The transition from lower to upper secondary can be challenging, especially because students must decide on their subject combination. One element to consider is whether or not students want to take Additional Mathematics (A-Math) on top of Elementary Mathematics (E-Math). This decision is crucial because it determines how their schedules look like and whether they should attend secondary maths tuition.
Read on to learn more about the differences between E-Math and A-Math and how that affects your choice of subject combination.
What Is E-Math?
E-Math is a compulsory subject for all students sitting for their O-Level examinations and is a prerequisite for H1 Math in junior college (JC).
It aims to give students a fundamental understanding of the core mathematical disciplines of numbers and algebra, geometry and measurement, and statistics and probability. These foundational topics emphasise the everyday application of mathematics—therefore, it is common to see the use of everyday terms like instalments and interests.
E-Math generally requires a less vigorous set of mathematical skills than A-Math. Moreover, some find E-Math easier because the concepts are cumulative. Students may be more familiar with the structure and topics covered in E-Math questions because they already have two years of experience with the subject in their lower secondary years.
E-Math is more suitable for students who are firm on their decision to pursue a humanities or arts-based education in the future. Otherwise, A-Math might be a better option because it opens more doors.
What Is A-Math?
A-Math is an optional subject offered alongside E-Math that teaches students mathematical concepts crucial for further education. It focuses on algebraic concepts and logical reasoning, specifically emphasising algebra and calculus, geometry, and trigonometry.
Unlike E-Math, which seeks to explain everyday applications of maths, A-Math is more abstract and aims to equip students with research tools crucial for areas of study such as physics and economics.
A-Math is a prerequisite for H2 Math in JC, which requires understanding advanced mathematical concepts. H2 Math is necessary for many courses in tertiary education, such as business, economics, and social sciences.
Is E-Math Easier Than A-Math?
Because understanding of E-Math is required for those taking A-Math, many have the misconception that the former is easier than the latter. However, this is not always the case.
Compared to E-Math, A-Math is more systematic, with questions being less dynamic and creative. Therefore, questions that appear on exam papers tend to be similar to those students do for practice. For this reason, it is possible to ace your exams by memorising essential formulas and doing regular practice.
On the other hand, E-Math questions are more creative, with several approaches to a single problem. Therefore, a deep understanding of mathematical concepts is necessary to excel in E-Math papers.
There is no fixed answer as to whether E-Math or A-Math is more challenging; instead, your ability to score well depends on your unique strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, it is vital to identify the requirements for each subject before making your decision.