How to Score in PSLE? Hear from PSLE's Chief Marker

A recap of CNA's documentary on how to score in PSLE

Zenith Academy | 2024-04-11 | 4 min read

psle chief marker image

Editor's note: We also did a summary on another CNA documentary about Singapore's obsession with grades. Check it out here.

Recently, Channel NewsAsia spoke to PSLE's Chief Marker to shed light on the marking process, and how parents and students can tackle PSLE effectively.

While it can be accessed via CNA's official YouTube Channel, our team has summarised the key points of the documentary, especially relevant if you are a parent of a primary school child.

Let's dive in!

psle chief marker image
  • This is Mr Jay Mahardale, the PSLE science chief marker for the last 5 years as well as Principal of Northland Primary School.
  • In this video, he sheds light on topics such as PSLE marking standardisation, the importance of keywords in Primary School science, whether alternative problem-solving methods are accepted, and other interesting questions.

1. PSLE Marking Process

psle marking process
  • He discusses what happens from the end of PSLE exams to the beginning of the marking process.
  • In short, the process involves different PSLE stakeholders discussing and establishing acceptable and non-acceptable answers, based on student sample scripts and past year experiences.

2. How are PSLE Markers Empowered?

important traits of markers
  • Markers are subject teachers who are given guidance and assistance, in order to ensure thoughtful and rigorous marking of PSLE scripts.
  • This is important to ensure that students are given marks for strong conceptual understanding, a key factor in PSLE.

3. Keywords vs Conceptual Understanding

conceptual understanding
  • To illustrate the prioritisation of concepts over keywords, Mr Mahardale uses the scenario of fogging spectacles and the scientific concepts of condensation and evaporation.
  • He also cites scientific literacy skills (i.e. Being able to use the right units and terminologies) and the usage of effective language in order to communicate conceptual understanding.
  • He suggests the focus on keywords as a potential result of the gap in understanding of MOE's Primary School educational doctrines.

4. Common Student Mistakes He Has Observed

common mistakes
  • Common mistake 1: Answering questions by cramming answers with regurgitated responses
    • Given the focus on conceptual understanding over memorisation, PSLE markers actively look out for and penalise any misconceptions.
  • Common mistake 2: Misunderstanding the depth of the question
    • It is important for students to understand the intention of each question, instead of jumping straight into solving it at first glance. (i.e. Definition of a concept vs Understanding of how different concepts interact)

5. How Can Students Best Prepare for PSLE?

how to prepare for PSLE
  • Given the PSLE landscape today, he has a rule of thumb for approaching primary school education.
  • This approach ensures that students get sufficient support in understanding how knowledge applies in real-life and how content may be tested conceptually.
  • The remaining 20% can be used to emphasize skills like time management or practicing in exam settings, which are necessary for our young learners to brush up upon.

Closing Comments and Key Takeaways

closing comments
  • While PSLE is viewed as an important milestone and key for better secondary school choices, Mr Mahardale would like to assure students (and parents) that results don't define one as a person.
  • Students should enjoy their PSLE journey, and see it as an opportunity to tackle challenging questions creatively and take this opportunity to experience growth with their peers.

Thank you for taking the time to read this summary, we hope that it helped you in one way or another. Do share this with other parents if you think they can benefit from it!

Watch the full video on CNA's channel here:

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