PART 1 – INTRODUCTION
Maths is so difficult! How many times have you heard your child utter this phrase in exasperation as they are tackling their school work or Maths tuition homework? As a subject requiring the use of multi-step processes to solve problems, mastering Maths takes plenty more practice than other subjects. As such, it is unsurprising to learn that many Secondary students often struggle with Maths.
However, this is not to say that achieving a good grade in Maths, particularly during the O-level examinations, is an impossible task. All your child requires is the correct preparation! In this guide, we will share everything parents need to know about O-level Maths and how they can help their children score well for their O-level Maths examinations.
PART 2 – OVERVIEW OF O-LEVEL MATHS
2.1. Why Is O-Level Maths Essential?
Before we delve further into exploring O-level Maths, it is crucial for students to understand why learning Maths is essential. After all, many students have likely thought about and questioned the importance of the subject and why it is necessary in their lives, particularly if they have no desire to pursue a career related to Maths. Perhaps you might even have had a similar experience as a student.
So why is Maths essential in our lives, and a vital part of O-levels? Let us first look at the purpose of Elementary Maths (E Maths) and Additional Maths (A Maths) as outlined by the Singapore Examination and Assessment Board (SEAB) Syllabus.
According to the SEAB syllabus, both subjects are meant to ensure students can:
- Acquire mathematical concepts and skills
- Develop thinking, reasoning, and metacognitive skills
- Connect ideas within Maths and between Maths through the application of Maths
- Appreciate the abstract nature and power of Maths
Furthermore, the objectives of both subjects are as follows:
Elementary Maths (E Maths)
- Understand and apply mathematical concepts and skills in different contexts.
- Organise and analyse data and information by using the appropriate techniques of solutions.
- Solve higher-order thinking problems by making inferences and writing mathematical explanations and arguments.
Additional Maths (A Maths)
- Understand and apply mathematical concepts and skills in different contexts.
- Organise and analyse data and information by using the appropriate techniques of solutions.
- Solve higher-order thinking problems by making inferences and writing mathematical explanations, arguments, and proof.
As you can see, learning Maths involves more than developing a rudimentary understanding and the ability to carry out simple calculations to get by in daily life. It also helps students cultivate analytical, critical thinking, and reasoning skills. Even if your child does not wish to pursue a Maths-related diploma or degree in the future, these fundamental skills remain essential regardless of the field of study they enter.
Furthermore, as a core subject, your child’s Maths grade can affect their future academic path. Performing poorly in E Maths, A Maths, or both can pull down their O-level aggregate results, impacting their chances of enrolling in the Junior College or Polytechnic course of their dreams. Therefore, it is unsurprising that many parents enrol their children in O-Level Maths tuition to ensure they maximise their chances of performing well.
2.2. O-Level Maths Exam Format
Like other subjects, more than half the battle is fought before the big day – the exam date – arrives. That is to say, adequate preparation is essential to performing well for O-level Maths – for both E and A Maths. Let us share the exam format for both subjects to ensure your child knows what to expect when they sit for these exam papers.
Both the E and A Maths O-level exams are divided into two papers – Paper 1 and Paper 2. Your child can bring an approved calculator into the exam hall for both test papers. Just ensure their calculator has sufficient battery power to last them the duration of the exam. Your child should also have a curve ruler with them.
2.3. Should My Child Consider A Maths In Upper Secondary?
If your child is still on the cusp of transitioning to Secondary 3, you are likely still deciding on the subject combinations your child should take. This decision is a pivotal moment in your child’s life, as their performance in the subjects they choose will affect their chances of enrolling in their dream tertiary education programme.
While some subjects, like English and E Maths, are mandatory, A Maths is not. Instead, this subject is an elective module. As a result, you and your child might wonder if it is worth taking up A Maths, especially considering its reputation as a challenging subject. You might even be thinking if A Maths tuition is necessary if your child takes up A Maths.
If you and your child are facing this current dilemma, fret not! Let us examine the compelling reasons why your child should consider A Maths. With this information, both of you can make an informed decision that is in the best interest of your child.
