Monday, March 1, 2021

PSLE tips and resources Part 2 - Science

PSLE Science gives me a headache when I recall our P6 experience last year.

While Science is a very fun and interesting subject to learn, to score well, it may not be easy. To start, MCQ takes up more than half of the marks of the full paper with each question being allocated 2 marks. This means that any mistakes would be costly as it would be “0”. So, 3 mistakes would place your child in the below 90 range (based on just Booklet A).

I attended some webinars last year; some were paid and some, free. One common advice given by most educators online was to try and score as high as possible for the MCQ section. This is because in Booklet B - it is a free response section so marks can be lost if keywords are not included or the child has not acquired the correct technique of framing his / her answers.

In this post, it would be more of sharing my learnings and perhaps key areas to look out for in addition to resources which we have found useful.

:: Books

Honestly there are many many good books out there in the market so the intention is not to list 20 books but the few that I think are more useful:

1. Science PSLE Revision Guide

This guide is a very popular title as most of my friends have it. It has good notes and detailed notes and explanation and covers all topics. Local parent influencers have also shared comments on it before. You can get a copy here if you prefer online shopping as opposed to visiting physical book stores. 

2. Science Process Skills Series

Interestingly, not many of my friends know of this series. Most are into buying mock papers and this seems to be a tad under the radar. It has a series for P3 & 4 too but for the purpose of this post, I am just sharing the photos for P5 & 6 (Upper Block). 

I like these books very much as they do a few things. 
a. They build process thinking skills through the questions specially designed 
b. They attempt to make Science relevant by challenging the students to think deeper by linking it to real-world context (see right most diagram). 

A few of my friends shared that they bought these from Popular bookstores so if you are keen, you may like to call them prior to check on stock before heading down. 

:: Topics

I am not an oracle (lol) so I cannot predict what topics will be featured but based on the past year papers that the kiddo has done, both upper and lower blocks are covered and are equally important: topics like magnets, electricity, plant and body systems, life cycles are often seen – sometimes in both Booklet A and B.

However, some of the topics the kiddo found trickier were “Heat”, “Changes of States”, “Energy” as well as “Forces”. Thankfully, we were blessed to have found many free resources to reinforce concepts and clear misconceptions.

Here are some to share:

Free "live" webinar:

One resource which I would strong recommend is Science Heuristics FB Live (they were conducting this weekly last year) at 8pm. Mrs Koh (the presenter usually) cuts straight to the point and her sharing is very focused on the right thought process and answering techniques. 

(Print screen is that from Heuristics Science FB Live)

In the video above, she was sharing specifically on keywords. 

They also conduct "live" webinars on different topics too so do hop on over and subscribe / follow and watch with your child weekly. Here's one on conductors of heat

Besides "live" coaching, here is a list of printable resources / online reading which you may find useful. 


Science Shifu has a post on understanding forces illustrated by diagrams which you may find useful.

Pique Lab has many posts on forces and I have to say that their resources and notes were really helpful. They also have a special focus on answering techniques where steps and “templated answers” like these may help children.


(Print screen is that of Pique Lab's website)

Energy Conversion

Science Shifu also has a post on common mistakes made on energy conversion too.

Heat and Changes of States

Infogaphics are a great way to learn and Blue Tree Education created many which I found to be useful for a quick recap / overview. Here, Blue Tree Education created one which is on another common misnomer: boiling versus evaporation.  

Here Pique Lab also has many articles on Heat where it also analyzed exam papers of primary schools and provides suggested solutions (with clear explanations). 

Science Shifu also has other articles on other topics which you can find here.


:: Useful skills

For MCQs, I have to say that many questions are tricky. Children must have very strong conceptual understanding (and a clear head I must say!) to avoid being misled.

Like many children, my kiddo tends to be careless – skims through the questions without reading properly (misses out clues- sighs), forgets key words in her FRQ (double sighs) AND (lo and behold!) missing out on questions (every parent’s nightmare)!

I always remind the kiddo to do these steps denoted by acronym UIC.


1. U – Underline

As your child reads through the questions, it would be good to underline (or circle if she / he prefers that instead) the key information and what the question is asking for.

This slows the child down in skimming through and it points the child to the key information quicker.


2. Ink trails

What are the key words that this question is looking for? For e.g. if it were to be a question on plant and the conditions it needs to make food, it would be good to draw / make notes on the diagrams as your child compares the experiments in the questions (short 2 – 3 words will do, not full sentences).  


