Brainstorming Techniques PSLE English Composition Paper 1 Creative Writing

Brainstorming Techniques for PSLE English Composition Paper 1 and achieve AL1 for Creative Writing

As the complexity of English Language Examinations, particularly the PSLE in Singapore, increases, it is critical to arm students with effective strategies to excel. One such strategy is brainstorming, a vital skill for writing composition papers. It can unlock the creative potential of students, helping them generate unique ideas and perspectives that can greatly enhance their writing. In this article, we delve into practical brainstorming techniques that parents can guide their children to employ for PSLE English Composition Writing.

Back to our main article: English Primary Overview

Understanding the Role of Brainstorming in Composition Writing

Brainstorming is a powerful technique for generating a large number of ideas swiftly. It is the first step in the writing process and sets the foundation for the entire composition. By allowing students to explore diverse ideas and perspectives without judgement, brainstorming fosters creativity, originality, and critical thinking – skills that are invaluable for PSLE English Composition Writing.

Brainstorming is part of a creative suite that helps PSLE English students to come up with great compositions. Some of the steps are:

  1. Brainstorming: This is the first step in the creative process and it involves generating a wide range of ideas without judging their quality or feasibility. Encourage your child to write down any idea that comes to mind, no matter how crazy or outlandish it might seem.
  2. Research: Once several ideas have been brainstormed, it’s time to explore them further. This could involve reading related texts, browsing the internet for information, or even observing real-life situations. The aim of this stage is to build a deeper understanding of the chosen topic.
  3. Organizing and Planning: Now that the student has a better understanding of the topic, it’s time to organize thoughts and create a plan. They can use techniques like mind mapping, outlining, or the 5 Ws and 1 H method to structure their composition.
  4. Drafting: With a clear plan in place, the student can now start drafting their composition. At this stage, it’s important to just write without worrying too much about grammar or sentence structure. The focus should be on getting ideas down on paper.
  5. Revising and Editing: After the initial draft is complete, it’s time to revise. This involves checking the composition for coherence, clarity, and engagement. Does the story make sense? Does it captivate the reader? Does it use descriptive language and strong vocabulary? Editing should also be done to correct any grammatical errors or awkward sentence constructions.
  6. Seeking Feedback: Once the composition has been revised and edited, it can be helpful to seek feedback from teachers, parents, or even peers. This can provide fresh perspectives and identify areas for improvement that the student might have overlooked.
  7. Finalizing: Based on the feedback received, the student can make final adjustments to their composition. This is the final step in the creative process.

Remember, creativity is not a linear process and it often involves going back and forth between these steps. It’s also important to note that everyone’s creative process is unique and it’s okay for your child to find and follow the process that works best for them.

Techniques for Effective Brainstorming

  1. Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a visual brainstorming strategy that allows students to organize and connect ideas intuitively. Students begin with a central concept, then branch out into subtopics, adding more levels as necessary. This technique not only promotes creativity by allowing students to make connections between seemingly unrelated ideas, but it also helps in structuring their composition.

ProcessDescriptionApplication in Composition Writing
Step 1: Identify Central ConceptThe central concept serves as the main topic of the mind map. It’s usually placed at the center of the map.For composition writing, the central concept could be the main theme or subject of the story.
Step 2: Branch Out Into SubtopicsSubtopics stem from the central concept and provide a more detailed breakdown of the main theme.Each subtopic could represent a different aspect or event in the story, or a different character.
Step 3: Add More Levels as NecessaryAdditional levels of ideas and concepts can be added to each subtopic to further expand on them.These levels could include specific actions, emotions, motivations, or conflicts related to each subtopic.
Step 4: Make Connections Between IdeasMind maps allow for intuitive connections to be drawn between different ideas, enhancing understanding.Connections could reveal how different events or characters in the story influence each other, or how different aspects of the theme interact.
Step 5: Revisit and Revise the Mind MapMind maps should be reviewed and revised as necessary, to accommodate new ideas or refine existing ones.As the composition develops, students may find new insights that require them to adjust their mind map.
Step 6: Translate the Mind Map Into WritingThe final step involves using the mind map as a guide for writing the composition.Students can follow the structure and ideas presented in the mind map to write a well-organized and comprehensive composition.
  1. The SCAMPER Method

The SCAMPER method encourages students to think about their topic from various angles. SCAMPER stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, and Reverse. For instance, if a student were brainstorming ideas around the theme of ‘kindness,’ they could ‘Adapt’ the idea to fit a different context, such as ‘kindness in the digital age.’

