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PSLE Science: 4 Common Mistakes To Avoid For A Higher Score

Students taking the PSLE science paper have an hour and 45 minutes to complete its two parts, sections A and B. The former is a multiple-choice section comprising 28 questions worth two marks each, while the latter is an open-ended answer section comprising 12 to 13 questions with a total of 44 marks. Given the time pressure, it is natural for students to be susceptible to making mistakes no matter how much they prepare at home and in a science tuition centre. To help students achieve a higher score, we outline the common pitfalls that keep them from securing a higher score.

1. Poor time allocation

Since the PSLE science paper must be completed in one sitting, both sections are taken simultaneously. It is common for students to spend too much time mulling over the questions in section A, leaving them little time for the open-ended questions in the following section.

Ideally, it is best to spend one to two minutes maximum for each multiple-choice question or allocate no more than 45 minutes for section A. This leaves an hour to answer all questions in section B and review them for mistakes. Alternatively, one could start with the more time-consuming questions in section B first to get them out of the way sooner while still following the recommended time allocation mentioned.

2. Not reading the questions carefully

While misreading questions can occur in either section, it is more prevalent in multiple-choice. The questions in section A have various difficulty levels, with some being carefully chosen to separate the ‘cream of the crop’ from the rest. Since the four choices can be very similar, it is vital to read each question carefully and choose the best answer.

When it comes to section B, this can take the form of being misled by the question and being tricked into thinking it is asking for concept A when the right answer is concept B. If an open-ended question has multiple parts, it is best to read the entire question first to better understand which concept they are testing.

3. Incomplete answers and missing keywords

This common mistake shows that students are unclear or have insufficient knowledge of the topic, and it is where most of them lose out on marks. Since science is a highly descriptive subject, students must become familiar with various specific terms for various topics and remember all those covered in the exam. A great way to retain such terms is by constantly using them in class and paying close attention to their usage when going over science revision guides to engrave them in long-term memory.

4. Leaving blanks in open-ended questions

Even the most prepared students will be faced with incredibly tough questions that they may be stumped on how to solve. Thankfully, there are no deductions for incorrect answers, so writing down the best possible answer in either section is encouraged.

After all, it is better to have a one-in-four chance of being correct for multiple-choice questions and gaining a few marks in open-ended ones instead of a flat zero. For open-ended questions, a good tip to keep in mind is to fill in anything relevant you can remember for the question after confirming the topic from the information provided. Should you be at a loss on the exact keywords and scientific terms required, explaining in plain English is the next best thing to potentially secure a few marks!


With sufficient experience, many of the mistakes above can be easily avoided. Students with ample practice on previous papers will also be more confident going into the exam and have a better idea of what to expect.

Heuristics Science offers a great way to get enough practice for the PSLE with our yearly PSLE workshop series that gives students the final push they need to achieve excellent results. In addition, we also offer many other programmes like our Sec 1 Math & Science Headstart Programme in preparation for lower secondary science in their higher education journey. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for a consultation or further information about our classes.

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