• Lim Wei Bin

How to Approach Picture Composition for PSLE students

Picture composition can be challenging for many PSLE students as they are uncertain of how to approach or answer the question. I noticed that many of them have met with similar issues when attempting picture composition.

Tip #1 To use the keywords provided

One of the common approaches by many students is to not use the keywords provided below the pictures. Students often overlook the importance of using the keywords provided and create their own phrases. Whilst being creative is commendable, this in turn has a higher chance of producing mistakes. Students are highly encouraged to use the keywords provided to guide them to write the stories of the pictures.

Tip #2 To take note of the important details

Another factor that is often overlooked is the important details in the picture composition such as the protagonist’s expressions and the before-and-after events etc.

To better illustrate this point, I have included a guide for you to help your child or children with their picture composition.

How can you help your child?

Firstly, it is important to understand the format of picture composition.

There are 6 pictures provided. There are some students who are lost or uncertain of how to approach the question would complete the composition with just 6 sentences - one sentence to each picture - which is insufficient to describe a story. That’s not to say that students should write freely, answering the question with a lot of words. The sentences must be relevant.

Parents or teachers can help students or encourage students to ask themselves the following questions.

1. What did you observe in the first picture?

Allow the students some time to develop their ideas and to narrate them. Perhaps you could highlight the items to the students that require attention should they miss it. Some of the items influence the flow of the story.

2. Why or what is the reason behind the actions of the boy or the protagonist? What are the before and after events?

This will stimulate their thinking and help them to string the pictures together.

3. How would you describe the boy’s facial expression or emotion? Describe what is he feeling?

This will help include emotions in the storyline.

Above are only some of the examples of questions to ask. There can be more questions depending on the scenario and context.

Let’s take the following as an example. I have marked the details which students will write in blue and those that are often missed out in red.

Students are likely to write this story for Picture 5:

Xiao Hua has fallen into the pond, Xiao Wen is screaming for help.

A better approach would be:

Xiao Hua is struggling in the pond with his arms in the air. He is frightened as he does not know what to do. Xiao Wen who is beside the pool is unable to save Xiao Hua because he doesn't know how to swim. He keeps shouting for help, hoping that someone will help them. Upon hearing the cries, the couple who had reprimanded them for their actions earlier on rushed over to help them.

By using the helping words, describing the observed expressions and minor details, this will help your child a step closer to scoring a distinction!


Lin Lao Shi, also known as Mr Lim Wei Bin, has a wealth of teaching experience and is a MOE-trained teacher. Trained in Differentiated Instruction, he has helped many students with different learning needs with their Chinese language. If you have any enquiry, call or message him at +65 9727 9365.

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