Secondary Math (O-Level) Prepares Students for the Future (So Why Do So Many Singaporeans Find it Difficult?)

Secondary Math

In reality, and teachers will admit in secret, O-Level maths may not be for everyone. Sure, some students love to solve mathematical problems, so taking secondary maths is a good way to enhance their skills, especially if they envision a future career in numbers or solving formulas. But for the rest lies a road of difficulties and catching up with concepts and proofs that they will not fully understand. This is why some parents turn to secondary maths tuition in Singapore for their children.

O-Level maths syllabus

The syllabus of O-Level maths aims to adequately prepare students to apply mathematical concepts to different contexts while communicating mathematically through proofs, explanations, and arguments. Secondary maths focus on three strands: Algebra, Trigonometry and Geometry, and Calculus.

Taking O-Level maths requires a strong foundation in basic or general maths, mathematical reasoning, and algebraic manipulations. In elementary maths, problem-solving involving simultaneous equations uses a simpler and short approach. O-Level maths will use a more in-depth understanding of algebraic rules. The solutions are longer and require careful planning on the sequence of steps. 

Secondary maths is a real struggle for young people

For the younger adolescent crowd, understanding and practising math is not something that comes intuitively or automatically. It takes super Herculean effort at times. Surveys show that more than 40% of students aged between 13 and 17 find maths the most difficult subject.

The common causes why students struggle to learn secondary math are: 

Method of teaching

While teachers should lean towards methods of teaching maths that are easy to comprehend, more often than not, this is not the case. The biggest problem for teachers is keeping up with the required syllabus and finishing everything on time. Thus, techniques, steps, and formulas are taught in a manner that makes it difficult for some to understand, catch up with, or apply in the real world.

Lack of clarity for basic concepts

A common problem among adolescent students, especially for those who have not laid a strong or proper foundation with general maths, is the inability to grasp basic concepts in order to move ahead. For instance, to reduce fractions, students need to know division. For solving linear equations, they need a detailed understanding of arithmetic processes.

Lack of practise

Many young students don’t spend enough time practising math concepts. Even if students can rudimentarily understand their maths lessons, if they don’t practise, the concepts will become lost to them. This will lead to a lack of interest in the subject or topic.

Another thing that leaves students stumped is when they understand a concept, but when they attempt to solve a problem, they end up struggling through the process. This is why in secondary math tuition sessions (which we will discuss further later with FamilyTutor), experienced math tutors will take time to revisit math topics that are difficult to grasp and help students practise it frequently by taking practice tests. 

Attention disorder or ADHD

Many parents and teachers fail to see the rising cases of ADHD even in Singapore. What teachers see as “not paying attention in class” may be the emerging signs of ADHD in certain students. Adolescents with attention disorders are prone to drift off during lessons and find it hard to follow the teacher’s lectures and instructions. This results in missing important steps in problem-solving processes. This leads later to more struggles to solve math problems on their own.

Maths tutors are trained and experienced to spot this type of struggle and can guide them and give them proper one-to-one attention during tuition sessions. 

As parents, if your child is struggling with maths, FamilyTutor can help

If parents or their children are wondering why it is a struggle to learn secondary maths, you are not alone. FamilyTutor has helped thousands of students and parents across Singapore achieve better performance and better grades in secondary maths. Getting a secondary math tutor from us means:

  • Getting the most experienced and family-oriented home tutors in the country.
  • Zero agency fees and other hidden fees. You only pay for the rates we show online.
  • Getting a home tuition agency with the highest level of satisfaction as seen in our online reviews and features in media such as Channel 8 and Straits Times.

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