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15 Commonly Misspelt Words In PSLE English Exams

As parents of students in Singapore, understanding the importance of spelling in the PSLE English exams is crucial. 

Spelling is a key component of effective communication and a fundamental skill in the English language. By mastering spelling, students can significantly improve their overall scores in PSLE English exams.

Read this blog to uncover an insightful guide to the commonly misspelt words in PSLE English exams and discover how our English programme effectively addresses these challenges.

1. Desert Vs. Dessert

‘Desert’ and ‘Dessert’ are frequently mixed up in PSLE English exams, primarily due to their similar spelling and pronunciation. 

However, they have entirely different meanings. 

‘Desert’, as a noun, refers to a barren, sandy landscape, and as a verb, it means to abandon. On the other hand, ‘Dessert’ is the sweet course typically served at the end of a meal.

How can students better remember the correct spelling:

A helpful way to distinguish between ‘Desert’ and ‘Dessert’ is to remember that ‘Dessert’, the sweeter option, has one more ‘s‘ than ‘Desert’.

You can think of wanting more of the sweet ‘Dessert’, hence the extra ‘s‘.

This mnemonic can aid students in recalling which word to use in the appropriate context, ensuring they apply the correct spelling in their PSLE English exams.

2. Diarrhoea Vs. Diarrhea

The confusion between ‘Diarrhoea’ and ‘Diarrhea’ in English exams usually stems from the difference in British and American English spelling. Both words refer to the same medical condition involving frequent, watery bowel movements, but they are spelled differently depending on the version of English used.

How can students better remember the correct spelling:

For students in Singapore, where British English is the standard, ‘Diarrhoea‘ is the correct spelling. A way to remember this is to note the extra ‘o‘ in the British version, which can be seen as representing the word’s extra ‘flow’.

In contrast, the American spelling ‘Diarrhea‘ lacks this ‘o’.

3. Possession

Commonly misspelt as: Posession, Possesion

‘Possession’ frequently appears misspelt as ‘Posession’ or ‘Possesion’ in exams because of the uncertainty about where and how many times to double the ‘s’.

The correct spelling, ‘Possession’, with double ‘s‘ both after the ‘o‘ and before the ‘i‘, can be tricky to recall because the pronunciation does not strongly emphasise the double letters.

How can students better remember the correct spelling:

A simple way to remember the correct spelling of ‘Possession’ is to break it down: it contains the word ‘possess‘ plus the suffix ‘-ion‘. 

Knowing that ‘possess‘ already has a double ‘s‘ helps students understand that another ‘s’ follows in the suffix, ensuring the correct spelling of ‘Possession’ for their PSLE English exams.

4. Inaccessible

Commonly misspelt as: Inaccesible, Inaccessable

‘Inaccessible’ can often be misspelt as ‘Inaccesible’ or ‘Inaccessable,’ which arises from the challenge in determining the correct placement and number of ‘s‘ and ‘c‘ letters.

The pronunciation of ‘Inaccessible’ does not indicate the double ‘s‘ and the single ‘c‘, leading to common spelling errors.

How can students better remember the correct spelling:

To correctly spell ‘Inaccessible’, a helpful tip is to remember that it contains the word ‘access‘, followed by the suffix ‘-ible‘.

By focusing on the word ‘access’ as the root, students can more easily recall that it requires two ‘ss’, followed by a single ‘c‘ in the ‘-ible‘ suffix, ensuring accurate spelling.

5. Embarrass / Embarrassed / Embarrassment

Commonly misspelt as: Embarass, Embarassed, Embarassment

The words ‘Embarrass’, ‘Embarrassed’, and ‘Embarrassment’ are often misspelt in PSLE English exams, generally stemming from uncertainty about the number of ‘r‘ and ‘s‘ letters.

Students frequently use single ‘r‘ or ‘s‘, which contradicts the correct spelling that requires double ‘r‘ and ‘s‘.

How can students better remember the correct spelling:

A useful mnemonic for remembering the correct spelling of these words is to think of getting ‘red’ with embarrassment, symbolising the double ‘r‘, and the ‘ss‘ as in ‘stress’ that one might feel when embarrassed.

This visual association can help students recall that both ‘Embarrass’ and its derivatives contain double ‘rs’ and ‘ss’, aiding in accurate spelling during their PSLE English exams.

6. Exaggerate / Exaggeration

Commonly misspelt as: Exagerate, Exageration

The words ‘Exaggerate’ and ‘Exaggeration’ are frequently misspelt in PSLE English exams as ‘Exagerate’ and ‘Exageration’ because of the number of ‘g‘s these words contain.

Many students mistakenly believe that a single ‘g‘ is sufficient, likely due to how the words are pronounced, where the double ‘g‘ sound is not heavily emphasised.

How can students better remember the correct spelling:

A helpful way to remember the correct spelling of ‘Exaggerate’ and ‘Exaggeration’ is to emphasise the ‘gg‘ when learning this structure:

When you exaggerate a story, remember it’s big enough to need two ‘g‘s, just like in its exaggeration.

