Blog General Syllabus Changes PSLE Primary Math Syllabus Changes To Look Out For In 2018

PSLE Primary Math Syllabus Changes To Look Out For In 2018

The PSLE Math syllabus is a very distinctive examination as compared to most of the national primary school leaving examinations in other countries, due to its structure and design. The PSLE Math exam is divided into two papers, known as Paper 1 and Paper 2; and these two papers are divided into three booklets. Paper 1 contains Booklets A and B, while Paper 2 is an entire booklet on its own. Paper 1 lasts for 50 minutes (for Booklets A and B), and Paper 2 lasts for an hour and forty minutes: the entire exam has a duration of 2 hours and 30 minutes.

For The Booklets Contained In Paper 1 

Booklet A is a set of fifteen multiple choice questions – the first ten questions carry one point each (score value), and the last five questions attract two points each, which makes up 20% of the examination’s cumulative score.

Booklet B contains fifteen questions that are open-ended, requiring the students to put in the answers themselves. The first ten questions attract one point each, while the remaining five questions are awarded two points each. The questions contained in Booklet B usually need the students to do very little in the way of effort and are basically set to test the students on their individual knowledge components.

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For Paper 2

The questions in this booklet are worth a total of 60 points, consisting of several questions that are awarded 2 to 5 points each, depending on the question/marking scheme. The questions are typically arranged in ascending order of difficulty, with the first question being the easiest and the last question the hardest.

Some of the questions at the end of the paper have been a source of controversy from parents and educators from other countries have argued that some of the material in the examination is outside the syllabus the students have been taught and studied; while educators outside Singapore criticize PSLE Math examination board that the examination encourages children to learn by rote, rather than promoting actual conceptual knowledge from the students based on incentives to those students. The use of calculators was allowed in 2009, and only for Paper 2 of the PSLE Math examination.

Long-answer questions, such as those in Paper 2 – which attracts up to four-five points – are usually questions that are heuristic in nature. A heuristic type of question typically requires the students to create an entirely new theorem or algorithm from previously acquired knowledge to solve the question. The actual process of solving the question doesn’t have to be shown, but the student has to provide a logical statement, with evidence, that connects the answer to the question. Points are awarded for this.

This is just a general outline of the PSLE Math paper, to give you an idea of what students have to do when they take the examination. Changes are going to be made to the PSLE Math paper, changes that will take effect in 2018.

It is important for you as parents to take note of these changes so that you can be in a good position to prepare your children for their PSLE Math paper. Parents have complained in the past that some questions their children had to answer were not in the syllabus. Now, changes are being made and these changes are being made known to you, so that you can prepare your child for them, by arranging for tutoring classes for your children.

Awareness of these changes makes it easier for you to arrange the necessary resources to make sure your child is ready for the PSLE Math paper.

Changes In Primary 3 Syllabus

For pupils in Primary 3, the math syllabus in 2018 will require that pupils learn how to construct parallel and perpendicular lines using a set square ruler. This used to be taught in Primary 4, but it has become part of the Primary 3 syllabus.

Changes In Primary 4 Syllabus

For pupils in Primary 4, the math syllabus in 2018 will require that the students know how to draw rectangles and squares within a grid and manipulate the alignment of the shape. As said earlier, the construction of parallel and perpendicular lines using a set square and a ruler has been shifted to the Primary 3 math syllabus. Tessellations have been totally removed, and multiplication of fractions to whole numbers has been moved to Primary 5.

Changes In Primary 5 Syllabus

For pupils in Primary 5, the math syllabus in 2018 will require students to perform the multiplication of fractions to whole numbers. Other new additions include the calculation of rate and drawing different perspectives of 3-dimensional solids against a dotted background. Primary 5 pupils are no longer required to study divisions of fractions anymore for the PSLE Math paper.

Changes In Presentation

The presentation of questions has been changed as well, such as:

Equal Signs; Units

The 2018 Math syllabus requires that equal signs be used to express values when solving questions that have units. Also, the word ‘unit’ has to be written out in full, instead of using ‘u’ to represent the word. Ignoring this will cost points.

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Changes In Assessment Objectives

Due to complaints from parents and other examiners, the assessment objectives as pertaining to applied learning have been changed. Now, assessment objectives will include more relatable, real life examples, instead of questions that can be answered by rote learning. This will require some critical thinking on the child’s part.

Changes In Exam Format

The score breakdown of the PSLE Math paper has received some minor changes. The gravity attached to the short answer questions in the Paper 1 has increased, at the expense of Paper 2. Because of this, the length of time for answering each section has been changed accordingly: the total score remains the same.


Changes have been made to the PSLE Math paper before, and efforts are made to get this across to teachers, students, and parents so that you can help your children or wards prepare better for this exam. These changes must be taken seriously, as in the case of using equal signs and units. Omitting these can detract points from your overall score, so it is important to take note to be well-prepared for this exam. If you are still unsure about the changes, it is best to check with your child’s Math teacher or your private tutor.

We have more exam related articles here: 9 Last-Minute Exam Preparation Tips To Save Your Life  and How to Beat the Blues: Combat Stress & Anxiety at Exam Time.

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.