With the recent changes to our education system, the standard P5 Semestral Assessments 1 usually given in May, has been replaced by non-standard Weighted Assessments. Schools test different components either Paper 1 or Paper 2. All our P5 students were not tested on the Oral component. Few were tested on Paper 1 components. Most were tested on a partial Paper 2.

The first half of the year for most P5 students, after the recent changes, has allowed them to learn the new English components at a more relaxed pace. Schools simply need to test what their teachers have taught in the last 6 months for the WA in May instead of all the components. This will give students enough time to clarify doubts with their class teachers and learn rules at a less stressful pace. These changes were made essentially to help students enjoy the learning process which is, without doubt, a good thing for them.

The concern then lies in whether P5 students are prepared enough for the still very competitive PSLE which they will face the following year. As schools set their own curriculum planning, I find that some of my students have worked on both formal and informal Situational Writing in the first half of the year with their teachers while others have not even started on Situational Writing! Some of my students were tested on such challenging Cloze Passages and Comprehension Open-ended that they told me more than half their class had failed. Others were given such easy Cloze and Comprehension OE that they scored full marks for their WA.

So, how do we prepare our P5 children as they end their first semester for what awaits them in the 2nd semester of school?

How P5 students can help themselves with the Paper 2 component?

1. Learn your rules

The P5 year should be the time when students learn the rules of the new English components. By the end of the year, before their SA2, students should know their grammatical rules and their main Synthesis & Transformation rules introduced in their P5 year well enough not to make many mistakes in their SA2 Paper 2.

If they do this well, their P6 year should simply be a time to revise these rules again. Reported Speech, Active & Passive, Conditionals, Nouns. These are some examples of the structures tested in Synthesis & Transformation.

Both our P5 and P6 students at TF are given the main set of S&T rules every year. The P5s learn these new rules by heart while the P6s revise them. These rules are easy to find online or in books such as in the Marshall and Cavendish Synthesis & Transformation assessment books available at Popular.

2. Use the techniques taught

Techniques on how to handle each component in Paper 2 are taught at school and in tuition centres. Most schools and tutors teach students how to find clues in the Cloze Passage section, how to identify question types and answer them in their Comprehension and Visual Text questions, and how to identify grammatical clues. Yet, many students do not use these techniques when working on their examination papers.

Techniques on how to manage the Paper 2 component are taught by teachers for a reason. Paper 2 in P5 and P6 are notoriously difficult to score. Even those high scorers in our classes can get marked down because a paper was set in an extremely challenging way. The Vocabulary sections in the recent PSLE papers have been increasingly tricky.

Having a set of techniques to help in each section of Paper 2 can help a student navigate a challenging Paper 2 to the best of his or her ability.

Primary 5 is the year to introduce these techniques. Yet, I still get new students in the P6 level who are unable to identify clues or question types. They do not know what a phrasal verb is or how to transform an adjective into a noun. When students are able to identify clues and question types, they tend to score better in Paper 2.

So, P5 students, learn and use your techniques well.

3. Prepare Vocabulary & Editing Lists

As mentioned above, the Vocabulary and Vocabulary Cloze sections have become increasingly tricky. A few years ago, if a student’s first language was English and he or she reads widely, these sections did not pose a problem for him or her. Now, even the high scorers, need to pause and reflect before choosing the correct answer and not all of them get full marks for these sections.

While we provide Vocabulary and Editing lists for our P5 and P6 students every term at TF, students can do up their own at home if none is provided for you. Use the Top School Papers or PSLE Booklet and a dictionary to compile your lists of new vocabulary words. Form sentences with these words to ensure that you have understood the meanings.

Editing lists can also be easily constructed and is less time-consuming to create than Vocabulary lists. Simply jot down all the spelling words in each Editing section, learn them and ask someone to test you. As most editing words come from a Commonly misspelled words list, these words may re-appear several times in your examinations. Thus, it is worth making an effort to study these words.

I hope that these tips have given you some ideas on how P5 students can approach the next semester. Personally, I feel that Semester 2 will be a crucial time for all P5 students. They will be tested on all the components in their SA2 and it will be the first time that they will have an AL score for their English paper. It is also a good time to start preparing for the PSLE year.

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