PSLE Math: Common mistakes made by students & How To Correct Them

psle math

Welcome to our 3 part series of the common mistakes made in PSLE. Today, we explore the common mistakes made by students in PSLE math

Read also: PSLE: 7 ways to prepare for your upcoming PSLE 

Common mistakes in PSLE Math

1 – Careless mistakes and miscalculations in PSLE Math

Scientific calculator

Miscalculations in PSLE math happen when students inaccurately transfer their answers, forgetting to put units (or convert to required units) or skipping steps or keying in wrong numbers in the calculators. 

It is important to not overlook these minor mistakes as they will amount to a lot of marks which can be a huge loss in the examination. A few marks can easily determine whether you belong to a grade A or B. 

How to overcome this careless mistake

Double and triple check your work. When you are transferring your answers from your work to your answer sheet, it is important to double-check your answers. This is especially important when you are transferring your MCQ answers to the OAS. Make sure that all your answers tally to the questions. 

It is recommended you fill your OAS as you complete each question. Refrain from transferring all at one go before the end of the exam as you might forget and be careless when transferring. 

Read the question again. Is the question asking for a specific unit of measurement at the end? Did you accidentally calculate for the wrong variable? Does your answer sound logical? 

Common sense is not common when you are under stress and anxiety, hence students should always double and triple-check their work to ensure they do not miss out on anything important. 

Try not to skip steps. Be it for MCQ or long questions, it is not recommended to skip steps or do only mental calculations. Write it all out, it not only helps to minimise errors, it is also helpful to spot any errors easily when checking your work. 

Key into your calculator at least 3 times. This is to ensure that you have correctly calculated your answer. Should your answers not tally, calculate again until you get all 3 answers the same. 

2 – Misunderstanding the question 

Monochrome Photo of Math Formulas

Reading too fast or misreading the question can lead to students applying the wrong concepts in the question. 

It is important to know that some questions in PSLE math are tricky and are there to trick students to apply the wrong concepts. These questions test student’s ability to extract the needed information to solve the question. Hence, be reminded to always reread the question and understand what they are asking for before diving right into the question.

How to avoid making this mistake

Read the question at least 2-3 times if you are unsure or unclear what they are looking for. Read line by line and especially the final question – the thing they are looking for. Highlight or underline what is given and what the final question requires you to find. 

In the case of a long working question, it is important to read back the question every now and then to recall the final objective of the question. This is so as to keep yourself on track with the question and ensure that you are not solving for the wrong thing. 

3 – Using shortcuts 

Person Writing While Using Phone

Shortcuts are a great way to help students save time during the examination. However, there’s a thing with shortcuts – it is that it does not always apply! Some shortcut methods are specifically used for specific questions. Unless you have tried and tested it on multiple questions before and it ALWAYS works, it is best that students avoid a shortcut that they rarely use or never used before. 

When you use shortcuts, you are essentially losing out on precious marks. If your final answer is not right, you will not be awarded many marks because the examiner is unable to give you any method marks if your work has only 2 lines. 

What you should do instead

Instead of using shortcuts, solve the question in a conventional way, write down all the workings that lead you to your final answer. This prevents you from losing any method marks and should you get the final answer wrong, you might be awarded “error carried forward” marks if you show your working and understanding clearly. 

4 – No illustrations or bad and unclear illustrations 

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The most well-known feature of Singapore PSLE math is our modelling concept. You are taught to use models and other types of illustrations to aid in solving mathematical problems – so use them! 

Common mistakes made by students are skipping the model drawing or illustrations to “save time” or drawing a badly labelled illustration. 

Both of these can result in loss of marks, when you badly label your models, your examiners are unable to give you method marks if they do not understand what you are trying to express. It is even more difficult to award you marks if you do not even draw a model. 

On the bright side, these illustrations can help students to understand the question better since visual aids are useful for solving and understanding problems. 

What should be done instead

Draw a clearly labelled illustration for questions that allow you to do so. Additionally, brush up on your illustrations when revising for PSLE math. Make it a habit to always express your answers and understanding as illustrations or working so it comes naturally to you during the PSLE math exam. 

5 – Not knowing the essential formulas 

Area and volume formulas are some of the most neglected formulas by students. Students either memorise the formula wrongly or simply apply the formulas wrongly. 

Other commonly misused formulas include

  • Area 
  • Volume 
  • Speed, time and distance 
  • Angles 
  • Polygons 
  • Number patterns 

What should be done

Constantly test your memory and apply these formulas to questions without referring when you are doing your past year papers and other practices. 

Before you start doing all your practice papers, write and keep a list of all these important formulas on one piece of paper and treat it as your “cheat sheet” and only refer to it when you really cannot remember or read it once every night before you go to bed. 

Tutopiya has compiled a list of PSLE math formulas for students as a guide for their revision. Preview the PDF here and it is also available for download! 

psle math

Download Here!

In a nutshell, all these common mistakes can be avoided with extra caution and attention paid during the examination. Practice not making these mistakes during your practices and engrain them into your head! 

Tutopiya wishes our students the best of luck for their upcoming examinations! 

Read also: Study Planners: How to Study Effectively & Efficiently

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