Singapore Primary Math Explained sc-math

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Updated: 23 October, 2007

After the 2007 PSLE math paper, some parents wrote to the press saying that the PSLE math was too tough. Some of the opinions expressed were:

- "This year's PSLE mathematics paper has caused many students undeserved anguish.

Their reactions, including that of the good and gifted ones, were one of despair and discouragement upon encountering problem sums that were set beyond their capabilities. Some even broke down right after the examination.

My son is in a top class. Mentally strong and confident in mathematics, he returned shattered boy after the exam.

I immediately checked with friends and teachers from other classes and schools, and the same story was heard.

Although schools have been equipping pupils with the skills of applying mathematical concepts, many could not complete half or more of the problem sums." - "Tearing children apart mentally at a developmental stage snuffs out the joy of learning"
- "The questions in the textbooks and workbooks are within the grasp of the students while those in the examination papers are often way beyond their ability"
- "It is futile if the child is made to solve questions that even a secondary school student may find difficult"

There are however some who felt that the math paper was reasonable and that the expectation to be able to complete all questions was too high.

The Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board had replied that the math paper was no tougher than the previous years. Some of the challenging questions were targeted at the brighter pupils. It is also not necessary to complete every single question correctly to score a distinction (A*).

Although the PSLE math test paper cannot be brought out of the examination hall, there are pupils (and teachers) who recreated some of the "challenging" questions from memory. Three of these questions are shown here (with solution) for those who are interested.

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