Tips to score in your PSLE Math Exam

Believe it or not, our world revolves around mathematics. A simple act of taking out your wallet to pay for groceries has so many mathematical implications if you really stop to think about it! From taking out your wallet, which is crafted to a certain size so that its ergonomic shape fits snugly in your pockets to pass out the $10.00 dollar note to pay for a $2.50 can of drink and counting the change once you receive it.

And if Mathematics has such a huge role to play in our lives, we should then do our utmost best to appreciate the subject and express this view in our exams! Here are some of the common difficulties our students face when doing math problems

                                                                                                   I don’t understand problem sums

All questions, no matter how complex and long, ultimately fall back on concepts that are taught in school. The number one tip I always give my students is my first step

STEP 1: “Read each sentence word for word, and understand what useful information you can draw from the text by converting ENGLISH to MATH”

What does it mean?

Example: The difference between 256 and a number is 250. What is the missing number?

This can be simply broken down into 256 – ___ = 250 à This is what I mean when I tell my students to convert English to Mathematics

More often than not, students are too lazy/unmotivated to read the chunk of text. By breaking it down into manageable bite size pieces, it will be much, much easier to handle! Amidst all that information, how then does all the information come together?

STEP 2: Draw models and incorporate ALL information in that model so much so that the question itself is in the model

Information is king. And by encompassing all information, including what the question asks for, students have a much thorough understanding of what is required! These 2 steps are pertinent in solving any math problems!

 

                                                                                                 I always make careless mistakes

 

The one tip that school teachers never teach is how to reduce careless mistakes. Most educators only preach about not making careless mistakes, but how do you go about not making them!

Method 1: Sanity Check

A sanity check would mean that the final answer is logical. For example, I cannot have a fraction if I were to find the number of apples John has or for the total number of students in the class. Similarly, the number of fruits Tom Dick and Harry has cannot be less than then number of fruits Tom has.

This is the number 1 tip I give my students who are prone to making careless mistakes

Method 2: Testing

To ascertain if ones answer is accurate, I always tell my students to double check if possible by working backwards! If my student is unable to get the original value that is stated in the question, there is a high chance that a careless mistake has been made. This is also one of the sure ways to ensure one minimizes their careless mistakes

Method 3: Double Check

While teachers will always tell their students to double check for errors, I do too! However, I advise them to double check later and move on first. There are a few reasons for this

  1. Students are unable to take fresh perspectives on the question and are prone to skimp through their workings. This might defeat the purpose of double checking.
  2. Students might be under tight time constraints. Even if a student gets the question wrong, method marks might be given. However, method marks are not given if the question is not even attempted. To bypass this problem, I always advise my students to come back to the question later                                                                                 I think I know but I actually don’t know                                                        

After explaining concepts to my students, my students will always seem to ‘understand’. I proceed to test them by asking them to redo. More often than not, they will be able to get the answers, but their steps are jumbled up!

True understand is achieved when students are able to understand concepts, not questions. Only if a student can get a correct answer when facing different questions which tests similar concepts do I deem that they understand. If not, the only way is to keep doing, and keep practicing

With that, I wish all my students the best for their exams and hope that these tips can help those who are not currently my students!

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