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Synthesis And Transformation In PSLE: 10 Tips To Ace It

When preparing for the PSLE, parents often wonder how to guide their children in mastering the synthesis and transformation component. This task usually calls for students to synthesise two sentences into one while transforming elements to retain the original meaning. It is a section that is worth ten marks that many kids sadly stumble at. 

However, using these 10 tips, you’ll be able to help your child excel in this aspect of English language mastery.

1. Understand The Basics Of Synthesis And Transformation

First, it’s essential to understand the basic principles of synthesis and transformation. The goal here is to combine multiple sentences into one while maintaining the same meaning. Understanding grammar rules and knowing when and how to use different tenses like past, present, and future, is key.


Original: Suddenly, the lights went out  because of a power cut.  Sarah had to use a torch to read her book.

Transformed: Due to the fact that there was a sudden power cut, Sarah  had to use a torch to read her book 

This transformation incorporates various elements: the use of a cause Due to – which is usually followed by “the fact that” –  insert event (there was a sudden power cut),  and then a subsequent event (Sarah had to use a torch to read her book). Do note that these two original sentences will need to be combined using a (,).  

2. Utilise Synthesis And Transformation Correction Notes

Your child’s notes should cover a broad range of questions including past mistakes which have been made by them. These need to be annotated and filed in a master document for the purpose of easy revision.  Such is something we mandate all our students carry out to ensure they have an effective way to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them.  

Our goal is to equip your child with the know-how and confidence to tackle any synthesis and transformation question that the PSLE throws. The best way to do that is to identify questions they are not familiar with, explain what went wrong, and list down specifically what needs to be done differently in the future. Thereafter, these have to be documented and filed so that they can reach out for their notes easily when they start revision. 

3. Apply Past Perfect Tense For Reported Speech Transformation

Understanding the use of past perfect tense is crucial when it comes to Reported Speech in the  synthesis and transformation segment. This needs to be done in the format (subject + past perfect form). 


Original: “Did you all submit your homework to me yesterday?” Mr Tan asked his students. 

Transformed: Mr Tan asked his students if they had all submitted their homework to him the previous day.   

4. Identify What To Modify 

Beyond changing the tense used in the sentence, your child will also need to identify other elements within the sentences in order to capture the marks when it comes to synthesis and transformation.  

Using the Same Example:

Original: “Did you all submit your homework to me yesterday?” Mr Tan asked his students.

You will notice that besides the verb change to the words “did” and “submit”, the transformed sentence required edits to the pronouns (you -> they, me -> him), the determiner (your -> their), the time descriptor (yesterday -> the previous day), and even the punctuation (? -> if)   

Transformed: Mr Tan asked his students (if) (they) had all submitted their homework to (him) (the previous day).

5. Reverse The Rules For Direct Speech 

Developing a firm grasp on the conversion between reported and direct speech is crucial in synthesis and transformation. In direct speech, we quote the exact words someone said. In contrast, reported (or indirect) speech involves expressing what someone said without quoting them verbatim. 

The earlier example showed how to transform Direct Speech into Reported Speech. Now, we will reverse that order and show how to transform Reported Speech back into Direct Speech.    



 Jane told her teacher on Monday that she would be visiting her grandmother the next day.

Transformed:  “I will be visiting my grandmother tomorrow,” Jane told her teacher on Monday.

You will notice that the same rules apply but they are now applied in reverse order. 

6. Learn How To Handle Conditional Sentences

A conditional sentence expresses a hypothetical scenario and its potential outcome. It often involves the use of “if” or equivalent words and a shift in tenses to signify the condition and result.


Original: “If it rains, they will not go to the zoo.”

Transformed: “They will go to the zoo unless it rains.”

This example maintains the use of a conditional clause (“unless it rains”) and the main clause (“They will go to the zoo”). It demonstrates how to transform an “if” statement into an “unless” statement, modifying the sentence structure while keeping the original meaning intact. A common rule of thumb to remember is to figure out when to add or remove the “not” form in the sentence.

7. Learn How To Use Passive Voice

An understanding of the passive voice is essential in synthesis and transformation. Passive voice occurs when the subject of the sentence is acted upon by the verb which often shifts the focus of the sentence.


