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Primary 6 Science for September - Tips for Tackling Structured Questions for PSLE

Here's what students can expect for Primary 6 Science for the month of September.

The school would doing revision and would be starting their PSLE written paper in September. In this blog, we will be sharing with you the tips for tackling structured questions.

To answer process-skills questions, first, identify the keywords in the question.

When you encounter ‘What’ questions, they are often questions that test you on identifying the correct facts.

The words that identify these questions are as follows.

  • List – These questions require you to name the fact or identify the object. Providing the correct fact will suffice. Example: Qn: Name a fungus that is also a micro-organism. Ans: Yeast. When asked to name an example, it has to be specific and not a general group. Example: Qn: Name a possible organism of W. Ans: Fish is wrong as it is a general group, instead, students have to mention goldfish or guppy or names of any fish

  • Describe – These questions require you to provide details about an object or a scenario. You should describe what you see and understand in the question provided. Example: Qn: Describe yeast. Ans: Yeast is a microscopic fungus. For questions asking for observation, describe what can be:

  • Seen (e.g. Some water will overflow)

  • Heard (e.g. The bell will ring.)

  • Smelled (e.g. The bread will give off a foul smell.)

  • tasted (e.g. The rice will taste sweeter.)

  • Felt (e.g. The metal rod will feel hot to touch.)

It can be with one or a combination of the above senses.

  • Classify/Similarities and Differences – These questions require you to classify by providing headings or to describe the similarities/differences between two objects. If you are describing the similarities or differences, always write about both objects. When answering questions on similarities, begin your sentence with “Both…”. When answering question on differences, use the connector “but” or “than in the middle of your sentence. Example: Qn: Describe one similarity and difference between Yeast and Jew’s Ear. Similarity : Both reproduce by spores. Differences: We can see Jew’s Ear with our naked eyes but we need a microscope to see yeast. TIPS: When answering questions on similarities or differences based on a flowchart, the keywords are already given in the flowchart. Be specific. Name the objects instead of writing “One is…, but one is ….” Also, do not end a differences question with the phrase “does notExample: Organism W has wings but Organism Y does not. Students have to complete the sentence that organism Y does not have wings.

  • Control set-ups – These questions require you to describe the control set-up or the purpose of the control set-up. Whenever the questions ask for the function of the control set-up, your answer must have… Part 1 – It acts as a comparison Part 2 – to ensure that the result (or the measured variable) is caused by (the changed variable) Part 3 – and not by other factors. Example:

Qn: What is the purpose of the set-up in sunlight? Ans: It acts as a comparison to ensure that different rate in the plant’s growth(M.V) is caused by the colour of the light(C.V) and not by other factors.

Another type will be why questions, these questions test you on the analysing and explaining using scientific concepts. The words that identify these questions are firstly.

1. Explain (without results of experiment shown) – These questions require you to provide a reason.

  • When you see the question tag why”, “explain” and “give a reason, your answer must have two parts. Example: Qn: Why can’t you see in a dark room? Ans: (Part 1 – description) There is no light source (Part 2 - theory / concept) to provide light for us to see.

2. Explain (results of experiment provided) – These questions will require you to compare between 2 to 3 elements.

  • Whenever you are asked to explain your choice based on a table or a graph, your answer must have three parts. Example: Qn: Why would you choose material A for a container to keep hot food warm? Ans: (Part 1 state the result of the table/graph) The temperature of water increased the least when A is burnt. (Part 2 – interpret the result) showing that it is the poorest conductor of heat. (Part 3 – Link back to the question) Thus, the hot food in the container will lose heat slowly to its surroundings Note: It is very important to use comparatives or superlatives, depending on the number of elements / variables.

  • Sometimes you might need to explain not just why you picked that particular choice but also why you did not choose the others. Example: Qn: Why would you choose Leaf A? Ans: Leaf A has jagged edge just like those in group X (why you picked that particular choice) but Leaves B and C have smooth edge (why you did not choose the others).

Another type of question is the how question, these questions test you on identifying the scientific processes. The words that identify these questions are as follows.

  • Method - These questions will require you to describe a process. When you see the question tag how” or “what happened, your answer must be in detailed steps, from the very beginning to the very end. Example: Qn: How do the leaves receive water for photosynthesis? Ans: (beginning) Water is taken in by the roots (next step) and transported up by the water-carrying tubes in the stem (end result) to the leaves.

  • Aim of Experiment – These questions will ask you to identify what is the purpose of the experiment. The aim of the experiment can be seen by identifying the changed and measured variables. TIP: To state an aim, begin your sentence with: 1) To find out… OR 2) To test the hypothesis…

  • Conclusion – These questions will ask you to explain what the findings of an experiment mean.

  1. When answering questions asking for conclusion, you can draw a relationship Example: As … increases, …increases.

  2. State a science concept Example: Germinating seeds undergo respiration and give out carbon dioxide in the process.

  3. Respond to the aim of the experiment. Example: Iodine is able to pass through the freezer bag but the starch is not able to pass through whichever is more appropriate.

  • Predict / Infer / Suggest – These questions will ask you to make an educated guess on what would happen if the experiment had been changed in one way or another. You should link it to a theory / concept that you have identified earlier. Example: Qn: What would happen if you use Material B to make a bag? Ans: It will break if the contents are too heavy.

  • Relationship – These questions require you to identify the link between 2 variables. use the format “As X increases / decreases, Y increases / decreases” where X and Y are the variables stated in the question. Example: Qn: What is the relationship between heart rate and activity rate? Ans: As the activity rate goes up, the heart rate will go up.

Students have to remember how to identify questions types and use the correct technique when answering structured questions to do well in their PSLE.


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