Vocabulary components in the PSLE English Language Paper 2

A    Overview of the vocabulary components

There are 4 sections in the PSLE English Language Paper 2 where students are tested on their vocabulary knowledge.

1   Vocabulary MCQs (Sentence level)

  • 5 MCQs
  • Students will be tested on their:
    • ability to choose the most appropriate word to use based on a given context. Sometimes, the given options are synonymous but only one is correct for a particular context. The given options could also begin with the same letter(s) or have the same ending.
    • knowledge of phrasal verbs (e.g. let down, let out, let off, let up)

 Try these questions:

1) The teacher was ________ and did not punish the boy too harshly.

  1. tolerant
  2. moderate
  3. gentle
  4. lenient

 2) A broken-down truck was blocking the road and the traffic had to be ________.

  1. deviated
  2. distracted
  3. diverged
  4. diverted

 3) Anna plunged her hot, tired feet into the ________ cool water.

  1. extremely
  2. refreshingly
  3. surprisingly
  4. unpleasantly

Answers: 1 (4), 2 (4), 3 (2) 

2  Vocabulary MCQs (Text level)

  • 5 MCQs
  • Students are given a short passage with 5 underlined words or phrases. They are required to select the word closest in meaning to each underlined word or phrase.

This section can be rather challenging. For example, in Q5 below, “inaccurate” information may be misleading or unimportant, but these words don’t mean “inaccurate”. Information that is “false” is completely untrue but information that is “inaccurate” is not correct. Hence, the answer is “wrong”.

3  Comprehension cloze

  • Students are given a passage with 15 blanks. They are required to fill in each blank with a suitable word.

The ability to use contextual clues and having an extensive vocabulary help students do well in this section. For example, in blank 5 below, contextual clues and the words “with the … of” tell you that “intention” is needed to complete the fixed phrase “with the intention of”.

4  Comprehension open-ended

  • Some of the questions in this section are vocabulary related. They test students’ understanding of a word or phrase as it is used in the passage.
  • Possible question types:
    • Which three-word phrase from lines … tells us that …?
    • Which two of the following words best describe how [the character] felt?
    • What does the word … tell us about …?
    • Why did [the character] use the word …?

To practise the vocabulary components in the PSLE English Language Paper 2, see:

B) Tips on how to improve your vocabulary

  • Read extensively. Choose different types of texts e.g. storybooks, newspapers, magazines etc.
  • Use the dictionary! This may sound tedious but it helps students learn the correct meaning and usage of words.
  • Record new words learnt in a notebook. Revise these words and learn their spelling (helps in Composition Writing and Editing too).
Posted by ACEL LEARNING (S) PTE. LTD Admin on 28 February, 2018 Read more →

What Parents Should Know About Lower Primary Chinese Compositions

Is your child in lower primary? Are you stressed about his or her Chinese compositions?

Fret not! We are here to help!

A) School writing formats for Primary 1 and 2

At Primary 1:

Your child is often required to write a sentence based on a given picture 看图写句.

In order to prepare children for 看图写句, schools may expose them to the following types of practice:

  • rearranging words to form a sentence 组词成句
  • sentence expansion 扩展句子
  • completing a sentence 完成句子



At Primary 2:

Your child is required to write at least 5 sentences based on a given picture看图写话. Helping words are provided.

B) Marking criteria

What do teachers look out for?

At Primary 1:

  • Sentences are grammatically correct and coherent
  • Correct use of punctuation
  • Words are written correctly (At Primary 1, pinyin is often acceptable if the child does not know how to write the word 汉字)

 At Primary 2:

  • Content
    • Ideas are relevant and well developed
    • Ideas are linked and presented in a coherent manner
  • Language
    • Sentences are grammatically correct and coherent
    • Good and appropriate use of vocabulary
    • Correct use of punctuation
    • Words are written correctly (At Primary 2, your child risks losing marks if pinyin is used for words that he or she has already been taught)

 C) How to improve your child’s writing skills

 Writing skills can be improved. The key is to start NOW!

  • Read Chinese story books regularly. This helps children expand their knowledge, gain vocabulary and trains them to use correct sentence patterns.
  • Acquire vocabulary through books that use a thematic, pictorial approach e.g. Read and Tell 1.
  • Practise common sentence patterns. Refer to Learn to Write Exciting Compositions 1 for sentence patterns children should learn.
  • Talk about the details of pictures with your child. This trains them to interpret and analyse the picture for their composition topic. Ask your child what’s happening in the picture, what will happen next etc. 看图写话pictures in Learn to Write Exciting Compositions 2 are accompanied by oral questions.