Reason #1: Boost your child’s critical thinking skills
A Maths is a subject that encourages students to delve deeper into the mechanics and technicalities of Maths, as the aim of the curriculum is to prepare students for the more advanced Maths modules they will encounter in Junior College and specific Polytechnic programmes. As such, the exam questions are designed to encourage students to analyse and apply critical thinking to the concepts taught in class and A Maths tuition.
Through learning to tackle and solve these mathematical problems, your child can become a better critical thinker, which can be helpful when they enter the workforce. You will be hard-pressed to find a career path where analytical and critical thinking skills will not benefit your child. In fact, these skills are highly sought after by many employers in Singapore.
Reason #2: Prepare your child for tertiary Maths subjects and programmes
Regardless of whether your child wishes to further their studies by enrolling in a Junior College or Polytechnic, learning A Maths can stand them in good stead for their tertiary education. That is because many of the mathematical concepts found in the A Maths syllabus are fundamental to understanding the more complex topics introduced in tertiary Maths programmes in Junior College and Polytechnic.
In fact, specific subjects and programmes require students to have prior experience with A Maths. For example, students taking H2 Maths must pass their O-level A Maths. While this requirement is non-mandatory for H1 Maths, those familiar with A Maths will have an advantage over those who did not take the subject. Likewise, passing O-level A Maths is a requirement if your child pursues a diploma in Physics, Engineering, or Mathematics in Polytechnic.
Reason #3: Additional career paths in the future
Is your child undecided on their future career path? Well, no worries. It is wise to give them the time and space to make an informed decision. In the meantime, learning A Maths can provide your child with a robust foundation in Maths and open up additional career paths in the future. Who knows? They might even discover a passion for mathematics, driving them towards a career in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) field.
Reason #4: Boost your child’s O-level score
As part of your child’s O-level aggregate results, they must include one Maths subject when factoring in their L1R4 or L1R5 score. Fortunately, your child can choose between their E or A Maths results. So if they perform better for their A Maths, they can include their A Maths grade in the point calculations, leading to an improved O-level aggregate score. Your child can even include both subjects in their overall aggregate score if they excel in A and E Maths.
PART 3 – HOW TO SCORE WELL FOR O-LEVEL MATHS
3.1. Tips For Performing Well In O-Level Maths
As difficult as it may seem for your child, studying for O-level Maths and performing well for the examinations need not be a challenging feat. With the correct preparation, the journey to scoring an “A” for their O-level Maths can be a manageable and enjoyable one. Let us share five practical strategies to help your child crush their exams with ease.
Strategy #1: Help your child devise a study plan
As the proverb goes: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Likewise, devising a study plan and adhering to it can help your child build discipline and achieve their study goals. In fact, we will posit that a revision timetable is essential, as it allows your child to break up the O-level Maths syllabus into manageable pieces, making it easier to revise the various concepts.
Remember to plan ahead to ensure your child has sufficient time in their schedule to revise their Maths notes and redo some of the challenging questions. We also recommend setting aside extra time to ensure your child receives sufficient practice on their weaker topics. Lastly, include adequate breaks between their Math tuition classes and revision sessions so that your child feels less overwhelmed when they enter the final stretch of their exam preparations.
Strategy #2: Ensure your child is familiar with the formulas
While your child will be provided with a formulae sheet during their O-level Maths exam, this information is meaningless if they do not understand how to interpret and apply each formula. Furthermore, the formulae provided only encompass the basics and are not comprehensive. Therefore, your child must still be aware of those formulae that are not provided and memorise them for their exams.
Hence, we recommend that your child sets aside 10 to 15 minutes daily to revise the formulae list and learn how each can be applied correctly. Your child can even try their hands at creating their personal formulae sheet. By writing the various formulae on paper, they are committing them to memory.
Strategy #3: Provide your child with plenty of practice papers
Practice makes perfect, and no subject best embodies this saying than Maths. Whether your child is completing homework from their Maths tuition classes or practising papers from the ten-year series, you can guarantee they will improve if they put in consistent effort. Besides, the constant practice allows your child to understand the Maths concept better, as well as helps them spot a trend and identify the type of questions that appear regularly on exam papers.
