Maths is a subject that often proves to be difficult for primary and secondary students in Singapore. There can be a number of reasons why this is the case. For some, it may be due to a lack of confidence or feeling overwhelmed by the material. Others may have difficulty keeping up with the pace in school, at which private tuition in smaller groups with a math tutor can help them catch up with their peers.
Additionally, most would think that they need to spend hours upon hours studying maths in order to do well in school. However, this is not necessarily the case.
While it is important to put in some effort, it can be more effective to take a smart and strategic approach when it comes to maths. If your child is wanting to improve their maths, there are a few things that they can do and one of the most important is to study smart. Here are a few tips on how to achieve academic success in mathematics.
How to study maths effectively
1. Understand the concept first
Unfortunately, too many students adopt a "just do it" approach to maths – they simply try to plow through their homework and revision as quickly as possible without fully understanding the concepts. As a result, they often get lost when they encounter new problems during an exam.
When it comes to maths, understanding concepts is more important than memorising formulas. If your child lacks a solid foundation of basic concepts, they will struggle to keep up as the material gets increasingly more complex. Once your child understands how something works and the “why” behind the methods they are using, they can then apply that knowledge to solve more complex problems.
Remember that maths is a cumulative subject, which means that each new concept builds on the ones that came before it. Students who take the time to really understand concepts sequentially will thus be better prepared to tackle higher-order questions.
2. Break down word problems into smaller steps
One of the biggest mistakes students make during exams is rushing to solve a problem. This can lead to making careless errors and getting the wrong answer. Instead of rushing, remind your child to always take a few minutes to read the problem and break it down into smaller steps. This can make the question much easier to work on.
For example, let's say your child needs to find the area of a rectangle. If they try to solve the problem all at once, it can be difficult to keep track of all the different parts. However, if your child breaks the problem down into smaller steps, it becomes much simpler. First, find the length and width of the rectangle. Once they have those values, they can then multiply them together to find the area.
With a little practice, breaking down maths problems can become second nature, and your child will be able to approach even the most challenging questions with ease.
3. Practice solving problems under timed conditions
To improve exam performance, it can be useful for your child to learn how to manage their time during exams. This means being able to correctly gauge which problems are more difficult and will take more time to solve. During your child’s revision, timed maths tests at home can help your child identify areas where they need to improve their speed and accuracy. Your child can gradually work more quickly and effectively under pressure.
Moreover, when working on a maths problem, students often have to go back and forth between different concepts. By solving problems under a set period of time, your child can also learn to quickly identify which concepts are relevant to the question. This will not only help them hone their problem-solving skills, but it will also help them get a better feel for the timing of the exam. Timed practice can be especially helpful for students who tend to panic when they feel rushed.
4. Study better with a dedicated math tutor
Finally, a math tutor can be an invaluable resource for your child as they navigate their way through the Singapore maths syllabus. At Math Academia, we take a holistic approach to our private tuition sessions for primary school maths to secondary E-maths and A-maths. Our lessons involve working on effective problem-solving and critical thinking skills, as well as building confidence and a positive attitude towards maths. Combined with the above study tips, your child can get sufficient sleep and feel well-prepared for any maths exam.