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Study Secrets for Scoring A for PSLE

For the children who did well in last year’s Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), how did they prepare for it? We asked two mothers who were happy with their children’s PSLE results to share what worked for them. Read on for their tips! 

The Path To Straight A*s: Hard Work And A Strong Support System

For maths revision, my daughter had been attending Maths classes since Primary 5. To help her brush up on her remaining subjects in the three months leading up to the PSLE, I also signed her up for additional classes in English, Chinese and Science.

My daughter also worked on past-year PSLE papers for all four subjects, as well as prelim papers from other schools. She didn’t use assessment books much.

At the end of the day, it was “mug, mug, mug,” a bit of luck, and big blessings from God that she scored her 4 A*s!

My tip for parents: look for good enrichment centres nearby to where you live — this was the key to my sanity! Also, look for enrichment teachers who are ex-MOE (Ministry of Education) teachers, and more importantly, these teachers must be able to encourage your child to do better.

2A*s + 2As: A Fuss-Free, Stress-Free Approach 

Ironically, my daughter scored her A*s in the two subjects she wasn’t tutored in: English and maths.

For English composition, we didn’t buy writing books or refer to model essays. During the June holidays last year, I asked my daughter to write several drafts of a story based on just one topic (“How To Be A Supportive Friend”). For each draft, I used her English teacher’s guidelines to give feedback. My daughter doesn’t have issues with grammar, so we could focus entirely on content — crafting an interesting introduction, identifying and removing unnecessary plot details, ensuring that explanations were provided where necessary, and finding meaningful ways to end a story (e.g. the protagonist learns a life lesson). She wrote five or six versions of the story and she certainly wasn’t happy about having to do it. But she saw that it paid off — for her prelims, she improved her composition score by almost 10 points. 

For English oral, I sent my daughter for a preparation workshop at a good English language centre. She was impressed by the other participants — she said they were well-spoken and knowledgeable — so it was good exposure for her. At home, we didn’t rehearse for the exam, but I would encourage her to be specific when giving me information, instead of me having to prompt her repeatedly for details.

For vocabulary practice, she used an app that I swear by,, which I’ve recommended to many parents. It has a game format, and she would play it for about 10 minutes a day. But while learning new words is great, it’s essential to try using these words in conversation — parents need to make an effort too.

For maths, my daughter was already doing practice papers in school, so we didn’t give her additional work at home. In the final month, I had her focus on redoing the problems that she wasn’t able to solve previously.

In terms of setting goals, we had a fairly attainable baseline T-score in mind, as she wanted to continue attending the school that she loved. My daughter also set some fun goals for herself (e.g. she hoped to beat her parents’ and form teacher’s PSLE scores). That said, we didn’t fixate on a number or grade, and during exam season, we had a “no work after 6pm” rule — she had plenty of time to read and watch Netflix.

It helped that my daughter had dedicated Primary 6 teachers, so we could set our minds at ease. It wasn’t a stressful time for us, and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

My tip for parents, which applies to all subjects: if you’re using revision books for past-year/sample papers or topical exercises, have your child fill in his or her answers on a separate sheet of paper, or in a notebook. This way, you can highlight the questions that they’ve had trouble with, and they can work on these questions again without you having to blank out the answers. Don’t wait till the last minute to buy a new past-year papers book for this purpose — you’ll find that they’re all sold out!

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