However, practice papers should only be attempted after your child has completed their revision beforehand. Doing so ensures that the correct concepts are applied. The last thing your child should do is waste time attempting practice papers based on the wrong information. Once they are done, they can get their mistakes checked out and explained by their Maths tutor, allowing them to learn from their errors and avoid repeating them during the exam.
Strategy #4: Encourage your child to clarify their doubts
Your child should never be afraid to seek help when in doubt. Doing so is the only way to understand the concept thoroughly. However, if your child is hesitant to clarify their doubts at school for fear of being embarrassed at asking a silly question in front of a large class size, fret not. They can consider approaching their Maths tutor for a one-on-one consultation.
Strategy #5: Ensure your child gets sufficient rest before their exams
As their exams approach, your child may feel pressured to cram so that they can recall information better. However, cramming is one of the worst possible ways to prepare for an exam, as it creates unnecessary stress and panic, affecting performance levels. In fact, your child might notice a drop in concentration levels due to all the midnight oil they are burning.
As a parent, this is where you should step in and advise them to stop cramming. Instead, ensure they receive sufficient rest, especially the night before their exams. This way, they can better focus during the test and recall the information they have learned during their revisions and Math tuition classes.
3.2. How Secondary Maths Tuition Can Help Your Child
At the end of the day, every child is unique, and each has their strengths and weaknesses. For some, Maths might not be their strong suit. As a result, they require additional guidance to excel in the subject. If your child is in a similar boat, you can consider enrolling them in Maths tuition classes. Doing so can benefit your child, as it helps them brush up on the subject.
Benefit #1: Your child can receive focused attention and feedback
Individualised feedback is essential in shaping student development, helping them refine their school work and reach their full potential. However, this level of customised feedback may not always be available in a public school setting where teachers oversee numerous students in a single classroom environment. This problem also prevents shy, confused students from clarifying their doubts to the teacher.
Conversely, most Maths tuitions feature small class sizes, allowing Math tutors to establish one-to-one connections with students and help them improve academically. As a result, the tutors can optimise their teaching style to complement your child’s strengths and rectify any shortcomings. The smaller class setting may also encourage your child to speak up and ask any questions they may have missed during school.
Benefit #2: Boost your child’s grades and confidence
Poor academic performances can cause your child to wonder if they are smart enough or whether they can ever excel academically. Such thinking, in turn, impacts their grades, further affecting their confidence. Maths tuition can help combat this vicious cycle, providing your child with an enriching learning environment where mistakes are appreciated. Through making and learning from their errors, your child improves and inches towards perfection.
Additionally, a good Maths tutor will help your child better understand the subject material and work on fostering positive study habits. As a result, your child may notice their grades improving over time. With the improvement in test scores, your child will also experience an uplift in their morale and confidence.
Benefit #3: Provide your child with a well-planned curriculum
Maths is a subject that builds on your child’s prior Maths knowledge, and a weak foundation can hamper their ability to learn new concepts effectively. A reliable Maths tutor can identify areas of improvement and help your child fill the gap by developing a well-organised curriculum that ensures your child revisits and strengthens their weaker topics.
Generally, the curriculum will cover the entire spectrum of the syllabus, from foundational concepts to advanced topics, allowing your child to build a robust mathematical foundation while addressing any gaps in their understanding. By revisiting and mastering weaker topics systematically, your child can feel more confident tackling more complex Maths problems during their exams.
Benefit #4: Your child can learn how to tackle Maths problems more effectively
Maths tutors regularly stay up-to-date on the latest changes to the syllabus. Therefore, they have a thorough understanding of the mathematical concepts found in the curriculum. They are also familiar with various problem-solving techniques, allowing them to provide valuable insights into tackling even the most challenging Maths problems. As a result, your child may find specific complex concepts much easier to digest and comprehend as they are exposed to the various problem-solving methods and practices in a Maths tuition class.
