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Put On Your Thinking H.E.T.S.!

Hello, everyone! I’m Ms Genevieve, and I’m thrilled to share English tips and strategies with you on the Lil’ but Mighty blog. The month of May is packed with revision lessons, practice papers, and bottles of chicken essence — all in preparation for the mid-year examinations. I hope to take some heat off the examination stress by sharing some tips to help you gain confidence in the Continuous Writing segment of Paper 1. In this blog post, we will look at using H.E.T.S to break down a composition question effectively.

Why should I plan?

With only 70 minutes to complete an entire composition and a situational writing task, it seems like a hassle to spend 10 minutes analysing the question and planning your story. Unfortunately, most students who do not plan their compositions may end up producing an excessively convoluted plot, or worse, finding the need to change their stories mid-way because they do not like the way the plot is developing. Planning your story will help you to organise your ideas and will you save you more time in the long run!

What is H.E.T.S.?

At LBM, we encourage students to use H.E.T.S. to help them address the demands of the composition question by breaking it down. H.E.T.S. actually stands for:


It is an acronym to help students remember the steps they need to take to break down the composition question they encounter in the paper.

By applying H.E.T.S, students will:

  1. Pay closer attention to the topic
  2. Align their selected pictures to the topic
  3. Identify the problem (main event) in their story accurately even before they begin crafting their stories
  4. Develop a stronger awareness of which critical points in their stories need to be well elaborated

How do I use H.E.T.S?

To explain this strategy, I’ll be using the Continuous Writing question from last year’s PSLE examination as an example.

1. Highlight the topic

Take note of the theme or topic you must write about in your story. In this case, it would be “a promise”.


2. Express the topic in your own words

Explaining the topic in your own words adds clarity to what your story should be about. In the exam, you might want to draw a simple mind map and include related phrases to explain the topic to yourself better.


3. Think of a story using at least one picture

While looking at the pictures, it’s essential to select at least one picture that relates to the topic as that is an examination requirement. In our opinion, it will be best to use the chosen picture(s) meaningfully by ensuring that the picture is part of your story’s problem or solution.


4. Summarise the story in one to two lines

Once you have selected the picture, it’s time to put the different elements together. Summarise your storyline in one to two sentences. You can jot this down quickly on the question paper itself. Here’s a suggested story idea that uses the picture meaningfully and addresses the topic:


Next, check that you have answered the guiding questions provided.


To help you ensure that I have applied H.E.T.S appropriately, you can use the following checklist:


I hope you found this strategy useful. If you have any other helpful tips to share with us and our readers about tackling the composition question, do write them in the comments section below! Be sure to check out our blog and YouTube channel for more tips on tackling the English paper. May all of you stay happy and healthy, and do well for the upcoming midterms!


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Ms Genevieve

A firm believer that small steps can lead to remarkable results, Ms Genevieve is excited to ignite a love for learning with her novel teaching approaches at Lil’ but Mighty. As she recognises that all students are individuals who learn in their own unique way, Ms. Genevieve employs varied teaching techniques to help her students of all levels maximise their learning. Embodying the philosophy of lifelong learning, she continually innovates and integrates new teaching ideas to help her students develop an insatiable curiosity whilst achieving academic success.

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