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Have you ever wondered what the primary school English composition marking scheme is?

In primary school, students’ English compositions are marked based on two areas – Content and Language.

Content refers to the relevance of ideas and story plot.  Language refers to the more technical parts of the essay such as grammar, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation and the organisation aspect such as paragraphing, sequencing of events and the linking of ideas.

In primary school, the composition marking scheme for Content and Language for Primary 3 to 6 are:

  • Primary 3 and 4 – Content 10 marks / Language 10 marks
  • Primary 5 and 6 – Content 20 marks / Language 20 marks

The marking scheme for Primary 1 and 2 differs across schools.  Some schools grade their lower primary students’ English compositions using bands (eg. Band 1, Band 2, Band 3 and so on).  Some grade them using a number of stars or smiley faces (eg. 1 star/smiley face, 2 stars/smiley faces, 3 stars/smiley faces and so on).  There are also schools that mark their Primary 1 and 2 students’ compositions with a marking scheme totalling 10, 12 or 15 marks.  Therefore, the range is wide for Primary 1 and 2 composition marking.  This could be due to the STELLAR approach that is used to teach lower primary English.

How do teachers and PSLE markers mark students’ English compositions?

In the current PSLE English composition format, students are given a topic and three pictures.  They have to write their compositions based on the topic and at least one of the three pictures provided.

Most schools do not reveal their composition marking rubrics.  However, almost all students have these two areas clearly marked in their English compositions – Content and Language.  If you take a look at your child’s English compositions (Primary 3 to 6), you should see these two areas clearly stated either on top of their paper or at the end of the last page.  Some teachers like to label these two categories as C and L (C stands for Content and L for Language).

Composition Marking Scheme for Content and Language

Although different schools might have different composition marking schemes, there is a general guideline.  A range of marks is given for each area of focus.  Teachers or markers mark students’ compositions and decide on the range that a student’s composition falls in for that particular area of focus.  Once the range is decided on, the teacher / marker then decide on the specific mark to award within that range.

Below are examples of a primary school English composition marking scheme:
*Note that not every school uses the same marking scheme. However, for Primary 5 and 6, the marks for Content and Language is 20 marks each.  That is the same for every school in Singapore.


As mentioned earlier, Content refers mainly to the relevance of ideas and story plot.

Content Marking Scheme (Primary 3 and 4)

English composition marking scheme P3 P4


Content Marking Scheme (Primary 5 and 6)

English composition marking scheme P5 P6 PSLE


Language refers to the more technical parts of the essay such as grammar, vocabulary, spelling and punctuation.  It also covers the organisation part such as paragraphing, sequencing of events and the linking of ideas.

Language Marking Scheme (Primary 3 and 4)

English composition marking scheme language P3 P4

Language Marking Scheme (Primary 5 and 6)

Language component composition marking scheme P5 P6 PSLE

How do we mark our students’ compositions?

In BIG IDEAZ Writing Academy, our students submit their writing assignments and compositions for marking.  Our Writing Coaches mark our students’ writing meticulously and usually try to provide as much detailed feedback as possible.  The purpose is for students to take in the feedback and edit their writing accordingly for improvement.  Once they have written their second draft, our Writing Coaches will mark it again.

It is not uncommon for our Writing Coaches to spend 30 to 40 minutes marking each piece of composition!

What do our Writing Coaches look for when marking our students’ compositions?

These are the few main areas:

1) Relevance of Ideas and Interesting Story Plot

Many primary school students struggle with coming up with interesting ideas for their stories.  Sometimes, their ideas might be interesting but after writing, they realised that those are not relevant to the topic at all!

Our Writing Coaches give detailed feedback on our students’ story ideas and provide suggestions to help them improve their story plot wherever possible.

Here are some examples of how our Writing Coaches comment on students’ ideas and plot:

relevance of story ideas composition


composition marking story plot

2) Composition Framework 

We teach our students to use a simple composition writing framework to plan and write their compositions.  Our Writing Coaches look out for the parts of the framework and provide feedback if students need to develop any part of them.

This is a student’s composition where our Writing Coach suggested elaborating on the rising action and climax:

marking composition

In this piece, our Writing Coach provided suggestions on the conclusion of a student’s composition:

write good composition conclusion

3) Vocabulary

Using a wide range of vocabulary is another important part of writing great compositions.  Very often, we give our students examples of how to use a wider range of vocabulary in their compositions.  When they read our suggestions, they can see clearly for themselves how the words can be used in the stories that they have already written.  They learn how to replace ‘boring’ words with other nicer synonyms when writing their Draft 2.

Our Writing Coaches also correct students’ wrong word choice and provide examples of the correct word or phrase to be used.

describing emotions good composition

4) Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling

As you can see from the marking scheme above, grammar, punctuation and spelling (we call them GPS) affect the Language marks of a piece of composition.  Therefore, it is important for students to spell words correctly and to use correct grammar and punctuation.

5) Paragraphing and Organisation

We give students feedback on their paragraphing and organisation too.  Some students like to write a huge chunk of sentences in one paragraph.  For better organisation, they should break up the long paragraph into two smaller ones.  Our Writing Coaches show students the appropriate place in their compositions to start a new paragraph.

6) Sentence Structure and Variety

Some students like to begin many sentences with the same word.  This makes their compositions sound boring and monotonous.  Our writing coaches will show them where and give them examples of how to begin sentences with different words.

paragraphing in composition

sentence variety in compositions

As you can see from all the examples above, we do provide really detailed feedback.  That explains why our Writing Coaches take a significant amount of time to mark each piece of composition.

Not many teachers enjoy marking compositions.  There are a few obvious reasons.  Let’s be honest, it is tedious to mark students’ compositions!

When we asked our students how many pieces of compositions they write in school, most of them wrote about two to four pieces per semester, on average.  A common comment from parents and students is that some teachers take weeks to return the marked scripts.  Moreover, they do not provide much detailed feedback in their compositions.

If your child needs help to improve his or her composition writing, such detailed feedback is important.  How will our children know which areas to improve in if nobody tells them?  They would just be writing the same thing in the same manner over and over again, with no progress.  Don’t you think so?

Let your child receive such detailed feedback for his or her compositions.  Find out more about our Writing Academy (for P4 to P6 students).  There is a 7-day FREE trial, so that you can let your child try out the lessons and assignments for 7 days.

If you feel that the course is not suitable for your child, simply cancel it within the 7-day period via your login panel on your own.

Lower primary students can join our Junior Writing Academy and get their compositions marked too!