This sentence emphasises the double ‘g‘ in both ‘exaggerate’ and ‘exaggeration,’ linking the spelling to the concept of something being enlarged or overstated.

7. Irresistible

Commonly misspelt as: Irresistable, Irresitable

‘Irresistible’ is commonly misspelt in PSLE English exams as ‘Irresistable’ or ‘Irresitable’. The difficulty arises from the uncertainty over the correct vowel following the ‘s‘. 

Many students incorrectly assume it should be an ‘a‘, as in ‘able’, or omit the second ‘i‘, which deviates from the actual spelling. This confusion is often due to the subtleties in pronunciation, where the ‘i‘ sound may not be distinctly heard.

How can students better remember the correct spelling:

To remember the correct spelling of ‘Irresistible’, focus on the root word ‘resist’ and the prefix ‘ir-‘, which indicates negation.

Then, by adding the suffix ‘-ible‘, which is common in English adjectives, the correct form becomes clear.

Remembering that ‘resist’ forms the core of ‘Irresistible’ helps ensure the accurate spelling of this word in PSLE English exams.

8. Recommend / Recommendation

Commonly misspelt as: Reccomend, Reccommendation

The words ‘Recommend’ and ‘Recommendation’ are often misspelt in PSLE English exams, typically as ‘Reccomend’ or ‘Reccommendation’. The confusion usually lies in the number of ‘c‘s and ‘m‘s. 

Some students mistakenly add an extra ‘c‘ or miss the double ‘m‘, which is a common error due to the way these words are pronounced, where the emphasis doesn’t fall on the double ‘m‘.

How can students better remember the correct spelling:

A helpful tip to remember the correct spelling is to focus on the ‘mm’ in the middle of ‘Recommend’ and ‘Recommendation’.

Associating these words with ‘mm‘ as in ‘mmm’ (the sound made when agreeing or thinking) can remind students of the double ‘m’ following the single ‘c‘, aiding in correct spelling for PSLE English exams.

9. Accommodate / Accommodation

Commonly misspelt as: Acommodate, Acommodation, Accomodate, Accomodation

‘Accommodate’ and ‘Accommodation’ are frequently misspelt in PSLE English exams, where the source of error is in the number of ‘c‘s and ‘m‘s. Many students mistakenly use only one ‘c‘ or ‘m‘, which deviates from the correct spelling.

This confusion may stem from the length of the words and the subtleties in their pronunciation, which don’t clearly indicate the double letters.

How can students better remember the correct spelling:

To help students remember the correct spelling of “Accommodate / Accommodation,” you can use the sentence:

A good hotel can accommodate many guests with double ‘c‘s and double ‘m‘s in its accommodation.

This sentence emphasises the double ‘c‘ and ‘m‘ in both words, reinforcing the correct spelling in a memorable context.

10. Stationery Vs. Stationary

‘Stationery’ and ‘Stationary’ are commonly confused in PSLE English exams due to their similar pronunciation but distinct meanings. 

‘Stationery’ refers to writing materials, such as paper and pens, whereas ‘Stationary’ means not moving or being still.

The confusion usually arises from not understanding the different contexts in which each word is used and their spelling nuances.

How can students better remember the correct spelling:

To distinguish between ‘Stationery’ and ‘Stationary’, students can use the following associations:

‘Stationery’ with an ‘e‘ is related to ‘envelopes’, which are a common item of stationery.

‘Stationary’ with an ‘a‘ stands for ‘at a standstill’, indicating no movement.

These mnemonic devices can help students recall the correct word and spelling in the appropriate context, ensuring they apply the correct spelling in their PSLE English exams.

11. Occurrence

Commonly misspelt as: Ocurrence, Occurence

‘Occurrence’ is commonly misspelt in PSLE English exams as ‘Ocurrence’ or ‘Occurence’. This mistake usually happens because of uncertainty around the number of ‘c‘s and ‘r‘s in the word. 

The pronunciation of ‘Occurrence’ can make it challenging to discern the double ‘c‘ and the double ‘r‘, leading students to misspell it.

How can students better remember the correct spelling:

A helpful tip for remembering the correct spelling of ‘Occurrence’ is to focus on the prefix ‘occur-‘, which already has a double ‘r‘, and then simply add ‘-ence‘.

Keeping in mind that ‘occur’ itself is spelled with two ‘c‘s and two ‘r‘s can guide students to spell ‘Occurrence’ correctly, ensuring accuracy in their PSLE English exams.

12. Dissatisfied / Dissatisfy / Dissatisfaction

Commonly misspelt as: Disatisfied, Disatisfy, Disatisfaction

‘Dissatisfied’, ‘Dissatisfy’, and ‘Dissatisfaction’ are frequently misspelt in PSLE English exams, where the common error is the omission of one ‘s‘. 

The confusion arises because the prefix ‘dis-‘ is typically spelled with a single ‘s‘, while in these words, it is followed by an ‘s‘ in the root word ‘satisfy’, leading to a double ‘ss‘ sequence.

