For the Primary School English exam paper, you do not want to make silly mistakes for the Synthesis and Transformation section. Yes. Of all the sections, please do not make your silly mistakes here. Each question consists of 2 marks, contributing to a total of 10 marks overall for the entire paper. So if you have done your paper until this segment, drink some water or slap your face lightly to wake yourself up.
Here are the silly mistakes I keep seeing in this section. ( I feel like vomiting blood even as I type these mistakes out!)
1. Tom likes to cycle. Jane likes to cycle too.
Blur Student’s Answer: Both Tom and Jane likes to cycle.
Mistake: likes >>> like
Comment: Strangely, the simpler the question, the more overconfident students become. They will blindly copy-paste and move on to the next question. There you go! 2 marks gone just like that! Ouch!
2. Tom did not know that there were lessons today. Jane did not know that there were lessons today.
Blur Student’s Answer: Neither Tom nor Jane knows that there were lessons today.
Comment: In this case, the blur student forgets that the word ‘did’ in the question shows that this event had taken place in the past. Past tense must be used. Always be sure of the time frame of the event.
3. Tom’s mother asked Tom, “Where were you last night?”
Blur Student’s Answer: Tom’s mother asked him where was he the previous night.
Mistake: The answer should be – Tom’s mother asked him where he had been the previous night.
Comment: When students look at indirect speech questions, they feel so excited and focus so much on changing “last night” to the “previous night”. Good job! Sadly, because of this single-minded focus they always forget these other 2 rules for indirect speech.
– past tense in direct speech (dialogue) must be changed to past perfect tense ( had +_______[past participle]) in the indirect speech. In this case, were >>> had been
– when the direct speech is asking a question, make sure that when you convert it to indirect speech, your phrasing must suit a full stop. Do not phrase it in such a way that it still sounds like a question mark sentence. E.g:
- Tom’s mother asked him where had he been the previous night. (WRONG. Notice that when you read this sentence out loud it ends with a question mark tone.)
- Tom’s mother asked him where he had been the previous night. (CORRECT. Now when you read this sentence out it ends with a full-stop tone.)
4. Tom ate his dinner. He went back to do his homework.
Blur Student’s Answer: Having ate his dinner, Tom went back to do his homework.
Mistake: ate >>> eaten
Comment: Students always forget that there is a grammar rule called Present Perfect Tense. Somehow, they only view sentences in Present Tense and Past Tense, which sadly, is not the case. Present perfect tense consists of:
- has/have + ________ (past participle)
- Students also forget that there is such a thing called past participle
- E.g of past participles – eaten, forgotten, drunk, slept, driven, sung, swum…etc.
5. Tom put in a lot of effort. He still did not win the race.
Blur Student’s Answer: Despite putting in a lot of effort, he still did not win the race.
Mistake: he>>> Tom
Comment: Once again, due to copying-pasting without thinking, students forget that ‘he’ could mean anybody. We need to make sure readers know that Tom is the subject mentioned in this sentence.
Practice makes Perfect
The good news is, although Synthesis and Transformation may seem difficult at the start, with thorough practice, I have seen some of my students master it to get full marks consistently. After doing a number of questions, you will start to see some similarities and patterns. This will make doing Synthesis and Transformation questions much easier for you over time.
Remember, English, like any other language, is just made up of a set of rules. Practise and remember the rules and you will be fine!
Now Try this out “10 Challenging Synthesis & Transformation Questions
You can download the worksheet here >>> 10 Challenging Synthesis and Transformation Questions
By Jerry Lee
Grade Solution Learning Centre