English composition can be challenging for any student attempting the PSLE English exam. Writing does not come naturally to everyone. It is more challenging for some than others, and with the added pressure of a PSLE exam setting, students are placed in a high-stress situation. It can be difficult to perform well in this situation without proper preparation. The best way to prepare for an examination like the PSLE is to understand the assigned task and be aware of common mistakes that the experts have pointed out to over the years. With this information, students can avoid these mistakes, tackle the task effectively, and score well in the exams.
So, what factors negatively affect a student's performance in the PSLE English Composition paper? Let's take a look at the three most common ones below:
1. Poor language skills
Poor language skills are one of the most common minus points you must tackle. Without a good foundation, students will not have much to build on. Writing is not a skill that the learner can master in isolation. A combination of reading comprehension, analytical ability, and technical prowess work together to help a child deliver a good writing piece.
Students with poor language skills will find it difficult to express their thoughts clearly and in a continuous flow. Ideas cannot be fully developed, leaving their written piece stunted and without any character. There will also be difficulty in organising the piece successfully into a strong, well-balanced structure. Honing basic language skills like vocabulary, sentence construction, grammar, and spelling will greatly improve the student's writing ability so that they can perform well in the PSLE English paper.
2. Poor practice
Some students may be adept with their language skills and yet show poor performance in composition. Why does this happen? It may boil down to a basic lack of practice. Knowing the theory involved in a skill like writing will not do much for performance.
Writing is a practical skill, so the learner can only improve it with regular application. This work will also help the student understand how the different skills can work comprehensively to create a good composition. Regular practical work can help to identify weak points and students can work on them. With practice, students can become thorough with the fundamentals of the task and the methods to tackle it. Time management during the PSLE English exam will also become easier this way.
3. Improper guidance
Many students could be performing poorly in the PSLE English exam because of a lack of proper guidance from parents or teachers. This could be in the case of imparting subject knowledge or the feedback or criticism kids receive.
As parents, we must ensure our knowledge aligns with what is expected in the exam before we undertake to guide our children. Staying in touch with developments in curricula and patterns is crucial if we want our kids to succeed. It is also good to stay in touch with those who professionally teach them so that we know we are in the right place academically. We need to take stock of whether our children are learning only for good grades or whether they can actually master this important skill. The right focus is necessary to achieve success in the PSLE English exam.
Another factor to take note of is that we need to keep a check on what feedback our kids receive. Parents and teachers can be guilty of harsh criticism or improper feedback that does not build on the child's skills. This can have a very negative effect on the child's performance. They will start second-guessing all of their written work, leading to a waste of time during the PSLE English exam. They may face high levels of stress and anxiety, which will also affect their performance negatively. Overall, the child will never develop the confidence they need to write an effective piece of composition.
Over the years, teachers and other experts have been able to identify common mistakes that students make in the composition section. Let's take a closer look at the mistakes that kids make in this section.
1. Unimpressive intros
The introduction creates the examiner's first impression of the composition. Your child must write an impressive starting piece.
Often, experts state, examinees play it safe and write run-of-the-mill intro paragraphs that fail to impress on the PSLE English exam. They lose marks for cliches and improper writing. Train your child to write in a way that their work stands out. With the right kind of training and lots of practice, your child will create inspired pieces of writing that are unique.
2. Repetition of words/phrases
All of us have favourite phrases or words we often repeat while speaking. This happens in writing, as well. Examiners often talk about composition pieces that have many sentences that begin the same way or words and phrases that are used repeatedly. These tend to result in lower scores. It shows the child's lack of vocabulary skills and weak language. Systematically helping the students build up their vocabulary skills is the best way to manage repetitive language.
3. Ineffective writing
Many factors contribute to an effectively written piece. Structure and flow are important for a composition to be effective. Students must learn to organise their thoughts into logical paras so that the effect is complete. Ideas also need to be properly developed with an adequate amount and type of description. Writing concepts like "Show, don't tell!" will be important in the PSLE English exam. When the child does this, they will have enough content to fulfil the word-count criteria. Kids who don't elaborate enough will find it difficult to fulfil word-count requirements and lose marks. Also, note that students should practise writing to the point.
4. Using memorised words
Parents often make the mistake of having their kids memorise unrealistically complex language with the hopes that it will look impressive on the PSLE English exam paper. In the end, though, kids will not be able to use the language appropriately and will lose marks. Always make sure that the language you teach your child is appropriate for their age. They need to understand how to use the words or phrases you teach them in the right context.
These details can be incorporated into practice work so that many little points can be taken care of to build a great final piece.
PSLE English Composition must be tackled with the right guidance and adequate practice. Helping kids advance to the next level will require patience and hard work. If English is not your strong point, or if you're looking for professional help for your child's PSLE Revision, give us a call at Studysmart in Singapore. Our science-backed, AI-powered smart learning strategies are customised to help each child to achieve their learning goals.
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