"Why do children dread Mathematics? Because of the wrong approach. Because it is looked at as a subject," said the famous Indian mathematician Shakuntala Devi.
PSLE Math is tough, even for experts who are passionate about it. Every year, the PSLE Math exam comes like a gauntlet armed with some of the toughest questions that confuse even well-prepared students. The exam draws a lot of criticism because of its difficulty level. However, only Singapore's Ministry of Education has a say in the matter, and there's no point in criticising the exam.
What students can do instead is to familiarise themselves with the tough questions and devise strategies to tackle them, rather than blame the exam difficulty.
However, before unravelling those strategies, let's do a quick rundown of the PSLE Math exam format.
The exam has two papers:
1. Paper 1
There are two booklets in Paper 1- Booklets A and B.
Duration: 1 hour
Number of questions in Booklet A
10 MCQs or Multiple Choice Questions with one mark for each question.
One-mark question- 5
Two-mark question - 10
Calculators are not needed for this section because the questions are not complex.
2. Paper 2
Number of short answer questions- 5
Number of long answer questions- 12
Calculators are allowed for this section because the questions are quite complex and test students on various levels of difficulty.
Tips to Score Well in Paper 1
Tips for scoring well in Paper 2
Let's now analyse the various strategies to tackle the tough questions in PSLE Math.
1. Understand the concepts
Rote learning never works with Math, especially PSLE Math. Primary students in Singapore should start working on their conceptual understanding of the subject right from their early years in school. Conceptual understanding is critical for long-term success in Math, and students who lack it often face innumerable challenges with the subject.
2. Find the right resources
Textbooks are not the only sources for learning Primary Math. Parents can provide access to books that teach their children Math heuristics, spatial learning, and advanced modelling. Having the right resources is the best way to gear up for PSLE Math children face later in Primary 6.
3. Practice Math every day
Do you want your child to be able to cope with the complexity of the subject without becoming stressed? Have them practice the subject every day. Daily practice helps your child:
To tackle the tricky questions, your child should practise everything from basic arithmetic to complex problems.
4. Use the previous year's PSLE Math papers
Previous year's PSLE Math papers are like a collective treasure trove. Officially published by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB), they give in-depth insight into the difficulty level of the exam and the types of questions to expect. The best way to use these exam papers is to write mock exams as often as possible. It will help students get used to the timing restraints, think on their feet, and complete the paper within the duration.
5. Improve mental calculation
While students can use a calculator for PSLE Math Paper-2, it is best to hone their mental calculation skills from the basic primary years. Eventually, over the years, there will be many situations where they will have to use their mental abilities to solve Math problems. The following tricks will help them breakdown the problem in a faster and easier manner:
There is a raging debate about the PSLE Math difficulty level. Parents, tutors and educators in Singapore share different opinions on the subject. Some of them feel it is unnecessary to put Primary students through the wringer at such an early age. However, some feel such challenges will equip students to deal with tougher academic difficulties later.
Moreover, parental support is indisputable in helping navigate the difficulties of Primary school. Paying attention to the process is the first step to helping your child with their studies. When you pay attention, you will find specific ways to help them.
1. Have realistic expectations
Your children are already under too much pressure with primary and PSLE Math. In these circumstances, it is best not to set unhealthy expectations to further pressurise your children. Set realistic aspirations that align with your child's Mathematical abilities. Encourage their effort and always let them know that a low score is not the end of the world.
2. Understand their learning style
There is no "one-size-fits-all" with learning. Children have unique ways of learning and understanding Primary Math. For some, visual learning aids like diagrams and simulations may help see a clearer picture. Auditory learners, on the other hand, may benefit from repetitively reciting formulae. Lastly, some kinesthetic learners grasp concepts better with Math-related practical activities.
3. Encourage their interest
Whether it is Primary Math or PSLE exam, it will be a long process, peppered with challenges and moments of achievement. Your children need constant support and encouragement to keep up the learning pace with a sense of passion for the subject. To ignite their passion for Math, you can try these methods:
Before signing off, we leave you with one final thought: Primary Math is tough, and PSLE Math is tougher. However, both are not unconquerable. Numerous Primary students in Singapore score impressive marks in the PSLE Math exam every academic year. The trick is to form a super strong foundation to help your child overcome the challenges and prevail victoriously.
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