As a tutor offering tuition in Singapore, I have noticed a recurring trend: the increasing difficulty of mathematics PSLE papers.

In this article, I would like to share my insights on why this is happening and discuss the advantages it brings to students in their academic journey.

  1. Adapting to a Changing World:

In my experience, mathematics is a subject that equips students with crucial problem-solving and critical thinking skills. As the world evolves, so do the challenges that students will face in their academic and professional lives. By raising the bar with mathematics PSLE papers, education authorities in Singapore are acknowledging the need to prepare students for the evolving demands of the 21st century.

  1. Fostering Higher Order Thinking Skills:

Through my tutoring sessions, I have witnessed the importance of nurturing higher order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The increasing difficulty of PSLE mathematics papers aims to encourage students to think critically, apply multiple mathematical concepts, and develop their ability to approach and solve complex problems. This cultivates their ability to tackle challenging tasks and enhances their overall cognitive abilities.

  1. Promoting Depth of Understanding:

As a tutor, I firmly believe that a solid understanding of mathematical concepts is essential for long-term success. Rather than focusing solely on procedural fluency, the shift towards more challenging mathematics PSLE papers emphasizes conceptual understanding and the ability to apply mathematical knowledge in real-world scenarios. This approach helps students build a strong foundation in mathematics, which will serve them well in their future studies.

  1. Encouraging Persistence and Resilience:

Facing difficult challenges and overcoming them builds resilience and perseverance in students. By increasing the difficulty level of PSLE mathematics papers, students are exposed to more demanding tasks that require them to push their boundaries. This not only prepares them academically but also instills valuable life skills, fostering a growth mindset that enables them to tackle challenges with confidence and determination.

  1. Enhancing Problem-Solving Skills:

Problem-solving skills are crucial for success in various aspects of life. Through my tutoring experience, I have observed how challenging mathematics PSLE papers encourage students to develop efficient problem-solving strategies, think creatively, and analyze situations from different angles. These skills are not only beneficial for their academic journey but also equip them with valuable problem-solving abilities that extend beyond the mathematics classroom.

  1. Preparing for Higher-Level Education:

As a tutor, I understand the importance of a smooth transition from primary to secondary education. The increased difficulty of mathematics papers in PSLE ensures that students are well-prepared for the rigors of secondary education and beyond. It helps bridge the gap between primary and secondary mathematics curricula, minimising any potential learning gaps and allowing students to excel in their future academic pursuits.

There is however one unpleasant reason why the PSLE papers are getting harder. This is quite worrying in my personal opinion.

With many students taking extra tuition classes to get ahead, and the increasing numbers of tuition centres and tutors offering high-quality tutoring, this may have had the unfortunate effect of also bringing up the difficulties of the Mathematics PSLE papers. With the need to differentiate between students of differing abilities, the authorities may need to increase the difficulty to cater to the increasing abilities of students.

Unfortunately, this may also have the effect of putting students who are naturally weaker in mathematics at a possible disadvantage. And also students who may not have the financial means to get tuition when they needed it.

I speak from personal experience as both of my kids have learning difficulties. One has ASD and the other is Dyslexic. However, take heart, with the right methods of learning, some of these disadvantages can be overcome.


As a tutor offering tuition in Singapore, I recognise the significance of the increasing complexity of mathematics PSLE papers. The emphasis on adapting to a changing world, fostering higher order thinking skills, promoting depth of understanding, encouraging persistence and resilience, enhancing problem-solving abilities, and preparing students for higher-level education are all crucial components of a well-rounded education.

While the challenging nature of PSLE mathematics papers may initially seem daunting, it is important to understand the long-term benefits they bring to students. As tutors and educators, our role is to guide and support students through these challenges, helping them unlock their full potential and prepare them for success in their academic and personal lives.

Teacher Elaine

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