The PSLE Science paper is on Tuesday October 1st. The key to getting an A* for the Science paper is understanding the concepts. Here are some quick tips so that you can revise for the paper quickly and get last minute assistance.
What will be assessed
Knowledge and content
Revise the following concepts (I’ve intentionally reorganised the topics differently from the MOE syllabus to give a different big picture perspective of the content):
Adaptations and classification
Characteristics of living things and classification
Broad groups of living things (plants, animals, fungi, bacteria)
Adaptations to: obtaining food, cope with physical factors, escape predators, reproduce (eg. Camel, flowers)
Energy – electrical, gravitational potential, kinetic, chemical, light, sound, heat
Energy is: required to make things work or move, required for living things
Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only converted from one form to another
Light – shadow, objects seen because they reflect light
Heat – sources, conductivity, temperature, flows from hotter to colder
Define force as push or pull
Effects of a force
Various types of forces – magnetic, gravitational, elastic spring, frictional
Magnetic – north / south, compass, stroke method,
Gravitational – all objects on earth experience gravity. Gravity depends on mass.
Plant respiration (stomata)
plant transport system (food / water, leaf stem, root)
Human respiratory system
Human circulatory system
Human digestive system
Compare respiration in animals and plants
Compare transport systems in plants and animals
Parts of a plant cell
Life cycles and reproduction
Different life cycles of plants and animals
The ways plants reproduce (spores/ seeds / cuttings)
Characteristics of organism are passed from parents to offspring
Sexual reproduction in plants – pollination, fertilisation, seed dispersal
Sexual reproduction in humans
Properties of solids, liquids, gases
Properties of materials – hardness, flexibility, ability to float, heat and electrical conductivity
Water – melting , freezing, evaporation, condensation, melting point / boiling point, water cycle
Air – mixture of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, oxygen, water vapour
How environment affects survival of organism (food, other organisms, temperature, light)
Energy pathway from Sun to various organisms (producers, consumers, decomposers)
Food chain / food web
Organism vs population vs community
Deforestation, global warming, pollution
Skills and processes
These skills will be tested: observing, comparing, classifying, using apparatus, communicating, inferring, predicting, analysing, generating possibilities, evaluating, formulating hypothesis, problem solving, decision-making, and investigative skills.
Refer to the following chart to help:
Attitudes and ethics
Finally, as with any self-respecting education system, the paper will also test your attitude towards science and the environment, and your knowledge of your ethical responsibility as a person. Here are some that can be assessed:
Objectivity: show that you can use data and information to validate or invalidate observations about a particular experiment.
Concern: show concern for plants, animals, and the environment. Eg. Animals as pets, or water as a limited resource, or deforestation as a contributing factor to global warming, or for conserving energy.
Manage your time
You have 1hr 45mins for the Science paper. 60% of the marks are in the MCQ and 40% in the open-ended section. This means you have roughly 1min per mark (2 mins per question on the MCQ).
Remember the MCQ has 60% of the marks, and that each question is worth 2% of your total score. So be very careful with each question and try your best not to make any mistakes.
You may not need to spend a whole hour on the MCQ – this is fine as well, as the MCQ is usually easier than the open-ended questions. Just make sure that you’ve been careful with the MCQ section, and move on to the open-ended questions.
Aim to leave at least 10-15 minutes at the end to check the whole paper thoroughly.
Some questions are easy – do these calmly and carefully but quickly and move on, so that you will have time for the harder questions.
If you’re stuck on a question, leave it first. Come back to question after you finish the whole paper.
Look through the paper quickly and make sure you’ve answered all the questions. Check the MCQ to make sure you’ve shaded the correct answer
Don’t leave any question unanswered. If it’s an MCQ you can guess the best answer and your odds of getting it correct may be more than 50%. If it’s a open-ended question you may get awarded partial marks.
Circle / take note of the keywords (eg. all, false, true, only, none)
Read the question carefully. Take note of, for example, “extension” vs “length” of spring. Whether the experiment is carried out in the dark.
Some questions are of the following format: “which of the following is false?” Remember you need to pick the one that is false, not true. Use the method you prefer. Typically I like to write a “F” for false statements and “T” for true statements.
Some questions have multiple statements and the question asks “which is correct?” and gives you a choice of “P, Q, R”, “P only” etc. You may not know for certain if Q is true or false, but if you are sure R is definitely false, you can cross it out and eliminate that answer.
When checking, check that you’ve shaded the correct answer. Work from another angle to make sure that your answer is correct. Look at the other options to make sure you’ve selected the most appropriate one.
Read the question carefully and take note of the keywords. Answer the question directly. See the chart above.
Some questions are broken into parts a) and b). Usually, part a) helps you to come to an answer in part b). Sometimes part a) asks for an observation and part b) for the explanation. Don’t explain it in part a).
When asked to compare, remember to state the different properties of BOTH the two objects you’re comparing. For example, “state the difference between gases and liquids” – you will need to say “gases are … while liquids are..”
For 1 mark question, the answer required is brief and direct. Usually there is only one or two items / keywords.
For 2 mark questions, you will be required to give a longer, detailed answer. If the question is “identify… and explain why”, 1 mark is for the identification and 1 mark for the explanation.
For 3 mark questions, look at the space given. If there are only a few lines, it’s probably a more factual recall type of question and you don’t need much explanation. If it’s longer, break down the answer for the examiner so that it is clear and marks can be easily given for each statement or keyword. Don’t write in long sentences – the examiner may assume it’s only one point.
Remember, don’t leave any question blank! You may get awarded partial marks if you hit some keywords and concepts even if you may not understand it completely. Some questions are really testing your ability to infer and think rather than your knowledge.
Stay calm and have a positive and focused mind. The best way to approach the questions is with a clear, open mind, and being calm will reduce errors and improve recollection. Don’t worry about your past grades, or how well you’re going to do for this paper or the subsequent one. Now isn’t the time to be thinking of other things. Just work through the exam, one question at a time. Worrying about another question won’t help you with the current one!
Sleep early. There is no point doing last minute revisions. Even if you haven’t finished your revisions, it is more productive to sleep early than to revise till 1 or 2am into the night.
Eat your usual breakfast. Don’t try anything funny. You don’t want to be struggling with a stomach-ache.
Pack your bag with all the stationery you need the night before. You can sleep easier and be calmer in the morning. (H/T to Jennifer!)
Wallace recently started primary school classes with his buddy Wei. Wei would teach English using journalist tools to ignite the students’ passion in the language while Wallace would teach Maths and Science with games. You can find out more about them on their Facebook.https://www.facebook.com/studyroomjr