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

Taking the Elementary Mathematics (E-Math) is a basic requirement for students who are sitting for the O-levels. It can be an easy subject for some but also a subject that some find difficult to score in. Particularly at the O-levels, it may be more difficult to attain an A1 due to the steep bell-curve.
Here are 6 tips for you to follow through to guide you towards getting the A1 for your E-Math at the O-levels:

1. Know the format and syllabus
As mentioned in the various posts on aceing examinations, you will always need to have a good understanding of the format and syllabus. Preparing for the E-Math paper is no exception. Being familiar with the format and syllabus will help you know requirements of the paper and tackle it better.

The E-Math paper syllabus is as follow:
It consists of 2 papers:
For Paper 1, there will be about 25 short answer questions. The total attainable score is 80 and students will be given 2 hours to complete the paper.
As for Paper 2, there will be 10 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 the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) website.

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

Number and Algebra: Numbers and their operations, Ratio and proportion, Percentage, Rate and speed, Algebraic expressions and formulae, Functions and graphs, Equations and inequalities, Set language and notation, Matrices, Problems in real-world contexts
Geometry and Measurement: Angles, triangles and polygons, Congruence and similarity, Properties of circles, Pythagoras’ theorem and trigonometry, Mensuration, Coordinate geometry, Vectors in two dimensions, Problems in real-world contexts
Statistics and Probability: Data analysis, Probability

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 and matters. This elevates the importance on paying attention the easily neglected details to ensure that you can score an A1 for the E-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 understanding of all (if not most) of the topics tested
Create a plan or a checklist of the topics tested to start off your revision. The syllabus will be a good point to help you create this checklist. Use this checklist as you revise and ensure that you have a good understanding of all – if not most – of the topics tested. Missing any chapters is not advisable as some questions may test on multiple chapters.

4. Make your notes
Even though a formulae sheet is provided at the O-levels, not all the formulae required for all the topics are include. Thus, try to compile a list of formulae required for the E-Math O-levels paper. You can use this list of formulae during your practices, and even as a quick reference as you do a last-minute revision close to the O-level examinations.

5. Practice, lots of it
Lots of it. 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 be an opportunity for you to find out your understanding of the concepts taught and highlight the topics you are weaker at. 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 and 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 or seek help. Ask your school teachers, your elder siblings, your peers or anyone that could provide you the help that you need through your learning and revision. If not, you can always find an E-Math tutor to guide you through your doubts and queries during the revision period.

Many students often hope to get the A1 for their E-Math at the O-levels but are fearful of the steep bell-curve. However, with conscientious effort to follow through and practice these tips, you can be more confident in moving towards the path of getting A1 for your E-Math at the O-levels.

Lim Zhi Xuan
Zhi Xuan teaches subjects at primary school levels and enjoys reading on education topics to learn more and help in her teaching. Currently, she writes on Singapore education topics at Yodaa.