4 Simple Tips to ACE English Composition

April 17, 2020

Composition Writing is one of the most daunting and feared components in PSLE English. Something about the sheer amount of words students have to write – to how obscure the marking scheme is – makes it a rather off-putting and tiresome chore for both students and their parents.

Out of a total of 40 marks, 20 goes to Language and 20 goes to Content.

Language refers to sentence structure, grammar, the breadth of your vocabulary, and the expressions used.

Content refers to how interesting your story is and how closely it fits the theme.

Since Content is highly dependent on the type of question and requires mastery of the Composition structure, in today’s article I will be focusing on 4 Simple Tips you can use to amp up your Language score!

These tips do not require the memorisation of any fixed phrases, but rather, are simple modifications you can make to your  existing writing. Without further ado, let’s jump into the first one!

1) Minimise the usage of pronouns


Instead of starting sentences with a pronoun like ‘I’ or ‘he’, swap it with the “-ing” form of the verb you were about to use after it. For example, consider this short excerpt:


I woke up with a start and rubbed my eyes and gave a loud yawn. I struggled to get out of bed and trudged towards the bathroom, slowly putting on my uniform.


The constant usage of ‘I’ to start is boring in terms of sentence structure and doesn’t add much variety to phrasing, greatly limiting your language score. It shows the examiner that you are only capable of the very typical Noun + Verb formula when constructing sentences that is only deserving of a very average 10-12 Language score.


Starting the second sentence with “Struggling to get out of bed…” instead of “I struggled to get out of bed…” adds a lot more variety to your sentence structure without changing the meaning, and helps to amp up your Language marks. For example, consider:


I woke up with a start and rubbed my eyes and gave a loud yawn. Struggling to get out of bed and trudging towards the bathroom, I slowly put on my uniform.


‘I’ is shifted to the back instead (“…I slowly put on my uniform.”), giving more depth and diversity to the way you structure your sentences and earning you a higher Language score. 


 2) Minimise Dialogue

Limit dialogue to once per paragraph (i.e. anything between inverted commas). Too much dialogue showcases the lack of writing skill. Thus, instead of using dialogue, describe the situation instead!

Instead of writing:

“Hey, don’t run away! Mary shouted at the robber. “Return the things you stole!”


Mary shouted at the robber not to run away, and return the things that he had stolen.


3)  SNT (Show not Tell)

Instead of writing “She was angry…”/”She was shocked…”/”She was jealous…”, spice it up by describing her feeling instead of merely stating it! 

Instead of “She was angry…”, you could write:

She was seething with rage, teeth tightly clenched, and eyes glaring fiercely at me.

Frustrated Clipart Emoji


How do I come up with these phrases out of the blue?! You might ask. Granted, it takes effort to memorise these colourful phrases; but they amp up your Language score significantly, and are widely applicable to almost every topic, making them well worth the while.

4) Punctuate Dialogue Properly

Punctuation errors pertaining to dialogue are a common and painful error, resulting in the needless reduction of Language marks. Students often miss out the comma that should be placed after a spoken sentence, or replace it with a full stop. 


Our Recent blogs