 D) How to mark my child’s compositions?

Parents often find the task of marking compositions difficult. Even with model answers, it is still a hassle … Let us do it for you!

We offer marking services for the exercises in Learn to Write Exciting Compositions 1 and 2. Click links to view.

Marking Solution for Learn to Write Exciting Compositions 1

Marking Solution for Learn to Write Exciting Compositions 2

In addition to following the above marking criteria, we provide valuable comments to help your child improve on his or her writing.


E) Remember …

  • The younger the child, the more adult guidance is needed.
  • Read regularly. Read with your child.
  • Give your child bite-sized practice instead of stacks of exercises each time.
  • Give your child enough time to complete each exercise. Don’t rush through them.
  • Be patient, give encouragement to and motivate your child. They can do it!


Mastering a language is more than achieving good grades … it is a lifelong asset. Don’t kill off your child’s interest in the language.



Posted by ACEL LEARNING (S) PTE. LTD Admin on 09 February, 2018 Read more →

Helping Children Build Good Character

Good Character

This series helps children:

  • develop self-awareness
  • manage their emotions and behaviours
  • take responsibility for their actions
  • respect diversity
  • build relationships and interact with others

It also helps children:

  • acquire other important skills e.g. logical thinking and inferential skills
  • improve their spoken and written English

Sample pages (Good Character Book 1 - for Ages 4-5)

Sample pages (Good Character Book 2 - for Ages 5-6)


Posted by ACEL LEARNING (S) PTE. LTD Admin on 01 November, 2017 Read more →

A fun and instructive way to learn vocabulary

Enter! combines light-hearted stories with cartoons to help children boost their vocabulary.

Synonyms and Antonyms (Books 1 to 3)


Word Formation (Books 1 to 3)

Bits and Pieces

Posted by ACEL LEARNING (S) PTE. LTD Admin on 16 August, 2017 Read more →

Measure Words - What's that?

Measure Words or 量词are a unique feature of the Chinese language. These are words like , and . These words are used together with nouns (i.e. people, animals, places or things) to indicate quantity, e.g. 三个人, 两朵花, 一件衣服

Certain nouns go with certain measure words,  e.g. you generally use for vehicles, for things with handles (such as scissors, brooms and umbrellas), for furniture. Some nouns require different measure words depending on their form, e.g. a ‘manual’ fan is 一把扇子 whereas an electric fan is 一架电风扇; you often use to talk about people, but you may also use the more respectful term , e.g. 一个人, 一位老婆婆.

Did you know that by the end of Primary 2, students encounter over 40 measure words in their Chinese textbooks and activity books? Are measure words difficult to learn? Not really - with adequate practice, students will learn what measure words to use for a particular context.

You might ask: Where can I find resources on measure words?Learn Measure Words Through Pictures is a series of 2 books (for Primary 1 and Primary 2 respectively). This series provides a concise coverage of measure words lower primary students should know. 

Next question: How should I use the series to help my child? Although the measure words in Learn Measure Words Through Pictures are arranged according to their pinyin order, parents are free to pick and choose whichever measure word they want to go through first. To make it more fun for your child, and relevant to everyday life, you may try out the following: e.g. You are at a carpark, point to a row of cars and tell your child that this is 一排汽车. Let your child guess the meaning of , which is ‘a row of’. Next, challenge your child to find other things he or she can use the measure word (e.g. a row of trees, 一排树; a row of chairs 一排椅子; a row of houses一排屋子). Back at home, you can reinforce the idea of by giving your child some fruit e.g. a few apples and asking him or her to arrange them to form一排水果/苹果. Finally, turn to page 19 (see sample page below, taken from Learn Measure Words Through Pictures 2) and go through the examples with your child. Pinyin for the examples are provided to help children read and understand the phrases and sentences. Check also if your child knows how to write the word . As an extension activity, ask your child what is the measure word used to describe a single house (一间屋子). The measure word is found on page 14 of the same book, which could be the next unit to go through with your child. There is no need to rush through the exercises in this series. These could be done after your child has gone through a substantial number of measure words in the book.

Learn Measure Words Through Pictures* is available for sale through the following websites:

*Book specifications: A4, 28 pages each

Posted by ACEL LEARNING (S) PTE. LTD Admin on 20 July, 2017 Read more →

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