Insights & Strategies: A Review of The 2023 PSLE Science Paper

Delve into the dynamics of the 2023 PSLE Science Examination, where Booklet A's simplicity contrasts sharply with the complexities of Booklet B. While Booklet A offered straightforward questions, Booklet B posed a greater challenge, demanding deeper comprehension and analytical skills. Discover how we prepare students to tackle Open Ended Questions effortlessly, ensuring readiness for the varying levels of difficulty in the examination.

Accord­ing to the SEAB syl­labus, stu­dents sit­ting for the PSLE are required to grasp sci­en­tif­ic facts, con­cepts, and prin­ci­ples and utilise them in prac­ti­cal sce­nar­ios. They should pos­sess the abil­i­ty – in the form of process skills – to inter­pret var­ied forms of infor­ma­tion, rang­ing from images to graph­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tions and charts, and to inves­ti­gate diverse hypothe­ses while artic­u­lat­ing their dis­cov­er­ies. 

In this analy­sis of the 2023 PSLE Sci­ence Exam­i­na­tion paper, we will pro­vide an overview of both book­lets A and B, delve into the nuances of select­ed ques­tions from Book­let B and offer com­men­tary on com­mon pit­falls and how to avoid them with some of Think Teach Academy’s answer­ing tech­niques.

Book­let A: Mul­ti­ple-Choice Ques­tions (56 marks) 

Book­let A, com­pris­ing 28 mul­ti­ple-choice ques­tions (MCQs), is designed to enable a major­i­ty of stu­dents to suc­cess­ful­ly pass the exam­i­na­tion. The major­i­ty of the ques­tions assess stu­dents on famil­iar con­cepts encoun­tered in pre­vi­ous years’ prac­tice papers, there­by reward­ing those who have under­tak­en thor­ough revi­sion and prac­tice. Typ­i­cal­ly, only 2 to 3 ques­tions devi­ate from the con­cept-based approach, instead requir­ing stu­dents to analyse pro­vid­ed infor­ma­tion to iden­ti­fy the most appro­pri­ate answer that aligns with the giv­en data. The pre­sent­ed infor­ma­tion or data is straight­for­ward and eas­i­ly com­pre­hen­si­ble, enabling stu­dents to make accu­rate selec­tions. Over­all, the 2023 Book­let A paper does not present any notably chal­leng­ing ques­tions, and indi­vid­u­als with a sol­id grasp of the under­ly­ing con­cepts should nav­i­gate it with­out dif­fi­cul­ty. 

Book­let B: Open-End­ed Ques­tions (44 marks)

His­tor­i­cal­ly, Book­let B has proven time and again to be a pain point for most stu­dents sit­ting for the Sci­ence paper. Even stu­dents with a good under­stand­ing of sci­ence text­book con­cepts may some­times strug­gle to com­mu­ni­cate their ideas in a writ­ten for­mat. Book­let B, com­pris­ing 12 to 13 ques­tions, typ­i­cal­ly con­tains one or two ques­tions that demand a more pro­found com­pre­hen­sion of sci­en­tif­ic con­cepts. These ques­tions eval­u­ate stu­dents’ capac­i­ty to analyse real-world sce­nar­ios and tap on their process skills to con­nect it with their exist­ing knowl­edge of sci­ence con­cepts. Stu­dents who can suc­cess­ful­ly do so are like­ly to achieve AL1 or 2.

The lev­el of dif­fi­cul­ty in the 2023 PSLE Sci­ence Exam­i­na­tion Paper can be described as mod­er­ate. The lack of uproar on par­ent­ing forums also sug­gests that most stu­dents found the paper with­in expec­ta­tions. How­ev­er, there are still ques­tions that chal­lenge stu­dents’ abil­i­ties to com­mu­ni­cate ideas and explain sci­ence con­cepts in a man­ner that is suc­cinct, accu­rate, and thor­ough.

Elec­tri­cal cir­cuit ques­tions require stu­dents to analyse the set-up and explain how it func­tions. These ques­tion types require metic­u­lous descrip­tion of the cir­cuit and how it func­tions in a loop, which can result in lost marks when cru­cial infor­ma­tion (of which there is much that teach­ers are look­ing out for) is omit­ted.

