Tackling The Changes of PSLE Science 2017

PSLE Science 2017

With changes being made to the PSLE Science syllabus, it is important to help your child to be well equipped with the different ways he will be assessed. This can be done by the deliberate regular practice of Science questions, as well as bringing the study of Science into real life situations encountered every day.

Regular Practice: Taking Note of Keywords

1. Instructional Keywords

Your child needs to be aware of instructional keywords used in Science questions. Examples of instructional keywords include “state”, “describe”, and “give a reason”. Instructional keywords are found in open-ended Science questions and inform the student of what kind of answer is expected. Questions beginning with “What”, “Which part”, “State” or “Name” usually require a short answer consisting of one word or a short phrase. Such questions generally test lower-order abilities to recall facts, and reasons are not required. On the other hand, questions which begin with “How”, “Describe”, “Explain”, “Why” or “Give a reason” test high-order thinking skills, thereby requiring students to provide a longer answer. This would demonstrate that the students are capable of applying the concepts they learnt to a given situation.

2. Content Keywords

Apart from instructional keywords, there are also content keywords that can be found in the textbook.  Identifying those words helps the student understand the content he is studying. Hence highlighting them enables your child to learn and memorise better. More importantly, there are also words that have to be used in examination answers for the student to earn the mark. For example, in the chapter of Reproduction in Plants, keywords include “pollination”, “ovary”, and “germination”. These keywords are essential words in the textbook that your child should organise his thoughts around.

Ultimately, it is necessary for your child to regularly complete open-ended practice questions. This enables your child to recognise instructional keywords in questions, as well as use content keywords in his exam answers.

Science Questions in Practice

The new PSLE Science syllabus introduces a marked shift in emphasis to higher-order thinking skills. No longer can one get away with rote learning. Your child must be able to apply scientific concepts to various contexts. Instead of letting your child cram for the exam, allow him to realise that Science is far more relevant than being just another exam subject. Science surrounds us, and is found in every nook and cranny of our daily existence. After all, it is the systematic study of observable phenomena that is all around us. Ask them ‘How’ and ‘Why’ questions to challenge them to explore the workings behind things that are taken for granted. Have them explain everyday situations using the scientific concepts they have been taught in school. Here are some examples:

  • WHY does the bathroom mirror turn misty after a hot shower?
  • WHY does one feel colder after getting out of the swimming pool, and even colder when the wind blows? (PSLE 2015)
  • WHERE do the water droplets on the apple come from when an apple is taken out of the refrigerator?

The study of Science shouldn’t be merely confined to the pages of the textbook; it takes place in the environment we live in. By sneaking Science into normal conversations, it wouldn’t be so exhausting slogging away when examinations are around the corner.

Tackling The Transition to The New PSLE Syllabus

Tackling the transition to the new PSLE syllabus isn’t all too difficult. So long as your child is aware of the important keywords and is able to apply concepts, it should put him in good stead for acing the examination.


The Science syllabus changes will start with those taking the PSLE this year. Read more here.

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