How to study for PSLE Chinese BUT you are weak in this subject?

That are parents who ae worried about their children’s PSLE Chinese results as Chinese is an important part of the PSLE or any Semestrial Assessment (SA) or Continuous Assessment (CA).

How important is Chinese in Primary school?

In primary schools there are only 4 main subject and Chinese is one of them. Together the 4 subjects will be transformed into a (Achievement Levels) AL grade:-

Raw Mark RankAL GradeOld Grade (before 2021)
Above 90AL190 is A; above 91 is A*.
45-64AL645-49 is D; 50-59 is C; 60-64 is B.
20-44AL720-34 is E; 35-44 is D
Below 20AL8U
Compare of Marks range between old and new AL grades 2020

According to The above table, In order to pass, the minimum mark to achieve is 45 and your child will get AL 6. Then we see the Cut off point range for Secondary school courses:-

The PSLE Score is the addition of the 4 subjects AL grade.

PSLE ScorePlacement OutcomeEstimate AL grade for one subject
4-20ExpressAL5 to AL1
21-22Express or Normal (Academic)between AL5 to AL6
23-24Normal (Academic)Mostly AL6
25Normal (Academic) or Normal (Technical)Some AL6 and AL7
26-30Normal (Technical) and AL 6 (English and Chinese)mostly AL6 to AL7, some AL8.
PSLE score 2021 onwards is a addition of ALL 4 subjects AL grade!

How to get into Secondary School Express course without worry?

From the Above table, your child will need to score 65 to 74 (AL5) for all 4 subjects to be able to study Express Course! And for your child’s knowledge, if your child score mostly 45 to 64 (AL6) in all 4 subjects then they can join the Normal (academic) Course..

How to understand the Primary 5 and PSLE Chinese Format?

There are a total of 3 papers to take in Primary 5 or PSLE Chinese Examinations. They are :-

PaperTime (Minutes)Marks/Total percentage
1 Composition5040/20%
2 Vocabulary and oomprehension10090/45%
3 Oral and
Listening Comprehension
PSLE Chinese component score.

From the Distribution of Scores, your child will know Paper 2 is 45% of the whole paper and your child noticed that the vocabulary section (Section A) is 50/25% of the whole paper! so if your child can be so good with the vocabulary, it could help your child not only secure the 25%, it can help them with the comprehension part and with training help in the composition part.

The Three Milestone Approach to study PSLE Chinese

This Approach to Score in PSLE and Primary 5 Chinese is to take the Chinese Paper apart and Achieve success in smaller parts of the paper to overall score 60+ marks in the PSLE examination. This is a small experiment I did with my pupils to help them score for their PSLE CHinese Paper. In the first few year,

First Milestone : 50/50 Paper 2 Section A

So FULL Mark (50/50) in Paper 2 Section A is the First milestone in My training Course. The key is to Read, Know, Understand and be able to use the Vocabulary that your child learnt in the primary 5 and 6 textbooks.

Normally, If your child is hardworking and studies 3-5 words every day from Primary 5 onwards, then your child will be able to achieve Full Mark in Paper 2 Section A in 1 years time. THe Key is to study the words diligently daily without fail.

Second Milestone: Comprehension 22/40

The Second Milestone is to achieve 22/40 for Paper Section B Comprehension. Every Children is saying Comprehension is SO HARD! However, What I understand is that Comprehension is hard because most children need to do these 3 things:
1, Your child need to be able to read and understand the Passages and the storyline.

2, Your child need to Understand How to the Question and learn methods to answer certain comprehension question.

3, Your child need to understand the Vocabulary and Paragraphing in the passages.

The easiest way to train Comprehension is to read and understand your child’s textbook and its stories a few times. Yes ONE TIME is not enough for your child to understand a story, your child need to read until he/she can recount the story to you using his/her own words. Then They have really mastered the passages. read textbook a few times in school WILL NOT be HELPFUL as pupils are forgetful, So your child need to read and reread te passages in the textbook again and again until they know the story by heart.

For example, In Primary 5 there are the story of the 花木兰、父亲的眼泪etc, in primary 6 we have 窃读记、为自己鼓掌etc which are excellence compositions yet most students think they know but they CANNOT RECOUNT the story at all. IF your children cannot write a similar story ot tell a similar story without looking at the textbook then They are far from knowing the textbook passages.

Then your child need to know the questions in Paper 2 Section B well and learn methods to answer some of the questions.

Third Milestone: Composition 32/40

After building the foundation of your child in the first 2 milestones, Now we can conquer Composition. In PSLE Chinese, THe composition has 2 questions, one Picture Composition and the other is situational writing (命题作文). I do recommend learning both if your child likes to read, else your child should focus on picture Composition.

I Do Not teach Picture Composition like most do, which is
1.         读图懂图意 understand the picture using 4W1H

2.         了解题意 Set a Theme: Accidental? Helpful? etc

3.         确定视角 Choose an angle : first person or third person

4.         确定开头结尾 define opening and ending.

I think the above framework too complex even for secondary school students, so I teach pupils my 4 step Picture Composition Approach:-

1, Set the theme by observing the pictures as a whole story. ( This is unique as not many teacher provide such an helicopter view of the pictures.)

2, Set the Opening with the 4W and always write in the first person’s prespective.

3, Every Picture MUST be written in a PARAGRAPH, DO NOT combine Pictures into a paragraph.

4, Set Closing paragraph with your feelings.

This approach is systematic as it starts from the first paragraph and ends with the ending. This approach is so much easier to explain to your child as its very systematic.

Reading Best compositions from other students Daily and understanding their compositions are important parts of writing compositions too.

Extra Step: Score in Paper 3 oral and listening comprehension

This step is suppose to be natural for pupils as they progresses in the mastery of the Chinese Language but I think They are still trainable skills afterall so Why not train them too. Therefore I added the fourth step.

Oral is about recitation and conversation which focus on your child’s general knowledge about life related issues. They are easy to train but your child need to read out softly their textbook passages in under 1 minute to achieve mastery in recitation. There should no be mispronunciation or missing words. There should not be hesitation in reading too.

Conversation is about various topic that your child will experience like recycling material etc. The skill is to construct sentences and speak them out like they are natural from the mouth. These need practice to make prefect conversation.


In conclusion, There are systematic ways to train and score in PSLE or Primary 5 Chinese Language.

2 thoughts on “How to study for PSLE Chinese BUT you are weak in this subject?”

  1. May I know why you suggested to write in first person’s perspective for picture composition? What are the pros and cons? Thank you!

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