At Think Teach Acad­e­my, we equip our stu­dents with writ­ing strate­gies to effec­tive­ly tack­le fre­quent­ly encoun­tered and chal­leng­ing ques­tions. Specif­i­cal­ly address­ing top­ics like elec­tric­i­ty, we offer a struc­tured 4‑step writ­ing tech­nique to help stu­dents for­mu­late their respons­es, ensur­ing con­sis­tent and com­plete mark acqui­si­tion.

Let’s apply the 4‑step writ­ing tech­nique to part (a) of this ques­tion:

  1. Sit­u­a­tion
  2. Open/closed cir­cuit
  3. Flow of elec­tric cur­rent
  4. Out­come 

(1. Sit­u­a­tion) When switch S was closed, 

(2. Open/closed cir­cuit) a closed cir­cuit is formed,

(3. Flow of elec­tric cur­rent) allow­ing elec­tric cur­rent to flow through bulbs Q and P and the fixed iron cylin­der,

(4. Out­come) which becomes an elec­tro­mag­net. Bulbs Q and P also light up. 

(1. Sit­u­a­tion) The elec­tro­mag­net attracts the iron bar, which moves to point B and touch­es the met­al con­tacts. 

(2. Open/closed cir­cuit) This forms an open cir­cuit 

(3. Flow of elec­tric cur­rent) and elec­tric cur­rent stops flow­ing through bulb P and the fixed iron cylin­der.

(4. Out­come) The fixed iron cylin­der is no longer an elec­tro­mag­net and stops attract­ing the iron bar, caus­ing it to fall back to point A to close the cir­cuit again. The process repeats and the iron bar moves between A and B repeat­ed­ly. 

With this writ­ing tech­nique, stu­dents will be bet­ter able to organ­ise their thoughts and pro­vide a com­plete answer in the most effi­cient way pos­si­ble to secure full marks. 


Anoth­er inter­est­ing ques­tion fea­tures hot oil being poured into a sink, and stu­dents are asked to explain why a sol­id formed in the water pipe even though the sink pro­tec­tor pre­vent­ed sol­id waste from enter­ing. 

This ques­tion is chal­leng­ing because stu­dents need to pick out the clue that the hot oil passed through the sink pro­tec­tor in liq­uid form before freez­ing to become a sol­id in the water pipe. Stu­dents will also need to recall that the melt­ing point of a sub­stance, which is pro­vid­ed in the text, is also the freez­ing point of a sub­stance. 

Heat process ques­tions require very spe­cif­ic infor­ma­tion to be includ­ed in stu­dents’ expla­na­tions. Here at Think Teach Acad­e­my, we utilise a 3‑step writ­ing tech­nique to help stu­dents acquire com­plete marks in the top­ic.

Let’s apply the 3‑step writ­ing tech­nique to this ques­tion:

  1. Heat trans­fer
  2. Heat process
  3. Outcome/change

When the hot oil, which was a liq­uid, was poured into the sink, it flowed through the sink pro­tec­tor into the water pipe. 

(1. Heat trans­fer) The hot oil lost heat to the cool­er water in the water pipe,

(2. Heat process) and froze

(3. Outcome/change) into a sol­id, which accu­mu­lat­ed at X to block the water pipe. 

Con­clud­ing Remarks 

Suc­cess in the PSLE Sci­ence exam­i­na­tion hinges on the abil­i­ty to con­nect text­book knowl­edge with real-life sce­nar­ios and the process skills to com­mu­ni­cate this knowl­edge in writ­ten for­mat.

At Think Teach Acad­e­my, we fur­nish our stu­dents with real-world sci­ence knowl­edge after each les­son to expand their under­stand­ing, illus­trat­ing how sci­en­tif­ic prin­ci­ples stud­ied in class man­i­fest in every­day occur­rences. This approach steers our stu­dents away from fix­at­ing sole­ly on famil­iar ques­tion types and shifts their focus from rote mem­o­ri­sa­tion. Armed with robust gen­er­al knowl­edge and writ­ing tech­niques, Think Teach Acad­e­my stu­dents will be bet­ter pre­pared to tack­le out-of-the-box ques­tions effec­tive­ly and effi­cient­ly.

Our aspi­ra­tion for every stu­dent engaged in Sci­ence edu­ca­tion at Think Teach Acad­e­my is the cul­ti­va­tion of crit­i­cal think­ing abil­i­ties from an ear­ly age, lay­ing the ground­work for them to emerge as for­ward-think­ing and curi­ous indi­vid­u­als who are Thinkers of Tomor­row.

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