*This is part 2 of the ultimate guide to preparing for PSLE Mathematics, gathered from the expertise and experiences of our teachers and parents. Since we are a video solutions on demand service to primary school math with more than 10,000 exam questions, we will be focusing on strategies and tips for primary school math. If your child is only in lower primary, or in primary 4 or primary 5, you have an even bigger advantage if you are reading this now.*

*For part 1, click The Ultimate Guide To Acing PSLE Mathematics Part 1*

## Why is Primary 5 tough?

Now, back to where we were. Primary 5 is tough. We know that. Some questions require a specific strategy to solve them. For example:

*John and Mary have 100 marbles. John gives 1/3 of his marbles to Mary. Then, Mary gives 3/8 of her marbles to John. In the end, they have the same number of marbles. How many marbles do each of them have at first?*

For the question above, the students must work from the back, that is, they must use the *working backwards strategy*. They must start from the part where “In the end, they have the same number of marbles.” There is only one way that students are taught to solve this. Some schools teach it with tables while keeping the total constant, while some schools draw diagrammatic circles with unknowns, but also is essentially the same method of working backwards. (Many prefer the tables)

In fact, many of these questions which students find difficult, is because of the various methods to solve them, plus the fact that their respective concepts must be understood fully. The student must be able to recognize what kind of concept a question refers to.

For the working backwards concept, you really can’t solve it any other way except algebra. You can’t use guess and check on it surely.

So what these students are learning is essentially methods, methods to solve many different questions. And because there are so many of them, it is very easy to forget them or even get confused.

Please don’t blame them for doing so. It really is not easy. Also, the context with which a question is phrased can determine the type of method to be used. Sometimes, a tweak of a word can result in a totally different concept being tested. So read carefully. Cultivate the habit of underlining. For more on that, read this. Our videos teach students to read question with immersion. Many students read and do nothing, and find it hard to solve the question later.

Our students are taught to read each sentence and not proceed, until all the clues can be squeezed out of this sentence. According to our teachers, this strategy has helped many of their students increase their scores from 70 to A star. Sometimes, its the little habits that make a difference.

## So… what about Primary 4?

Well, i believe we have not yet talked about primary 4. With regards to primary 4, some concepts must be mastered. **More than/less than concepts with comparison models and before-after concepts, unchanged quantity concepts, equal in the beginning concepts and equal in the end concepts** must be mastered in our opinion. Of course, there is more. This list is not meant to be exhaustive. But what we are saying is if more than/less than concepts are not mastered, how would your child do well in primary 4 and 5?

Also, you have to buy the right assessment books. This is really a whole new blog altogether if we were to write about this. If your child dives into exam papers immediately, it may be a blow to his or her self esteem.

It takes time for the average student to be able to master a certain concept. He or she may have to do a few “”guess and check” questions in order to fully appreciate it and understand it fully.

The job of the teacher is to show the student how and to help the student help herself. This is explicit in our videos where you can pause, think and write down your next steps to solve the question.

So buy the right assessment materials. Some assessment books are great, some are good and some are downright bad. Don’t waste your money on the bad ones.

In fact, if you’d like to save money on assessment books you can use our database of questions in our question bank. Attempts and progress tracking are always free with sign ups. What we charge for is for our extensive database of tuition videos. If you are not sure which books to buy, just like us on our page and receive our updates.

Better still, PM us on facebook for more info. We are glad to help. In fact, a lot of the questions in the assessment book and exam preparation industry are ‘recycled’. We have too many questions like that in our database, neatly organised into exercises to serve the purpose of reinforcement. And we dare say that we are a really good assessment book alternative online because we provide questions for free!

*For part 1, click The Ultimate Guide To Acing PSLE Mathematics Part 1*

*For the next part in this series, venture on to The Ultimate Guide To Acing PSLE Mathematics Part 3 !*