For a number of children at ThinkersBox, Math is one subject that they just can’t seem to love. In this post, we would be breaking down the sections of Math papers and relating it to the skill set required to ace each section. In most Math exams, there a 3 sections to the paper, each requiring the use of a different skill set.

Section A (Multiple Choice Questions)

Usually a breeze for most kids, almost no one hates MCQs. However, having said that, children may still commit “careless mistakes”. Read on and you’ll find out why these “careless mistakes” may not just be carelessness after all.

Section A requires reading skills, such as visual discrimination and visual attending, to be able to understand what the question is looking for. If the child is unable to focus and finish reading the question, he/she might often assume or misinterpret what the question is asking. Likewise, if the child is unable to read the questions, he/she will most likely be unable to answer them, unless by guessing of course.

Another skill that this section requires is evaluation skills, to evaluate the options and choose the best out of them. Some teachers may teach students to answer the question by first eliminating “wrong” choices. Then, from the “possible” choices left, evaluate and pick the most suitable. Children with weak evaluation skills tend to be unable to identify the “wrong” and “possible” choices.

The final and perhaps the most important skill, is of course, arithmetic skills. Arithmetic skills is the ability to understand the processes of Math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division). If a child is weak in arithmetic skills, he/she might be able to understand the question, but may not be able to solve them.

Section B (Short Answer Questions)

This section relies more on mathematical concepts. Such as, even and odd numbers, area and perimeter, fractions and reading graphs. To be able to score in this section, the child must be able to have a good understanding of these concepts.

Reading skills are also required, though not as much as Section C which we would discuss in a while. Some mistakes children make are a result of not reading the questions properly.

For example:
Matthew is 1 m 45 cm tall. His father is 29 cm taller than him. Find the total height of both of them. Give your answer in metres and centimetres.

Some children may write the father’s height as the final answer, instead of the total height of both father and son.

Section C (Problem Sums)

Often the killer section, children tend to have lesser stamina left when it comes to this section. As mentioned, reading skills are absolutely important. Children who are weak in their reading skills would not be able to finish reading the question and often misinterpret or misunderstand the question. Also, as the questions in this section tend to be wordy, children would need visual attending skills to be focused on what they are reading.

Good reading skills results in good comprehension skills, or the ability to understand. In solving problem sums, it is important that the child understands the information that is being presented and also the sequence of events.

For example:
Ms Lim sold 3450 oranges last month. This month, she sold 546 more oranges than last month. How many oranges did she sell altogether in the two months?

In such a question, the “last” and “this” sequencing of events would affect the understanding of the question. When did she sell more oranges?

Besides reading skills, section C relies on multiple mathematical processes too. For most problem sums, a one-step equation is usually not the answer. Solving the question involves understanding the concepts and knowing how to use the different processes.

By breaking down the sections in this sense, you would probably see that reading (visual) skills and mathematical concepts are skill sets that are highly tapped on in Math exams. Contrary to the belief that only Mathematic skills are needed in Math exams and English skills are not. Hopefully, through this article, you get a better understanding of the skill sets that Math papers require and from there, be better able to help your child improve his/her Math grades!