PSLE Oral Exam Tips For Reading Aloud

Tips For Scoring Full Marks In PSLE Oral Exam Reading Aloud

1. PSLE Oral Exam Format And Weightage

The PSLE Oral Exam will take place in August. The oral examination (Paper 4) carries 15% weightage out of the overall PSLE English examination. Two components – Reading Aloud and Stimulus-Based Conversation – are tested. A 5% weightage is allocated to the Reading Aloud component while a 10% weightage is allocated to the Stimulus-Based Conversation component. It is possible to score full marks for the Reading Aloud component with ample PSLE oral exam practice coupled with the PSLE oral exam tips we share on this webpage. With this 5% in the bag, a student might be able to move up a band, say from AL2 to AL1.

Do head over to our Reading Aloud Full Module product page to view the content we have prepared to enable your child to easily score full marks for this section. Our Stimulus-Based Conversation Full Module will equip your child with the best strategies to secure the next 10% of the marks in the upcoming PSLE Oral Exam.

2. Key Areas To Work On During PSLE Oral Exam Practice

In the Reading Aloud component, according to the MOE SEAB syllabus, candidates are assessed on their ability:
– to pronounce and articulate words clearly
– to read fluently with appropriate expression and rhythm

As you can see, much more is required of the student than simply being able to recognise and read out the words.

The reading passage in the actual PSLE oral examination is usually a short narrative text of about 180 words. Narrating a story is vastly different from reading a fact sheet or a news report because a student has to be expressive in order to convey the required emotions of the story, as well as in the dialogues of characters. Other than this, there are many other important factors which make a good reading, such as pacing, end-consonant sounds enunciation and intonation. A student must keep these factors in mind in his or her PSLE oral exam practice.

Does Reading Aloud suddenly seem daunting now that the PSLE Oral Exam is only a few months away? Do not worry! Do take the time to read on to find out the areas that examiners specifically look out for in a piece of reading. During PSLE oral exam practice, a student must be willing to take time and consistent effort to perfect his or her reading skills. With sufficient practice and a good knowledge of PSLE oral exam tips, scoring full marks is definitely possible!

(a) Proper Pronunciation And Clear Enunciation

The very first of our PSLE oral exam tips: it is important that a student is very clear on the pronunciation and enunciation of single words before moving on to reading full passages. After all, the ability to pronounce and articulate words clearly is stated as the first objective of assessment in the syllabus. We have prepared a series of PSLE oral exam practice in our Reading Aloud Full Module, complete with audio files and auditory discrimination quizzes, to teach students the fundamentals of pronunciation and enunciation. It is the perfect crash course to correct a student’s pronunciation and enunciation errors just months before the PSLE Oral Exam. Here are some main points:

(i) Beginning sounds

Beginning sounds are crucial in proper enunciation. The beginning sound of a word is the first sound you hear when you say the word. Blending is the process of putting together individual sounds within a word to say the word aloud. A consonant blend is when two or more consonants are blended together, but each sound may be heard in the blend.  Common beginning consonant blends include bl, br, cl, cr, dr, fr, tr, fl, gl, gr, pl, pr, sl, sm, sp and st. It is important to pronounce the beginning sound of a word accurately, otherwise the word may sound like another word of a totally different meaning.

SentenceHow the meaning of the word changes if the beginning sound is wrong
Let’s play after lunch.Let’s pray after lunch.
‘PR’ beginning sound instead of ‘PL’ beginning sound for the word ‘play’.
The ice was thick enough for me to walk on.The ice was tick enough for me to walk on.
‘T’ beginning sound instead of ‘TH’ beginning sound for the word ‘thick’.

(ii) Ending Consonant Sounds

Similarly, the consonant at the end of a word must be pronounced clearly. Common ending consonant sounds include the ‘P’, ‘K’, ‘D’, ‘T’, ‘N’ and ‘M’ sounds. Many students have the habit of trailing off at the end of a word and avoid pronouncing the ending consonants altogether. Examiners are keen listeners and are able to pick out missing ending consonant sounds easily. Do keep this in mind for your PSLE oral exam practice.

