A foreigner’s Guide to conquering Singapore’s PSLE Math

Published on 8 October 2019 by Edu Aid | For Parents | Mathematics | Tuition

Students having PSLE examinations

Singapore’s PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examinations), a national exam for Primary 6 (12 years old) children in Singapore is finally over for this year. However, the Math paper became the spotlight when a concerned mummy wrote an open letter to the Minister of Education, complaining that the paper was too difficult and in her words “The 2019 Math PSLE Exam held last Friday was so harrowing and so devastating that our 11 and 12 year olds came out of it defeated, crushed and utterly demoralized”.  If you are a foreigner parent and have not experienced the PSLE at all before, this issue may throw you off and get you all panicky. Before you start thinking of getting your child out of the Singapore education system, let’s do some fact-check to understand Singapore’s PSLE system better, and then learn how to help our children approach it with ease.

Singapore’s PSLE – high stakes exams?

 The purpose of having PSLE for our 12 years olds is to differentiate the children in terms of their academic capabilities. The education system in Singapore is fair, based on meritocracy. The students who perform better will get to enter the schools who accept those with higher scores. This works well for everyone because each school can cater their curriculum and activities to the academic readiness of their students. However, there are parents who believe that this means that PSLE has become a “high-stakes exams”, because they assume that getting to a “bad Secondary school” sets the path for failure for their children.

Many Singaporeans who had scored badly in their PSLE have proven to us today that this is definitely not the case. In fact, many would be quick to share that early failures in life made them all the more resilient and humble – necessary recipe for their success today. Therefore, as a parent, there is no need at all to be too anxious about your child’s PSLE results. Allow the results to help your child get to the right Secondary school that can help him develop at his own pace. If he happens to have anxiety or mental block during the exams and get to a Secondary school he finds undesirable for his standard, he may still blossom in that school with his capability. It is not the end of the world. Your child definitely still has a hope and future in Singapore.

Approach the PSLE with a right attitude

While the PSLE is definitely not a high-stakes examination, we should still help our children to realize their full potential in this national examination. We should approach this national examination with a serious attitude, and encourage our children to do so too. This is because studying for the exams can help our children learn how to be more disciplined and focused. These traits that our children build up while mugging for major examinations will train them to keep focused when faced with stressful situations at work when they grow up.

Hiring a home tuition teacher in Singapore

Tutor teaching student MathWhile tuition is not absolutely necessary to score well in PSLE, we will recommend it if you are not familiar with Singapore’s education curriculum. Getting a home tuition teacher in Singapore is almost a norm. Some of the reasons why parents choose to hire home tuition teachers in Singapore would be:

  • Challenging the child to improve from B grade to A grade
  • Keeping the child mentally challenged to stay in A grade
  • Helping a struggling child to at least hit a pass with practice over practice
  • Helping a struggling parent to understand how the child learns

The last reason is not conventional, but getting more common. Parents begin to realise there are different ways different children learn. There is no stupid child, only wrong teaching methods. If a parent or school teacher cannot engage a child with their teaching method, tutors will need to come into the picture to understand the child’s learning style and find a teaching method that can help the child to cognitively engage.

Get the right tutor from a tuition agency in Singapore

 You may have received advertisements of individual tutors from leaflets that got to your doorstep, or pasted at bus stops. We recommend you look for a suitable tutor through a tuition agency in Singapore. Testing tutors come with high cost. Parents should try their best to hit jackpot at the very first tutor – find someone your child is comfortable with and can help your child realize his full potential. It is not easy, and one should never take the risk to just try tutors randomly. Some tutors may totally kill any interest your child has in the subject on their very first visit. Use a trusted tuition agency that can provide you the best match according to their experience.

Conclusion: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

 If you have had the time to check out the 3 most challenging questions in this year’s PSLE Math paper, you would be quite surprised to know they are actually not that challenging really. We become perplexed as to why people will find them much more difficult than previous years questions, when in fact, there are even more questions that feel totally impossible in past year papers. The difference is this – this year’s difficult questions are not the same type of difficult questions Math examination papersthat students practiced from past year papers. These are not the type of questions they expected, and had practiced over and over again before. Therefore, these questions threw them off even though they were obviously much easier than the really tough ones they practiced hard for. In fact, we observe that this is where the direction is moving for our PSLE Math papers. There will be interesting questions that students do not expect. These questions may in fact favour students with richer life experiences, like calculating discounts while shopping online, determining if an egg is heavier or an orange is heavier. One day in the future, some parent may just write in to the Minister of Education because the textbooks do not teach about the weight of eggs and oranges! Brace yourself. Do not end up getting mad with the system just because you made your child study at home all day. Let him have a life too. A relaxed brain makes a better learner.

We wish your child all the best! Once again, remember – the PSLE is not the be all and end all. Try your best and allow your child to blossom at his own time.

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