Trust us, we know that Mathematics is probably the toughest obstacle for students in Secondary School. Most parents might think that Mathematics in Secondary One is easy and let their child manage on their own. However, this is also the most crucial time for them to build the right foundation before the syllabus gets harder with more complicated concepts.
Let’s remind ourselves again the importance of Mathematics in ‘O’ Level: It is one of the core subjects for admission into Polytechnic and Junior College. While you may think that the syllabus for Secondary One math seems very similar to the ones in Primary 6, which is a dangerous misconception.
Secondary school mathematics is a big step forward from primary school mathematics. Grouping or Models can no longer be used, instead new solving methods and concepts catch students off-guard. Guess and Check methods are also no longer accepted as a solving method for problem sums.
The New Problem
Some common mistakes committed by students may revolve round the concept of negative integers. Why is -52 +2 not equal to -54, but – (52 +2) is? Students will also be introduced to the concept of significant figures in the topic of approximation and estimation. This topic may be familiar, but when larger numbers are expected to be corrected to 1, 2 or 3 significant figures, can students handle the complexity? For instance, when 6.68888 is corrected to 3 significant figures, why isn’t 6.70 the correct answer? 3.68° corrected to 3 significant figures is also marked as wrong, why is that so?
Then we have the puzzling algebra – it still takes time to educate students that X³ ≠ 3 and X² + 9 ≠ ( + X)² . Expansion of algebraic expressions can be easy for students, but when it comes to factorisation, the nightmare looms. Likewise, when it comes to presentation of the answers, it is necessary to forget about using arrows and drawing models. Marks are deducted for wrong presentation for answers, especially when it comes to using the ‘equal’ sign:
Finally, in the chapter of angles, reasonings are necessary as part of the presentation of answers unlike in primary school. Marks will be deducted for not writing the right reasons to account for the workings, for example,
The Way To Go
Students should start their disciplined practices early so that right habits and foundation can be built from the start. Students can then spend more time focusing on right concepts in the upper secondary levels. “Careless” mistakes can thus be easily rectified – no more excuses for not doing well in examinations!
So give your child the head start by conditioning him to practise diligently and stay alert for common pitfalls of secondary school mathematics.
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