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Marking Criteria for English Composition Examination for PSLE – Expert Insights and Tips for Success

The English composition examination is an integral part of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) in Singapore. Understanding the marking criteria for these compositions is crucial for parents looking to provide effective support and guidance to their children. This expert knowledge enables you to help your child focus on aspects that truly matter, bolstering their writing skills and setting them on the path to academic success.

In this article, we will delve deep into the marking criteria for English composition examination in the PSLE, arming you with the expertise to support your child’s journey towards excellence in writing. Additionally, we will introduce ILLAC – a tuition centre in Singapore that offers a fun, stress-free learning environment for children. Here, your child can hone their language skills in preparation for their critical examinations, embracing a passion for learning and personal fulfilment. Let’s dive into the world of PSLE composition marking criteria and how you can help your child excel under these guidelines.

1. Comprehensive Overview of the PSLE English Composition Examination

The PSLE English composition examination is intended to assess a student’s ability to express their thoughts and ideas through writing. To excel in this examination, it is crucial for students to understand the following fundamental aspects:

a. Examination Format: The composition examination typically consists of 3 pictures and a title accompanied by 2 or 3 questions pertaining to the title, requiring students to develop a written piece based on them.

b. Time Allocation: Time management is essential as students usually have 50 minutes to plan, write, and revise their composition.

c. Word Limit: The expected word count is between 120 to 150 words for the primary 3 to 4 level and 150 to 200 words for primary 5 to 6 level. The typical word count for an AL1 piece is about 250 and above.

With a clear understanding of the examination requirements, students can better navigate this crucial assessment and focus on the critical aspects that contribute to their success.

2. The Marking Criteria: Language and Content

The marking criteria for the PSLE English composition examination are divided into two main categories: Language and Content. These categories encompass the essential elements required for a well-written and impactful piece.

a. Language (20 marks): The Language category assesses the student’s control of grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, punctuation, and spelling. To achieve high scores in this area, students need to demonstrate an excellent command of the English language, showcasing varied vocabulary, accurate grammar usage, and appropriate punctuation.

b. Content (20 marks): The Content category evaluates the student’s ability to develop a coherent and engaging story or argument based on the given prompts. This includes the relevance of the content, the clarity of ideas, and the logical flow of the composition. Students must also display creativity, originality, and critical thinking skills to excel in this assessment.

Understanding the marking criteria helps parents and students concentrate on developing the competencies that will significantly impact their overall examination performance.

3. Strategies for Improving Language Skills

To excel in the Language component of the PSLE composition examination, consider the following strategies to enhance your child’s skills:

a. Encourage Regular Reading: Expose your child to various reading materials, including books, newspapers, magazines, and online articles, to help them develop a strong vocabulary and comprehension of grammar rules.

b. Emphasise Correct Grammar Usage: Help your child understand and apply standard English grammar rules, fostering clear and effective communication in their writing.

c. Focus on Vocabulary Expansion: Encourage your child to learn new words daily and use them in context, allowing them to express their ideas more vividly and precisely.

d. Reinforce Punctuation and Spelling Rules: Ensure your child is familiar with proper punctuation and spelling conventions, contributing to the overall readability and fluency of their compositions.

By cultivating these language skills, parents can support their child’s linguistic capabilities, directly impacting their performance in the English composition examination.

4. Techniques for Enhancing Content Quality

To score well in the Content component of the PSLE composition examination, parents can guide their child with the following techniques:

a. Brainstorming and Planning: Teach your child how to brainstorm ideas based on the given prompts, refining their thoughts, and creating a clear plan before commencing the writing process.

b. Develop a Strong Essay Structure: Help your child understand the importance of following a well-organised essay structure, typically consisting of an introduction, body, and conclusion. This ensures a coherent and logically sequenced composition.

c. Foster Creative Thinking: Encourage your child to think innovatively, challenge the obvious, and develop relatable characters or compelling arguments in their compositions.

d. Use of Descriptive Language and Imagery: Guide your child on incorporating descriptive language to bring their stories or arguments to life, employing imagery, metaphors, and similes for a more engaging piece.

By focusing on these techniques, parents can actively contribute to the improvement of their child’s content quality, supporting their prospects of achieving high scores in the PSLE composition examination.

5. Importance of Feedback and Revision

Consistent feedback and revision are critical for your child’s ongoing improvement in composition writing. Consider the following strategies to maximise the effectiveness of this process:

a. Provide Constructive Feedback: Offer balanced, objective feedback on your child’s writing, focusing on areas of strength and those requiring improvement.

b. Set Achievable Goals: Work with your child to set clear and achievable goals for improvement, continuously tracking and celebrating their progress.

c. Seek External Support: Consider leveraging resources and external support, such as tutors or online workshops, to identify blind spots and gain additional guidance on refining your child’s writing skills.

By implementing these expert tips and strategies, parents can effectively support and nurture their child’s writing aptitude, directly impacting their success in the PSLE English composition examination. Embrace this process and witness your child’s growth as they develop essential language skills and excel in this critical assessment.


Understanding the marking criteria for PSLE English composition examinations is crucial in helping your child excel in this critical assessment. With a strong grasp of the core components and marking criteria, you can provide effective support and guide your child towards success in their language proficiency journey.

At ILLAC, our dedicated team of tutors is passionate about nurturing young minds in a fun, stress-free learning environment. We understand the importance of mastering composition writing, and our carefully crafted enrichment classes cater to each child’s unique needs. Equip your child with the confidence and skillset required to excel in their PSLE composition examination–discover how ILLAC can support your child’s academic growth. Explore our wide range of courses and offerings today!