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Guide on PSLE Listening Comprehension

The PSLE Listening Comprehension Examinations will be held soon on 20th September 2019 (more PSLE dates here). They form Paper 3 for both English and mother tongue, and are weighted at 10%. Although relatively easy to score in, they are still a crucial component of the PSLE not to be overlooked.

The ability to listen well is a soft skill essential for effective communication. Here is a guide on how to develop good listening skills along with examination tips in order to ace Paper 3.

Preparation before the examination

PSLE Listening Comprehension

1) Learn to identify question types

Multiple-choice questions (MCQs) are easier to tackle compared to open-ended questions. However, it is still important to be able to differentiate the various question types so your child can keep an eye (or ear) out for the relevant information. Some of the question types your child may face during the examination include-

  • Factual questions: These are straightforward questions that simply ask for details, which will be read out from the passage.
  • Inferential questions: Student has to make deductions based on the information provided in the passage.
  • Summary questions: Usually ask for the overall/main idea of the passage, which is why it is important to be able to visualise and look at the big picture.


PSLE Listening Comprehension

2) Listen more

The listening comprehension passages are typically in the form of news reports, speeches, announcements, advertisements, conversations, stories etc. Try to make it a routine for your child to tune in to radio stations (CNA938 is a recommended one) as well as podcasts. Besides honing up on his or her listening skills, they are also beneficial in gaining general and current affairs knowledge.


PSLE Listening Comprehension

3) Work on comprehension skills

Listening skills will not be built simply through passive listening. Develop your child’s critical thinking and comprehension skills through dialogues and discourse. You can set aside time to catch the news on television with your child or listen to podcasts together, after which you can discuss or ask about the relevant issues. Over time, this will stimulate your child to instinctively ponder more deeply about topics rather than just listen passively.

Some questions that you can ask and discuss with your child:

  • How do you feel about this?
  • Who are the people involved here?
  • Why did this happen?


PSLE Listening Comprehension4) Build up on vocabulary

Your child may encounter new words during the listening comprehension examination, which may catch him or her off-guard and cause some discomposure. Hence, it is a good idea to build up your child’s vocabulary bank to prevent any sort of nerve-wracking experience for him or her.

This can be done by reading widely. For instance, you can allocate some time daily for your child to flip through the newspapers and have regular trips to the library to borrow books. Watching movies and television shows with subtitles can also help to expose your child to new words (in an enjoyable and stress-free manner). Encourage him or her to find out the definitions of new words and start applying these words in everyday life. For instance, instead of saying that an item is very “expensive”, we can say that the price of the item is “exorbitant”.


Reminders and tips for your child during the examination


☑ Be alert and stay in focus from start to end

Have an early and uninterrupted rest (at least 8 hours) the night before. Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased cortisol (a.k.a stress hormone) levels in people and being lethargic is likely to reduce concentration levels and task performance.


☑ Before the first reading

Spend the time reading through the questions to get some rough ideas of what the passages may be about. The questions will also provide clues to the sort of information and details that you should focus on and pay attention to during the readings.


☑ During the first reading

While the passage is being read out, it is a good idea to scribble down notes that you deem important. As a rough guide, pay attention to the 5W’s + 1H (who, what, when, why, where and how) and try to visualise the sequence of events or the situation in the passage. If there are words or terms that you have never heard of, do not get stumped. Instead, remain calm and focus on the contextual details in the passage for clues on what the definitions could be. At the end of the first reading, you probably should have the tentative answers already. It is also a good idea to start shading your answers on the OAS if time permits.


☑ During the second reading

Stay focused and check through your initial answers. Make sure that you have gotten the details correctly, especially for trickier questions that have rather similar options. Do this even when you feel that it was an easy passage and that you probably have all the answers already. Overestimating yourself may potentially cost you a few marks due to unnecessary oversight or carelessness. In addition, look through your OAS and make sure that the answers are correctly shaded.

Good luck!

With ample preparation and knowledge of what to look out for, it should not be difficult for your child to ace the Listening Comprehension Examinations. Remind your child to be confident of his or her ability and Superstar Teacher wishes all our students taking the PSLE the best of luck!

PSLE Listening Comprehension



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