SentenceWhat the examiner hears if the ending consonant sound is missing
Mike is the best player.Mike is the bess player.
(missing ‘T’ ending sound)
I left a book on my desk.I left a book on my dess.
(missing ‘K’ ending sound)
Please do not bump into the old lady.Please do not bum into the old lady.
(missing ‘P’ ending sound)
I have some paint on my shirt.I have some pain on my shirt.
(missing ‘T’ ending sound)
We are going to the pool later.We are going to the poo later.
(missing ‘L’ ending sound)

If you have trouble pronouncing the ending consonant sounds at first, you can try exaggerating them for a start. For example, for the word ‘cat’, focus on the ‘T’ sound and pronounce it more forcefully. With constant practice, you will be able to pronounce ending consonant sounds more naturally when reading full passages aloud.

(iii) Long And Short Vowels

Have you ever told your friends that you were going to the zoo to see a ‘ship’ or you were going to ‘slip’ early?

Many of us may find it hard to distinguish ‘sheep’ from ‘ship’ or ‘sleep’ from ‘slip’. People can know what you are referring to, but only from the context of the conversation. An understanding of long and short vowel sounds can help you to pronounce these words accurately. This is what examiners in the PSLE English Oral Examination will look out for too.

A short vowel is one which has a short and quick pronunciation. If a word contains only one vowel, and that vowel appears in the middle of the word, the vowel is usually pronounced as a short vowel. This is especially true if the word is very short. Some examples of short vowels in one-syllable words are:
– hat
– red
– fix
– rob
– cup

A long vowel is one which has a longer pronunciation as we hold the sound for a slightly longer time. A long vowel sound is often created when two vowels appear side by side in one syllable. The word usually makes a long sound of the first vowel. This is the case in words like ‘bead’, ‘mail’ and ‘boat’. Notice how the word ‘bead’ makes the long ‘E’ sound and the word ‘mail’ makes the long ‘A’ sound. A long vowel sound is also created when there is an ‘e’ at the end of a word. This happens in words like ‘bike’, ‘bake’ and ‘mute’. Notice how the word ‘bake’ makes the long ‘A’ sound and the word ‘mute’ makes the long ‘U’ sound.

Can you try reading this sentence:
Please make a list of items which cost at least twenty dollars.
Did you differentiate the sounds of “list” (short vowel sound) and “least” (long vowel sound)?

Click on the play button to hear it.

We have prepared 32 samples and audio files for you to practise on your long and short vowel sounds before the PSLE Oral. You can get access to these audio files for your PSLE oral exam practice simply by enrolling in our Reading Aloud Full Module.

(iv) Words With Silent Letters

A silent letter is one that, in a particular word, does not correspond to any sound in the pronunciation. Hence, it makes the pronunciation of the word different from the spelling. English language experts estimate that silent letters appear in approximately 60% of English words!

For example, the ‘T’ sound is silent in the word ‘glisten’ and the ‘W’ sound is silent in the word ‘wrestle’. It is impossible to identify the silent letters simply by staring at a word. You must know the pronunciation of the word beforehand to be able to identify the silent letters. We have compiled a list of words with silent letters in our Reading Aloud Full Module.

Do you find our PSLE oral exam tips useful thus far? We hope you do!

(b) Commonly Mispronounced Words

In the English language, we can find many words that are not pronounced the way they are spelled. The mispronunciation of just one word when reading aloud or during a conversation can be very embarrassing. Not to worry! We have compiled a list of the 80 most commonly mispronounced words that students should take note of in our Reading Aloud Full Course. Many of these words appear frequently in oral examinations and it would be good to learn them before starting on the PSLE oral reading passages. Examiners would most definitely pay extra attention to how a student pronounces these words. In our course, we have audio files for the correct pronunciation of each word and how the word is used in a sentence. In addition, for reinforcement of learning, we have incorporated these words into the PSLE oral reading passages in our full module.

We have selected a few commonly mispronounced words to present here. The correct phonetic spelling of each word is provided in the row labelled ‘Correct Pronunciation’. You can compare it to the phonetic spelling of the mispronounced version in the row labelled ‘Mispronunciation’.  Do note that when words are transcribed into their phonetic spelling, dashes are used to separate syllables. Sounds that are stressed are written in capital letters.


Meaninga person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise
Correct PronunciationATH-leet
NoteThere are 2 syllables in the word ‘athlete’, instead of 3. The ‘TH’ sound at the end of the first syllable must be pronounced clearly.
Example SentenceOwen is an outstanding athlete and deserves to win the competition.


Meaningthe remains of anything broken down or destroyed
Correct PronunciationDUH-bree
NoteThe ending ‘S’ sound is silent.
Example SentenceDebris from the aircraft was scattered over a large area.


