Features and Benefits of the New PSLE English Writing Format

24 Jun 2016

The winds of change are finally blowing through the writing scene in our primary schools. Primary 6 pupils of 2015 have just sat for the new PSLE composition examination format, with much trepidation. Let us take a quick look at this new format and what it entails for our students. Does it indeed make writing more difficult? Does it help or hinder creativity?

The new PSLE composition exam format does indeed seem intimidating to students, teachers and parents alike. Three seemingly unrelated pictures, one central theme and no specific writing mode constraint.

Extracted from English PSLE Revision Guide 2nd Edition

Does this make writing more difficult? To students less proficient in the English Language, used to seeking comfort in memorising chunks of model compositions, the new format does make writing more challenging. If you scruntinise and analyse the new format, you will realise that it actually makes writing easier than before, at the same time setting out to achieve the objectives of the English syllabus.

The benefits of embarking on the new format

  1. Encourage critical and creative thinking

    One topic, three pictures, a world of possibilities.

    As students are not bound by any specific genre, they have the choice of linking their personal experiences to their writing. The pictures and theme may also lend themselves better to the expository genre rather than narrative. The new format requires students to think critically and creatively in order to link one or more of the pictures to the theme while ensuring that there is a logical sequence to their story.

    It is also an attempt to bid goodbye to route learning, such as the memorisation of phrases (e.g.: 'magnolia white clouds' and 'azure blue skies') and frequently tested topics (e.g.: 'a fire' and 'accidents').Training students in these situations does not create good writers. In reality, this practice only serves to clip their creativity.

  2. Give you more than one way to express yourself

    Writing is a form of expression, and every one of us expresses ourselves differently. Some prefer to put their point across succinctly (as how you would do it with an argumentative or expository), while others may prefer to do it creatively (as how you would do it with a descriptive or narrative).

    With the new format, the ability to expression one's self in writing is not restrictive to a particular text type as the pictures and theme may also lend themselves better to the expository genre rather than narrative.

    This may spell trouble for students who are better trained in a writing certain genres, but with the new format, the idea is to also give students an opportunity to put their writing skills to use in various genres of writing.  

The new format certainly encourages teachers and students to look at writing in the way it was meant to be – a creative process that allows the writer to communicate his purpose and ideas clearly with the use of choice words. Seen from this perspective, the new format will lead to the growth of more critical thinkers and writers.

The above information is contributed by Chitra Pillay, Associate Lecturer from Marshall Cavendish Institute

Allyn, Pam. (2011) Your Child's Writing Life: How to Inspire Confidence, Creativity and Skill at Every Age. Avery, Penguin Group, USA
Culham, Ruth (2014) The Writing Thief. International Reading Association, USA
Forney, Melissa (2001) Razzle Dazzle Writing. Maupin House Publishing Inc., FL

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