Be it Primary 3, 4, 5, or even 6, we get asked this question a lot: When should students start preparations for their PSLE English examination?
The quick answer is “as early as possible”, but the better answer is more nuanced. The fact is, how early to prepare for PSLE exams depends on your child, and every child is different. The parent should be the best person to answer this question because there is a need to balance between preparing for a major exam and developing the passion for learning. You do not want to diminish a child’s interest in a subject by drilling and testing too early. Neither do you want to start structured exam preparations too late such that your child feels stressed near the exams.
In this post, I will share some practical tips on what your child should focus on from Primary 3 to 6.
At Primary 3, your child needs to build strong foundations in grammar, vocabulary, as well as competencies in reading and writing. Parents always wonder where to begin after students complete a fairly light Primary 1 and 2 English curriculum. Looking ahead to PSLE in a few years’ time, a Primary 3 student’s priority for English learning at this point is to develop strong interest in reading, keen comprehension skills and confidence in the use of basic grammar rules. Some practices on grammar and vocabulary will prove helpful in upper primary levels later on. At this stage, your child should start to think about narrating or writing stories that have complications and a clear climax. Students will have more time in Primary 4 to develop other advanced writing techniques such as characterisation, building suspense and injecting heartwarming elements in plots.
At Primary 4, your child should be developing core language skills. It is at this stage that our English tuition programme focuses on exposing students to some test items based on the PSLE English exam format. Students should start to get the hang of Comprehension Open-Ended answering techniques, Synthesis and Transformation questions, and writing stories with engaging plots and lively characters. This transition should begin early so that students can cope with the demands of Primary 5 curriculum the following year.
The Primary 5 student should begin to sharpen their language and exam skills throughout the year. The base score for English exams will become 200 marks instead of 100, and students are confronted with longer and more complex texts, including more inferential questions for Comprehension Open-ended. Paper One will now have an additional component called Situational Writing, Continuous Writing will now carry 40 marks instead of 20, and Listening Comprehension format will also be different from Primary 4. If your child does not start practising techniques for Comprehension Cloze Passage and Comprehension Open-ended in Primary 5, it will be a struggle when they reach Primary 6.
When a student reaches Primary 6, it is time to achieve consistency. That, however, depends on whether they have built foundations, honed the necessary skills and developed a familiarity with the PSLE English exam format. Being able to achieve desirable results consistently creates a cycle of confidence because students are less anxious about the outcome of their exams. If your wish your child to be able to tackle PSLE with confidence, get him or her to follow clear strategies for Comprehension Cloze Passage, Comprehension Open-ended, and all types of Synthesis and Transformation questions. Even composition can be component that students know they can score well consistently once they have gained experience in writing certain genres and developed certain characters during practices and revision.
Faced with the PSLE exams, some students find the school journey challenging, and to some, downright difficult. As caregivers and teachers, it is our job to affirm their efforts, encourage them to set and achieve their goals, and embrace their small wins whenever they put in their best effort. After guiding students through PSLE exams for more than a decade, our team at Cognitus Academy has crafted a tried and tested approach towards helping every child achieve their full potential for their PSLE English exams.
If you think that we can help your child, whether in Primary 3 or 6, drop us an enquiry, and we will be in touch soon.