Providing Constructive Feedback: A Key to Better PSLE English Composition


The PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) English Language Examinations are a significant milestone in a child’s educational journey in Singapore. They serve as a gateway to secondary education, thus making them a source of anxiety for both parents and students. Among the various components of the PSLE English Language Examinations, the English Composition section often poses a considerable challenge for many students. This section tests a child’s ability to express thoughts and ideas effectively, requiring not just a good command over language but also creativity and critical thinking. This article aims to equip parents with strategies to provide constructive feedback to their children, thereby enhancing their performance in the PSLE English Composition section.

Understanding the PSLE English Composition Section:

The PSLE English Composition section falls under Paper 1 of the PSLE English Language Examinations. It requires students to write a composition of about 150 words based on a given theme, using one or several pictures as a stimulus. The composition is assessed on content, language, and organization. It’s not just about writing grammatically correct sentences; students need to craft a compelling narrative, use a rich vocabulary, and structure their composition logically.

  1. The Role of Constructive Feedback:

When it comes to improving a child’s writing skills, constructive feedback plays a crucial role. It not only highlights areas of improvement but also reinforces what the child is doing right. Constructive feedback should be specific, balanced, and actionable, focusing on the work rather than the child. It should motivate the child to improve their writing, rather than discouraging them.

  1. How to Provide Constructive Feedback:

Here are some strategies for parents to provide effective feedback:

  • Be Specific: Instead of making generic comments like “good job” or “needs improvement”, pinpoint specific areas. For instance, you could say, “I like how you used descriptive language in this paragraph” or “Try to avoid using the same word repeatedly”.
  • Focus on Strengths and Weaknesses: While it’s important to highlight areas of improvement, don’t forget to acknowledge what your child is doing right. This can boost their confidence and motivation.
  • Provide Actionable Suggestions: Make your feedback actionable. If your child is struggling with sentence structure, suggest strategies to improve, such as reading more or practicing specific exercises.
  • Encourage Self-Review: Teach your child to review their work critically. This can help them become more self-aware and independent in their learning.
  • Make it a Dialogue: Instead of a one-way communication, make feedback a two-way dialogue. Ask your child’s opinion about their work and listen to their ideas. This can make them feel more involved in the learning process.
  1. Leveraging Resources for Better Composition Writing:

Various resources can help parents provide more effective feedback. One such resource is the PSLE English Composition marking scheme, which provides detailed criteria on how compositions are assessed. Familiarize yourself with this scheme to align your feedback with what is expected in the examination.

  1. Fostering a Growth Mindset through Feedback:

Your feedback can shape your child’s mindset towards learning. A growth mindset, the belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work, is particularly beneficial. When giving feedback, emphasize the process and effort rather than just the outcome. For instance, instead of saying, “You’re a natural writer,” say, “Your hard work is really showing in your writing.”

  1. Regular Practice and Consistent Feedback:

Writing is a skill that improves with practice. Encourage your child to write regularly, and provide consistent feedback. This could be daily journaling, writing stories, or even letter writing. The key is to make writing a habit and feedback a regular part of this process.

  1. Feedback Beyond Writing:

While the focus here is on writing, remember that language skills are interrelated. Feedback on reading, speaking, and listening can indirectly improve writing skills. Discuss the books your child is reading, correct their pronunciation when speaking, and ask questions about the content when they are listening to something in English.

  1. Coping with Resistance to Feedback:

Not all children readily accept feedback. Some may resist or react negatively. In such cases, it’s crucial to remain patient and understanding. Explain that everyone has areas to improve, and feedback is a tool to help them become better. Reinforce the idea that making mistakes is part of learning.


The PSLE English Composition section is more than just a test of writing. It’s a platform for children to express their creativity, critical thinking, and linguistic prowess. As parents, your role in guiding them in this journey is invaluable. By providing constructive feedback, you can help your child enhance their writing skills, boost their confidence, and foster a love for writing. Remember, the goal is not just to excel in the PSLE English Language Examinations but to equip your child with skills that will serve them beyond the examination hall. With understanding, patience, and consistent effort, you can make a significant difference in your child’s journey of mastering English Composition.

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