What are some methods for effective brainstorming for PSLE English Composition?

The Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) English Composition section in Singapore requires students to produce a well-thought-out and coherent composition within a given time frame. A critical part of this process involves brainstorming – the generation of ideas, examples, and details that will help shape the narrative or argument. Brainstorming can be both exhilarating and challenging. But how can your child engage in effective brainstorming for their PSLE English Composition? This article aims to provide insightful methods to guide you.

Understand the Value of Brainstorming:

The first step to effective brainstorming is to understand its importance. Brainstorming is the process of generating and organizing ideas. It allows your child to explore various perspectives and angles on a given topic, thereby encouraging creativity and critical thinking. Furthermore, effective brainstorming can provide a solid foundation for the composition, making the actual writing process smoother and more organized.

Free Writing:

Free writing is an excellent method to kickstart the brainstorming process. Encourage your child to write freely for a set amount of time (say, 5 to 10 minutes) without worrying about grammar, punctuation, or coherence. The goal here is to let ideas flow freely and stimulate creative thinking.

Mind Mapping:

Mind mapping is another effective brainstorming technique. It involves creating a visual representation of thoughts and ideas, with a central concept in the middle and related ideas branching out from it. Mind mapping can help your child visualize the connections between ideas and identify the main points and supporting details for their composition.


Encourage your child to ask as many questions as possible about the given topic. Questions such as ‘Who?’, ‘What?’, ‘When?’, ‘Where?’, ‘Why?’, and ‘How?’ can help them explore the topic in depth and generate more ideas.

Group Discussion:

If possible, encourage group discussions with peers or family members. Group discussions can expose your child to different viewpoints, thereby broadening their perspective and generating more diverse ideas.

Methods to form a group discussion for PSLE English

Group FormationForm a small group with peers or family members. It can include classmates, friends, or siblings who are willing to discuss and share ideas.
Set the TopicThe topic should be aligned with potential PSLE English Composition themes. Ensure everyone understands the topic before starting the discussion.
Allocate RolesAssign roles to each participant, such as the facilitator who leads the discussion, and note-taker who records the main points.
Set GuidelinesEstablish rules for the discussion. For example, everyone gets an equal opportunity to speak, no idea is dismissed outright, and everyone should respect others’ opinions.
Begin the DiscussionStart the discussion with a prompt question related to the topic. Let participants share their thoughts, viewpoints, and ideas.
Encourage InteractionThe facilitator should encourage participants to respond to others’ ideas, ask questions, and build upon points already made.
Note-takingThe note-taker should record the key ideas and viewpoints presented during the discussion. These notes will be beneficial for the child’s brainstorming process.
Conclude the DiscussionWrap up the discussion by summarizing the main points and ideas that have been raised. Encourage participants to reflect on the discussion.
Review and ReflectAfter the discussion, the child should review the notes and reflect on the different viewpoints presented. This can help in generating diverse ideas for the composition.
Regular PracticeMake such group discussions a regular practice. This continuous engagement will enhance your child’s critical thinking and brainstorming skills over time.

Visual Stimulation:

Pictures, videos, or other visual stimuli related to the topic can trigger creative ideas. Ask your child to describe what they see and how it relates to the topic.

Think Outside the Box:

Encourage your child to think beyond the obvious and explore unconventional ideas. This can not only make their composition more interesting but also demonstrate their creativity and critical thinking skills.

Some famous methods of thinking out of the box methods:

Six Thinking HatsThis technique by Edward de Bono encourages different perspectives by assigning six “hats” of different colors, each representing a different type of thinking (facts, emotions, critical judgment, optimism, creativity, and process control).
SCAMPERThis stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, and Reverse. It encourages creative thinking by asking questions based on these seven actions.
Lateral ThinkingDeveloped by Edward de Bono, this technique encourages problem-solving through an indirect and creative approach, often viewing the problem in a new and unexpected light.
Mind MappingTony Buzan’s technique involves starting with a central idea and branching out with related sub-topics and points, stimulating creative connections between ideas.
The Five WhysA technique from the Toyota Production System, it involves asking “Why?” five times to get to the root of a problem and stimulate deep thinking.
SWOT AnalysisCommonly used in business contexts, this evaluates Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats to provide a comprehensive view of a situation, but can also be adapted for creative problem-solving.
Reverse BrainstormingThis involves identifying potential problems instead of solutions. By thinking about what could go wrong, unique solutions can be discovered.
Role StormingIn this technique, individuals brainstorm in character, taking on different roles or personas, which can lead to novel ideas and solutions.

