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Master PSLE Situational Writing: 4 Steps to Better Scores

Master PSLE Situational Writing: 4 Steps to Better Scores

*All information is accurate as of 11 June 2024.

For students taking the English PSLE examination, finding the right approach to Situational Writing is often a tricky situation (yes, pun intended).

Due to the goal-directed nature of the assessment, students are often left scratching their heads, wondering how to best tackle the task set before them. To score well, students not only have to nail grammar and punctuation, but also tone, content, and the objective of the writing piece in its entirety. However, compared to the amount of work it takes for one to excel in Continuous Writing, ensuring that your child does well in Situational Writing is definitely worth the effort.

What is Situational Writing?

Situational writing is a component of the English Language paper in PSLE that tests students' ability to write for a specific purpose and audience. It typically involves responding to a given scenario, such as writing a letter, email, report, or note, based on a set of prompts and given information.

What examiners are looking for

In today's fast-paced world, effective communication is more important than ever. That's why it's important for students to learn how to convey their thoughts in a clear, concise, and compelling manner. So, in the Situational Writing exam, students will be expected to write a short functional piece such as a letter, email, or report that is perfectly tailored to the purpose, audience, and context of a given situation. Examiners will be looking out for the following:

  • Critical thinking
  • Vocabulary range
  • Correct use of grammar
  • How do students structure their writing
  • Are students able to communicate their ideas effectively

Here are 4 simple tips you can use to help your child bag that full 15 Situational Writing marks with ease.

1. Get familiar with every format

As with most examination components, the goal of the assessment is in its name. Unlike other segments of the English PSLE papers, Situational Writing does not have a fixed format. Instead, students are required to familiarise themselves with a variety of writing formats fit for different scenarios.

Tedious as it may seem, the payoff is definitely worth it as being familiar with the various formats allows your child to easily recognise the type of writing required and apply the appropriate tone, language, and structure accordingly.

Here is a list of Situational Writing formats your child should get familiar with:

  • Informal letter 
  • Informal email 
  • Formal letter 
  • Formal email 
  • Report or proposal 
  • Article or notice 
  • Speech situational 

All parts of the writing are to be aligned to the left except for the beginning of a new paragraph.

Remember to use the uppercase for your addressee regardless if you know their name/surname!

eg. Dear Sir/Madam OR Dear Grandmother

Add in a greeting when it is an informal letter/email.

eg. How are you?

2. Identify your PACW

While all English tests and exams are about testing one’s language proficiency, students should approach each segment differently. For Situational Writing, we recommend that your child tackle the task systematically using the PACW approach.

PACW is the abbreviation for the 4 key points required for every Situational Writing task: Purpose, Audience, Context, and Writer; all of which could be found simply by referring to the Task Box at the back of the exam paper.

Here’s a brief look at the 4 points:

👉 Purpose

  • Look out for sentences that consist of phrases like
    Write an email to the intended guest speaker to invite her to give a talk to Science Club members” or “Write a personal note to Susan to ask her to join your team for the upcoming art competition.

👉 Audience

  • The name of the intended recipient can be found either in the task box or the stimulus. Keep your eyes peeled for clues such as names, professions, job titles, or salutations.

👉 Context

  • Situational Writing is mainly divided into two categories: Formal and Informal writing. The context of the writing can be derived from the writer’s relationship with the recipient as well as the purpose of the message. By correctly identifying the context, your child can then easily decide on the tone and language which they would employ.

👉 Writer

  • The final and most important point: do not assume you’re writing as yourself. Instead, read the stimulus and instructions carefully. Phrases such as “Imagine you are…” or “Who you are” are often indications that you’re to assume the role of a fictional character and not write as yourself.

After your child has identified the Purpose, Audience, Context, and Writer, encourage them to go back to the stimulus and highlight all relevant answers pertaining to each content point. This is to ensure that they have all the information they need.

Bonus Tip: There are 6 points required. Remember, at least 5 out of 6 points can be found in the stimulus and sometimes in the task box.

3. Use correct grammar, add connectors, avoid contractions

It goes without saying, the right usage of grammar and punctuation is paramount if your child is looking to secure every single mark possible. To take it a step further, have your child include connectors such as “moreover” or “in addition” to make their writing sound more rhythmic and fluent. Not only do connectors make a piece of writing sound instantly better, it adds a touch of authenticity that keeps the reader engaged and the momentum going.

Last but not least, avoid contractions. When it comes to writing a formal letter or email, using contractions is the surest way to get your marks deducted. While contractions are usually acceptable in informal writing, we recommend that your child avoid using them as much as possible so as to reduce the chances of punctuation mistakes.

4. Sign off well

Signing off incorrectly is no doubt one of the most common and easily overlooked mistakes in Situational Writing. For informal writing, we recommend students to end with “Best regards”. As for formal writing, students should sign off with “Yours sincerely” if they are given the name of the recipient (eg. Mr Lim, Ms Tan), and “Yours faithfully”, if they don’t have the name of the person whom they are writing to (eg. Manager of the Community Club). 

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