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Common Mistakes + Hardest Topics in E-Math and A-Math

Most secondary school students in Singapore may find Elementary Math (E-Math) and Additional Math (A-Math) difficult while studying and preparing for exams. As a required subject, E-Math teaches your child the fundamentals of math, equipping them with problem-solving skills.

A-Math, on the other hand, is an elective that will introduce your child to more advanced and complex ideas. Students learn how to analyse and apply deeper math topics from equations and inequalities to trigonometry, which prepares them for A-Level H2 Math in junior college or advanced mathematics in several polytechnic modules.

In this blog, we will explore some of the most common mistakes students make and how math tuition may help.

What are the most common math mistakes?

Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process when it comes to both E-Math and A-Math. In fact, making errors in math is beneficial because it allows your child to learn and grasp the various math concepts in their curriculum. We have condensed them down to three categories:

1. Conceptual errors

Your child may make a conceptual error when they misread the underlying concepts or apply the wrong logic. At first look, this is the most difficult form of error to spot, but it is also the most vital to notice and correct. Here, your child may obtain the wrong answer if they have misinterpreted a concept and consequently used the wrong formula to solve the problem.

To overcome this mistake, it is crucial for your child to practise different types of problems that test different concepts to improve their understanding of the subject. With sufficient practice, your child will also have more confidence in answering questions in exams.

2. Computational errors

For students, it is also a common mistake to calculate the numbers wrongly while answering the question. In a more complex, multi-step problem, one computational error means the remainder of the work is incorrect, and the final answer will be wrong. That being said, if your child has followed the right technique and demonstrated that they understood the topic, marks may still be given despite a minor computational error.

3. Carelessness

Finally, careless mistakes happen when your child is quick in solving the E-Math or A-Math question. Here are a few examples:

  • Misreading the problem from the start

  • Deploying the wrong formula

  • Forgetting to include a negative sign

  • Untidy handwriting

  • Failure to follow the instructions (Eg. Rounding off to the wrong decimal place)

  • Mistyping it in the calculator

To prevent careless mistakes, it is first important to always read the problem carefully and understand what is being asked. Next, work out the problem step-by-step. If your child is stuck on a particular step, remind them to move on to other questions and come back to it later. Finally, remember to check the workings once more to make sure everything is done correctly before submitting.

Hardest topics in:

Apart from these common mistakes, there are also certain topics in E-Math and A-Math that can be especially challenging for secondary school students.


Most students would agree that E-Math Paper 2 is one of the hardest exams they have to take. This is particularly true for those who struggle with problem-solving and managing multiple steps at once. The exam also tests students' knowledge of mathematical concepts and how to apply them in real-world situations. However, with preparation, exposure and practice, students can improve their chances of scoring well on this section of the exam.


A-Math has several topics that can be tricky to understand and answer in questions. For instance, trigonometry proving involves the use of different formulas to solve complex questions, each with its own set of rules they need to remember. A-Math also has some of the hardest equations in algebra, logarithm and integration questions.

Get more guidance

If your child is unable to grasp these difficult topics, it could eventually lead to bigger misconceptions and errors made when they move onto upper secondary school and junior college. It is thus important to solidify their foundation on these topics before tackling more complex concepts, which is how math tuition in Singapore can help.

At Math Academia, your child can get personalised instruction to help them understand concepts that they may be struggling with. Our O-Level math tutors can help students develop strong problem-solving skills and learn how to think critically. Additionally, our resource and curriculum team in collaboration with our tutors, have put in thousands of hours to develop topical teaching materials. These contain segments on common misconceptions, key learning points and tips and tricks to perform better, eliminating the problems mentioned earlier in this blog. Get in touch with Math Academia for more information.

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