3. Cross out

As your child completes the first 2 steps, the next step will be by rule of elimination – so cross out the options that do not apply. This reduces shading mistakes in the answering sheet too.

Heuristics Science also has other videos which are focused on their own answering technique (TCR) and here you can see an example as Mrs Koh shares on SA Revision using this technique for Booklet B (FRQ).

I hope that you find these links and free resources useful in your revision as much as I found them to be last year! This is my second post in this PSLE Tips and Resources series. You find my Post 1 on English here. Do share this post / link with your friends if you have found them useful! :) And, stay tuned to my next post which will be on Chinese. 

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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

PSLE tips and resources Part 1 - English

2020 has been an extra-ordinary year for most. For my case, it has an added dimension of another layer of parenting woes – the PSLE.

The kid was not as engaged online learning as compared to physical classrooms and we had to work through gaps in the last few weeks leading up to the national exam. During those 2 months, I have sat through quite a bit of webinars and devised different revision plans as well as flipped through many different guidebooks and assessment books.

I thought that it would be useful to share them with you in a few posts split into the different subjects. 😊

:: English

This has always been Dumpling’s pet subject and while we did not have to revise as much, there are a few elements in this subject that I wish to highlight.

1. Oral

Oral is a great way to earn marks if your child is confident, reads widely and is able to contribute to conversations meaningfully. However, for some children, having the context to talk about and the vocabulary bank bring about another set of challenges.

There are a few areas which I think would be important for us to highlight to our children.

-        -  Read and speak slowly and clearly

Due to nerves, a lot of students may ramble off or read through the passage at a lightning speed. This to me is a pity as read-aloud is a great way to secure as many marks as possible as your child will have time to see the passage prior and prepare.

- Be mindful of the ending consonants and expressions. 

Can the examiner hear the “t” and the “th”? Is the dialogue in the form of a question? Was the character speaking in anger? Model those feelings accordingly. 

Looking at the rubrics sent back over the years, pupils are rated on accuracy (of pronunciation), fluency and their expression.   

-         2. Stimulus based conversation

Instead of leaving it to the last minute to prepare for this section, I think it would be a good practice to engage your child and have casual conversations about a menu, poster or an advertisement.

“Would you be keen to purchase the carton of oat milk? Why and why not?” and if the visuals are food related, they usually are linked to health themes. “Have you tried oat milk before? How do you think we should maintain a healthy lifestyle?” 

Of course, in our conversations with them, the discussions are more casual, but the idea is to get your child comfortable in sharing and commenting as the less the examiners prompt them, the better. 

A book which I used last year is this below.  It has both listening comprehension practices and oral practices which make this a convenient resource to have.

(Note: Listening comprehension is also a tad trickier at P6 where the questions often times require deeper thinking and do not have as many "direct questions" like the lower levels. For e.g. they may describe a sequence / a path and the question may require the child to think in the reverse order of the sequence. Hence it would be good to have some practices in this too.)

2. Synthesis and Transformation (S&T)

This gave me nightmares when the kiddo was in Primary 5 and for the first time, did badly in a paper component for English.

With S&T, it is what I refer to as a “sudden death” – you either get the full 2 marks or you get 0, hence it would be very easy to lose 5 - 6 marks in this section.   

There are extremely strict rules regarding S&T – if the subject is in a plural form, it must stay in a plural form. For instance, if the question listed “apples” then after transforming the sentence, it has to be same – “apples”.

I noted that in most past year papers, reported speech (direct to indirect speech) seems to an area which is always tested on. On this area, the child needs to follow the “TPTP” rule and Lil But Mighty has a great post here.

There are not many S&T books available at the bookstore. Here’s a book which you may find useful where it explains the rules, connectors, etc., and provides practices after. I understand that some local schools also has this title listed in their supplementary / recommended lists too. 

Away from the monotony of the syllabus, I also subscribed to Kids Discover which the kiddo reads for leisure. 

In the comprehension components for exams these days, passages may include current affairs or things on general knowledge. This site has topics which aid to increase our children's knowledge and could in turn, encourage them to read more. 

Additionally, the passages from this site allow you to customize your child's reading level (according to the Lexile levels) based on his/her readiness. You can also choose a "read aloud" function which will assist your child in the pronunciation of words which he/she could be unfamiliar with. With Dumpling in Sec 1 this year, she has also found this site useful for History too. :) 

Edit: I have done up the second post on Science tips and resources

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