The composition component of the PSLE English paper is probably the part that pupils have the most problem with. It seems there is no fool-proof way to pass this aspect of the exam, and you may not know how to help your child prepare for this part of the exam other than having PSLE English Tuition (which isn’t a bad thing, by the way).
It is easy to pass composition writing, as long as you know what the examiners are looking for, and you plan your composition appropriately. A composition is an essay, and an essay typically has three parts: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.
Every essay answers a specific set of questions, which are, briefly: who did it, what was it, when did it happen, where did it happen, why did it happen, and how was it resolved? Once you have outlined these, you can proceed to write your essay, bearing in mind that the following things are what the PSLE examiners look out for when marking compositions.
Clarity of Purpose
First, understand that these PSLE examiners have a lot of papers to mark and grade. As such, they have specific things that they watch out for when marking, so that their work is made easier and faster. One of these things is clarity of purpose.
Every good piece of writing has to have a specific aim or goal; this means that the reader should have no problem figuring out what the objective of your story is as they read it. The reader shouldn’t have to reread it or get lost and have to start looking for the main plot or theme of your story. Hence, to write a good composition, the purpose of your story should be clear, and your storyline should be coherent, making it easy for the reader to follow your story, the reader, in this case, being the examiner.
How you arrange your work matters a great deal when writing your composition. As said earlier, an essay or a composition has three main parts: an introduction, the body, and a conclusion. A well-organized story will have all three parts, and the ideas will be presented in a clear and logical way.
The paragraphs will be set appropriately, with colons and semicolons used as they should, and the ideas presented should be easy to connect and understand, making it a smooth read for the reader.
Relevance of Ideas
The ideas in the essay should be relevant to the story being told or to the topic that is under discussion. For your composition to be considered a good one, the ideas need to be clear and very specific, and these ideas need to be backed up with detailed information for the idea to be properly developed.
This makes the story more enjoyable to read, giving the examiner the impression that you know what you are talking about.
Of course, your essay may not be about true life events, but that doesn’t mean that your story should be so far-fetched that it looks like the exam is more of a joke to you. When writing fiction, the plot, the characters and the scenario need to be described in such a way that the reader can relate to them: in other words, the story needs to be credible.
Your essay needs to be believable, pulling the reader in that, when they are done reading, they realize that what they are reading isn’t an account of something that actually happened. Create worlds and scenes and occurrences that are believable, that are credible.
Effective Word Choice
A good composition contains suitable word choices and properly constructed sentences. The words you use should be in line with what you are writing about, and this means that you ought to know the meanings of the words that you use in your essay. Your use of expressions and phrases should also be well-considered and appropriate to the story. Using big words or stuffing your composition with expressions that are not relevant to the story will cost you marks, as they will make your story difficult to read and very uninteresting. If you are not sure of what a word means, don’t use it, and the same goes for idiomatic expressions.
Using the right words makes your story come to life, adding to the credibility of the story and to the ease of reading and understanding it.
Nothing spoils an essay like wrong grammar. Bad spellings, misused apostrophes, and terrible punctuations are all examples of bad grammar in an essay. Correct punctuation in an essay gives you a great chance of scoring extra marks in your exam. Exclamation marks, questions marks, commas, and full stops should be used when necessary and appropriate. Stuffing your essay with exclamation marks makes the whole story look like one big surprise, and this makes it tedious to read. Substituting semicolons for commas will make your composition look like you are trying out something new, and this is a bad idea; an exam is given to test what you already know. Use what you know, and use it appropriately.
Apostrophes tend to be a problem for pupils, but they shouldn’t be. “It’s” is different from “its’” in that “it’s” is short for “it is” while “its’” shows ownerships, as in ‘that belongs to it’. PSLE examiners look out for accurate grammar in composition, so ensure that your spellings and punctuations are as they should be in your essay. English tuition will help, too.
Give your composition that edge by making it seem like something new and completely different. Examiners read a lot of essays on the same theme or topic, so try to give yours that edge that will make it standout in a pile of compositions all talking about the same thing.
Bearing these in mind, writing the perfect composition shouldn’t be a problem for your child anymore. To help your child nail these things in their PSLE English composition, practice writing essays with them. Keep a vocabulary book where they can write down new words they learn, and practice punctuations and spellings with them. Your child should be able to write an essay that will evoke feelings from the examiner, such as curiosity, as this will also lend to the credibility of the story.
Need more exam tips? You can find useful articles here: Finding The Perfect Ending For Your PSLE English Composition and 5 Ways To Prepare For PSLE English Composition Writing