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Answering Techniques for PSLE Science Success

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Science is one of the most fascinating subjects. There is so much to learn about our wonderful world. Looking at PSLE Science from this perspective, it is disheartening that so many students find this subject so difficult.

Tackling PSLE Science Exams - Is Conceptual Knowledge Enough?

For many students, understanding and application of Science concepts are unreasonably tough. Science becomes uninteresting and unrelatable for them. Parents also stress a lot about their child's performance in the PSLE exam. In a desperate attempt to get their child over the hurdle, they force them to cram in long study hours. This strategy rarely bears the results everyone hopes for.

So, maybe it's time to take a step back and re-evaluate what to do. Research has shown that the problem is not always in the child's level of understanding. More often, it is a case of not being able to answer the question in the right way. Formats for systematically and accurately answering PSLE Science questions is the real need to be addressed. So, what parents ought to do in this case is to train the child in answering techniques rather than conceptual understanding or application.

In this article, we are going to address this problem head-on. Let's look at how we can develop a fool-proof strategy for answering PSLE Science questions so your child can ace the exam.

Scientific Methods for Answering Any PSLE Science Question

The PSLE Science exam has two types of questions: multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and open-ended questions (OEQs). Let's look at a few general strategies for answering Science exam questions:

Rule 1
Read the question thoroughly

Rule 2
Examine diagrams, figures, or charts closely.

Rule 3
Identify and highlight the key question words.

Rule 4
Highlight the keywords that help you identify the key concept.

Rule 5
Formulate your answer.

Following this simple 5-rule technique, your child will gain the following:

  • Thorough understanding of what the question asks
  • The ability to analyse a text for clear meaning
  • Discipline and patience to do justice to their exam questions
  • The advantage of never "missing out" details or "misunderstanding the question".

Let us now look at how each PSLE Science question type can be tackled specifically.

Scientific Methods for Answering MCQ PSLE Science Questions

When your child encounters multiple-choice questions, the first thing they must do is apply the 5-rule technique to Rule 4. Once keywords that help identify the main concept are highlighted, they can now follow the steps below:

Identify obvious distractors - these are answer choices that are evidently not the right answer to the question.

Step 2
Examine the remaining options for keywords that should be in the answer.

Step 3
Choose the right answer.

Answering MCQs may seem straightforward to many parents. But be sure to remember a few things:

  • MCQs account for more than half of the PSLE Science score - 60%, in fact. So it is important not to take this section lightly.
  • Subject knowledge is a must to answer MC questions successfully. Sketchy learning will prevent the child from applying detail-specific knowledge that may be required to answer the question correctly.
  • Practical training in answering MCQs is the best preparation you can give them. Once conceptual knowledge has been thoroughly imbibed, you can use the previous year's papers to keep the child practising their answering techniques and reviewing subject knowledge.
  • Train your child never to leave an MCQ unanswered. Guessing or randomly choosing an answer doesn't seem clever, but this gives your child a better chance of landing the right answer than not answering! What's more - by identifying keywords and eliminating distractor answers, they have a high chance of answering correctly.
  • Train your child to never become careless about their answers. MCQs incorrectly answered because of negligence can lead to a lot of despair after all the hard work and preparation.

Scientific Methods for Answering PSLE Science OEQs

A MCQ answer sheet with shaded answers with pencil

Many children can score well in MCQ-type questions but lower scores in the longer open-ended answers. In this scenario, it is not a problem of limited understanding or inability to apply the concept. What is important for all of us to understand is that answering OEQs is not just about subject knowledge and application. There is a right way and a wrong way to answer an OEQ, and many students do the latter, thus failing to score well.

To answer an OE question in PSLE Science, your child must follow a set sequence and use a template that will include all the details the examiner is looking for. For example, the Singapore MOE recommends that keywords should not be the main criteria for scoring exam answers. But, this is not frequently followed.

So, to avoid any negative marking, train your child to address the commonly accepted format that will include all the important points in their answer.

To begin tackling the OE question, the student should first follow the 5-Rule technique, just as in the MCQs. When this is done, the student will understand the question clearly.

Train your child to follow one of the effective answering techniques they may have already been taught:

1. CER or Cause-Effect-Result is an effective strategy to follow. It ensures that there is a logical progression to your answer and that you can arrange your ideas and points systematically. It helps you formulate a specific answer and avoids generalities that make you lose points. Make sure that you correctly identify the cause, effect and result factors in your answer.

2. The Begin-end technique can successfully answer questions that ask for explanations or reasons. Here students will be able to use the following format:

  • Begin: with their observations about what is given in the question
  • Contextualise observations using the scientific concepts and keywords they have learnt.
  • Elaborate on these with supporting evidence from data in tables or figures, through comparison, or any other specific technique.
  • End: Link back to the keywords in the question and state how you have given a satisfactory answer

In conclusion

PSLE Science can be a daunting mountain to climb, but the right guidance and learning support can help your child succeed. If you are looking for expert PSLE revision help, call us at Studysmart, the best PSLE revision app in Singapore.

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