Meaningto take a short, quick breath through the mouth, especially because of surprise, pain or shock
Correct Pronunciationgaasp
NoteThe ‘S’ sound, followed by the ‘P’ sound, must be pronounced clearly.
Example SentenceShe landed with such a loud thud that I let out an audible gasp.


Meaninga cultivated plant of the daisy family, with edible leaves that are eaten in salads
Correct PronunciationLET-is
NoteThe pronunciation of ‘uce’ is simply an ‘is’ sound.
Example SentenceShe tossed the chopped lettuce into a large bowl.


Meaningthe activity of teaching, especially to small groups of students
Correct Pronunciationtoo-ISH-uhn
NoteThere are 3 syllables in the word ‘tuition’, instead of 2.
Example SentenceMy brother attends tuition classes every week.

(c) When To Pronounce ‘The’ As ‘Thee’

We pronounce the word “the” as “thuh” if the next word starts with a consonant sound.

For example:
“thuh” house (“H” consonant sound)
“thuh” piano (“P” consonant sound)
“thuh” mountain (“M” consonant sound)
“thuh” big apple (“B” consonant sound)
“thuh” water fountain (“W” consonant sound)

We pronounce the word “the” as “thee” if the next word starts with a vowel sound.

For example:
“thee” apple (“A” vowel sound)
“thee” elephant (“E” vowel sound)
“thee” ice-cream (“I” vowel sound)
“thee” octopus (“O” vowel sound)
“thee” ugly dress (“U” vowel sound)

Important Note!!

It is the sound that determines if a word starts with a consonant or vowel sound, not the letter.

For example, although both “house” and “hour” start with the letter “H”, we say:
“thuh” house (“H” consonant sound)
“thee” hour (“O” vowel sound)(“hour” sounds like “our”)

For example, although both “umbrella” and “used” start with the letter “U”, we say:
“thee” umbrella (“U” vowel sound)
“thuh” used car (“Y” consonant sound)(“used” sounds like “yoused”)

(d) Using Pauses For Good Pacing

During the oral examination, a student must read at a good pace. It means reading at a speed which is not too:
– fast such that words are constantly missed out or stumbled over
– slow such that the examiner has to blink away tears of boredom

Other than a generally consistent and moderate speed of reading, knowing where to pause is very important for good pacing. Without such pauses, a student may sound like he or she is babbling instead of having a coherent expression of thoughts. The examiner might also get the feeling that the student is anxious and wants to get to the end of the passage as quickly as possible.

Pauses should be placed at appropriate places:
– after punctuation marks (commas, full stops, exclamation marks etc.)
– before connectors (but, although, while, because etc.)
– to break up a very long sentence

A pause can be long or short. In general, a long pause is used after a full stop, exclamation mark, question mark etc. to indicate that the sentence is over.

A short pause is used after a comma and within sentences (before connectors and to break up a very long sentence).

Here are some PSLE oral reading passages sample taken from our Reading Aloud Full Module. Do listen attentively to where the reader pauses in the audio files. The pauses are indicated by “/”.

Sample (From Reading Passage 4)

The practice went on without a hitch / but just as the music reached its highest notes, / a deafening shriek was heard.

Sample (From Reading Passage 18)

Some bounced around and wagged their tails ecstatically / while others stayed nestled in the corner, / fearful.

Sample (From Reading Passage 25)

Ming called his neighbours and found out that they,/  too, /were facing the same situation. 

Sample (From Reading Passage 35)

“Hey, / shall I tell a horror story?” / Danny asked his friends cheekily, / unable to suppress his wide grin / as he was confident of spooking them.

As you can see from the examples above, pausing at the right places allows a long sentence to be broken down into meaningful parts. On the contrary, pausing at the wrong places will make the sentence difficult to understand and may even distort its meaning. You can try reading the following:

Pausing at the wrong places:
Famished students arrived at the canteen / in droves, eager to buy a piping hot / bowl of noodles or a savory plate of chicken rice to fill their stomachs.

Pausing at the right places:
Famished students arrived at the canteen in droves, / eager to buy a piping hot bowl of noodles / or a savory plate of chicken rice to fill their stomachs.

With exposure coupled with lots of practice, you will eventually know where to pause instinctively. We have 36 reading aloud passages in our full module for you to gain the exposure to a wide variety of sentences in which pauses are employed effectively.  Other than allowing us to pace ourselves and catch our breath, pauses provide opportunities for a change of pitch or intonation, hence preventing us from sounding too monotonous. We will learn more about this in the next section on intonation.

