The Difference Between PSLE Compositions and Secondary School English Essays
When students transition from Primary 6 to secondary school, they will face a heavier academic workload which will impose higher standards on them to pass their exams with flying colours. The English language is a subject which requires years of practice to master, and the level of nuance in writing will be assessed on a more advanced metric as students move from primary to secondary school. As such, this article aims to shed light on the differences between PSLE compositions and secondary school English essays.
In primary school, students will experience a rigorous and yet comprehensive approach. To pass their PSLE exams in Primary 6, students will need to write compositions for English. Students are assessed on their writing skills, creativity, and ability to express ideas effectively and they can do this by writing about a topic and 3 different picture prompts.
For PSLE English, students will be required to craft a well-structured composition within a specific time limit. Usually, students will have the option to write either a narrative story or a personal recollection story. We will illustrate this with some sample questions below.
Sample Narrative PSLE Question: “Write a story about determination.”
Narrative essays require the student to tell a story. When students read a story book, they encounter characters who go through a series of events, whether alone or together. The plot must be crafted in a certain way that there is a central conflict which the characters must solve, building to a climax which can result in a happy, sad, or cliff-hanger ending. The student must talk about the main character’s experiences and feelings, elaborate on the conflict, and then build this suspense and tension to a satisfying resolution at the end of the story. Usually, the narrative compositions require students to write from a 3rd person’s point of view.
Sample Personal Recount PSLE Question: “Write about a disappointment you have felt in life.”
In a personal recount essay, students need to write from a 1st person point of view. Students must accompany this story with personal experiences, anecdotes, and vivid descriptions. Students must be as authentic as possible, drawing from their life experiences to write a good essay (with some embellishment for dramatic effect, of course). A good starting point for every writer is to write about what they know, as they will be able to imagine how they felt in the situation and write it out better as they have lived this exact same scenario before.
It goes without saying that good PSLE essays show a good command of English and will not contain grammatical, spelling, or sentence structure errors. It is important for students to practice their spelling and read widely to accumulate a wide range of vocabulary, and the younger they start this, the better they will become at writing essays for PSLE Composition.
After Singaporean students clear their PSLE exams, they will advance to secondary school, where they will need to write up to 7 different genres of essays to prepare for their O Level examinations. These 7 genres are: (1) narrative essays, (2) descriptive essays, (3) expository essays, (4) argumentative essays, (5) personal reflective essays, (6) discursive essays, and (7) hybrid essays. Students must master the techniques associated with these 7 types of essays.
In secondary school, students must write longer essays as compared to writing at the PSLE level. Moreover, the vocabulary and sentence structures students are required to have at the secondary school level will be more complex, with lesser leniency given to students who make grammatical and spelling errors. As such, students must buck up and improve their essay writing skills.
To master the 7 different genres of essays, students must be acquainted with the different skills and writing techniques involved in writing essays. For example, writing descriptive essays requires students to be hyper-aware of many details, such as sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings of a particular object, place, or emotion, which will no doubt involve having a wide range of vocabulary. A wide range of vocabulary comes from being well-read, and students should make a note of words they do not know the meaning of so that they learn new words when reading. Later, students can use these words to make sentences to practice using them.
To know what each type of essay entails, students need to read the model essays of each genre to know the dos and don’ts of writing for each type of genre. It helps if students can identify the type of essay if they read an essay from a magazine or a newspaper without being told what this essay is, as it will show a true understanding of the elements within each genre of essay.
To achieve a smooth transition from PSLE to secondary school, students need to know what they need to do and what they don’t know. Any gaps in their knowledge such as about grammatical rules, punctuation, or spelling need to be filled sooner rather than later. Students can ask their tuition teachers or teachers at school for help, and practice using exercises targeted to test their understanding on some of the more mechanical aspects of the English language.
More importantly, students need to practice writing longer essays within a timed setting to simulate exam conditions. A good tip is to practice writing out model essays so students know how a good essay is supposed to sound like. Students can pick up good sentence structure, spelling, and vocabulary simply from copying these essays out. After that, students should try their hand at writing their own essays to put what they have learned into practice.
Getting better at writing can be a slower process for some than it is for others. As such, students should put in the time and effort it takes to improve, learn from people who are better than them, and be patient throughout the whole process as results will appear eventually with hard work!
At WR!TERS@WORK, we are committed to providing the smoothest learning experience for your child sitting for their English exams at both primary and secondary school levels. With our carefully curated methods of teaching English for PSLE, O Levels, and A Levels, your child will be able to identify the answers to the questions and present them in a concise manner in no time.
English is a compulsory subject that has direct impact on your chances of getting the best education opportunities. Overall, English tuition and writing courses can help primary school students enjoy a smoother transition between education levels by reinforcing their language skills and providing a strong foundation for academic success.
Engaging in English tuition and writing courses can greatly assist students in smoothly transitioning between education levels. These programs reinforce their language skills and establish a solid foundation for academic achievement. For more exam tips, parents and students can explore our website and watch our YouTube videos.
If you are interested in our primary English tuition and secondary English tuition in Singapore, WR!TERS@WORK has expanded to 8 convenient locations. To find the nearest location that suits your needs, please explore our options. If you have any inquiries regarding our range of programs or class schedules, please feel free to contact WR!TERS@WORK.
1. Is It Possible to Fail O Level English?
It is possible to fail O Level English, which is the minimum requirement to further your education in a Junior College. O Level English is a compulsory subject and every student must pass this subject if they want to have a good prospect of further education.
2. How to Improve English for O Level?
First, students should look at practice workbooks for O Level English and ascertain what they need to know about the exam format. Next, students should practice with these past year papers to get used to the skills required of them. Lastly, students should learn how to write essays and combine all the technical aspects of the English language, such as grammar, vocabulary, and punctuation to create an essay which is greater than the sum of its parts.
3. Is It Hard to Pass O Levels?
It is not difficult to pass O Levels if the student knows the syllabus and puts hard work and effort into studying for all their subjects equally.
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