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PSLE Science: Mastering question types and answering techniques

PSLE Science: Mastering question types and answering techniques

If your child is aiming for an AL1 score in PSLE Science, it's important to know that the exam includes different types of questions. Remember: Knowing the subject well is not enough for getting that high grade – your child needs to master the specific techniques for answering these questions. 

So, in this article, we'll walk you through the various question types your child will face in the PSLE Science paper, and we'll share the best ways to tackle each of them.

Open-ended question types and how to answer them

Question type 1: 'Aim' questions

The 'Aim' questions are generally seen in questions about an experiment. This question is commonly presented in this way:

"What is the aim of the experiment?"

Answering technique

In this scenario, students should pinpoint and emphasise two specific types of variables mentioned in the question: the CV (Changed Variable) and the RV (Result Variable). 

The CV refers to the variable intentionally altered, while the RV is the one that produces the results observed at the investigation's conclusion. All other variables in the experiment should stay consistent. Crafting the 'aim' statement follows a structure like this: '

To find out if affects '.

Question type 2: 'Explain' questions

In the case of an 'Explain' type question, you'll often find the word 'explain' or the phrase 'give a reason' within the question.

Answering technique

To answer 'Explain' questions, students should identify the EVIDENCES (E) in the experiment and link these with the scientific CONCEPT (C) shown by the experiment. 

It's important to help your child understand the value of finding both the evidence and the concept. Often, students lose marks because their explanation overlooks either the required evidence or the concept.

Question type 3: Fair test questions

The fair test questions, as the name suggests, test the student's understanding of a fair experiment. 

An example of this type of question would be:

"Which of the variables mentioned in the question must be kept constant in this experiment to ensure a fair test?"

In some instances, a fair test would be implied, like in the case where a student is asked why a particular action was taken at the start of the experiment.

Answering technique
In order to answer this question, students must remember that for any experiment to be 'fair', there can only be one changed variable. All other variables must be kept the same. This thought should always be at the back of your child's mind when attempting to answer a fair test question.
So, when it comes to answering a fair test question, a student needs to read the question carefully and identify the following:
- Changed variable 
- What is being observed
- Other variables that affect the experiment (these are the variables that will be constant).
And the answer should follow this structure,
For a fair test, there can only be one changed variable, which is <changed variable>. This is to ensure that <what is being observed>  is affected only by the  and not .

How to answer Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) 

Elimination strategy

Step 1: Read and understand the question

Before anything else, carefully read the question and make sure you fully understand what it's asking. This initial step ensures you're on the right track and helps prevent misinterpretations.

Step 2: Study the diagram (if any)

If the question includes a diagram or visual aid, take the time to examine it closely. The diagram often contains valuable information that can guide your understanding and response.

Step 3: Look out for keywords and highlight them

Identify key terms or phrases within the question. By highlighting, underlining, or circling these keywords, you create a visual emphasis on what aspects are most crucial to address in your answer.

Step 4: Identify the topic which is being tested

Determine the main subject or topic that the question is testing your knowledge on. This helps you narrow down the scope of your answer and focus your thoughts.

Step 5: Recall the related concepts and write them down

Recall the concepts or ideas related to the topic of the question. Write these down to organise your thoughts and ensure you cover all relevant aspects.

Step 6: Link the concepts to the question

Establish connections between the concepts you've recalled and the specific details mentioned in the question. This step aligns your knowledge with the question's requirements.

Step 7: Eliminate the incorrect options and choose the best answer

If the question is multiple-choice, carefully review the provided options. Rule out any options that are clearly incorrect based on your understanding and analysis. Choose the option that aligns most accurately with your understanding of the topic and the question.

By following these subheadings and explanations, you'll have a structured approach to effectively tackle questions and provide well-rounded responses.

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