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15 Common mistakes to avoid in PSLE English composition writing

15 Common mistakes to avoid in PSLE English composition writing

Writing a PSLE English composition can be an intimidating experience. Many students might feel unprepared or uncertain of what is required of them. 

To help with the process, here are 14 common mistakes to avoid when writing your PSLE English composition:

1. Not planning ahead

Not planning ahead can lead to disorganised and unclear writing. When you don't plan your composition, you might jump from one idea to another without a logical flow, making it hard for your readers to follow your thoughts. Planning helps you structure your composition, decide on your main points, and arrange them in a coherent order. It also allows you to gather relevant evidence and examples to support your ideas. So, not planning ahead can result in a messy and less effective composition.

2. Not answering the question

Avoiding the question is a common occurrence, and it's crucial to remain focused on the topic provided in the question. For instance, if you're asked to 'write about your favourite animal,' ensure you begin by stating which animal holds that special place in your heart. Sometimes, students can become distracted by their thoughts, leading them off the intended path. In the example mentioned earlier, many children might delve into details about dogs, their dietary habits, and their behaviour but forget to mention that dogs are their favourite animals. It's essential to always keep in mind that addressing the question directly in your composition is key to earning a good grade.

3. Not focusing on the topic

Sometimes students get so lost in the story, that they forget to focus on what's asked of them. For example: If they are writing about an embarrassing incident, they focus more on the incident than the feeling of embarrassment. To avoid this situation, it's best to underline the keywords and plan the composition around them. 

How do you identify the keyword? Well... in our example, you're not being asked to talk about just any random event that occurred; your task is to specifically write about an embarrassing incident. So, it's crucial to understand that the most important part of this topic is discussing the feelings of embarrassment rather than just recounting the incident itself. On the other hand, if the topic were about describing an event, then your main focus should be on explaining the details of the event, and not so much on the feelings associated with it.

4. Using too many clichés

Using clichés in writing can be detrimental to your composition. While clichés can sometimes make your writing more vivid, they often prevent readers from understanding the real message of the composition and can come across as lazy or unimaginative. Instead, focus on describing the subject matter in a unique and creative way that grabs the reader's attention and encourages them to keep reading. Take time to search for new ways to express your ideas instead of relying on clichés, as this can help you craft a composition that stands out from those of other writers.

Let's look at two sentences. One with clichés and one without.

Sentence with clichés:

"John's heart was as cold as ice when he found out he didn't get the job. He felt like his dreams had gone up in smoke."

Revised sentence without clichés:

"When John learned he didn't get the job, a wave of disappointment washed over him. It seemed like his dreams had shattered."

As you can see, the sentence without clichés is better because it uses more original and descriptive language to convey the same message. Let's break it down:

  • Sentence with clichés: In this sentence, the phrases "heart as cold as ice" and "dreams gone up in smoke" are clichés. These expressions are overly familiar and don't provide a vivid or unique picture of John's emotions. They are often used and may not resonate as strongly with readers.
  • Revised sentence without clichés: In this sentence, we use expressions like "a wave of disappointment washed over him" and "dreams had shattered." These phrases are more descriptive and specific. They create a clearer and more engaging image in the reader's mind. The use of "a wave of disappointment" suggests a sudden and powerful emotion, while "dreams had shattered" conveys a sense of broken hopes.

Overall, the sentences that avoid clichés and use language that is more evocative, allow the reader to better connect with what a character is feelinging and experiencing. It makes the writing more original and engaging. 

5. Using fancy unfamiliar words or phrases in the wrong context

When writing essays, it's important to remember that using long and unfamiliar words without understanding their meaning can be detrimental. While memorising vocabulary is a great way to expand your linguistic abilities, care must be taken when inserting these words into your compositions. It may seem impressive to a reader if you throw in an unknown idiom here or there, but if you don’t understand it or use it properly, it can disrupt the flow of your work and leave the reader confused. To really make an impression on your readers, be sure to use words correctly and only when you are certain that they fit in with the context of your composition.

6. Relying too much on grammar rules

Grammar is important when it comes to writing compositions and it should be taken into consideration; however, don’t forget that content matters as well! Make sure that your sentences are clear and concise and convey your message effectively - which is guided by grammar rules yet not dependent upon it entirely.

7. Using superfluous jargon

While it may be tempting to impress the reader with your knowledge, using too many obscure words can make your composition difficult to read and understand. Stick to language that is simple and straightforward but still appropriate for the topic.

8. Writing overly long sentences

Using overly long sentences can have a negative effect on your composition. Such sentences can be hard to read and understand, as they often contain many clauses and obscure language. Additionally, using too many words in one sentence can make it difficult for the reader to keep track of the overall argument or idea being presented. As such, it is important to limit yourself to short, concise sentences that convey your ideas clearly and succinctly. Doing so will ensure your composition stays clear, readable, and on point.

9. Jumping from one sentence to another without proper connectors

To ensure your composition is cohesive and well-structured, it's important to use proper connectors such as "therefore," "however," or "in addition." This allows you to jump from one sentence to another in a logical manner without losing the flow of your writing. It also helps the reader follow along more easily, allowing them to understand the full context of the essay. Connectors are a great way to tie together your thoughts and make sure your writing is both structured and meaningful.

10. Not proofreading

Proofreading is an important part of writing any composition as it helps you make sure that you have conveyed your message accurately and effectively. Take the time to read through your work, including checking for typos and grammatical errors. This will help ensure that you are putting your best foot forward when writing a composition.

11. Off-topic tangents

While it is important to provide relevant background information and context to support the main point of your composition, it is important to stay focused on the main topic. Going off on a tangent can cause your composition to become confusing and lose its focus. Avoid getting sidetracked by following your outline and staying within the scope of the subject matter.

12. Extremely quick resolution of problem or conflict

Another issue to watch out for is resolving the problem or conflict in the composition too quickly without providing an adequate explanation. This can leave readers feeling unsatisfied and make it seem as if your essay lacks depth. To avoid this, make sure you provide a thorough analysis of how the problem was solved and why that particular solution was chosen. Consider including any possible alternatives and their consequences, as this can further demonstrate your understanding of the topic and create a more compelling argument. Additionally, taking the time to flesh out the details of how the problem was resolved allows you to better develop characters and maintain reader engagement. Focusing on these elements will help ensure that all readers are satisfied with the resolution presented in your essay.

13. Adding too many dialogues

A fantastic dialogue can bring the story to life, but if there's too much unnecessary talking, it can make the writing feel rough. Instead, you can show what's happening or tell readers what the characters did. This skill is called "show, don't tell," and it's a great way to enhance your writing. We've written more about how to use the "show, don't tell" technique in our article here.

14. Ignoring the audience

It is important to consider who you are writing for when crafting any type of composition as this will affect the content, tone, and style. Failing to consider your audience can cause them to become disengaged or lose interest in your work. Keep in mind who you are writing for when constructing your composition.

15. Not concluding the composition properly

A conclusion is a crucial part of any composition; it ties everything together and wraps up the piece. Without a proper conclusion, readers may be left feeling confused and frustrated. Always remember to provide a resolution to your story or a proper summary of the main points in order to ensure that readers take away something from the composition. A conclusion should include something memorable that will stay with your audience long after they finish reading.

In conclusion, it is important to remember the importance of considering the reader when crafting any composition. As such, it is essential to focus on techniques such as “show don’t tell” and consider who will be reading the work in order for it to have any sort of impact. By following these tips, readers can be sure that their writing will draw in and engage their audience. 

Discover your child's PSLE composition grade with our essay composition grader. Just upload the composition for instant scores and valuable feedback. Give it a Try!

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