Primary Science


How to Tackle PSLE Science Questions on Adaptations?

You have surely heard before that lizards can detach their tails and grow new ones. But have you wondered why do they do so? This is an adaptation of lizards to escape from their predators. When the tail is detached, it wriggles for a while to distract the predators, giving the lizard time to run away.

Adaptations are essential for organisms to survive in their natural habitat. There are many interesting adaptations of organisms, and for Primary Science syllabus, adaptation is often one of the most challenging topics to tackle.

Let’s delve deeper to explore the fascinating natural world of animals and plants.

Did you know that there are 2 types of adaptations that are tested in PSLE Science?

There are 2 types of adaptations:

1.Structural – special body parts an organism has

2.Behavioural – special ways an organism behaves

Let’s apply these adaptations to understand how camels survive in the hot and dry desert.

The two humps on the camel’s back are a structural adaptation. Many people have the misconceptions that the humps stores water, but instead, the humps store fats! The camels will then break down the fats to release energy when resources are scarce in the desert.

Camels also have behavioural adaptations. Water is in extreme short supply in the desert. Hence, when there is water, camels can drink up to 46 litres of water in one go!

How do organisms adapt to survive?

Here is a table that captures the common problems that animals and plants face in their habitat, and the adaptations that they have to overcome these problems.


How can your child confidently tackle PSLE Science Questions on Adaptations?

Majority of questions on adaptations test on students’ abilities to identify the adaptation and how it works to benefit the organism to survive better.

Students can use Evidence + Reasoning to ensure key points are addressed for questions on adaptations.


Let’s look at how to apply the answering technique in the following questions:

Sloths are one of the slowest animals on earth and they spend most of their time hanging upside down on the trees. Sloths mainly feed on leaves on the trees.


1) Question: Explain how does the long claws benefit sloths.


Evidence – Long claws helps the sloths to climb on the trees and hang on the branches

Reasoning – allowing them to reach to the leaves for food.

2) Question: Explain why the slow movement of sloths helps them to increase chances of survival.


Evidence – Slow movement of sloths makes them less visible to their predators as they camouflage in the trees

Reasoning – predators are less likely to spot them, increasing their chances of survival.

Fun Fact: Sloths are so slow that even their bathroom habits are slow! Sloths comes down to the ground to defecate every 5 – 7 days.


3) Tree B grows in a tropical country where it rains a lot in a year. The diagram below shows how the leaves of Tree B looks like.

Question: What adaptation is shown in the diagram? Explain how does this adaptation benefit Tree B.

(Not only animals have adaptations, plants have them too!)


Evidence – Tree B has leaves with a drip tip which allows rainwater to flow down the leaves

Reasoning – This helps to prevent the accumulation of water on the leaves, and thus reducing the chances of bacteria and fungi growth that can damage the tree.

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