5 Top Mistakes that Students Make in PSLE Math, and How to Avoid Them
Far too often, math is seen as a subject of rights and wrongs – so much so that it has perpetuated a mindset whereby mistakes equate to failure. The reality, however, is that mistakes are a huge part of the learning process and are great opportunities for growth. As such, to help you better understand these learning opportunities and grow from them, we have compiled 5 key problems that are faced by students taking PSLE Math.
1. Taking too long to understand the question
When this happens, precious time that could be spent attempting harder sections and double checking answers are wasted on questions that are much less time-consuming.
The most straightforward way of countering this is through consistent practice – so much so that certain questions will start to look more familiar, and students can more quickly understand what is required of them.
The other approach is to learn how to identify keywords. Keyword identification helps students to more quickly break down questions into more manageable portions. This will then allow them to sieve out and focus on what is more important.
2. Not having a strong grasp of heuristics
- Using visual representations by drawing diagrams, models, tables, or lists
- Manipulating the problem-solving process by being able to work backwards and/or use the before-after concept
- Making calculated guesses by looking for patterns, as well as employing suppositions or the guess and check method
- Reinterpreting the problem by breaking it down, simplifying it, or solving part of it
When used correctly, heuristics serve as crucial short-cuts that can help students to drastically cut down on the time needed to solve certain problems. Be sure to properly understand and practice the various different heuristics so that you can use them to your advantage.
3. Losing unnecessary marks due to carelessness
- Misunderstanding or misreading the question (E.g. ‘increase to’ and ‘increase by’ mean different things)
- Transferring the wrong numbers and/or operations, which affects the rest of the workings
- Overlooking the importance of units (E.g. not standardising them, converting wrongly, forgetting about unit requirement, etc.)
While careless mistakes are all too common, the solution often boils down to the development of invaluable habits when we practice math problems. By ensuring that we stay meticulous in writing down all the steps, doing so neatly, and reverse checking our answers, we are setting ourselves up for success for when the actual exam does come around.