2019 PSLE English Composition Question - Breaking it Down in Terms of Pictures & Plot

Updated: Dec 19, 2019

Write a composition of at least 150 words about a celebration.

Your composition should be based on one or more of these pictures.


In this article, we focus on an oft-neglected, but important, stage of composition writing - PLANNING. Specifically, we will go into the nuts and bolts of how picture selection affects the plot (and hence, the relevance of the story with respect to the question).


Now, if you were writing this composition,

  • which picture would you choose to use?

  • what would your plot be like?

  • at which part of your story would the picture be featured?


Let’s go through the thinking processes a writer must undertake when breaking down and planning for this composition.

Step One: Understand the topic/theme

What does the word celebration mean?

Definition: the activity of doing special, enjoyable things for an important occasion, achievement, etc.

With this definition in mind, the writer must ensure that the story centres around a momentous, happy, joyous occasion.


Step Two: Choose your picture(s)

Before choosing your picture, make sure you have studied each one carefully.

Let’s think about what each picture is about and examine how easy or difficult it is to relate it to the topic or theme. We do this by asking ourselves pertinent questions about how each picture might fit into a story.


People dancing












  • Dancing is an act of celebration

  • Who are the people dancing?

  • Were they the only ones dancing?

  • The cause for celebration is not apparent in the picture (the writer will have to come up with the cause)


Couple holding a baby















  • The cause of celebration is apparent – the birth of a baby

  • How are the adults related to the baby? (Parents? Friends? Relatives?)

  • How was the celebration done?

  • Were there other people involved in the celebration?

Invitation card












  • What was event described in the invitation card?

  • Who sent the invitation card?

  • Who was the recipient of the invitation card?

  • How did the recipient respond to the invitation?


Step Three: Plan your composition

Using more than one picture does not guarantee a higher mark, so the easiest option is to simply pick one picture and focus on building a story around that picture.

However, for the sake of flexing your creative muscles, let’s map out and brainstorm possible plots using the four-part story structure (comprising INTRODUCTION-RISING ACTION-CLIMAX-CONCLUSION) based on various picture combinations.


Chosen picture: People dancing


Chosen picture: Couple holding a baby


Chosen picture: Invitation card


Chosen picture: People dancing + Invitation card

Chosen picture: Couple holding a baby + Invitation card

Poor combinations we should probably avoid:

(a) People dancing + Couple holding a baby

(b) People dancing + Couple holding a baby + Invitation card

Why? It's hard to imagine people dancing to celebrate the birth of a baby, is it not?!














Step Four: Write your composition

While we should be as descriptive in our writing as we can throughout our composition, we need to pay particular attention to

(a) making sure that the keywords used in the question are repeated in one form or another in the composition. Typically, it makes the most sense to do this at the introduction and/or conclusion of the story.

(b) describing the chosen picture(s) in sufficient detail. As a rule of thumb, dedicate at least three sentences in your story to describe the picture in order to show the role it plays in the plot of your story.



In our teachers' experience, helping students get their plots sorted and making sure they are relevant before students start writing is the quickest way of boosting scores that hover around the mid-20s. A coherent and relevant story can be expected to earn the writer at least 15 marks (out of a maximum of 20) under Content and Organisation.


If you have found this planning framework useful, click the like and share buttons below and we will publish a suggested response for this composition question!


To train your children to Think Before They Write and see an improvement in their composition scores, sign up for our The Thinking Writer composition writing classes. We'll show them how they can put their own stamp of creativity on their compositions and enjoy writing in the process.


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