February 8, 2024

7 Things We Teach Our Students To Score Well For The PSLE Situational Writing

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The Situational Writing component of the PSLE English Language Examination requires students to write a functional piece for either formal or informal situations. They will need to write a letter, email or report to suit the purpose, audience and context provided.

The PSLE Paper comprises two sections that last for 1 hour and 10 minutes: situational writing and continuous writing. The situational writing section contributes 15 marks to the entire paper, while continuous writing contributes 40 marks.

As you read our guide for PSLE situational writing in this article, you'll find that achieving those 15 marks will be less challenging.

Situational Writing Component Break Down

According to the SEAB in 2017, situational writing in the PSLE paper requires a student to write a functional piece to communicate based on a given context or situation. The two main criteria determining the score for situational writing are Task Fulfilment (6 marks) and Language and Organisation (9 marks).

1. Task Fulfilment

For this criteria, students are expected to adhere to or include all the key information and points that are stated in the task box in the situational writing and ensure that they have provided comprehensive information.

The students must demonstrate:

  1. A clear understanding of the Purpose, Audience, and Context (PAC) of situational writing.
  2. Adoption of formal or informal tone (Audience).
  3. Ability to adhere to the appropriate tone and rules accordingly (Context).
  4. Reason for writing at the beginning and conclusion of the document (Purpose).
Source: 2022 PSLE English Language Exam Paper 1 Situational Writing Question

By following the provided instructions in the task box, students are demonstrating their understanding of the PAC.

Task Fulfilment has a total of 6 marks.

2. Language and Organisation

While demonstrating their ability to fulfil the task concisely, students must also exemplify their language skills - free from grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors.

This scoring criteria makes up 9 marks out of the total of 15.

Now that we have an understanding of the two scoring criteria for situational writing, let’s follow the components breakdown in the infographic down below:

Let's first dive into each of these components starting with Content & Context in Situational Writing.

Content & Context In Situational Writing

It is crucial to include information based on the given prompts in the task box. Students must also show that they understand well who they are writing for, why they are writing, and the situation they are writing about.

In short, they must determine the PAC:

  • The Purpose of the Writing (P)
  • The Audience to whom the writing is intended for (A)
  • The Context they have to give (C) - formal writing or informal writing

Encourage your child to highlight or underline the PAC while reading the task box to keep track of the content they need to write.

Now, let's examine and consider some instances from the Situational Writing section of the 2022 PSLE:

Source: PSLE 2022 English Language Paper 1 Situational Writing Question
  • The Purpose of the writing (P): Invite friends to join Friendship Run together.
  • The Audience to whom the writing is intended for (A): Your friend, Aisha
  • The Context they have to give (C) - Informal tone: casual tone, the tone of a 13-year-old girl talking to a friend.

Pay Attention to Formal and Informal Tone

One of the most challenging aspects of situational writing in the English paper is creative writing in an accurate tone for the context. Writing with the correct tone is crucial because it demonstrates the writer's understanding of the task and helps convey the intended message effectively.

Here are some tips on formal and informal writing:

1 - Formal Writing

Suitable for writing Official or Formal Letters (Applications, Request to School Administration) written to Authority Figures (Principal, School Staff), Unknown Recipients

  • Addressing the Reader: Refer to the reader using appropriate titles or designations.In formal writing, you should use respectful language and avoid using personal pronouns such as "you" or "I."
  • Structured and Polished Language: Formal writing should be well-structured and clear, with proper punctuation and grammar. Use complete sentences and avoid contractions.
  • Professional Vocabulary: Avoid slang or colloquial terms. This will help maintain a professional tone and add credibility to the writing.
  • Avoid Abbreviations and Emojis: Abbreviations and emojis are unsuitable for formal writing such as a formal letter. Students should express emotions or ideas through words rather than using symbols or shortcuts.

2 - Informal Writing

Suitable for writing Personal Writing (Diary), Informal Letters, Invitations or Thank-You Notes, and Casual Settings (Playdate or social events) to Friends and Classmates.

  • Friendly Tone: Use personal pronouns like “you” and “I”. Informal writing should have a friendly and conversational tone as if you are speaking directly to the reader.
  • Simplified Language: While maintaining grammatical accuracy, informal writing can be less rigid in terms of structure and may include contractions to make it sound more natural and approachable. 
  • Use of Casual Vocabulary: Use more casual vocabulary and expressions that are commonly used in everyday conversations, as long as they are appropriate for the context.

Demonstrate Language and Organisation

The key to getting a full score for language and organisation is to make as few grammatical errors as possible while your writing is structured, clear and concise.

The papers usually already state the information they want to be included in the writing, regardless of situational writing format.

Follow this step-by-step guide to ace the language and organisation component in situational writing:

Step 1: Carefully examine the situational stimulus, which could be in the form of images, posters, or other visual stimulus

Carefully go through the entire stimulus and take notes accordingly, especially in the pictures with little to no dialogue to assist you in better comprehending the content.

Step 2: Familiarise yourself with the information provided in the task box and gather essential details

While going through the information in the task box, you will come across crucial details, including:

  • Who you are (at times) = provided name / use your name if it is not specified.
  • Audience - the person you are writing to = Dear Sir, Dear Ms, Dear Anita, etc.
  • Purpose - the purpose of your writing = Request, Invite, Appeal, Complain, Sharing Information.

Make sure to highlight important information in the task box:

Source: PSLE 2022 English Language Paper 1 Situational Writing Question; Annotations by eduSpace

Step 3: Read the points you need to answer and assign them numbers accordingly, highlight and number your answers as well

It is important to be organised when doing situational writing. 

We recommend numbering the points from 1 to 6 so that you get all the crucial content points needed to have a chance of scoring full marks for content. 

Source: 2022 PSLE English Language Paper 1 Situational Writing Question; Annotations by eduSpace

You will be awarded 6 marks for content. The main requirement to receive full marks for content is to address the six points mentioned in the question.

To ensure a smooth writing process without interruptions, highlight the answers you can find in the task box and/or the stimulus to maintain a steady flow of writing.

Start it right!

With a clear understanding of your PAC (Purpose of writing, Audience, and formal or informal tone), and having numbered all your points, you are now prepared to begin writing! 

Keep in mind these critical bullet points:

  • Address your audience properly (use uppercase letters, and refer as Sir/Madam if you don’t know their name)
  • Use greetings for a formal tone only
  • Avoid using slang or non-standard English
  • Tick each point off your numbered points to ensure you include everything
  • State your purpose of writing at the beginning of the paragraph to show that you understand the assignment well.

Write the right length!

Writing too long does not increase your marks.

Avoid including unnecessary details that may increase your chance of making grammatical errors and slow you down. Just focus on the six points you are required to include.

After writing the right length and ensuring that all key information is included, you should not cut the writing abruptly, instead, sign off correctly:

Read through

Upon completing your writing, take a moment to review your answer for the task carefully and ensure the following:

Content - Verify that all essential information is included with the appropriate tone for the context and that the sign-off is suitable.

Language - Confirm the language accuracy and clarity in your writing.

eduSpace Can Help with Your Situational Writing Skills

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The PSLE is a significant milestone in a child's academic journey in Singapore, as it determines the secondary school they will be admitted to and plays a crucial role in shaping their educational future.

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Contact eduSpace Tuition Centre and let your child write with confidence today.

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