Mention Additional Mathematics or A Maths to any Singaporean student, and a sense of frustration or fear will surely emerge. Considered to be the toughest mathematics subject that students in upper secondary school can take, it demands a strong logical comprehension and diligent practice in order for students to attain satisfactory grades in the subject. Topics such as trigonometry, indices and binomial expansions often leave students struggling for comprehension. As parents, we may not always fully appreciate the difficulty posed by this advance subject. Therefore, this article aims to educate parents on what exactly makes A Maths such a daunting test for students in schools.
For starters A Maths is an incremental subject which requires strong foundational understanding before future topics can be built on the base. Students who lack a firm mastery of introductory topics such as algebra will subsequently find themselves stuck at even the beginner steps of more advance theories. Unfortunately, this is the case for many students who do not get off to a fast start and thus find themselves playing catch up for the entire semester.
Secondly, our education system has always been set up with the intention of benchmarking students through their academic grades. This has created an ecosystem whereby teachers spend the majority of their time trying to boost students to satisfactory grades within a short of a time as possible. Consequently, practice and reproduction of math workings are the default methods for learning the subject. While these methods may help students to do well in early topic tests, it masks their lack of mastery or comprehension of the nuances of foundation chapters, which are severely tested when they reach advance topics. As such, early progress is often grinded to a screeching stop.
Thirdly, due to the limited time that teachers have in class coupled with the large volume of students that they are in-charge of, it becomes difficult to aid individual students’ learning. Teachers have to resort to giving direct answers to questions posed by students, often times referring them back to model workings. This method is limited in its effectiveness as it prevents students from exploring possibilities and moulds their minds to solely reproduce the model answer. When application questions are asked, it becomes highly difficult for students to answer as they have not explored the full extent of the theory.
Given the difficulty of the subject sec 3 A Math tuition classes are increasingly becoming popular among both parents and teens. Additional time spent on the subject after school hours coupled with more dedicated teaching resources are often needed to help students bridge the gap between themselves and their more talented peers. Moreover, A Maths tuition classes give individual students the pace and teaching style that is needed to best optimise their learning.