Use a Brainstorming Worksheet:

Using a structured worksheet can help guide the brainstorming process. It can include sections for the main idea, supporting details, examples, and counterarguments.

Main IdeaThis is where the student should note down the central theme or point of their composition.“The Importance of Teamwork in Sports”
Supporting DetailsHere, the student should list down arguments or points that reinforce the main idea.1. “Teamwork leads to better performance” 2. “Teamwork teaches important life skills” 3. “Teamwork promotes friendship and understanding among players”
ExamplesThe student should provide specific examples or situations that demonstrate each supporting detail.1. “Our school’s soccer team won due to excellent coordination” 2. “I learned about leadership and cooperation by playing in a team” 3. “I made many friends by being part of the school’s basketball team”
CounterargumentsIf applicable, the student should note down any opposing views or arguments and how they might respond to them in their composition.“Some may argue that individual sports are more beneficial because they help build self-reliance. However, I believe that the social skills and cooperative mindset learned from team sports are equally important.”

Categorizing Ideas:

Once your child has a list of ideas, encourage them to categorize them based on their relevance and potential impact. This can help them identify the most compelling ideas to include in their composition.

The Categories of PSLE English Compositions and what to brainstorm

The Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) generally requires students to write narrative essays, where they craft a story based on a given theme or picture. However, it’s beneficial for students to also understand different genres of composition writing. These skills will not only help them in their further studies but can also enhance their overall writing competency. Here are some examples of how a structured worksheet can guide the brainstorming process for different genres:

Narrative Writing:

SettingThe student should describe the time and place of the story.“A bustling city park on a sunny Saturday morning”
CharactersThe student should list the main characters and their roles.“Sam – the protagonist, a young boy who loves nature”
PlotThe student should outline the sequence of events.“Sam finds a lost puppy in the park, goes on an adventure to find its owner”
ConflictThe student should identify the main problem or challenge.“Sam cannot find the puppy’s owner”
ResolutionThe student should detail how the conflict gets resolved.“With the help of his friends and park visitors, Sam finally locates the puppy’s owner”

Expository Writing:

Main IdeaThis is where the student should note down the central theme or point of their composition.“The Benefits of Reading Books”
Supporting DetailsHere, the student should list down arguments or points that reinforce the main idea.“1. Enhances vocabulary 2. Stimulates imagination 3. Improves concentration”
ExamplesThe student should provide specific examples or situations that demonstrate each supporting detail.“Studies show that children who read books have a more extensive vocabulary than those who do not”
ConclusionThe student should summarise the main points and conclude the composition effectively.“Given these benefits, everyone, especially students, should develop a habit of reading books”

Argumentative Writing:

Statement of PositionThe student should clearly state their position on a given issue.“Homework should be limited in primary schools”
ArgumentsThe student should list their reasons supporting their position.“1. Reduces stress 2. Encourages creative thinking 3. Allows more time for hobbies and relaxation”
EvidenceThe student should provide evidence, facts, or examples that back up each argument.“A study conducted by the University of Otago found that students who had less homework had higher levels of well-being”
CounterargumentsThe student should acknowledge opposing views and explain why they disagree.“While some argue that homework reinforces learning, excessive homework can lead to burnout and disinterest in learning”


Effective brainstorming involves understanding the value of brainstorming, employing techniques such as free writing, mind mapping, questioning, group discussions, visual stimulation, thinking outside the box, using a brainstorming worksheet, and categorizing ideas. The key is to let ideas flow freely and not to dismiss any idea as irrelevant or insignificant. By engaging in effective brainstorming, your child can generate a wealth of ideas that can serve as a strong foundation for their PSLE English Composition. Happy brainstorming!

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