By Singapore Teaching Centre, British Council

22 August 2022 - 09:00

Five common PSLE English oral mistakes and how to avoid them

The PSLE Oral Exam tests a student’s ability to read and speak English fluently. It comprises 15% of the total marks available for PSLE English and has two components: Reading-aloud (10 marks) and Stimulus-based Conversation (20 marks). For many children, it can be the most nerve-wracking of the four PSLE English assessments, so regular practice and encouragement is essential. We’ve rounded up some of the most common mistakes so you can help your child score as many marks as possible.

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Not using the details provided on the stimulus

For the first question of the PSLE English Oral Exam, students are required to draw details from a visual stimulus to support their responses. Sometimes, valuable marks are lost when a student gives an answer that may be well articulated, but is not relevant to the question. Instead of going straight into talking about their personal experience and thoughts, students should take a moment to think about how they can make a link back to the stimulus to show that they have understood.

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Not giving a personal response or explanation

Conversely, some students trip up by focusing only on the details provided on the stimulus. It is important that the response features personal elements, such as what the student thinks or feels.

Using a ‘dead-end’ answer that cannot be expanded on

Many students, when presented with a yes or no question, think that they need to answer ‘yes’ to deliver a more favourable response. The trouble with this is that it can sometimes lead to a dead end with little scope for elaboration. To ensure that the conversation is engaging, students should choose the answer that allows them to build on their ‘yes’ or ‘no’ stance most easily.

Using too many long and difficult words

Using a wide range of vocabulary and accurate, standard English will help your child to impress the examiner and secure marks. However, using too many long and difficult words can be the downfall of some students. Students should use their preparation time, including the five minutes before the start of the exam when they will have the stimulus in front of them, to practise using words with difficult pronunciation by breaking them up into syllables and sounding them out softly. It is better for students to take their time and read with confidence than to rush through trickier sections of a passage.

Not using appropriate tone

To avoid sending the examiner to sleep, students should use appropriate variation of tone to convey relevant emotions. By reading with expression and clear articulation, going up and down to keep from sounding monotonous, and being mindful of pace, students will bring their answer alive and sound much more confident. 

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About the British Council’s Upper Primary course 

The British Council’s Upper Primary courses offer comprehensive PSLE English tuition and are designed to develop your child with skills for academic excellence and future success. Aligned with the syllabus set by the MOE, they promote critical thinking skills and confident communication, while encouraging the 21st century proficiencies needed to thrive in a fast-changing world. 

Your child will be guided by our highly qualified and passionate teachers to use proven exam techniques in preparation for their PSLE. Through frequent practice under test conditions and regular, individual feedback, students will be equipped with the tools they need to meet challenges head on and realise their potential.

Discover more about Upper Primary tuition for your child’s PSLE English oral preparation. You can also learn more about PSLE English Composition on our blog