Scoring in Primary Two English Composition

One of the notable differences when Sophie progressed to Primary 2 is having more graded written assessments. With a greater emphasis on writing for both English and Chinese, I began to wonder how I can guide Sophie to score in her Primary 2 compositions. It’s no wonder parents often feel stressed when trying to help their kids with their studies when they feel helpless and unfamiliar with the school syllabus.

Despite being an English speaking parent, I am sometimes at a loss when Sophie approaches me for guidance because writing can be so subjective with no definite methods or answer. But at the same time, it’s also what I like about compositions as kids are not confined to a fixed answer and where they can exercise their creativity.

While there’s no doubt that the enrichment centres or tuition centre may do a much better job at teaching my child how to ace her compositions, I like to be more involved in my child’s learning.

READ ALSO: English Composition Writing for Primary One

I scoured writing resources, blogs and forums and picked up some very helpful tips and here are a few things that I’ve learnt along the way while has helped Sophie. In fact, her writing has improved over the months where her recent essay got selected by her English teacher to be published in her school’s budding writers publications which was a much needed morale booster.

Understanding Primary School English Compositions Format 
  1. Picture composition – Four pictures in a sequence

This is one of the most common formats used in Primary 2 composition where students have to write a story based on the pictures provided.

Pupils are encouraged to be as detailed as possible when describing the events in the pictures while ensuring that they stay relevant to the pictures.

Sample Picture Composition. Source from

  1. Picture composition – Three pictures in a sequence with a question mark for the 4th picture

This is another common format where the ending is open-ended. This allows students to exercise their creativity for the conclusion of their story and where they can inject surprises in their writing.

I feel that this format gives a chance for students to differentiate their piece of writing from other kids where original ideas will have an upper edge.

  1. A topic or theme

Broad topics like, friendship or an act of honesty, are sometimes given where students have room for penning an original story as long as the content is relevant to the topic.

Other times, proverb such as, Honesty is the best policy or a dog is a man’s best friend, are given and pupils have to expound on it and write a story based on it.

READ ALSORecommended list of assessment books for Primary Two


Tips for Primary 2 English Composition

I don’t claim to be an expert in writing, but these are my top 5 tips that have worked well for Sophie’s writing in getting her from good to great.

1. Show. Don’t tell

Show, don’t tell is a technique to get kids to think about how they can use their word to allow the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings.

Here are 2 examples.

Tell      Ryan was feeling sad.

Show   Ryan was feeling so upset that tears started flooding his eyes as he hung his head low and walked away from his classmates who were laughing at him.

Tell         Sonia was terrified of the wild dogs.

Show     Sonia’s legs trembled at the sight of the wild dogs and she slowly inched from the dog house.

See how the second sentences have the ability to paint a vivid imagery with just words.  Here are some other examples from Pinterest.

For similar resources, head to Pinterest and search for, “Show. Don’t tell.”

Source: Jennifer’s Teaching Tool,

2.Expanding their word bank

In Sophie’s class, she’s encouraged to have a word bank that helps them build their vocabulary with different ways of saying the same thing. For example, thought can be replaced with words like wondered,  imagined,  dreamt of, etc.

Here’s another example on the possibilities you can come up with for “said”.

3. Start with an impactful opening

A typical start of a composition begins with, one fine day or one sunny day. While there is nothing wrong with this opening, it is painfully predictable and boring to say the least.

To have a more interesting opening, you can get your child to consider using the following:

  • Sound – Ring…. the alarm clock woke me up from my slumber and I leapt from my bed.
  • Dialouge – “Have you ever been wrongly accused as a liar before?”
  • Idioms or proverbs – It was raining cats and dog and I was drenched from head to toe.
  • Question – “Do you ever wonder what it would be like if you could have super powers?”
  • Flashback – Whenever I see a bulldog, it would remind me of the time I was chased by my neighbour’s dog.

4. End it well

Starting well is important but you have to end it well in the conclusion of the writing too. Here are a few formats of how your child can end their writing.

I’m not so sure about the cliffhanger ending as it may give the impression that it’s unfinished.

The printable for the above can be downloaded here.

5. Editing checklist

Last but not least, kids should be encouraged to edit their writing to ensure that they spot any mistakes they might have made in the course of their writing before handing it in.

The few areas I’ll remind Sophie to check are:

  • Tenses
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Sentence Structure
  • Storyline relevance to the picture

Here’s an editing checklist that you may like to use with your child after he/she completes their writing.

Editing Checklist Source:


I hope this has been helpful for you to guide your kids in their composition to the next level.

