Exam Tips

Why Students Do More Poorly In English Paper 2 As Compared To Paper 1

A good thing about the Singapore education system is that is that the syllabus is always free and fair for all students. This means that all students get a fair shot at figuring out an effective learning process in preparation for PSLE exams. Parents often download free test papers from various sites.

PSLE preparation comes to down the number of hours spent doing quality learning and effective practices. The more practice they get with past year questions and assignments, the more prepared they are when it comes to attempting the PSLE paper.

Still, within each subject, there are variations in performance in paper one and two. For example, students can fail at English paper two when they are doing well in paper one.

While they are both English papers, they differ in the skills tested drastically.

Paper One Skills

Paper one tests the students’ ability to write to a purpose, audience, and context in a way that is clear and effective.

The students are expected to be able to plan and present their ideas well, creatively and in a way that satisfies the questions posed to them. Moreover, they have the added challenge of differentiating themselves from the rest of their class and cohort.

The students who are able to score exceptionally well are well read and strong fundamentals in grammar.

Paper Two Skills

However, paper two tests the students’ ability to demonstrate comprehension skills in literal and inferential levels.

They have to use their judgment and evaluation, especially in cases where the words are unfamiliar to them.

Moreover, they have to show a strong understanding of how contextual use of lexical and grammatical items shapes the meaning of the text.

Finally, the students are also tested on the correct use of grammar, spelling and punctuations, and the appropriate use of vocabulary in given contexts.


Paper one and two overlaps when it comes to having good grammar and vocabulary. It always helps to develop a strong mastery over them.

However, students start experiencing more difficulties in paper two than paper one because they don’t have the freedom to avoid words that they are not familiar with. Paper two seriously scrutinizes the student’s ability to answer questions that other peers are expected to know.

In close and open comprehension, students cannot avoid needing broad vocabulary. To do well, students have to read broadly and practice word recall. They have to challenge themselves to use words that, perhaps are not commonplace in mock essays, on purpose.

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