With less than 3 months to go to PSLE, many students may feel at a lost for languages like Chinese. Long-term planning and short-term mugging are two very different strategies. However, hope is not lost! We are going to break our own rules about long-term planning and advise you how to score as many marks as possible.
1. Mug for Vocab
Vocabulary is very important for identifying words in oral and comprehension. Your vocabulary also affects how well you do during exam. Ideally, students should have a strong grasp of essential vocabulary to excel in Chinese PSLE.
So, pick up your textbook and revise keywords and their meaning from Primary 5 and Primary 6 (words from Primary 1 to 4 are not usually tested).
There are 18 units for Primary 5 and 10 units for Primary 6. Revise 4 units every week; go through the meaning and 词语搭配, then do a topical test (e.g. MCQ) to make sure you really understand the vocabulary.
You can also ask your schoolteachers to recommend good books that contain words from your school textbook. Then, read the books to test yourself. If you don’t recognise any words, underline them and revise them again. Then, quiz yourself by constructing sentences with the words. Get a parent or teacher to go through your work after that.
Make sure you revise everything one week before the paper to make use of your short-term memory.
2. Get the most out of Oral and Listening
This is the key component that determines pass or fail for weaker students. That’s because this is the easiest section to score marks! Make sure you maintain eye contact with the teacher and answer confidently.
- Try to speak Chinese everyday until the oral paper comes around. If possible, set aside a designated time and talk about certain topics. Allow yourself to practice constructing sentences in Chinese, and the thought process behind it, so you can fully utilise preparation time during the exam.
- Get a parent or teacher to correct grammatical mistakes. It’s important to make mistakes, but it’s also important to learn from them before the paper.
- Get someone to converse with you and ask questions. Then, challenge yourself to use examples when you answer them, especially with your own life experiences.
- Read something out loud everyday. This quizzes your memory, which is one of the most effective modes of learning. This will also take away fear during the exam itself, so you can perform better. You can read passages you find online, and when you’re unsure of certain words, just use google translate to understand the right pronunciation and meaning.
- You can also read from the textbook to make sure you have the keywords covered. Once again, use google translate if you are unsure of any words. Try to minimise mistakes such as using the wrong tone and pronunciation.
- Add more emotion by taking appropriate pauses, and pay attention to the tones of different characters. Try practising this by reading out loud to yourself if you can.
- Ensure you have covered all content by observing what people are doing, and where. You should talk about your own opinions, such as whether the people are doing the right thing, or what you think they could be doing instead.
3. Drop the dread for Comprehension
This is the component that many students should be more confident in. Many students can do well in comprehension, but they do not because they don’t read the question properly, panic, or don’t feel like doing it carefully.
In general, having a good vocabulary will make comprehension much easier. As per point 1, make sure you’ve revised the words in the textbook, and also memorise as many as possible so you can recognise them.
Before The Paper
- Read different passages and discuss what you understand from the story with an adult. This allows you to recognise how the passage develops, which is a useful skill for composition as well.
- Do at least 1 – 2 practice papers each week. With this, you can fine-tune your answering technique for comprehension.
During The Exam
- Read instructions carefully first, and revisit difficult questions later.
- Fill up an answer even if you don’t know what the right answer is. You may score some marks, and every point counts.
- Use inference – even if you can’t recognise the words in the passage, you can infer what they mean by reading the full sentence. You can also use this to infer what part of the passage contains a particular answer.
4. Crazy for Composition
Everyone loves a good story, but not everyone enjoys writing compositions. Many students dislike composition because they are intimidated by the amount of words they have to write. Also, they are not used to expressing themselves in Chinese.
- Memorise good beginnings and endings. Also use common idioms so you score higher in vocabulary easily. Read our other blog post for more tips.
- Find a collection of essay structures for common topics.
- While you may not have enough time to learn much about story writing through reading books now, try to read other students’ model essays. It will help you recognise trends in developing good stories and characters, which allows you to plan your own composition better. Note the idioms and phrases that they use as well, so you can use them too.
- Try to think in Chinese and construct sentences in Chinese during the compo, so you can reduce grammatical errors.
- Write at least four timed practice compositions before PSLE. After writing, use a highlighter to highlight the good phrases that you have used. That makes it easy for you to see how many you used. Then, you can rewrite the composition or add in any good phrases that you have missed out.
We hope these tips help! More importantly, work hard and you may secure one or two grade jumps. And if possible, have fun while you study. Remember that PSLE may be over in 3 months, but good skills in Chinese will serve you well for life 🙂