Original: “The gardener waters the plants every day.”

Transformed: “The plants are watered by the gardener every day.”

Here, the subject becomes the object and vice versa, demonstrating an important use of the passive voice. In the PSLE such questions often involve the change of the verb form due to a change in sentence focus. You will notice that the first sentence follows the “Singular noun – verb (s)” form while the transformed sentence follows the “Plural noun – verb (no s)” form. This aligns with grammar rules relating to subject-verb-agreement.  

8. Pay Attention To Modal Verbs

Modal verbs such as could, should, must, may etc express necessity, possibility, permission, or ability. Recognising and accurately using them will allow your child to figure out how to sequence their sentence to ensure it makes sense and is grammatically correct.


Original: “You should take an umbrella with you. It might rain later.”

Transformed: Since it might rain later, you should take an umbrella with you.

9. Ensure Correct Verb Agreement

In subject-verb agreement, the subject and the verb must agree in number, meaning a singular subject is paired with a singular verb. Meanwhile, a plural subject goes with a plural verb.

However, this simple rule can become complicated when sentences contain collective nouns or subjects separated from their verbs.


The group of boys are heading home now. (Wrong)

The group of boys is heading home now.  (Correct)

The Police is chasing after the thief (Wrong)

The Police are chasing after the thief. (Correct)

Many students often confuse singular and plural nouns in the PSLE and this in turn costs them to lose marks. So, do remind them about this as it is a pretty easy fix for your child to secure more marks.  

10. Look Out For Linking Verbs

Many students are often unsure of what to change when it comes to synthesis and transformation. A good rule of thumb is to look at the words next to the linking verbs such as is, are, was, and were, in the question. The verb your child will end up changing will usually have to end up in the dependent clause portion of the answer.  


Original: Mary was praised by her teacher because she was honest

Transformed: As a result of her honesty, Mary was praised by her teacher. 

In the above example, “Mary was praised by her teacher” is the independent clause as it can still exist as a sentence alone without the first half of the sentence (As a result of her honesty). Conversely, “As a result of her honesty” is the dependent clause as it cannot exist alone as a sentence. 

Conclusion On Synthesis And Transformation

Tackling synthesis and transformation questions in the PSLE might seem daunting to your child, but with the right strategies and practice, they can excel in this component.

Remember, the aim is to not just achieve grammatical correctness but also preserve the original meaning of the sentences. Equip your child with the right tools, and they’ll be well on their way to acing this part of their PSLE.

Want to take your child’s English language skills to the next level? Enrol them now in Teacher Daniel’s English tuition centre in Marine Parade! Do Applied Learning by Epoch Talent Academy focuses on enriching your child’s English proficiency to improve their academic performance.

Sign up for a class today! Check out our other resources on English Composition Writing and Situational Writing.

Frequently Asked Questions On Synthesis And Transformation

What Is The Rule For Synthesis And Transformation?

The rule for synthesis and transformation involves merging two or more sentences into one, maintaining the original meaning while adhering to proper English grammar rules. It requires the application of various grammatical devices such as tenses, active/passive voice, reported speech, and conjunctions, amongst others.

How Do You Learn The Synthesis Of Sentences?

Learning synthesis of sentences requires understanding the underlying grammar rules and practising extensively. Students must familiarise themselves with common connectors, various tenses, active and passive voice, and other English grammar concepts. Regular practice and reviewing of synthesis and transformation exercises are vital to mastering this skill.

How Hard Is PSLE Synthesis And Transformation?

The difficulty of the PSLE synthesis and transformation component largely depends on the student’s understanding of English grammar rules and their practice level. While it can be challenging due to the requirement to maintain the original meaning and correct grammar, students can excel in this section with consistent practice and guidance.

How To Prepare For Synthesis And Transformation In The PSLE?

Preparation for synthesis and transformation in the PSLE involves consistent practice, review of grammar rules, and understanding of sentence structures. Regularly solving synthesis and transformation exercises, reviewing mistakes, and understanding common patterns can significantly aid in preparation.

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