar, punctuation and spelling.


Language Use and Comprehension ( Paper 2 )

Candidates will be assessed on their ability to use language correctly and to comprehend visual and textual information. They will need to show understanding of implied meaning, and make judgement and evaluation, by reading and/or viewing (texts) closely and critically.

Annotation Skills

Remember to annotate while skimming and scanning the texts. It is important in assisting you to fully and quickly grasp the content and context of the passage/s. This is the most important step to do well in Comprehension. As you scan, use a pencil to circle key ideas (while reading) and also hone in on important details in addition to the main ideas.

You should also look for topic sentences – they give you the main idea of each paragraph quickly.

Do not answer questions based on memory – go back to the text and refer to the passage carefully before crafting your answers.

Contextual Clues

Use the looping method while looking for contextual clues. These are words and phrases which have been embedded in the text (by the author) to explain a difficult or ‘unusual’ word. They are evident in the words or phrases that come before or after the sentence/s.

Pupils need to practice critical reading skills to fully understand both Comprehension Cloze Passages and Comprehension Open-Ended ones. Ask key questions regarding the passage ( while reading ) so that inferred meanings between paragraphs can be detected more quickly. A heightened awareness of the plot and characters increases the pupil’s comprehension of the passage, resulting in more precise answers to the questions.

Questions & Answers

Make a habit to highlight tenses and keywords in the questions.

This will remind the pupil to answer every question relevantly and in the right tenses.

Study the mark allocation for each question before you write your answers.

Provide necessary elaboration / explanation / examples to get the second/third/full marks.

Avoid repetition of unnecessary details or words from the questions that suggest lifting.

Replace nouns with pronouns ( he, she, it , etc.)

Replace a word with another that is similar in meaning.

Ensure all sentences are correctly punctuated and completed in neat, clear handwriting.


Listening Comprehension ( Paper 3 )

This paper tests your child’s ability to understand spoken English. The texts may be in the form of news items, announcements, advertisements, instructions, explanations, conversations, speeches and stories.

Expose your children to a variety of auditory stimuli such as listening to the news, podcasts and speeches. Allow them to spend more time actively engaged with software tools and apps, or podcasts and documentaries with pen and paper in hand to extract and summarise the main ideas to themselves.

Remember to apply Active & Analytic Listening Skills.

Active listening means, as its name suggests, actively listening. That involves fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker.

The meaning of a difficult word during the listening comprehension examinations can be understood by contextualising it. Ask yourself what was being discussed before or after the ‘difficult’ sentence.

Active listening also involves listening with all senses. Some students remember what they hear, others what they see or touch, taste or smell. For example, creating a mental picture of what is being read makes it easier to recall and/or identify key messages, central ideas and details in a variety of spoken contexts.

Avoid internal distraction. Remember to fully connect with the moment and control your thoughts to focus on the audio.

Remember to listen critically and analytically – infer and draw conclusions while listening.

Look out for intonation and emphasis of key words and phrases which may have clues to the answers.


Oral Examinations ( Paper 4 )

Reading Aloud

Remember to read with good pronunciation, clear articulation and use appropriate intonation in order to convey the information and ideas in a passage. The reading should be well-paced. Remember to stress at least 3 words in the passage to convey a range of emotions more succinctly. Injecting rhythm and stress and varying your voice qualities will ensure delivery specific to purpose, audience and context of the written text.

Do not avoid words that may be difficult to pronounce – break them down into multiple syllables to enhance fluency. Do likewise for long sentences – shorten them into multiple manageable phrases as each phrase may require a different tone and delivery.

Practice reading aloud at home. Record your voice and play back to listen to yourself for effective and immediate self-appraisal and correction.

Stimulus-Based Conversation

Students are assessed on their ability to give a personal response to a visual stimulus and engage in a conversation on a relevant topic. Therefore do not be afraid to express your personal opinions.

Offer well-considered and original ( unique ) personal responses and develop them using the PEEL format – P ( state the main point ) E ( share an example)  E ( explain/elaborate further ) L ( link back to main point).

Remember to use a wide range of appropriate vocabulary and structures.

Be positive in your responses and offer solutions if necessary to value-add to a current issue of interest.
Sustained interest can be conveyed to the speaker by using both verbal and non-verbal messages such as maintaining eye contact, nodding your head and smiling.


In a nutshell, remember these Ps ~

Vary your pitch(the degree of highness or lowness of a tone).

Maintain your poise(be confident, composed, dignified and polite)

Don’t forget your pronunciation ( every word must be spoken clearly and completely)

Look for punctuation marks (exclamation marks, inverted commas etc will signal an opportunity to vary your pitch )

Check your pace ( not too fast or slow )

and always project your voice ( be audible ).


~ Teacher Cassandra

Cassandra PK






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