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5 proven tips to tackling PSLE English Listening Comprehension (updated 2024)

5 proven tips to tackling PSLE English Listening Comprehension (updated 2024)

When it comes to Listening Comprehension, some see a low-hanging fruit and perk up their ears, while others come unprepared with their minds ripe for distractions.

Here are 5 simple tips that'll help your child take advantage of the Listening Comprehension section (the easiest component) and springboard their grade to a shiny AL1!


The PSLE English paper is made up of four sections: Writing, Language Use and Comprehension, Oral Communication, and Listening Comprehension. Each is designed to assess students’ overall grasp and proficiency of the English Language.

The goal of the PSLE Listening Comprehension section is to test your child’s ability to understand spoken English. Your child will be assessed based on their ability to identify key ideas and draw the right conclusions from the passage. For this section, students will listen to a set of seven recordings and answer a series of multiple-choice questions.


The Listening Comprehension paper comprises 20 MCQ questions (20 marks) and carries a 10% weightage.

Duration: 35 minutes

A total of 7 recordings will be played, twice. All students will be given a few minutes to look through the question paper before the exam begins. The recordings mainly consist of texts in the form of news reports, advertisements, speeches, radio talk shows, and interviews.

3 Main Types Of Questions To Expect

  • Factual

Students are to provide straightforward answers

  • Inferential

Students are  to deduce answers by listening to the text

  • Summary

Students are to conclude the answers by listening to the text in its entirety

Tip #1:  Expand Your Vocabulary

While you won’t find words like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” in the recording (thanks Mary Poppins), having a strong grasp of Vocabulary definitely has its benefits. First, it allows your child to focus on the text better without having to pause and ponder over the meaning of every unfamiliar word. Doing so may cause them to miss out on the following sentences, which may contain key information.

Second, by having a larger Vocabulary range, you lower the chances of misunderstanding the meaning of a word, which may lead to the misunderstanding of a sentence as a whole.

Quick Tip: There’s no way around it. To expand one’s vocabulary pool, one simply has to read more. We recommend having your child ask their teachers for book recommendations. On top of that, encourage your child to make reading 1 to 2 news articles a day a habit.

Tip #2:  Read The Questions In Advance

Before the exam officially begins, your child will have a few minutes to look through the questions. Encourage them to make full use of that time!

By taking a good look at the questions beforehand, your child will have a better idea of what the recording is about. Most importantly, it lets them know what to listen out for.

Quick Tip: We recommend that your child arrive at least 15 minutes before the exam. Instead of rushing into the exam hall, they’ll have ample time to settle in and be mentally prepared for the exam.

Tip #3:  Listen Closely To The Recordings

For most students, news reports and interviews often lack the charm that keeps their minds from wandering. But switching off or zoning out, for even a moment, can be costly.

That’s because the questions in the Listening Comprehension paper can often be purposely tricky.

It’s not uncommon for students to be stumped by two multiple-choice options that appear similar or be conveying similar meanings. To avoid this, simply pay close attention. By listening attentively, your child will be able to better pick up key points that’ll help them understand the passage more easily.

What to look out for

  • Nouns

Eg. books, bread, bicycle

  • Time

Eg. next morning, early afternoon

  • Places

Eg. bakery, classroom, market

  • Directions

Eg. beside the school, behind the church

  • Instructions

Eg. buy her mother’s favourite durians, water the plants

  • Opinions

Eg. the shoes were pretty, the fried chicken was delicious

  • Facts

Eg. the train was late, the lights were out

Tip #4:  Jot Down Key Points

With 65% of the world’s population being visual learners, it's no surprise that information can often slip past our ears from time to time. To avoid this, simply encourage your child to jot down key points that stood out for them during the first reading.

By doing so, your child is able to take in the information visually, get a better understanding of the text as a whole, and use the notes as a reference during the 2nd reading.

Quick tip: During the exam, there’s no time to observe the rules of good handwriting. However, it’s important that your child is able to read what they’ve written. We recommend getting some note-taking practice in by searching for resources online (TedxYouth clips on Youtube) in the days leading up to the exam.

Tip #5:  Double Check

Exam stress can cast our brains into the fog. And in some cases, students even shade the wrong option by accident! To avoid this (totally preventable) careless mistake, encourage your child to check their answers after the end of the recordings.

Quick Tip: We recommend going through each question and circling the correct answer. This acts as an additional layer of check that’ll ensure all shaded options are the intended answers. 

If you liked reading this article, check out our blog on PSLE English Oral tips: Impress your examiner with ease (with examples) next.

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