PSLE Listening Compre Test Has Such a Tough Question, Even a PhD Holder Would Get It Wrong

As times change, pre-tertiary educational tests have also changed. For the worse.

In fact, I’m kinda relieved that my own Primary and Secondary School days are left way back in the dust.

I’m pretty sure I will be screwed in all six holes if I take on that PSLE/ O Level horror fest again.

Think I’m a wussy birdbrain? Well, hold onto your thoughts first and check out the question below.

Keep in mind that it’s a damn PSLE Listening Comprehension question, and not the last question in your Chinese degree exam.

Image: Lianhe Zaobao
Image: Lianhe Zaobao

For the sake of ethnic diversity, here’s a rough translation.

Student A is wearing a set of new clothes.

Student B asks A: “Did you buy new clothes?”

Student A said: “These clothes were not bought but were tailored by my mother. Do you think they’re pretty?”

Student B said: “They’re really pretty! I didn’t know your mother could tailor clothes!”

What do you think Student A will say next?

Now, if you think it’s going to be easy, read the options.

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  1. Whenever my mother is free, she will tailor clothes for me.
  2. My mother doesn’t like to spend money on clothes.
  3. My mother just started learning how to tailor clothes

If you’re confused on the question structure, it’s actually a rejoinder question: a type of query that tests students on their understanding of dialogue structures.

In order to complete a dialogue, they would have to pick the most appropriate response.

If you prefer a more professional explanation, here’s one from SEAB.

Candidates have to give an appropriate answer to the question based on the conversation’s background information, and the words, phrasing and tone used in the conversation. A particular option may seem correct on its own, but if we combine it with the conversation’s cause and effect, the option may not be the right one.

It’s interesting to note that the rejoinder question was implemented only this year. Bet the students this year are flashing their middle fingers and cursing their luck right now.

2016 students, you got lucky, eh?

Making the front page of the newspapers

The question was so tough that local Chinese morning daily newspaper Lianhe Zaobao reported on it, and according to my colleague, mentioned on YES 933 this morning (whereby the DJ gave different answers).

Just so you know, all the DJs are degree holders.

And apparently, it didn’t have just the students stumped.

Parents had literal question marks next to their heads as well.

Now, the writer here has never faced such a question on paper before, but going by my Chinese literary prowess and common sense, I’ve decided to lock in Option B as my answer. Why?

Because Option 1 doesn’t make any sense. How many clothes would the poor mother have sewn by now? And besides, it just doesn’t follow up with what Student B asked.

B: “They’re really pretty! I didn’t know your mother could tailor clothes!”

A: “Whenever my mother is free, she will tailor clothes for me.”


Option 2 makes the mum sound like a miser, but well mums are kinda miserly in general. However it doesn’t follow up either.

B: “They’re really pretty! I didn’t know your mother could tailor clothes!”

A: “My mother does not like to spend money on clothes.”

So I went with option 3.

B: “They’re really pretty! I didn’t know your mother could tailor clothes!”

A: “My mother just started learning how to tailor clothes.”

This makes sense. Student B didn’t know that student A’s mum could tailor clothes, and A explained that his mum had only started learning it.

Perfect. 100/100 answer. If I’m wrong I’m calling the cops.

Well, enough of my rambling. What about you guys? Do you think I’m wrong? What’s your answer?

Do let us know! (although we really hope to hear the answer from SEAB instead)

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Featured Image: Lianhe Zaobao