PSLE Marking Scheme and Format for English Composition

PSLE Marking Scheme and Format for English Composition

Not sure about the PSLE English Composition format? Not sure how your child’s compo is marked and graded? In this article, we will answer your burning questions!


Composition Format

PSLE Scheme for English CompositionStudents are given a topic with three pictures, each providing different interpretations of the said topic. Based on one, (two, or all ) of the three pictures, students are required to write a composition based on the topic.

Here’s an example…

Topic: Honesty

Pictures given: A ring, A wallet, A boy peeking into a bag

In this case, your child has to write a compo topic based on the topic of Honesty and your child has to incorporate one, two or all three pictures into the story. (Your child can describe a ring or a wallet, or describe a scene where a boy peeks into a bag.)


Also, do take note that the requirement is at least 150 words for Primary 5-6  and  120 words for Primary 3-4.


PSLE Marking Scheme

Examiners focus on 2 main areas when marking your child’s composition. The marks for Primary 1-4 (Primary 5-6) are distributed as follows:

  • Content – 10 (20)
  • Language – 10 (20)

Do take note that different schools have different marking schemes.  Some schools reveal their students’ marks, while some schools do not reveal their students’ marks but grade them according to ‘bands’.  Also, some schools will have more than 1 teacher marking the compo before taking the average of 2-3 marks given by each marker to determine the final score for your child’s compo.

*What we provide in this article is rough guideline of the marking scheme that schools in Singapore might follow. 


1) Content

When marking for content, the most important thing examiners look out for is whether your child has written according to the requirements of the topic or not. Candidates who have demonstrated their understanding of the topic and whose story stays on track with the theme can score 7-10 (14-20) here. Whereas those who have written completely out of point, show disorganised thoughts or ideas, or simply don’t make sense in their compos, can expect lower scores of 3-5 (6-10).


Distribution of marks for Content (English Compo Writing)

Distribution of marks for Content (English Compo Writing)


2) Language

When it comes to Language, examiners look out for the following:

  • Accurate grammar, spelling, punctuation.
  • Sufficient and appropriate use of vocabulary
  • Good paragraphing and sequencing
Distribution of marks for Language (English Compo Writing)

Distribution of marks for Language (English Compo Writing)


2a) Grammar, spelling, punctuation.

To score well for language, candidates must ensure that they have written grammatically correct sentences, spelled their words correctly, and used the appropriate punctuation. Any error will result in a loss of marks. If the candidate has made numerous errors such that reading is slowed down or understanding is affected, then he/she can expect a lower score in this area.


2b) Vocabulary

Examiners also assess the candidate’s English language proficiency by looking at his or her use of vocabulary in the essay. This does not mean that the more fanciful words you use, the more marks you will get. Candidates must demonstrate good control over vocabulary by using words that are appropriate to the context in order to score well.  Marks will also be given by showing a wider range of vocabulary to avoid unnecessary repetition.


2c) Paragraphing and sequencing

Lastly, examiners look at whether the events in your story are ordered properly, or how your ideas, actions or events are arranged. They also look for smooth transition between paragraphs. It is important that your child writes with a clear flow of thoughts and use paragraphing effectively. Your ideas must not be all over the place, causing confusion to readers.

Most common mistake students face in PSLE English Compositions

The most common mistake (and the one that carries the heaviest penalty) that many students face when writing compositions is going out of topic. This arises because of several reasons such as –  not understanding the topic, not addressing the topic well enough or even forgetting to use a picture. For other common mistakes that your child is making, you can read more in this article on the 9 most common mistakes students make in compo writing.



“Should I be worried?”

The average student scores between 26 – 30 for his/her composition. If your child is scoring 34 – 35, he or she is considered to be quite good and above average. You have nothing to worry about if your child scores 36 and above. However, if your child is scoring 25 and below, it shows that your child may have a poor English foundation or weak writing skills.


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Model Compositions For Primary School