5 most common PSLE Science mistakes (and how to avoid them)

When it comes to picking the best tips and tricks for PSLE Science examination, there's no better way to do it than the "science-y" way.

Leaning on the collective wisdom of parents who went before us, learning from the mistakes of other students, and heeding the advice of teachers who’ve seen it all.

We’ve put together the 5 most common must-know mistakes that’ll take your child from a mere passing grade to a soaring A!

#1 Not reading the questions carefully

 Booklet   Question Type   No. of Questions   No. of Marks Per Question   Marks 
A Multiple Choice Questions 28 2 56
B Open-Ended Questions 12 to 13 2 to 5 44

With just 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete booklet A and B, it’s important to keep an eye on the clock.

As a general rule, we recommend spending no more than 45 minutes on Booklet A, which is made up of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs). That would give your child ample time to complete Booklet B, which is made up of Open-ended questions that require more critical thinking.

However, that doesn’t mean they should rush through the MCQ section like a 100-meter dash. Among the 28 MCQs are a few sly questions looking to trip your child up with tricky wordplay - so beware!

One misread word. One overlooked comma. And the low-hanging fruit that’s MCQs can easily slip through their fingers. To avoid this (totally) preventable error, encourage your child to read the questions twice before attempting to answer. This will help them avoid this costly mistake.

Once your child has decided on an answer, have them take a close look at the rest of the options. They should be assured that every other option is incorrect. Once they’ve done so, they can move on to the next question with the confidence that they’ve double-checked their work.

To make careful reading a habit, make re-reading questions a regular practice in your study sessions so that it becomes second nature.

#2 Applying the wrong concept

It’s no secret that the infamous PSLE Maths paper is riddled with tricky questions designed to point you in ten different directions. That said, the PSLE Science paper is no walk in the park either.

Each question in the PSLE Science paper is handpicked to test your child’s understanding of a specific concept. And here’s where it gets tricky.

Take for example the question below.

Which of the options below are essential properties of the material used to make the lens of sunglasses?

a) Durability

b) Allows light to pass through

c) Water-resistant

While the answer may be obvious upon careful reading, many students actually picked A and C! That’s because they’ve been taught that sunglasses are designed to block sunlight. However, the lens is only built to block out most of the sunlight. As blocking out all the light would leave the wearer groping in the dark.

It’s little twists like this that make the Science paper incredibly tricky. 

#3 Providing superficial answers with missing keywords

When it comes to Open-ended questions, Science paper in particular, it’s paramount that your child provides answers that showcase their knowledge of the different topics. 

Superficial answers that don’t demonstrate their understanding of a topic are the surest way to get their marks deducted. And here’s why.

Science is a very descriptive subject. And every topic consists of specific terms and definitions students must know and use during examinations.

Hence, whenever your child answers a question in a superficial manner, they’re likely to leave out keywords, terms, and concepts; concepts examiners are on the lookout for in order to award them the marks they deserve!

Therefore, it’s important that your child gets sufficient practice so that they're familiar with crafting complete answers. For only by answering in ways that demonstrate their grasp of a concept, through the usage of the right terms, will they secure every mark possible.

#4 Not taking advantage of template answers

To be clear.

When it comes to PSLE Science, filling the blanks with template answers is never sufficient. 

While some educators encourage the use of template answers, others deem them as the greatest of all sins.

Some believe template answers provide the bedrock for more in-depth explanation, while others deem template answers as simply regurgitating facts that rob students of their ability to apply scientific knowledge to the exam questions.

That said, we believe that when used correctly, template answers can be a great tool that saves time and reduces the chances of your child providing incomplete answers.

Here are a few more reasons why template answers are not the enemy

  • Template answers help students to include important keywords in their answers
  • Reduces the chances of blanking out as they provide students with a structure which they can adapt and tweak based on the context of the question
  • Prevent the mistake of using terms interchangeably, like hair instead of fur
  • Saves precious time that can be spent on double-checking their work

#5 Leaving questions blank

We’ve all been there - staring down at a question to which we have no answer.

Be it in school or at work, the feeling of discouragement can often leave us wanting to throw in the towel. In a bid to save ourselves from further disappointment, we can be tempted to take the easy way out.

However, leaving an Open-ended question blank is never the answer!

Writing something is always better than writing nothing.

Something gives the examiner material to work with, to hold, to squeeze a few marks out of remotely relevant sentences.

Take it from Wayne Gretzky; superstar athlete who scored 50 goals in the first 39 games during his second year in the National Hockey League.

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” - Wayne Gretzky

That said, here are a few strategies you can use to better prepare your child in the days leading up to the PSLE Science paper.

Start preparation early

There are only a handful of challenges in the world more daunting than public speaking. However, ask any seasoned presenter and they’ll swear that the antidote to anxiety is practice, practice, and more practice.

Having a good grasp of the content, be it public speaking or PSLE, greatly reduces the level of stress and chances of blanking out. Therefore, be sure to encourage your child to start early so that they have ample time to familiarise themselves with the examinable topics.

Harness the power of associative memory

Have your child eat a specific flavour of candy when studying for a particularly challenging topic. When faced with questions of that topic during exams, have them pop in the same candy to jolt their memory. You'll be surprised how a simple trick like this can open the floodgate of associated memories.

Skip and revisit

Take a deep breath, have a sip of water, and move on to the next question. This helps your child to regain confidence and composure as they attempt questions that they’re able to answer. After completing the rest of the paper, they can then revisit the tough questions and devote all their efforts to tackling them. 


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