How to get A1 for A-Math for the O-levels?


As you take on this ‘additional’ Additional Mathematics (A-Math) subject in your upper secondary education, you may be scoring an average grade in it but wondering: How do I get A1 for my A-Math for the O-levels?
Here are 6 simple but essential tips for you to ensure your route towards getting A1 for A-Math for the O-levels:

1. Know the format and syllabus
Knowing the format for any examination is always the first key to unlock the path towards doing well for any subject – and A-Math is no exception. The format for the O-levels A-Math paper differs from the Elementary Mathematics (E-Math) paper as it is as follows:


It consists of 2 papers:

For Paper 1, there will be 11 to 13 questions of varying marks and types. The total attainable score is 80 and students will be given 2 hours to complete the paper.

As for Paper 2, there will be 9 to 11 questions of varying marks and types. The maximum attainable score is 100 and students will be given 2.5 hours to complete this paper.

The relevant mathematical formulae will be provided for students for both papers. Students are also allowed to use calculators for both papers. For the list of approved calculators, do refer to this link.

As for the syllabus, the topics tested for O-level A-Math are as follow:

  • Algebra
  • Equations and inequalities
  • Indices and surds
  • Polynomials and Partial Fractions
  • Binomial expansions
  • Power, Exponential, Logarithmic and Modulus functions
  • Geometry and trigonometry
  • Trigonometric functions, identities and equations
  • Coordinate geometry in two dimensions
  • Proofs in plane geometry
  • Calculus
  • Differentiation and integration

For more information of the content tested in each topic, do refer to the official syllabus. A sample of the Mathematical formulae sheet that will be provided at the O-levels is also attached in the syllabus.

2. Know the nitty-gritty requirements
When it comes to scoring for any Mathematics examination, every mark counts. This elevates the importance on paying attention the easily neglected details to ensure that you can score an A1 for the A-Math paper at the O-levels.

As highlighted in the syllabus, it mentions that the omission of essential working will result in the loss of marks. Thus, do ensure that you present every working. Don’t skip any step with the assumption that the examiner will understand as long as you get the correct final answer. That may not be always the case as progressive workings may constitute marks as well.

Also, although it is stated at the cover page of the examination script, pupils often miss this instruction as they rush to begin the paper. For final answers, always leave your answer to a three-significant figure accuracy unless otherwise stated. For the progressive workings leading up to the final answer, you should be showing a four or five-figure accuracy. For angles, students should always leave their answers to one decimal place. Examiners will penalize for premature workings and wrong rounding off for final answers.

For questions involving mass and measures, the SI units will be used. Be sure to know the SI units for these topics to avoid unnecessary marks being deducted. As for time, both the 12-hour and 24-hour clock may be used for quoting times of the day unless otherwise stated in the question.

Also, for questions that involves the use of π, do use the π value inbuilt in the calculator. Be sure to read the question carefully to see if they require you to leave your answers in π or a rounded off figure.

Taking these nitty-gritty details into consideration during your practices towards the final national examinations will be helpful as they can save you a lot of unnecessary marks being deducted.

3. Ensure that you have a good understand of all (if not most) of the topics tested
Although this is a rather straightforward point, but it can be an easily neglected tip as well. Attempting Mathematics questions require a solid and strong understanding of the concepts taught. Without a strong understanding of the topics, students will struggle to answer if the questions are tweaked. Particularly in the more recent papers, the questions are no longer as straightforward as before even though they still test on the same concepts and similar syllabus. Thus, having a strong foundation in the topics tested is essential in doing well for A-Math at the O-levels.

4. Make your notes (formula)
Even though a formulae sheet is provided at the O-levels, not all the formulae required for all the topics are included in it. Thus, try to collate a list of formulae that you need to know and apply for the A-Math O-levels paper. You can use this list during your practices, and even as a quick reference as you do a last-minute revision close to the O-level examination.

5. Practice, lots of it
Practice makes perfect. This applies very closely to your preparation for your O-level A-Math paper as well. Engaging yourself in practices will increase your exposure to the potential types of questions that will be tested at the O-levels. Also, it will really show how well you understand the concepts taught and illuminate the areas that you are good at and those that you need to spend more attention on. You can attempt the various past year Preliminary examination papers from different schools and the ten-year series to get a good grasp of the format and the types of questions that could possibly be tested at the O-levels.

6. Ask/Seek help
If you find the word ‘help’ surfacing in your mind at any point in time of your preparation and revision, don’t hesitate to ask. Ask your school teachers, your elder siblings, your peers or whoever that could provide you the help that you need through your learning and revision. If not, you can always find an A-Math tutor to guide you through your doubts and queries during the revision period.

Geraldine Lee
Geraldine lives out of bubbles and dreams. When she’s not writing, she reads about kids and parenting matters. Her works have been featured on Singapore’s Child, theAsianParent and now, even yodaa.