New PSLE English Composition Format

The new PSLE English composition format was introduced in 2015.  Students taking PSLE that year were the first batch to be assessed using the Revised PSLE English examination format. This is also the same batch of students who started Primary 1 with the STELLAR approach of learning English.

Some parents might still be confused or clueless about the new composition format.

These are the main differences between the old and the new format:

PSLE English Composition (Old Format)

Students were given 2 choices:

1. A scenario based question, where pupils are given a scenario and asked to continue with the story.

2. A picture based question, where pupils are given 4 sequential pictures (or 3 sequential pictures with a question mark for the 4th) and asked to write a story according to the pictures. This type of question is usually narrative.

PSLE English Composition (New Format)

In the new PSLE English composition format, there is now ONE topic with THREE different (no longer sequential) supporting pictures.  Students have to interpret and write their stories based on the topic and at least one of those three pictures. They have the choice of using ONETWO or all THREE of the pictures. They also have the freedom to write in ANY appropriate text type.


Here is an example of a Composition question based on the new format.

Continuous Writing (40 marks)

Write a composition of at least 150 words about a memorable celebration.

The pictures (not in sequence) are provided to help you think about this topic.

Your composition should be based on onetwo or all of the pictures. Consider the following points when writing your composition:

  • What was the celebration?
  • Why was it memorable?

You may use the points in any order or include other relevant points as well.


What Does This Mean For Students?

As you can see, the new composition format gives pupils more room for creativity and story development. What we like about this revised format is that students now have the freedom to be original in their content and not be afraid of being penalised for writing “out of point”.

On the other hand, this also means that the ‘popular’ method of memorising model compositions (which is a method we personally dislike) might not work!

From the example given above, students can develop their composition in countless ways, based on the given topic “a memorable celebration”. They could write a composition about a birthday celebration, a wedding anniversary party, a sad memory about something that took place in a party, something touching that happened during a party, something that happened at a celebration that has taught him an important lesson, a memory of a loved one who has passed on… the options are almost endless!

How To Write A Composition Based On The PSLE Format?

The basics of writing composition are still the same in the new format. Students still need to know various writing techniques such as character development and show, not tell.  They also need to understand the basic structure of a composition – the introduction, problem, resolution and conclusion.

The challenging part is, weaker students can no longer depend on the 3 or 4 sequential pictures to plan and write their story plot.  They now have to draft and create a piece of writing from scratch, based on their own ideas, imagination and creativity! That does sound daunting, even for adults.

How can students prepare for the PSLE English composition format?

1. Expose your child to a variety of books, stories and texts.

2. Let your child learn the various writing techniques, such as character development, show, not tell, setting descriptions and development of story plot.

3. Teach your child ways to plan their stories, such as the use of mind maps and drafting.

4. Teach your child ways to make their stories interesting and full of action.

5. Practise, practise and practise. (That means write, write and write!)

We believe that every child can write, one step at a time!

The key to good writing is to write, get feedback and rewrite or edit based on the feedback given. In this way, students are better able to improve and develop their writing skills.

Writers are made, not born.
Good writing comes with regular practice!

Author: BIG IDEAZ

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