International PSLE (IPSLE) & Model Composition
Over the past 9 months, I had the opportunity to work with an Indonesian student sitting for her IPSLE in Jakarta. Her mother had contacted me through my blog and asked for some private English lessons for E. To be honest, I was initially unsure if I could be of help as I had never heard of the International PSLE or knew what were the similarities to the standard PSLE in Singapore.
So, I did some research and realised that it was almost exact to our PSLE except that there was no SW and they followed the previous Composition and Oral testing.
It was a real pleasure to work with E. Every school holiday, E would fly down to Singapore and have intensive English lessons with me.During the time she was back home, she would diligently work on my P6 e-learning programme, writing 4 compositions a month.
Hardworking, serious and focused, E worked out all the small issues she had with the English components during that time. I was very confident she was well within her goal of an A-star for English. She flourished especially in composition writing. Her plots became more complex and descriptive and automatically longer. She had gone from writing 3 and a half pages to sometimes 6 pages within the time limit given. The ‘holes’, as I like to call them, in her stories were ‘plugged’ and her plots were clear, organised and realistic.
Her IPSLE was over 2 months ago. I miss working with such an exemplary student but I know that she is on her way to bigger and brighter adventures!
Below is one of my favourite compositions written by E. Bear in mind, that the IPSLE uses the old format of PSLE which is continuous writing. However, this story can be used in the themes of ‘A Regret’ / ‘A Bad Decision’
(Descriptive Introduction, tinged with suspense)
As Ms Wong stepped inside the classroom, the entire class grew quiet. The buzzing of animated conversations instantly disappeared. Some of my classmates sat straight up, their gazes fixated on the thick stack of papers in our teacher’s hands. Others closed their eyes, their lips moving in a silent last-minute prayer. I fervently chewed on my fingernails, nibbling them down to the soft, fleshy part of the finger.
Ms Wong placed our examination papers on the teacher’s desk with a loud thwack. She looked up. “Good job!” she congratulated, the barest trace of a smile on her thin lips, “This time, many of you did well.” Many students exhaled a sigh of relief.
(Use of suspense)
Ms Wong began passing out the papers. I could barely sit still. The butterflies in my stomach fluttered about frantically. Whenever Ms Wong laid down a paper, the recipient’s face would light up like Christmas lights. It seemed like every single one of my classmates had scored well. My apprehension grew.
At last Ms Wong had only one paper left in her hand. I was the only student left with an empty hand. Ms Wong walked towards me with a stony expression, her face devoid of emotion. When I first saw my paper, nothing seemed unusual. There was nothing on it. Then it struck me. That was the problem! There was no score written on the cover page. With pale, trembling fingers, I frantically flipped to the next page. Again, there was no sign Ms Wong had ever touched the paper. I continued flipping the pages as anxiety twisted in my gut.
Finally, on the last page, Ms Wong had written a note in a red scrawl. The note read: You know what you have done. See me after school.
I slumped back in my chair, my face looking as if I had seen a ghost, As Ms Wong spent the rest of the lesson going through the paper, not a single word registered in my brain. Only three words resounded repeatedly through my mind : I. Am. Doomed. Now that Ms Wong knew, what would my parents say? I would probably be grounded until the next century.
When the bell rang at the end of the school, it sounded like a death toll to me. While my classmates eagerly swarmed out of the class like a hive of bees, I dragged my feet to Ms Wong’s office, my spirits at an all-time low. As I stepped into Ms Wong’s air-conditioned room, instead of feeling rejuvenated by the cool temperature, I felt like I had entered a shark’s mouth. When I saw a pair of extra ‘guests’ sitting on a black, leather sofa, I nearly had a heart attack. Ms Wong had called my parents! Dad and mum looked at me grimly. They already knew.
As soon as I locked gazes with my parents, Ms Wong appeared through another door, ushering us into a small meeting room. Everyone stared at me. I gulped. “So,” Ms Wong broke the tense silence. “Ben , why don’t you relay what you did during the exam?”
I hesitated, considering my options. Then, I made up my mind. The cat was already out of the bag anyway. With clammy palms and a foreboding sense of fear, I began to tell my story.
(Use of flashback)
During the examination, I was quietly working on the problems. Suddenly, an Optical Answer Sheet (OAS) slipped onto the floor, below my table. I had a clear view of the carefully shaded answers. The OAS belonged to Jane, a valedictorian who sat behind me. I stole a glance around me. No one had noticed, not even Jane or the invigilator. Slyly, I began to copy Jane’s answers onto my own answer sheet.
Suddenly, I had a feeling I was being watched. I looked up. There was Ms Wong, watching me from outside, through the glass window. I was frightened out of my wits. I fervently hoped she had not actually seen me cheating. With my heart palpitating wildly, I raised my hand and told the invigilator about Jane’s fallen answer sheet. The invigilator smiled, praising me for my honesty. However, I felt sick to my stomach with guilt.
Now Ms Wong knew all about my deed. I confessed to it and apologised. I sniffed as another tear rolled down my damp cheek. However, the sick feeling of guilt had finally begun to ease. With a warm gentle voice, Ms Wong admonished me. My parents, too, watched with their gazes softening. I promised never to cheat again. Ms Wong discussed the next course of action with my parents. In the end, my phone and internet privileges were taken away. However, it was a small price to pay. Ms Wong decided to give me a make-up test instead of a zero. Despite the fact that she would take 80% of my actual score, it was much better than I had hoped.
I vowed never to forget the kindness of a teacher, acting as a lamp when I had lost my way.