By Aaron Fong

The PSLE never seemed a daunting challenge when I first began to prepare for it. As I had been in the public school system before, major examinations were not that new to me.

Thanks to enrichment classes, mounds of assessment books and drilling, by the time I had turned Primary 6 I had a firm grasp of the concepts needed for the exams. This allowed me to spend the year to prepare in a more relaxed manner, as well as do school preliminary papers to see where I stood vis-a-vis the cohort. This was the first year where taking the PSLE was compulsory for homeschoolers. Hence, I was determined to do well. 

The PSLE week finally arrived.

Canon in D     by Aaron Fong, THG Alumnus   on violin and piano

During the break between one of the language papers, an incident arose when the students were playing. I did not let that incident influence my mental concentration, but I could tell that several of my friends were distracted and affected by it, and later on admitted that it did affect their performance during the exam. Also, almost every day there were several students running about and fooling around with each other, so by the time they reentered the classroom for the next paper, they were all panting and sweaty. So my point is, crazy things might happen, distractions will be all around you, but you must not let it affect you.

During the English paper on the first day, I wasn’t certain that I had selected the correct answers for a few of the questions. And as I had finished the rest of the paper already with slightly less than an hour to spare, I had lots of time to redo and change my answers. However, later on when I repeated the questions to my family, I realized that my original answers were correct and I had just given away 6 marks or so – probably the reason why I did not achieve the results I had targeted for. Fortunately, I learned from my mistake and for the next few papers, I checked my answers thoroughly but did not doubt and question my original answers.

So, if I were to change one thing if I had to do it all again, I would go with my gut feeling. Of course, checking of your work is necessary and vital to spot and rectify errors, but try not to second guess your answers. After all, your gut knows best – your first instinct is usually right.

Tips: 

  • Oral Reading: Smile, be confident, be articulate, be loud enough, if you make an error, keep going.
  • Oral Picture Discussion: Start with a general statement of the scene (location, setting, e.t.c). Focus more on the important events happening and make sure you give personal opinion, insights and a solution if the situation is bad. (i.e. this is bad because he might hurt … he should … ). Try to transit between events smoothly. Wrap up well with a good moral sentence. (i.e. In a supermarket, people should not be running and should have good etiquette e.t.c
  • Oral Conversation: Always be the one talking. Do not let the examiner prompt you. Feel free to make stuff up or even if you say no, keep going, don’t just say no and stop. (i.e. “Have you been to Sentosa?” “No, but from what I hear, it is very fun and … “)
  • Composition: First, quickly outline your story and the main paragraphs. Good organization and balance of the story (meaning don’t focus too much on one scene) is key in a well drafted essay. Make sure to stay on topic. Try to have a good hook or introduction to “hook” and engage the reader. Make sure that you describe well (flowery language and descriptive phrases that add to the scene) and show rather than tell (“his cheeks turned red and steam shot out of his ears” rather than “he was angry” e.t.c). Wrap up well with a conclusion that sums up the moral or emotions e.t.c
  • English Paper 2: Make sure to check spelling and grammatical errors especially in the open ended compre. Other than that just do you best and check for errors.
  • Math Paper: Present working clearly (label the equation – Area of shaded –> length x breadth = 5 x 2 = 10 – and write out formulas) – show the examiner what you are doing (not just leave the page blank and put your answer at the bottom) so that if you make an error with your answer, he can still award you method marks. Skip the questions which are tedious or you are not sure of and complete the rest of the paper before coming back to complete them.
  • Science Paper: Use scientific language (write a lot to explain everything fully and clearly, not just one sentence) and make sure you have the keywords needed. (i.e. condensation, evaporation or whatever is needed in the question)
  • Chinese Paper: Can’t help you here, just do your best. 🙂