In this article, we will be analysing the 2016 PSLE Science Examination Paper. We will be sharing the topic weightage for 2016 PSLE paper as well as discussing 2 interesting questions from the booklet B of this paper.
Table 1: Summary of Booklet AAnalysis
|Topics||Marks Allocated||Level||Theme||Question number|
|Reproduction in Plants||9||P5/6||Cycles||3, 4, 10, 11, 15|
|Forces||7||P5/6||Interactions||21, 26, 27, 30|
|Water and Changes of State||4||P5/6||Cycles||16, 17|
|Using Electricity||4||P5/6||Systems||18, 22|
|Energy in Food||4||P5/6||Energy||7, 13|
|Forms and Uses of Energy||4||P5/6||Energy||20, 25|
|Food Chains and Food Webs||4||P5/6||Interactions||9, 14|
|The Unit of Life||2||P5/6||Systems||2|
|Diversity of Living Things||2||P3/4||Diversity||1|
|Diversity of Materials||2||P3/4||Diversity||19|
|The Circulatory System||2||P5/6||Systems||5|
|The Plant Transport System||2||P5/6||Systems||8|
|The Water Cycle||2||P5/6||Cycles||24|
|Human Body Systems||2||P3/4||Systems||6|
|Light and Shadow||2||P3/4||Energy||29|
|Heat and Temperature||2||P3/4||Energy||28|
|Man’s Impact on his Environment||2||P5/6||Interactions||12|
Table 2: Summary of Booklet BAnalysis
|Topics||Marks allocated||Level||Theme||Question number|
|Energy in Food||6||P5/6||Energy||35, 36(a), 37|
|Heat and Temperature||6||P3/4||Energy||38, 39|
|Forms and Uses of Energy||6||P5/6||Energy||42|
|Forces||5||P5/6||Interactions||40(b), (c), 43(b), 44(b), (c)|
|Reproduction in Plants||4||P5/6||Cycles||32, 33(a)|
|Living Together||4||P5/6||Interactions||31, 33(b)|
|Diversity of Materials||3||P3/4||Diversity||41|
|Air and the Respiratory System||2||P5/6||Systems||37|
|Life Cycles of Animals||1||P3/4||Cycles||34 (c)|
|Magnets and their Characteristics||1||P3/4||Interactions||40(a)|
|Man’s Impact on his Environment||1||P5/6||Interactions||36(b)|
We have also identified the top 10 topics in 2016 PSLE Science Paper and most of the topics are taught in Upper Primary (Cycles and Interactions). Hence it is very important that your child has a firm grasp of the concepts of these topics. Reproduction in plants has the highest weightage in the paper with 13 marks in total. This is an important topic in Primary 5 and requires the student to remember a lot of content about the plant reproduction processes. Reproduction in plants has been appearing as a highly weighted topic for past 4 years in PSLE. Thus, it is crucial for your child to be well-versed in this topic.
Other than Reproduction in plants, the other 2 topics that students should pay attention to are Forces and Forms and Uses of Energy. These topics are commonly tested, and students are to know how these concepts are applied in everyday situations. Students may also be confused with the science terms used; hence extra care is required to check as they answer the questions on these topics.
Table 3: Top 10 topics in 2016 PSLE Science Examination Paper
|Topics||Total weightage by marks (%)||Level||Theme|
|Reproduction in Plants||13||P5/6||Cycles|
|Energy in Food||10||P5/6||Energy|
|Forms and Uses of Energy||10||P5/6||Energy|
|Heat and Temperature||8||P3/4||Energy|
|Electrical System, Using Electricity||6||P5/6||Systems|
|Diversity of Materials||5||P3/4||Diversity|
|Water and Changes of State||4||P5/6||Cycles|
|Food Chains and Food Webs||4||P5/6||Interactions|
As shown in Table 3, this paper focuses on Reproduction in Plants, Forces, Energy in Food, and Forms and Uses of Energy. The topic on Heat and Temperature is also of high weightage, giving a total of 8 marks. Hence, this paper is ideal for your child to practise on these topics.
We would like to discuss the open-ended questions of focus, Questions 33 and 35, which we can learn the tips and answering techniques that are useful for answering questions on “Reproduction in Plants”, “Living Together” and “Energy in Food”, which many students struggle with. For open-ended questions on “Forces” and “Forms and Uses of Energy”, you may want to look at our previous articles on 2017/2018/2019 PSLE Science Examination Paper Analysis.
The discussion of the questions below will include 1) the publisher’s answers, 2) explanation of the answers, 3) comments on the answers and 4) tips or answering techniques for the question.
PSLE / 2016 / Q33
At the beginning, island Q had plants and animals but island R had no plants and no animals.
A few years later, island R started to have plants. Later on, animals were also found there.
(a) Suggest one way how island R started to have plants. 
Answer: Fruits dispersed by water might reach the shores of island R. Their seeds might germinate and grow on island R. / Some birds might pass their droppings on island R. The birds’ droppings might contain seeds of fruits which the birds had eaten.
Explanation: Island R is surrounded by water. Thus, fruits dispersed by water are likely to be found on it. Fruits/Seeds can also be dispersed by animals, wind and splitting.
