Social Studies Purpose

Social Studies Purpose Format

The Social Studies Purpose Format is built on the foundation of the Message Format. If you are still unsure how to complete the Message questions, please do click on the link provided to check it out.

Why is the Social Studies Purpose question built on the message question? You need to let the teacher know what is the message of the source before you can give its purpose. Without further ado, let us find out how to identify one.

How to Identify a Social Studies Purpose Question

To identify a Social Studies Purpose question, look out for keywords such as “why” and “intention”.

Some examples of a Purpose question are “Why do you think this poster was produced?” (‘O’ Levels 2019) and “What was the intention of the author?

Social Studies Purpose Format

This format to this question is probably the most varied based on my experience. I have seen more than five to six formats or templates. As such, it is advisable to follow the template given by the school.

Despite what I mentioned, there are generally two big categories that you need to include to score maximum marks – first, the message and second, the purpose. This is why the Social Studies Purpose question is based on the Message question.

For me, I prefer to use this format:

Para One: Action + Audience + Inference + Outcome (AAIO)

Para Two: Support + Explain (SE)

You can see that in this format, my Message (ISE) is split into two – the Inference in the first paragraph and the Support and Explain in the second paragraph. You will notice your school may arrange these details in a different order.

Example of the Social Studies Message Format

Source A

An extract of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech from a lecture series to local university students and the general public, held on 30 June 2015.

What is it that will help us to strengthen our Singapore identity in the long term? The first thing which comes to mind for Singaporeans is food. Yes, food definitely helps but I think food is surely not the most crucial. It has to come from something deeper than that, and that comes from our shared experiences, and our bonding through these shared experiences, becoming one people. It depends on how we grow up and live together in our schools, in our national service, in our HDB flats and estates. It depends on how we help one another in times of need, how we celebrate successes together, celebrate SG50, celebrate a good performance in the SEA Games.


Why did PM Lee give this speech?


PM Lee gave this speech to encourage (Action) Singaporeans (Audience) to work together to build a strong national identity. (Inference) He made this speech to rally Singaporeans to work together to build an even stronger national identity. (Outcome)

In Source A, PM Lee says that national identity comes from “how we help one another in times of need, how we celebrate successes together, celebrate SG50, celebrate a good performance in the SEA Games.” (Support) This shows that all Singaporeans need to work together to build a strong national identity. (Explain)

How is the Social Studies Purpose format marked?

This question is marked using LORMs. A typical LORMS is:

L1            General description                         1-2m

L2            Message of the source                   3-4m

L3            L2 + Purpose                                   5-6m

What are some tips for the Social Studies Purpose question?

First of all, as this question is based on the Message question, you can use the same tips as the Message question to write the inference.

There are some common answers for the Action, Audience and Outcome. They are presented below:

To emphasise, the Audience should be a narrower category and not just the public or the reader. Think of narrowing it down by their nationality, gender, hobby, interest, occupation and so on.

The outcome requires an action to be done. It might however be a mental action like “support”.


Remember to include the Message of the source as well as its purpose and you will have a chance to score full marks.

To fully understand how to answer Social Studies Source Based Questions, do read the blog post highlighting my entire methodology. It can be found here. To understand more about ‘O’ Levels Social Studies, check out this blog post or this MOE resource.

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