It’s two weeks into September and we’re just a stone’s throw away from the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). Students and parents alike are bound to be breaking out with the examination jitters right about now. Marking the start of PSLE is the English Language component, and so we have compiled a list of handy information to help your child breeze through his PSLE English Paper 1.
How much do you know about English Paper 1?
To help your child ace the examination, the first step is to understand what English Paper 1 is all about. The English Paper 1 constitutes 27.55% of the PSLE English examination components, consisting of two parts—the Situational Writing (15 marks) and the Continuous Writing segment (40 marks). Evidently, we see that Continuous Writing is the more significant segment of the two, which signals to both parents and students which part of the paper we should be directing more of our focus to. Both written segments give due credit to the good use of English (grammar, spelling, punctuation), on top of task fulfilment and content.
Prepping your child for Paper 1
The one essential task your child has to do for English Paper 1 is to generate content that does not put examiners to sleep. As cliché as it sounds, the key to coming up with interesting and relevant content is to READ actively. Reading, no matter if it’s fiction or nonfiction, exposes your child to more common knowledge and narratives that could be put to use in developing content for English Paper 1. Thus, in these few final weeks leading up to Paper 1, you can encourage your child to read more extensively as well as pay attention to the news for updates on current affairs. While you can’t expect children to remember all that they’ve crammed within this short duration, little bursts of information that they recall during the examination could go a long way in giving them that additional boost in their writing (and their grades).
Aside from giving your child content ideas, reading can also expose your child to more examples of accurate word choices and correct language use, which are some ways to bring life to your child’s writing by making it more expressive and interesting for the examiners to read.
Examination D-day: Read, plan, check!
With active reading and practice before the paper, your child should be sufficiently equipped with the relevant information and skill sets when it comes to content and language use to ace his English Paper 1. However, having the knowledge itself is not good enough to give your child that A grade. This knowledge must also be effectively utilised for it to be able to do its part of the magic on your child’s writing.
Here is a list of things you should remind your child to do during examination to fully maximise all these accumulated knowledge:
1. Read the question carefully.
The easiest way for your child to mess up his or her paper is to go off-topic, which is why reading the question carefully is so important. In English Paper 1, the prompts and specific requirements that your child has to fulfil in writing are as clear as they can get within the question. Remind your child to read the question carefully and understand what the question is asking for. Take note of the keywords, guide questions, pictures or diagrams (in Situational Writing), and ensure that your child’s writing stays on track by answering the question.
2. Plan before writing.
Due to time constraints, planning is often the step that students choose to forgo to get a quicker head start on the paper. However, as mentioned earlier, with so much information crammed in your kid’s mind, it is easy to go into “information overload” without planning, resulting in either the “vomiting” of ideas without proper organisation, or conversely, not being able to retrieve ideas at all when needed.
Thus, encourage your child to take out at least a good 5 minutes of his time to plan before getting started on writing. Planning is a good way to draw the big picture of the storyline and organise ideas to fit relevantly into the plot, allowing a smoother process of writing. Additionally, having a solid plan can help direct your child back on track should he start to experience mental block or get too carried away and deviate from the original plot during the course of the writing process.
3. Check after writing.
Last but definitely not the least, remind your child to check his written output as soon as he’s done. One mistake students often make is to not proofread their paper, or to only read through their paper ONCE. A significant grading component of English Paper 1 is based on accurate language use, which includes grammar, spelling, punctuation, and paragraphing. Proofreading can help your child spot grammar or spelling mistakes that could potentially cost him that one point to getting an A. Moreover, proofreading is also a good way of helping your child figure out if his writing flows, is logical, and relates back to the question.
Some final things to take note
1. Train your child to write legibly even under time constraints. The examiner can’t grade your child if he can’t figure out what your child has written
2. Encourage your child to start his essay with an interesting hook. Grab the attention of the examiner from the get-go!
3. End the essay with a plot twist—a sure way of creating an impact on the examiner.
4. Remind your child to use proper English—no Singlish!