Here’s the SCAMPER method represented in a table format:

LetterMeaningApplication in Composition Writing
SSubstituteReplace an aspect of your story or argument with a different element
CCombineMerge different ideas or elements to create a novel scenario
AAdaptChange your idea to fit a new context or situation
MModifyMake changes to your original idea to make it more compelling
PPut to another useUse your idea in a new or unconventional way
EEliminateRemove unnecessary or irrelevant elements from your idea
RReverse or RearrangeChange the order of events or reverse roles in your story

The SCAMPER method is an excellent tool for idea generation and problem-solving that can be effectively applied in preparing for the PSLE English Composition section. SCAMPER is an acronym standing for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, and Rearrange/Reverse.

Here’s how each component of the SCAMPER method can be used in composition writing:

  1. Substitute (S) – Ask what parts of the story or elements of the composition could be replaced or exchanged to create a different outcome or perspective. It could involve substituting characters, settings, or events in the narrative to enhance the plot or make it more intriguing.
  2. Combine (C) – Consider if there are elements, ideas, or themes in the composition that could be combined or merged. Combining different perspectives or ideas could add depth to the narrative or argument and make it more engaging.
  3. Adapt (A) – Think about what could be changed or adjusted in the composition to suit a different context or audience. It could be adapting the language, tone, or style to make the writing more effective.
  4. Modify (M) – Look for opportunities to alter or tweak parts of the composition to improve it. It could be modifying the plot in a narrative to make it more exciting, or modifying an argument to make it more convincing.
  5. Put to Another Use (P) – Explore whether any elements of the composition could be used differently or repurposed. This could include using a character or situation in an unexpected way to add a twist to the narrative.
  6. Eliminate (E) – Identify any elements in the composition that are unnecessary or distracting and could be removed. Removing irrelevant details or redundant arguments can make the writing more clear and focused.
  7. Rearrange/Reverse (R) – Consider if reordering or reversing elements of the composition could make it more interesting or impactful. This could involve presenting events in a non-chronological order or turning an argument on its head to provide a fresh perspective.

By applying the SCAMPER method to their initial ideas or drafts, students can explore a wide range of possibilities and potentially uncover creative and innovative angles for their compositions. By practicing this method regularly, students can develop their problem-solving and critical thinking skills, which are invaluable not just for the PSLE English Language Examinations, but for their overall academic journey.

Each of these methods provides a different way to look at an idea or topic, encouraging creative thinking and a fresh perspective, which is essential for composition writing in the PSLE English Language Examinations.

  1. The 5 Ws and 1 H Technique

The 5 Ws and 1 H technique involves asking questions based on Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. This method can help students flesh out their ideas and deepen their understanding of the topic.

here’s the “5 Ws and 1 H” technique represented in a table format:

LetterQuestionApplication in Composition Writing
WWho?Identify the characters involved in the story or argument
WWhat?Describe what is happening or what the main event or issue is
WWhen?Establish the time frame in which the events are taking place
WWhere?Set the location or context of the events
WWhy?Explain the reasons behind the events or actions of the characters
HHow?Describe the process or manner in which the events take place

The “5 Ws and 1 H” technique can be a powerful tool for students preparing for the PSLE English Composition section. By interrogating their initial ideas using these questions, students can deepen their understanding of the topic and generate a richer, more nuanced piece of writing. Here’s how each question can be applied:

