If your child is in Primary 6 this year and is going to take the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) in just a few months time, you should have heard of how past years’ PSLE Mathematics paper have been so challenging and mind-boggling for students.
With the introduction of the calculator and algebra into the Primary 6 Mathematics syllabus in recent years, the PSLE Mathematics standard has been raised considerably compared to 10 years ago. Not only do students have to pick up another skill to use the calculator wisely and appropriately(you will be surprised how some students use their calculators), they have to learn not to lose focus on their fundamental arithmetic skills while tackling the famous PSLE Problem Sums.
So in the midst of remedial lessons in school, preliminary examinations and of course tutorials, how do you prepare your child well for PSLE Maths?
Firstly, we would recommend setting a clearly-defined goal or grade to achieve. Set a realistic goal and always aim high. If you ask your child what grade does he or she wants and you get the answer “I dunno..” instead of “I’m working hard to get an A!” You probably should start thinking about fixing this first.
Secondly, in general students at different level of proficiency will require different approaches. Hence the strategies a personal home tutor, or you as a parent could map out for your child’s progress in Maths would be according to the goal and current proficiency level. Spot weaknesses that emanate from repeated mistakes, identifying level of understanding of topics and analyse scoring trends according to sections in the practice exam papers or preliminary examinations is key to formulate a winning strategy for your child’s academic progress.
If your child has set a goal to achieve an A* and is consistently scoring 80 marks and above in school examinations, you can target to let your child focus more on challenging non-routine problems sums while at the same time ensure that the foundation sums in the front sections of the paper still maintain a high score and preferably, be bold and aim for full marks.
For a goal to achieve an A or B, it is important that the fundamentals is strong and good. Work on the concepts and the important links between topics like Fractions and Decimals, Fractions and Ratio, Fractions and Percentage (they are very very closely related topics) More practice on basic mental sums or arithmetic calculations is important too but only allocate a small portion of time on this. Finally, move on to focus more on the problem sums solving methods (with examples first) once a good depth of knowledge is attained on the relevant topics. Remember, mathematics to a certain extent is about practice, practice and practice!
Depending on the learning pace of each child, which is different, you or the tutor should adjust and suit the learning progress accordingly.
Thirdly, inculcate good examination practices if your child still has not know or practice any yet. Plan the time for each section or even each question well and allocate enough time for checking such that your child can answer you how much time he is going to spend for example, a Section A MCQ.
To make a point, we would actually recommend that the preparation as stated above starts at least 1.5 years before the PSLE. Some of the strategies as stated above are not limited to Maths alone and are in fact also employed for students in ConsultAtutor’s One to One Tutoring Program. As time is a luxury at this moment for those taking PSLE this year, even more hard work and personal attention would have to be put in. As the saying goes, no pain, no gain!