English Composition

English Composition- The changes to PSLE come 2015

In the last installment I touched on the Common Mistakes which students may have while writing their English composition. In this final post in this series I and ending off with the changes that will be happening to the English Composition in the  PSLE(Primary School Leaving Examination) come 2015.

The traditional composition question

The traditional composition question

Traditionally the picture  composition which a student is supposed to write  on consists of 3 related pictures and one question mark at the end depicting an open ended conclusion. There are some helping words given at the bottom of the page which you may/may not include depending on its relevance to what you are writing about.

This will all change come 2015.

The new format

The new format

Next year you will no longer have three pictures depicting the different chapters of a story but three non related photos put together to talk about.

You can choose 1 or 2 or even 3 of the pictures to describe in any order you fancy.

For example

–  Picture A + B

– Picture A + C

– Picture A + B + C

– Picture C only.

The benefit of having such a format is that you are free to develop the story the way you like and there is virtually no risk of you writing out of context.

The student is given more freedom  to create his own unique storyline and is only limited by his creativity. With the new changes a student needs to be able to tap on his own vast knowledge and apply it to the essay that he is writing.

For example using the pictures given above it is possible to write an essay focusing on the following.

– A girls’ outing to the zoo.

– My experience with a hippopotamus

– The Monster (Alien) Bee

– Girls which are actually bees in disguise

– Things are not what they seem

As you can see anything is possible as long as your thoughts are explained in a logical manner and the story that you write is captivating.

How can one prepare a student for the new format in English Composition?

1)Read widely

One has to be exposed to the various different genres available.  Action, adventure, comedy, crime, faction, fantasy, mystery, science fiction and non-fiction books. At present most schools are using the STELLAR program to introduce the different  genres of writing to the students.

2) Encourage creativity in expression

Here is where speech and drama come into play.  Being dramatic and able to express ones feeling is certainly  beneficial towards composition writing. If the student is able to personally feel how the character felt- scarred, happy, worried etc it would be easier for him to pen it down in words.

3) Encourage free play

Through free play a student is able to come up with his own ideas by incorporating his past knowledge and experiences.  It makes him think critically and analyze the situation at hand.Thinking out of the box is promoted and the right brain is stimulated.


Post in this series

1)Learning with Dominique- English Composition(An Introduction)

2)English Composition – Understanding the Rubrics(Part 1)

3) English composition- Understanding the Rubrics(Part 2)

4) English Composition- Common Mistakes

5) English Composition- The changes to PSLE  come 2015




English Composition- Common Mistakes

In the last installment of this series I covered the rubrics that was used in marking English Composition. This  post I will be touching on some common mistakes that I have seen while marking the examination scripts of my students.

Some Mistakes

Some mistakes

In example Number 1  there are two common mistakes.

Mistake  1using the wrong tenses.

Very often when a student is writing a composition he may get confuse about which tense to write in- past or present. If he is writing a recount he should stick to writing in past tense. However if he is doing a factual or literary piece it is acceptable to use present tense.

Stick to the same tense throughout the composition.  Do not alternate between past and present as it will only make it difficult  to understand what you are trying to convey and as a result you will get marked down under Language.


Mistake  2- Changing the gender of the character.

If you are writing about a boy do not change him into a girl halfway into your essay.  He and She are not to be used interchangeably.  No doubt there are transgenders but for clarity of writing in an essay a boy should remain a boy and a girl should remain a girl.

In Example Number 2- Poor Sequencing of ideas.

Sam was making sandcastles. He fell asleep in his bed

Reading these two sentences would definitely make one do a double take. There is no linkage between the first sentence and the second. The two sentences would work fine by themselves but putting them side by side and one after the other makes the story sound illogical.

I’m sure you may have these thoughts running through your mind.

– Sam was at  the beach. How did he get back home so fast?

– Does it mean he brought his bed together with him to the beach so he could fall asleep in it?

– Sam must have some special teleporting skills to allow him to be at the beach at one moment and at home the next.

The student needs to explain in detail how these points are linked together and also explain how he moves from the location in the first sentence(beach) to the location in the 2nd sentence(home).

It would be more logical if he had written this way.

Sam was making sandcastles with his sister at the beach this morning. They made really lovely looking structures with the sandcastle kit which mum had purchased for them. They were at the beach the whole morning and he was exhausted by the time they reached home at noon.   He fell asleep in his bed once his head touched his pillow. 

In the above paragraph you can see the  clearly how the changes unfold.

– Change in time frame (Moving from Morning to afternoon)

– Change in location( From the beach to the home)


By being aware of these common mistakes one will be able to diligent while writing an essay.

In the next installment I will be touching on  the changes to the marking  English Composition in PSLE come 2015.

Post in this series

1)Learning with Dominique- English Composition(An Introduction)

2)English Composition – Understanding the Rubrics(Part 1)

3) English composition- Understanding the Rubrics(Part 2)

4) English Composition- Common Mistakes

5) English Composition- The changes to PSLE  come 2015