PSLE composition exam series (Part 4) – What to write for a PSLE English composition topic

PSLE English composition topic

To excel in the PSLE composition exam, it is necessary to fully comprehend the PSLE English composition topic and know what should be written and what should best be avoided.

In this post, we will be examining a PSLE English composition topic from a past year school exam for the possible storylines as well as the exam considerations for each storyline.

Let’s examine the title and three pictures for the topic.

Analysis of PSLE English composition topic

PSLE English composition topic title : Getting into trouble

Picture 1
Picture 2

PSLE English composition topic – Examining the title

Firstly , writing a story according to the title is the most important requirement of the PSLE composition exam.  To meet this requirement, understanding the title is the first step in the PSLE composition exam.

In our previous post, we explained the types of titles and which are considered indirect and direct titles. The title “Getting into trouble” is considered an indirect title as the moral or life lesson is not clearly shown in the title.

In addition, the title is a negative title which can be considered relatively deceptive. In other words, most pupils assume that they are only required to write a story focusing on the misdeed. In this instance, most pupils will assume that the story should only focus on writing on the how main character got into some form of trouble.

Most importantly, pupils should note that to score an excellent mark for topics with negative titles, it is crucial to turn the negative incident into a positive outcome.

In summary, for this particular PSLE English composition topic, pupils will need to :

  1. Brainstorm and decide on a moral or life lesson
  2. Brainstorm for a negative incident which leads to a positive outcome

Let’s look at the first picture:

Picture evaluation

Using this picture, pupils commonly write about about a simple task which the main character forgot to do hence putting the main character in trouble with his mother or teacher.

Pupils must note that writing a story about forgetting a simple task results in a storyline which is very difficult to further expand. As such, pupils will find it challenging to write a story of significant length. Furthermore, such a storyline does not create meaningful content . Even if the pupil manages to extend the story, the content marks will still be mediocre as the storyline is considered a simple one.

Suggested story structure

Conflict – I forgot that there was an important test.

Additional Complication– I cheated in the test.

Solution – I was caught and punished by my teacher. From then on, I learnt to be responsible and made every effort to be serious in my studies.

It is common for most pupils to end the story upon getting caught by the teacher for cheating and conclude with the moral of honesty. An important point to note is that such a storyline only briefly touches on the value of honesty. Consequently, the storyline is not particularly meaningful. This will then result in a mediocre mark for the content section.

As such, our recommendation is to further develop the storyline to show and emphasize the positive outcome with the following content- From then on, I learnt to be responsible and made every effort to be serious in my studies.

In addition, there should be a last paragraph on the change of attitude in the main character. With this further expansion of the storyline, the moral lesson of responsibility is clear to the reader.

Let’s move onto the second picture:

Picture 2

Evaluation of Picture 2

The second picture clearly shows a teacher scolding a boy. It is extremely common that most pupils would write of the main character getting into trouble for doing something he should not have done. For example, the main character cheated or fought in school.

Although such a storyline is not out of point, the storyline is not a particularly meaningful one either. Consequently, the content marks for such a storyline will be rather average.

Suggested story structure for Picture 2

Conflict – My classmate was bullied in school.

Additional Complication – I stood up for him. I got into a fight with the bully. My teacher broke up the fight.

Solution – My classmate clarified with the teacher. My teacher counselled me on how I should think before I act.

Bearing in mind that the story should have a positive outcome, it is essential to further develop the storyline. To do so, the storyline can be about the main character doing something bad while trying to do good.

This will be a much more meaningful storyline than the common one of the main character doing something bad. With such a development of the storyline, the life lesson of acting with good intentions can serve as the focus of the story.

Now for the last picture,

Picture 3

Evaluation of Picture 3

With this picture, it is most common that pupils write of stealing a phone or not returning a phone which the main character found. However such a storyline is likely to result in a lack of moral or life lesson.

In other words, pupils will find it challenging to write a strong conclusion for the story. To more effectively make use of this picture in a story, pupils should think of how the use of the phone could possibly lead to a certain mishap.

Suggested story structure for Picture 3

Conflict – I was using my mobile phone while I was on my bicycle.

Additional Complication– I rammed into a toddler.

Solution – I was lectured by the toddler’s parent.


Picture 1
Picture 2
Picture 3

The most preferred storyline is based on Picture 2 as the suggested storyline provides an extremely meaningful life lesson.

It is also possible to write a meaningful story based on Picture 1. To emphasize on the moral lesson of responsibility, pupils should note that it is extremely important to further develop the storyline

Join us for our Primary 5 and PSLE composition writing classes where we cover all the writing skills and exam techniques to excel in the composition exam.

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