There are many techniques on how to improve composition writing. In fact, before examinations, we give our students a checklist of what they should do or have in their compositions.

In the P3 and P5 years, students face a rather significant jump in expectations for the Paper 1 component. It can be quite overwhelming for many students.

P5 students are tasked with writing longer compositions and avoiding grammatical mistakes. Their longer compositions need to be descriptive and include various techniques such as characterisation, use of personal thought, etc. And even if they have all of the above in their compositions, they may get a low grade for one important reason – they did not develop the theme.

This is one rule that we emphasise to our students at all levels at TF.

One of the most important techniques to know and use is theme development. Understanding the theme and developing it in the story is essential to score well. The first thing they need to do is to plan out their compositions keeping the theme in mind.

Below are 4 ways that students can use to make sure that they are never out of point when planning their compositions.

1. How to develop the theme when planning a composition?

1.1 Study your theme

Read your theme carefully and pause to highlight the keywords.
For example, ‘honesty’ in the theme ‘Being Honest’ or ”unforgettable’ and ‘event’ An Unforgettable Event’.

1.2 Reflect on how the theme can be linked to one, two, or all of the pictures

Start with ideas on how to use the pictures and relate them to the theme.

1.3 Plot your story, keeping the theme in mind

As you plan out each section of the story, try to mention the theme: whether it’s the synonym or opposite of it.

For example, in the theme ‘An Unforgettable Event’, you may use the words, ‘memorable’ or ‘remember’ in your composition. You may also use personal thought, “How will I ever be able to forget…”

1.4 Don’t flip the theme

If the theme is on ‘Being honest’, then make sure that your plot is based on being honest and not on being dishonest.

Last week, our P5 classes worked on the composition, A Punishment. Below is one of our students’ compositions. I chose hers as a model because of the length and descriptions. She managed to create interesting characters and vivid descriptions within the 50 minutes our students have to complete their compositions. (Well-done C!)

While I really enjoyed reading her story, she missed a number of opportunities to develop her theme. This is the case for many P5 students, some of whom are good writers, as they begin to master this important aspect of composition writing. Thus, for this model, I have bolded the parts that I added for her while marking, which shows theme development.

I hope that the above ways and the model below will inspire you to plan your compositions with the theme in mind.

2. P5 English Composition Writing model on the theme of ‘A Punishment’

Note to students

The model compositions in this blog are to help students generate ideas and to be used as a guide. Students are not allowed to copy the model compositions and then pass them off as their own work, especially in school. It is called plagiarism.

As I sat in my cell, holding an ice pack to my jaw, I reflected on what had happened that caused my injuries. I was sitting at a bench in the cafeteria, minding my own business, when out of the blue, the Boys’ Home’s most notorious bully, Mark Tan, suddenly materialised in front of me.

              He yanked me out of my seat and started beating me up. Everyone in the cafeteria darted out of sight. Judging by Mark’s face, he was in a foul mood. After beating me to a pulp, he left me on the floor and walked away so causally as if he did things like that every day.

              Being bullied evoked the memory of how I landed myself in prison as a punishment in the first place. I was my school’s notorious bully. It was a regular day at school on that fateful day. The lunch bell had just rung. Students thronged the hallways as they made their way to the canteen for their lunch break. Time to pick an easy meal, I thought to myself as I eyed the nerdy kids coming from the library. I had been bullying students since I was young and I had always gotten away with a light punishment.

              Once the hallways were deserted, a short scrawny boy, reading a book exited the library. Evil thoughts raced through my head as I thought of ways to pulverise the boy. He settled down near a staircase and I took the chance to sneak up behind him.

              Wham! I smacked my fist into the back of his head. He flew down the stairs and landed face-first at the bottom. I trudged down towards him as he sat up and looked at me, eyes full of fear. I lifted him up by the collar so his toes hovered inches above the ground. Then, I started punching him. I was so intent on injuring the boy that I was completely oblivious to my surroundings and a prefect watching nearby. The prefect watched in horror as I beat up the boy. Not able to look on any longer, the prefect ran to the principal’s office at top speed.

              “Principal!” The prefect burst into the office, panting, “Jonas Lim is bullying a boy outside the library.”

The principal followed the prefect to the library, where they caught sight of me making the boy’s nose bleed.

“Jonas Lim! What on earth do you think you are doing?” the principal bellowed.

I froze, dropped the boy, and heard his moans as he crumpled to the floor. I turned and gulped as I came face-to-face with the principal. Looking at the anger on my principal’s face, I knew that my punishment would be much harsher this time.

              In the end, the principal sent the boy to the hospital and called both my mother and the police. He knew that I needed a harsh punishment if I were to change my ways. I was charged with assault and sentenced to the Boy’s Home for two years.

              Sighing, I sat in my cell regretting my actions. The punishment taught me many things. I missed my family and vowed to turn over a new leaf. Due to my irresponsible and unkind behaviour, I had to face the consequences and live with my punishment.

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