Comments: Answers which write that seeds/fruits are dispersed by splitting may not be acceptable as seeds dispersed by splitting are typically found close to the parent plant and may not be dispersed to another island.
Tips: Students can recall how plants reproduce and apply the concept that seeds are dispersed to also colonise new areas. See explanation to deduce which dispersal method is the most likely. Answers must describe how the seeds reach island R.
(b) Give a reason why animals could be found living on island R only after plants were found growing there. 
Answer: Animals are unable to make their own food. They rely directly or indirectly on plants to obtain their food.
Explanation: Plants are producers which can carry out photosynthesis to make their own food. Animals are consumers which rely on plants for their food.
Comments: This question taps on student’s knowledge on Food Chains and Food Webs.
Tips: Students can recap the link between plants and animals, how animals depend on plant other for survival (i.e. for food, shelter/protection). Then, they can choose the most probable reason to explain.
Students may missed out stating the evidence: “Animals are unable to make their own food” and they should use key phrases such as “rely directly or indirectly on plants to obtain food” to link back to the question.
(c) After some time, a scientist observed that the population of animals on island Q remained constant but the population of animals on island R increased rapidly.
Explain why the population on island R increased rapidly. 
Answer: The plants on island R provided food and shelter for the animals. Under the favourable conditions, the animals reproduced quickly and the populations of animals increased rapidly.
Explanation: The first animals found on island R are likely to be plant-eaters. With an abundance of food and no predators to prey on them, their number is likely to increase rapidly.
Comments: This question utilises the concept from the previous question in part (b).
Tips: Remember that the different parts of a question are linked. Students must state the evidence on how plant can benefit the animals: “provided food and shelter” before linking to the concept: “animals reproduced quickly” to explain why the population of animals increased rapidly.
PSLE / 2016 / Q35
Samy conducted an experiment using the set-ups below. He placed four similar test tubes A, B, C and D in different corners of a dim room.
(a) The graph shows the amount of water in the test tubes over a period of time.
Based on the graph,
(i) explain why different distances of light from the plant affects the amount of water lost. 
Answer: The further the plant was from the lamp, the lower the intensity of light it received and the lower the rate of photosynthesis. Thus, the plant in test tube B absorbed less water than the plant in test tube A and the amount of water loss in test tube B was less.
Explanation: Plants require water to carry out photosynthesis. The higher the rate of photosynthesis, the more water a plant absorbs from its surroundings.
Comments: Students like to write “test tube A absorb water” instead of “the plant in test tube A”. Wrong reference may cause students to loss marks unnecessarily.
Comparison words are necessary to show the difference in results or to compare the results.
Tips: Students can develop the thought process of this question step by step. First, draw the link between the distance of the plant away from the lamp and the light intensity. Secondly, link the light intensity to rate of photosynthesis. Finally, since the amount of water lost is linked to the amount of water the plant absorbed, students can link up the rate of photosynthesis with the amount of water absorbed by the plant.
Students can make short notes (as shown below) to make their thinking visible and avoid careless mistakes.
(ii) Which variable, light or wind, has a greater effect on the amount of water lost? Give a reason for your answer. 
Answer: Light has a greater effect on the amount of water lost. Comparing lines A and C, the plant in test tube A lost more water than the plant in test tube C.
Explanation: The lower the line graph, the less amount of water remaining in the test tube and the more water lost.
Comments: This question tests students on their ability to analyse data (in this case, a line graph) and infer the results. Students should state the evidence from the graph: “Comparing lines A and C, the plant in test tube A lost more water than the plant in test tube C” to support that light has a greater effect on the amount of water lost.
As mentioned previously, students like to write “test tube A absorb water” instead of “the plant in test tube A”. Wrong reference may cause students to loss marks unnecessarily.
Tips: Students should recognise that the question has a comparison word: “greater”, hence they are to use comparison words such as “more” to explain their answers as well.
(b) Samy observed that a plant P growing in a sunny area has smaller leaves that the same type of plant growing in a shaded area.
Based on Samy’s observation, suggest a reason why leaf A is smaller in size than Leaf B. 
Answer: In the sunny area, leaf A is exposed to more light than leaf B. Thus, leaf A loses water at a higher rate than leaf B. To prevent leaf A from losing too much water, it has a smaller size than leaf B.
Explanation: The smaller the surface area of a leaf, the smaller the number of stomata found on the leaf and the lower the amount of water lost from the leaf.
Comments: There are many factors that can affect the size of a leaf such as the amount of light that the plant receives, and the amount of water lost to its surrounding. Students may be misled to think that the amount of light that the plant receives is the reason, given that the environment is sunny or shady. However, students should know that all parts of the question are linked, hence the required answer was linked to part (a) and (b), testing on the concept of the amount of water lost from the plant to its surroundings. Hence, student can do a quick check to see if the concept used to explain is linked to the previous parts of the question.
Tips: As mentioned previously, students should recognise that the question has a comparison word: “smaller”, hence they are to use comparison words such as “more” and “higher” to explain their answers as well.
Students can also make short notes to make their thinking visible and avoid careless mistakes.
Hope this article benefits your children in writing a more accurate and complete answer for the PSLE science questions and that he/she would score better in the examinations.