Primary Science


5 Common Mistakes Made during Primary Science PSLE Exam Open-Ended Questions

Over the years, the focus of the Singapore primary science exams has shifted from knowledge-based questions to application-based questions.  The memorisation of the facts is no longer sufficient for students to score well in exams. We will also go through some common PSLE Mistakes 

With the introduction of the new PSLE Science syllabus in 2014, there is more emphasis on skills and processes involving the application of scientific knowledge in everyday life.

Assessment Objectives

As evident from the table below, the weighting of application of knowledge is slightly higher than that on knowledge with understanding. This means the questions posed in the PSLE Science paper are geared more towards higher-order thinking skills rather than simply recalling knowledge and grasping concepts.

Assessment Objectives Standard Science
I Knowledge with understanding 40%
II Application of knowledge & Processing skills 60%

Table: Assessment Objectives of PSLE Science

Demonstrating the understanding of the scientific knowledge and concepts will enable a student to pass the Science exam only.

The ability to answer higher-order thinking skill questions, which requires students to apply the knowledge and concepts with the application of skills, will give them the extra leverage to score an A or higher.

What is stopping my child from scoring A or higher from Science Exam?

Firstly, your child MUST know his science knowledge and concepts. This is the basic foundation of scoring well in Science.

Second, your child MUST possess the necessary skills and strategies on how to answer Science questions correctly.

Then, being aware of and eliminating the common mistakes made by students will help your child in securing higher marks for his science exam.

What are the common 5 mistakes made at Open-Ended Questions during PSLE Science Exam?

Section B (Open-Ended Questions)

Let us look at some examples below:

Text Box: Respiration

Another example of Primary Science Exam Question:

Let’s summarise the common mistakes made in Section B (OEQ):

1. Not reading the questions carefully.

Most Science questions are long and contains many words. Many students do not have the stamina to read these long questions carefully, often skipping the key information or key question terms. They skim through the question and assume they are testing a certain concept. Most times, these questions contain important clues to the answer. Hence students should learn to slow down and read each question carefully.

2. Writing general statements and assumption

Many students do not write specific answers and often left out the specific concept.

Identifying the specific evidence to support an answer is equally important. The concepts tested for a single question for different parts may be the same but if the student reads the questions carefully, each question is testing for a different skill or specific application to real-life situations.

3.  Not linking the data/information of a graph/chart/diagram to the question

Many students have poor graph analysis skills or do not annotate their understanding. As they read the lengthy questions, they have forgot about the information presented in the graph and fail to link to the question. Some students, in their haste to answer the questions, they simply ignore the graph/chart/diagram. Application of the data presented in a graph to answer a question well is a higher-order skill that students must master in order to score well in exams

4.  No answer strategy or skill

Some students stare at the question blankly for minutes and let precious time slip away. They do not know how to tackle the question as they do not have strategies to answer questions e.g. relationship questions. Knowing answer strategies is useful as the student would be focused and motivated to try to answer the question well.

5. Weak Science Vocabulary

Science answers are all about keywords! The phrase, “make food” in English language means differently from Science language. Many students use terms in daily life to answer Science questions and their answers are marked wrong because the terms do not mean the same in Science. Grasping Science keywords require practice and deliberate use in Science homework, practice papers.

I hope this article will help your child to understand common mistakes made in Open-Ended Questions. Identifying one’s mistakes is the cornerstone for future improvement. Once your child can identify his or her weaknesses, then we can proceed with helping your child to minimise such mistakes and improve their PSLE Science results.

Happy Learning!

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Read our next article on the Common 3 mistakes made in PSLE Science MCQ Questions.