How can students better remember the correct spelling:

To remember the correct spelling of these words, focus on the root word ‘satisfy’. Since ‘satisfy’ begins with ‘s‘, when the prefix ‘dis-‘ is added to indicate the opposite meaning, it results in a double ‘ss‘.

This understanding can help students correctly spell ‘Dissatisfied’, ‘Dissatisfy’, and ‘Dissatisfaction.’

13. Disappoint

Commonly misspelt as: Dissapoint, Dissappoint

‘Disappoint’ is commonly misspelled in PSLE English exams as ‘Dissapoint’ or ‘Dissappoint’. The confusion typically arises from uncertainty about the number of ‘s‘s and ‘p‘s. The word combines the prefix ‘dis-‘ with the root ‘appoint’, but the pronunciation can make it unclear whether the ‘s’ and ‘p’ should be doubled.

How can students better remember the correct spelling:

A useful way to remember the correct spelling of ‘Disappoint’ is to break it down to its components: the prefix ‘dis-‘ and the root ‘appoint’. 

Knowing that ‘dis-‘ is a common prefix spelled with a single ‘s‘, and ‘appoint’ starts with a single ‘p‘, can help students recall that only one ‘s‘ and one ‘p‘ are needed, ensuring the correct spelling in their PSLE English exams.

14. Happiness Vs. Happyness

The confusion between ‘Happiness’ and ‘Happyness’ in PSLE English exams primarily arises from the unconventional spelling of ‘Happyness’, popularised by cultural references such as movies.

‘Happiness’, with an ‘i‘, is the correct spelling of the word, denoting a state of being happy. ‘Happyness’, with a ‘y‘, is generally considered a misspelling, although it may appear in creative or informal contexts.

How can students better remember the correct spelling:

To help students remember the correct spelling of “Happiness,” you can use this sentence structure:

True happiness, spelled with an ‘i‘, fills our lives with joy and positivity.

This sentence emphasises the correct spelling with an ‘i‘ and associates it with the positive feeling the word conveys, distinguishing it from the less common ‘Happyness’.

15. Occasion / Occasionally

Commonly misspelt as: Ocassion, Ocasionally

The words ‘Occasion’ and ‘Occasionally’ are frequently misspelled in PSLE English exams as ‘Ocassion’ and ‘Ocasionally’.

This common error stems from uncertainty about the number of ‘c‘s and ‘s‘s in these words. The pronunciation of ‘Occasion’ and ‘Occasionally’ might suggest a single ‘c‘ or a single ‘s‘, which leads to these spelling mistakes.

Conclusion About Commonly Misspelt Words

Understanding and mastering commonly misspelt words in PSLE English exams is more than just academic excellence, it’s a crucial step towards boosting confidence and honing effective writing skills.

At DO Applied Learning by Epoch Learning Academy, headed by Teacher Daniel, we focus on achieving better grades in English with our approach, the Pentagon Values System, designed to equip students with lifelong skills and values.

We also offer extensive blogs on various aspects of PSLE English, including Situational Writing, Composition Writing, Synthesis and Transformation, Practising Vs. Practicing and Continuous Writing that are tailored to address student learning styles and needs.

Schedule now for a complimentary diagnostic consultation with DO Applied Learning to identify and overcome any barriers to English proficiency and comprehension.

Join us in this journey of learning, where we prioritise results through values. Let’s work together to help your child succeed in their exams and excel in life beyond the classroom.

Frequently Asked Questions About Commonly Misspelt Words

What Are The Best Methods To Teach Children Spelling Words?

Engaging methods like interactive spelling games, flashcards, and writing exercises can enhance their learning experience.

Encouraging children to break down complex words into smaller syllables or phonemes helps them understand the structure and patterns of the English language, thereby improving their spelling skills.

Is There Any Impact Of Autocorrect And Digital Devices On Spelling Skills?

Autocorrect and digital devices can offer convenience and immediate correction but over-reliance on these tools can hinder a child’s ability to learn and remember correct spellings independently.

It’s important to balance digital aids with traditional spelling practice to ensure students develop the skill of spelling words correctly without technological assistance.

How Often Should Students Revise Spelling Words For Effective Retention?

For effective retention of spelling words, students should engage in regular and consistent practice. Ideally, revising spelling words several times a week can significantly improve retention. 

Short, frequent sessions are more effective than cramming, as they help reinforce learning over time and aid in long-term memory retention.

Can Reading Regularly Improve Spelling Skills For PSLE English Exams?

Yes, regular reading can significantly improve spelling skills for PSLE English exams. It exposes students to a wide range of words, helping them understand their context and usage. 

Reading also familiarises them with correct spellings and reinforces word patterns in their memory, which is crucial for accurate spelling in exams.

How Can Visual Learning Techniques Aid In Remembering Spellings For The PSLE?

Visual learning techniques can be highly effective in aiding spelling retention. Techniques like creating mind maps, using colour-coded notes, and drawing word-related pictures help embed words in memory. 

Visual association, where a word is linked with an image or a visual pattern, can make recall easier and more effective for visual learners.

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