Common Careless Mistakes Students Make in the PSLE Maths Paper and How to Avoid Them


PSLE maths questions have been causing a stir as of late. Their difficulty has made them the subject of both memes and newspapers, bewildering intelligent adults and frightening young students. Yet, sitting for a PSLE maths paper requires more than having ample practice and cementing your understanding of maths concepts.

What students often disregard is the extra attention and focus this subject needs. While students are not able to control the difficulty of the paper, they determine how many marks they lose due to their inattentiveness. Attention and focus, two exam skills often overlooked by students, are paramount to doing well in the maths exam. This article highlights careless mistakes that students often make during the PSLE maths paper due to a lack of development of these skills and offers tips on how to avoid them.


Mistake Number 1: Lack of Attention to Detail


A whole formula or solution can be ruined if a decimal point is misplaced, or number transferred wrongly from a step to the next. A misstep here can result in the loss of significant marks.


To avoid this: Check Things Once, Check Things Twice


·       Ensure you have sufficient time (at least 10mins) to review your answers thoroughly before submitting your paper.

·       Review your workings and answers that were transferred, such as MCQ questions when you transport them to the OAS, twice.

·       Check that the unit of measurement aligns with what is stated in the question.

·       Highlight important points within the question.

·       Avoid relying on mental calculation and list down every step.



Mistake Number 2: Not Reading the Question Thoroughly


As you will probably feel more anxious given the tense environment of an exam, you might assume that the given question is the same as similar ones you may have encountered in assessments and practice. Hence, you may end up using the working from an entirely different question to answer the one in the exam.


To avoid this: Do Not Memorise or Assume


·       Do not simply memorise past questions and answers. You should never make assumptions about what the question is asking.

·       Stay focused and take the time to re-read the questions when they have multiple scenarios or are more complicated.

·       Try to rephrase or extract the problem mentioned in the question to understand it.



Mistake Number 3: Applying the wrong formula or remembering a formula incorrectly


Students will be exposed to many formulas over the course of the curriculum. Picking the right one to answer each question is critical. In a time-sensitive environment, students could easily mix up some important formulas which could affect not just one, but multiple questions that rely on these formulas.


To avoid this: Create an overview of the different formulas to ensure clarity


·       Before starting on the exam paper, create a consolidated and personalised formula sheet by noting down all the key formulas, especially the complex ones.

·       Rewrite the formulas next to a specific question if necessary.

·       Ensuring clarity from the start bolsters your confidence in tackling tough questions while resolving any lingering doubts.


Being in a stressful environment, it is inevitable for pressure to build up, and affect students’ focus and confidence. Hence, students are more prone to making mistakes in such situations. Keeping a list of common careless mistakes students make during maths exams in mind, as well as the tips to avoid them, will allow you to maximise your performance.


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