Don’t let it be just about the grades

As I write this post, I have to remind myself that it’s a learning journey both for me and my child. There were many times when I’ve lost my cool with my girl especially when I felt that she wasn’t putting in effort in her writing. It led to a lot of needless frustration and tears and at the end of the day, I questioned if it was worth if if she aced her writing at the expense of having her feelings hurt by my harsh words?

So do be patient with your kids as they slowly embark on more writing and don’t expect overnight changes. I’m a believer that we need to equip our kids with a Growth Mindset and let them know that they can and they will improve with time and we should also encourage them and praise them for the efforts and progress they’ve made.


Here are some other useful links on primary school learning that you may be keen to read too.


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Comments: 23

  1. Alicia Tan August 2, 2017 at 12:15 pm Reply

    I totally get you Susan – P2 was a jump for us from P1 and now, P3 is an even greater leap. I dare not think about P4! 🙂 Great tips!

    • Susan August 2, 2017 at 3:43 pm Reply

      Take it one step at a time. It’s still a work in progress and I need to work on her Chinese compositions too.

  2. David Sim August 4, 2017 at 4:48 pm Reply

    Good structure and tips here! Writing is so important is probably understated compared to reading. Thanks for sharing and helping parents to help kids structure their writing well.

    • Susan August 7, 2017 at 8:32 am Reply

      I’m learning new things as I teach her too 🙂

  3. Sengkangbabies August 7, 2017 at 12:09 am Reply

    I normally shuddered a bit when kids need to conform or follow a structured learning method, Do this do that, to pass your exams, this is the Singapore system.

    That’s just my point of view. end of the day, I hope kids will not lose their creativity and ability to ask/challenge.

    cheers, Andy

    • Susan August 7, 2017 at 8:33 am Reply

      Yes, being curious and asking questions is what I encourage my girl to do as well. Don’t take things at face value and ask if you don’t understand or agree. They need to develop a keen mind and not just be robots.

  4. Angie Yeow August 7, 2017 at 8:52 pm Reply

    Impressive effort in being involved with Sophie! Great examples on your tips with clear and straighforward analogies. These are great for my kids to note too! I have learnt to let go a lot and allow my kids to learn for themselves in school. Kudos to the effort. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Ai Sakura August 10, 2017 at 3:47 pm Reply

    You’re a very hardworking mum.. Lil Pumpkin’s school still hasn’t picked up the pace academic wise for P2 so I haven’t been researching or doing much enrichment studies with her at home too. I should start soon to prep her for P3 hehe..

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  6. shubhadabhide August 11, 2017 at 9:52 am Reply

    English is my daughter’s fav language and generally she scores very well in it. For my pre-schooler boy though I am going to need this insightful post. Thanks!

  7. theseeblingadventure August 11, 2017 at 10:28 am Reply

    This is a fantastic heads up for me. My boys are still preschoolers, but they’ll be starting Elementary school here in the US before we possibly return to SG. So I’m always trying to keep in touch with the syllabus in back home.

    Can’t thank you enough for this post. I enjoyed reading it and learnt a lot. I realized I’ve done it in my own compositions in the past, but never thought of it this way, because I was never thought how to write. I just love reading and have used what I read in my writing. But this step by step approach is very useful for me to teach my kids in the near future.

  8. Geraldine Guo August 11, 2017 at 11:10 am Reply

    What excellent resources there you have mommy! I love the Show, not Tell technique as I feel it helps them to learn to express better. Now I feel a little worried for my K2 kid.

    • Susan August 12, 2017 at 10:49 pm Reply

      No stress Geraldine. I’m sure he’ll start learning these in Primary 1 too 🙂

  9. the hOOter August 11, 2017 at 7:22 pm Reply

    Oh gosh, and this is for Primary 2?! It sounds like things have evolved by leaps and bounds, especially with the Show and Tell example above. Their storytelling skills and vocabulary are supersized. I cannot imagine how it will be when it comes to PSLE… that creeping stress…..

    <3 Dee

  10. Ellen Scott August 12, 2017 at 10:07 pm Reply

    This’s actually a detail guide about primary school English composition. Thank for sharing your experience in how to raise your kid, Susan!

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  12. Martin Mak October 15, 2017 at 9:59 pm Reply

    “Said” is dead. I’m so going to steal that phrase. Bravo and keep up the good work.

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  18. Carol October 19, 2019 at 1:58 am Reply

    great piece…simple and easy to learn.Thanks!

    • Susan October 29, 2019 at 7:08 am Reply

      Glad you found it helpful 🙂

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