3.3. How To Choose The Ideal Maths Tutor
As you can see, there are numerous benefits to enrolling your child in Maths tuition. As such, it is unsurprising that Maths tuition has become the norm rather than a privilege, as many parents seek to provide their children with a headstart in their academic journey. With that said, choosing the right Maths tutor is vital to ensure your child reaches their maximum potential.
However, making the correct decision can be challenging, given the various options available in Singapore. You might even find the selection process overwhelming. To help simplify the decision-making process, let us share what you should consider when choosing the ideal Maths tutor for your child.
Tip #1: Consider the tutor’s qualifications, credentials, and experience
Hiring a Maths tutor for your child is similar to the hiring process for any role – you want the most experienced and qualified individual for the job. As such, it makes perfect sense to enquire about the tutor’s qualifications and credentials to ensure they have the formal background in Maths to teach your child.
Ideally, the candidate should have a degree in mathematics and have completed a teacher training course. If not, you should still expect them to have experience tutoring the subject your child requires help with. The last thing you want is to hire someone with no prior experience who relies on their memory of what Maths was like during their time in school. Doing so may turn out to be detrimental to your child.
Tip #2: Enquire about the class size
Every child learns at a different pace. Some might require more individualised coaching to grasp complex concepts. If your child falls into this category, you may want to enrol them in a Maths tuition centre with a smaller class size. With a lower student-to-teacher ratio, your child has more opportunities to learn and clarify their doubts.
Tip #3: Ensure the teaching methodology aligns with your child’s learning style
You should always prioritise your child’s learning needs when making the final decision. Consider speaking with your child’s Maths teacher if you are unsure of the challenges they face with the subject. As the one overseeing your child’s Maths education, they can provide critical insights into your child’s learning needs, giving you a better idea of the guidance your child requires and the topics they are struggling with.
Based on this information, you can make a more informed decision regarding the Math tutor you hire. However, how can you tell whether their teaching methodology is suitable for your child’s learning needs? The answer to that is to have your child attend demo classes. Check if your preferred Maths tuition centres offer trial lessons. These classes are beneficial, allowing you to glimpse crucial details like the tutor’s teaching style and communication skills, among others.
Tip #4: Read reviews and ask for recommendations
Are you unsure how to begin searching for the ideal Maths tutor for your child? In that case, you can consider asking for recommendations or checking out online reviews. Identifying a Maths tutor through word of mouth ensures you receive a reliable, first-hand account of the tutor’s skills, thus allowing you to make an informed decision regarding your child’s educational journey.
PART 4 – FAQs
As parents, it is understandable for you to be concerned about your child’s education journey, and you would want to ensure your child enrols in the ideal tuition centre that suits their learning needs. As such, you might have several pressing questions about Studious Minds and our Maths tutor on your mind. Allow us to clarify these doubts by sharing our responses to the common queries we receive from the parents of our students.
Question #1: What is the average class size at Studious Minds?
At Studious Minds, our tutors aim to keep the class size small (around 8 students) to ensure each student receives personalised attention to maximise learning.
Question #2: Does Studious Minds provide trial lessons?
Yes! We do provide trial lessons to allow parents to gauge whether our Maths tuition classes are suitable for their children. We also offer trial classes for our Chemistry programmes. You can sign up for our free trial lessons here.
Question #3: Is there a replacement class if my child is sick and cannot attend the tuition class?
Yes! We provide replacement classes if your child is unable to attend their scheduled classes for a valid reason. In the event a replacement class is unavailable, we will offer recorded lessons to ensure your child does not fall behind in their revision. Consultation sessions with our Math tutor are also available if your child has any queries.
Question #4: How often will I receive feedback from my child’s tutor?
Rest assured that our Maths tutor will update you on your child’s progress every quarter. You may receive feedback more often if we believe there is a need for more regular updates.
PART 5 – CONCLUSION
As the O-level Maths exams come around the corner, it is common for parents and their children to feel a degree of stress and anxiety. We understand that and would like to provide your child with the support they need to ace their O-level Maths examination. At Studious Minds, we offer Secondary Maths tuition for E and A Maths. Do not hesitate to sign up for our Maths programmes today if you believe your child requires guidance on either subject.