  1. Who? – This question prompts the identification of the characters involved in the narrative or discussion. In a narrative composition, characters are the heart of the story. A clear understanding of who the characters are, their motivations, and their relationships with each other, can give depth to the story. In an argumentative or expository essay, ‘who’ might refer to the people or groups involved in or affected by the issue under discussion.
  2. What? – ‘What’ can refer to the main event, issue, or subject of the composition. This question helps students focus on the core of their narrative or argument. ‘What’ happens is the essence of the plot in a narrative composition, while in an argumentative or expository piece, it forms the main topic or issue under discussion.
  3. When? – This question helps establish the timeframe of the narrative or discussion. Whether the events are taking place in the past, present, or future can significantly impact the story or discussion. ‘When’ also refers to sequencing the events or arguments correctly in the composition, which is essential for clarity and coherence.
  4. Where? – The ‘where’ sets the stage for the narrative or discussion. It can be a physical location, like a house or a city, or a more abstract setting, like a particular situation or condition. The setting can greatly influence the mood and direction of the narrative or discussion, and detailed description of ‘where’ events are happening can make the writing more vivid and engaging.
  5. Why? – This question delves into motivations and reasons. In a narrative, understanding ‘why’ characters behave as they do can make them more realistic and relatable. In an argumentative or expository piece, ‘why’ refers to the reasons or rationale behind the argument or issue, and answering this question helps in building a persuasive discussion.
  6. How? – ‘How’ relates to the processes and methods in the narrative or discussion. In a narrative composition, it could mean describing how events unfold or how characters tackle challenges. In an argumentative or expository piece, ‘how’ might refer to explaining the process or mechanism behind an issue or argument.

By using the “5 Ws and 1 H” technique, students can examine their initial ideas from multiple angles, leading to a more well-rounded and comprehensive composition. Not only does it help in the generation of ideas, but also in the organization and structuring of the essay, making it a valuable tool for PSLE English Composition writing.

  1. The Six Thinking Hats

The Six Thinking Hats technique, developed by Edward de Bono, involves viewing the topic from six different perspectives, represented by six colored ‘hats.’ These are: White (facts), Red (feelings), Black (cautions), Yellow (benefits), Green (creativity), and Blue (process). This technique helps in considering all aspects of the topic, leading to a more well-rounded composition.

Here’s a quick version of the Six Hats technique:

HatDescriptionApplication in Composition Writing
White HatThis hat represents facts and information. When wearing this hat, students focus on the information they have and what they can learn about the topic.Students can use this to lay out the factual details of their composition such as setting, characters, and events.
Red HatThis hat represents emotions and feelings. Wearing this hat, students explore the emotional side of the topic.This can be used to explore the emotions of their characters or to decide on the emotional tone of their composition.
Black HatThe black hat is for cautious and critical thinking. It helps students to consider potential problems and risks.Students can use this to introduce conflict in their stories or to critically examine their plot for any potential issues.
Yellow HatThis hat represents positivity and optimism. It helps students to look for opportunities and benefits.This can be used to create a positive resolution for their story or to highlight the benefits of a character’s actions.
Green HatThe green hat stands for creativity and new ideas. It encourages students to think outside the box.Students can use this to come up with creative plot twists or original characters.
Blue HatThis hat represents the process itself. Wearing the blue hat, students reflect on their thinking process and ensure that all other hats are used appropriately.This can be used to overview the composition as a whole, making sure all elements of the story work coherently together.

The Role of Technology in Brainstorming

In today’s digital age, there are numerous online tools available that can facilitate the brainstorming process. Applications like, MindMeister, or even simple digital sticky notes, offer intuitive platforms for students to map out their ideas visually.

Parents’ Role in Facilitating Brainstorming

Parents can play an essential role in fostering an environment conducive to brainstorming. This can involve setting aside dedicated brainstorming sessions, providing constructive feedback, and ensuring a judgement-free space where the child feels safe to express their ideas.

The Journey to PSLE English Language Examinations

Brainstorming is a crucial part of the composition writing process and mastering it can be a significant advantage in the PSLE English Language Examinations. By employing effective brainstorming techniques and consistently practicing them, students can enhance their creative thinking skills and produce engaging, well-structured compositions. It is not just about acing the examinations but also about nurturing a lifelong skill that will serve them well beyond their academic years.


To sum up, brainstorming, when done effectively, can be an empowering tool that transforms the daunting task of composition writing into an enjoyable process of exploration and creativity. It’s all about encouraging students to think outside the box, letting their imagination soar, and guiding them on the journey of crafting a compelling story or argument.

Click here for the sister article:

%d bloggers like this: