All You Need to Know About Math Tutoring for Your Child's PSLE in Singapore

25 Sep 2019
All You Need to Know About Math Tutoring for Your Child's PSLE in Singapore

The final year of primary school, 6th  grade, is a defining time for Singaporean students. All P6 students must take the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) before moving up to secondary school. This time connotes stress, regular assessments, and tons of hours studying. It might be a dread for most students, as well as their parents. The PSLE is a checkpoint that will decide the future of these students. The PSLE score of a child will determine his/her secondary school course. The exam tests a child’s proficiency in the English language, Mother tongue, Science, and Math.

The mathematics portion of the test is considered the most difficult because of its nature. Computation fluency and problem-solving are common hurdles for primary school students. PSLE Maths consists of two papers to be answered in two hours and 30 minutes. Maths Paper 1 has Booklet A and Booklet B. Booklet A has 15 multiple choice questions. On the other hand, Booklet B also has 15 questions open-ended questions. Maths Paper 2 has only one booklet. There are 5 short answer questions followed by 15 long answer questions involving word problems. Approved calculators are allowed for use only in Paper 2. Basically, if a child has a strong foundation in math, he would find the exam rather easy.

Just utter PSLE and most Singaporean adults shiver at the thought of their own PSLE experience. Students spend lots of time, effort, and rigor into preparing for their PSLE maths. As a parent, you must be concerned how you can help your child during this difficult time. Simply attending classes in primary school might not be enough practice. When your child asks you for help answering a tough problem sum, you might also be stumped. Many years after finishing school, you might ask yourself just how do I begin analyzing this problem?

Naturally, parents want the best for their children. If you want a bright future for your child, you ensure he completes his tertiary education. You want him to enter the most prestigious universities. You want him to excel in his studies. Where else do you begin forming healthy study habits and a positive attitude in learning than in primary school? The foundation years are the best time for a child’s brain development. It is imperative that students learn all the basic skills and perform the needed competencies while they are young. All these skills will enable them to handle more difficult challenges in secondary school, such as critical thinking and effective communication. Thus, the bottomline here is to start training them young.


Options for math tutoring

This is exactly why maths tutoring has become a commonplace in Singapore, especially for PSLE.  There are simply so many students who need help in maths. There are numerous options to help your child in PSLE maths. Read on to know each option’s advantages and disadvantages

1.     Tuition Centres

For the parents who have too much in their hands and do not have time to tutor their child, this is the most convenient option available out there. Most tuition centres have set programmes in math. Simply sign up according to their schedule to have your child join the class after school. Some tuition centres have programmes for P4 and P5 students to help prepare them early for PSLE. Another advantage of a tuition centre is having peers to study with. Some tuition centres boast of a low student-teacher ratio of 6:1. This small ratio makes it both fun to have classmates as well as a teacher who can closely coach and track the progress of the students. Most tuition centres have a certain method of teaching problem solving strategies. They also give free trial lessons to help students have a feel of their teaching style.

 However, a tuition centre might be an inconvenience when it is located far from your school or home. Additional travel will require more expenses in terms of money and time. If your child gets tired from commuting upon arrival to a tuition centre, it might not be conducive to his learning. Also, the cost of tuition centres differ according to their programme. They might have a regular programme paid monthly, or booster camps especially for the PSLE during the holidays. A booster camp can cost around $170.


Photo by PSLEMath


2.     Private Tutor

Hiring a private tutor is the most personalized option in the market. Having someone to teach in the comfort of your home has different rates according to the qualification of the tutor. For PSLE maths, it is best to hire a tutor who specializes in maths. Currently, the rate per hour averages at $20-$50 for primary school. There are part-time tutors who are undergraduates who charge less because of their limited experience. There are also full-time tutors who have more teaching experience and who have MOE qualifications. School teachers charge the highest as they are professionally trained and are familiar with the MOE curriculum. The greatest advantage of hiring a private home tutor is having a tailor-fit session suitable to the learning pace and style of your child. This is extremely helpful for children who have special needs in focusing and learning. A private tutor can give the necessary break time and teaching method for your child. Also, the flexible time schedule can give your child the freedom to balance his study and rest times. As compared to a tuition centre that has fixed time slots, arranging time with a private tutor is simple. Parents just insert time with a private tutor in between school and other extracurricular activities, like clubs and enrichment programmes.

If your child is shy or an introvert who enjoys working alone, a private tutor might be the best for him. Without peers, a child with intrapersonal intelligence will feel less pressured to perform and compete.  

However, it might be difficult to find the best tutor for your child. Each tutor has a unique teaching style, and you must make sure the tutor’s teaching matches your child’s learning style. Also, how do you find tutors? Referrals from teachers, co-parents, and friends are common sources. There are also online agencies for home tutors now. If you have many preferences such as sex, race, education, and experience of the tutor, it will be hard to find one.

Photo by Gum Tree


3.     Parent tutor

This is clearly the most cost effective choice. If you have the time, tutoring your own child serves as a quality bonding time. Not only do you get to know your child better as a learner, you also discover things about him you never knew about. You are extremely lucky if you have a flexible work schedule, for example, work-from-home or a stay-at-home parent. As long as you are patient and dedicated in helping your child improve, you can teach him. Also, as his parent, you know your child best. You’d know how to motivate him and give him rewards as you see fit.

 However, if you do not have the knowledge and skills to teach math, this would not work. If you yourself do not like math, and struggle with solving problem sums, the PSLE will be a burden to both you and your child. Sometimes though, you know how to solve a maths problem but you cannot find the way to teach it to your child. It might be because you were schooled differently back in the day, or simply because you have not been trained to teach. In this case, your time will again be your capital as you rely on research to find teaching methods. You’ll resort to searching online to find how to solve a difficult problem.

Some parents also have concerns of clashing study habits with their children. A parent once complained that her child does not listen to her and insists on having his way of solving a problem. “That’s not how teacher did it” is a common utterance. Another complaint is a child needing another person of authority to follow, besides the parent. This is a problem of most parents who have not been actively monitoring their child’s education since pre-school. 

But, if you and your partner are full-time working parents, tutoring your child is not an option. Whenever you get home tired from work, you simply cannot find the energy to think about the problems in your child’s books. You’d rather spend your rest time by relaxing with your child over dinner.


Photo by POA Tutor


4.     Online tutor

Technology has changed the way the tuition industry works in Singapore. Through the internet, lessons are now available pre-recorded online. There are videos-on-demand on specific subjects. The PSLE maths videos are arranged according to lesson topic, with sample questions and assessment after each lesson. In this manner, if your child struggles with a current lesson in school, you can simply search for that topic and go through the lesson online. The help is quick and readily available at your fingertips without leaving your home. There is no need to contact anyone else or wait for a tutor to arrive. Online tutoring saves time. Furthermore, it does not require commitment to a fixed schedule or programme. Sometimes, your child just needs a little help with homework, a new lesson, or preparing for a test. Online tutoring is also 1:1 and simulates face-to-face interaction by the use of video chat and an interactive whiteboard. If you are not sure if this will work for your child, they also offer free trials on their website.


Photo by iMath

         One of the best online tutors out there is iMath. iMath is an online learning community focused on maths. This is especially suitable for students preparing for the PSLE. iMath features a community wall where you can upload a photo of a difficult math problem. You will be notified when another user answers your question. And what’s even better to note, this is free of charge! The community wall gives you access to a myriad of questions, unanswered and answered, to help you practice. Whether it’s asking for help or giving it, you are sure to be learning in both ways.

         If you need quick help, iMath also has live online tutoring one-on-one. They have a pool of qualified tutors with varying experiences, bio-data, reviews, and more. Use the filters on your search to narrow down your preference. Simply choose your available date and time, and your tutor will video call you. These online tutoring is so affordable starting at $15 per 30 minutes.

         Another likable feature of iMath is My Wall. Here, you can select the most important math topics. Simply select from a checklist those that are either most difficult for you, or those you need to master.

         iMath makes it so easy to do maths at the convenience of your own time and place. You can learn just about anywhere at anytime, without breaking your budget. If you want value for your money and time, iMath might just be the one for you.

   Photo by iMath


         Dear parents, it is always a right choice to invest in the education of your child. Whether it be tutoring your own child yourself, or getting help from others face-to-face or online, do not hesitate to spend for your child. Secure your child’s future by helping him/her have an easier time in PSLE maths.