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Acing PSLE Oral - Stimulus Based Conversation

The PSLE Oral exams are around the corner. With consistent practice and some coaching, the oral exam can become fun for our young ones, which then builds their self-confidence, which in turn can build a solid foundation for communication skills that will take them far in their later years.

The Stimulus Based Conversation (SBC) is the key concern for many of our primary school students. Let's take a look at some tips to do well in the SBC:

1. Maximising the preparation time is key

5 minutes. This 5 minutes preparation time is more valuable than most students know. Using this 5 minutes well can make the difference between being able to showcase fluency and struggling with ideas. When we coach students in oral preparation, the ability and techniques to do question prediction based on the visual stimulus is something we focus on. Once you are able to predict the questions, the ability to prepare your thoughts, structure, stories, experiences are just so much more advanced and fluid in your mind that once the question is presented, you will find that you are just focusing on delivering your thoughts.

2. Length is not everything

Length and relevance are two entirely different concepts and it is important to differentiate the two. More importantly, the student must be able to control the direction of their answers so that it is still very much in the realm of the topic itself. Many students have come to us with an objective of saying a certain number of sentences as their criteria of doing well in the SBC. However, using such a criteria without the right checks and balances can result in false confidence, where the student believes that they have said "enough". Relevance to the topic and the ability to stay on track is very important.

3. Be flexible - learn to agree and disagree

Just like in real life, opinion questions have no standard answers. Some may find it easier to provide strong supporting statements as to why they agree and others may feel more comfortable if they disagreed with the topic. In an oral examination, choose wisely and go with what allows you to most comfortably discuss the issue, so that you can then focus on relevance, fluency, vocabulary and grammatical accuracy. When once chooses to side an opinion they are not comfortable with, the brain then struggles with one more aspect, which is content. This adds to the complexity that must be dealt with at that time. If it is more logical and comfortable to discuss the topic in a pros and cons structure, go for it. The key is to find what works best for you. Do not pressurise yourself to always agree with the opinion question.

4. Brainstorm stories for PSLE Oral

Stories and experiences can form a significant portion of the oral content. It is important however that the student recognises that they are not expected to have personally experienced everything. Stories and experiences can include what they have heard, read or seen and even wish to have or wish to experience. The student themselves do not have to be in the story but they can relate a story that someone else may have gone through. When going through common PSLE topics, try to brainstorm stories and experiences for each one, so that the brain is ready with the content and the focus on that day will be on delivery.

5. Simplicity is beauty

Keeping the conversation focused, comfortable and close to the heart of the person taking the oral exam is key. The closer the topic is to the candidate, the easier they will be able to speak confidently. Once there is confidence, the candidate will then be able to focus on using appropriate vocabulary, structures, grammatical accuracy, and be able to express themselves clearly and fluently. Trying too hard to be different or to be creative with their answers can be detrimental as it then requires the candidate to do two things at once - create the story and deliver it fluently. Do what works best for the individual and not what works best for others.

Written by Siew Ling Hwang, Founder, Discovering Potential Pte Ltd

Siew Ling is the founder of Discovering Potential and she specialises in providing Interview Skills Coaching and Communication Skills Coaching to youths and adults. Her experience includes both 1-on-1 coaching and workshop coaching for clients that come from a wide range of industries and age groups. Siew Ling coaches students for their PSLE Oral examinations. In addition, Siew Ling coaches students for their Primary 6 and JC DSA interviews as well as university entrance interviews in many areas including medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy, law, business, accounting, renaissance engineering and more for both local Singapore universities and overseas universities. She has also coached students for internship opportunities in several of the large consulting firms and financial institutions, as well as scholarship interviews including PSC scholarships, SAF scholarships, MOH scholarships, MOE scholarships and others.

In 2022, the candidates that Siew Ling coached have received confirmed DSA P6 offers for the following schools:

RI, RGS, HCI, NYGH, MGS, SCGS, NUSH, Dunman High, St Nicholas Girls, SOTA, NJC, Nan Hua, Temasek Sec, Victoria School, Singapore Sports School as well as entrance into international schools including SJII, ACSI and HCI.

Her 5 star Google reviews can be seen on the homepage


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