PSLE is the first national exam students sit for and is thus a concern for many students and parents. Unfortunately, students often encounter challenges such as careless mistakes and time management that cause them to lose precious marks.

Read on to learn about the common challenges students face in PSLE math, how to overcome them and how Primary 5 and Primary 6 math tuition can help.

Word Problems

Word problems refer to questions describing real-life scenarios that have to be solved using mathematical calculations. These questions require students to break down, analyse, and infer relevant information, which may be challenging for some.

The ambiguity of the word problem’s phrasing or information overload is often confusing. Hence, students must learn to identify essential information and apply their knowledge of various concepts to these scenarios.

One effective way to familiarise students with these question types is to attend math tuition. Tuition classes tend to be much smaller than traditional school classes; therefore, tutors can pay extra attention to students and break down the complexities of word problems through personalised guidance.

PSLE math tutors are thus better equipped to bring students through these questions.

Careless Mistakes

Sometimes, students lose valuable marks not due to unfamiliarity with important concepts but because of careless mistakes.

One common careless mistake is when students unintentionally make a mistake in their earlier calculations, causing their subsequent working steps to be incorrect. This is especially unfortunate for questions involving a multi-step solution.

Another typical mistake is when students skip steps that they consider unimportant or obvious. These calculations are often marked as “incomplete,” so students are not awarded the full marks.

Students also often lose marks when they forget to add the necessary units to their final answer.

When these mistakes add up, students may lose a grade’s worth of marks.

Therefore, we recommend that students give themselves time at the end of the paper to double-check their answers. One way to ensure the final answer is correct is to re-insert the value into the original question and check if it tallies.

Time Management

Many students have trouble managing their time and thus cannot finish their papers.

We recommend that students plan out their time before the paper begins. For Paper 1, completing each question within 1 to 2 minutes and taking about 10 to 15 minutes to double-check for careless errors is best. It is also essential to check that the Optical Answer Sheet (OAS) is shaded correctly.

For Paper 2, it is best to take about 2 minutes for each short answer question and 5 minutes for each long answer question. This leaves about 10 to 15 minutes for double-checking.

If students encounter questions they cannot solve, they should skip to the next problem. This practice will prevent students from getting stuck and losing marks in the subsequent questions.

Regular practice is essential for students to hone their time management skills. Assessment book practices, past year papers, and school homework help students familiarise themselves with different question types and how to solve them.

Additionally, math tuition encourages students to practise questions weekly, reinforcing students’ knowledge of important concepts and topics.

Insufficient Practice

When it comes to PSLE math, memorisation is not enough.

It is vital to practise various question types constantly. Doing so allows students to pick up on how questions are asked and better understand the expectations of each problem.

Inadequate Rest

Inadequate sleep affects one’s memory and ability to process information.

Hence, students should get adequate rest so they stay calm and exercise their critical thinking skills while doing the paper.


PSLE math can be complex and tedious, but there are ways to simplify the preparation process. Students can learn to overcome common challenges by identifying them, allowing them to reach their academic goals.

Consider signing up for Miracle Math Tuition if you’re looking for a Singapore math tuition centre. We offer primary tuition in Bedok. We also provide additional maths tuition for secondary school students.