Congratulations! You have already learnt a lot by the time you reach this part of our content. Just a bit more on our PSLE oral exam tips to go!

(e) Intonation

Intonation describes how the voice rises and falls in speech. It focuses more on how one says it rather than what is being said. When a passage is being read, the tone must be varied to make it sound interesting to the listener. Intonation is the way to help bring the words to life.

The most common types of intonation are:
– falling intonation (commonly used in statements, commands, confirmatory question tags etc.)
– rising intonation (commonly used in yes or no questions, and question tags that show uncertainty)
– falling-rising intonation
– rising-falling intonation

Together with an appropriate pace of reading, intonation can greatly help a student to show the examiner that he or she fully understands the mood required of a sentence and how to convey it. Below are some PSLE oral reading passages sample from our full module. Focus on the underlined words.

Reading Passage 8

Ben took a slow, deep breath as he stood up and made his way to the boarding bridge.
The underlined words are read at a slower pace to place emphasis on Ben’s dread.

Reading Passage 12

Anna was walking ahead of Mike when she heard the violent rustling of leaves and frantic cries for help.
The pace of reading quickens and the intonation rises towards the end of the sentence to convey a sense of urgency, fear and suspense.

Reading Passage 32

An enormous python was right ahead, coiling its body around a large, brown animal and squeezing the life out of it.
The words “enormous” and “right ahead” are stressed in the reading to convey the immediate danger that the boys were faced with. The words “coiling” and “squeezing” are stressed in the reading to bring out a mental picture of the python in action.

Reading Passage 36

Wondering who the owner could be, Penny checked the content and was surprised to find two hundred dollars.
The underlined words are stressed to place emphasis on the shocking discovery.

(f) Expressing Emotions In Dialogues

As you can see in the section above, sentences may vary in meaning depending on the intonation. In everyday conversations, it is crucial that we deliver our speech with the correct intonation to avoid misunderstandings. An amusing sentence, if delivered with an inappropriate intonation, may sound sarcastic or offensive. Hence, intonation is closely tied to how an emotion is conveyed with the voice.

In every reading aloud passage which appeared in the PSLE oral exams in the past few years, dialogues formed part of the text. This will still be the case for the upcoming PSLE Oral. Students are required to inject the appropriate emotions into these dialogues. Below are a few PSLE oral reading passages sample relating to emotions:

Sample 1 (Conveying Anxiety)

“Help! I need help! I’m hurt. Can someone call the ambulance?”

Sample 1 (Conveying Anger)

“I’ve no idea where the laptop is. Did you take it away?”

We have identified 24 types of emotions frequently conveyed in speech. The audio files in our full module will enable your child to develop expressiveness when reading dialogues in his or her PSLE oral exam practice.

3. Other PSLE Oral Exam Tips

If your child comes across words which he or she does not know how to pronounce, you can tell him or her to check the pronunciations using online dictionaries such as or (select UK Dictionary). Search for the word and click on the ‘Speaker’ icon on the result page to listen to the pronunciation.

During the oral examination, a student must read every word, even those words which he or she does not know how to pronounce. For a long word, your child can try to break it into its syllables and practise saying the separate syllables repeatedly until the full word can be formed smoothly.

For example:
individually -> in-di-vi-dual-ly (pronounced as in-duh-VIJ-oo-uh-lee)
significant -> sig-ni-fi-cant (pronounced as sig-NIF-i-kuhnt)
exhilarating -> ex-hi-la-ra-ting (pronounced as uhg-ZI-luh-ray-ting)

For words with a difficult syllable, think of similar words with the same syllable.

For example:
physique -> The ending probably sounds like the ending of “unique”.
hideous -> The ending probably sounds like the ending of “courageous”.

It is very important for your child to work on his or her voice projection when practising with PSLE oral reading passages. It would be a shame if your child can read fluently and accurately but he or she is too soft for the examiners to hear clearly. 

Last but not least, during the oral examination, your child must:
– look confident
– sit up straight
– refrain from displaying any bad habits like shaking legs and fidgeting too much
– remember the PSLE oral exam tips we have shared here

We hope our PSLE oral exam tips can help your child score well for the Reading Aloud section of the upcoming PSLE Oral Exam. Here’s wishing your child all the best!

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