Does your child find it difficult keeping to the given topic for compositions? Is he or she constantly plagued by the worry of not writing enough to make apparent the topic of the composition ?

To score good grades for PSLE composition, students must write sufficient content that is relevant to the given topic.

In a composition question, students are given three pictures. They can be of a person(s) object(s), setting or scenario. While there is typically some way to weave two or even three of the pictures into a relevant and coherent story, students are not obligated to do so as the marking rubric does not reward the use of more pictures.

Here are several guidelines to ensure that a story is relevant based on the selected picture(s). They may sound like common sense, but that is one thing that unfortunately forsakes the less stoic students under the duress of examination conditions… Therefore, reminders such as these are useful!

PSLE Compositions

Part 1: It’s all Connected

1. If the picture depicts an object/setting, make that object/setting key to your plot.

Featuring the object/setting prominently in the climax of the story is one way ensuring that it plays a key role in the plot.


Topic: A Secret


PSLE Compositions

Relevant Plot: A student finds the key to a padlock of the side gate in school and has been using it to enter and leave the school undetected.

2. If the picture depicts a person or persons doing something,

(a) make that person or persons the main character(s) of your story

(b) the action being performed should be the main task he/she has to accomplish

To bring the characters to life, the characters’ appearance, feelings, actions, and thoughts should be adequately described. The character should also play an active role in the storyline and the task to be accomplished should be adequately challenging.


Topic: A Challenge


PSLE Compositions

Relevant Plot: A girl takes part in the national cycling competition and has to defeat strong contenders to win the championship.

Part 2: It’s Complicated

To hook readers, your story should have complications. Complications arouse the curiosity of readers whether or how the complications eventually get resolved. A well-conceived complication motivates readers to read on till the last word of the story.

Can a PSLE composition do without a ‘complication’ in its plot? Well, actually yes…

The 2019 PSLE composition question is a good example where a ‘complication’ might not be necessary for the story.

2019 PSLE Continuous Writing question

Topic: A Celebration


PSLE Compositions

This particular topic and set of pictures do not lend themselves well to having a ‘complication’ into the plot. (Click here for a detailed analysis of this composition question.)

That said, for most PSLE composition questions, having a relevant ‘complication’ in the story is usually a good idea as it serves to drive the narrative.

Part 3: The Plot Thickens

Coming up with a relevant and coherent plot based on the given topic and chosen picture(s) is no mean feat, especially under examination time pressure.

One strategy you can employ is to tweak stories you have written before to fit the topic and picture(s). That way, you not only save the time required to come up with a fresh plot, but you will be able to make use of the good descriptions you have used in your previous composition.

Here are some examples of how some topics could be grouped together under a broader topic and possibly share a similar plot.

PSLE Compositions

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Need help in boosting your child’s composition scores?

Sign up for The Thinking Writer or English programmes, where we teach students to think before they write! Our experienced English teachers will show them how they can put their own stamp of creativity on their compositions while enjoying the writing process.


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