How to do well for EMath O Level

It’s the end of the year, and you’ve just completed your final exams for Sec 3 recently, and are looking forward to a nice, long break before the start of Sec 4. Although you can certainly take a deserved break, it is impossible not to notice the rapidly looming O levels that will happen, in June for Mother Tongue, and October onwards for the rest of the subjects.

One key subject that many students fear and worry about is EMath.

EMath is often a problem for less than meticulous students, due to the large amount of opportunities for misconceptions and mistakes to crop up. In Paper 1, there are 25 short answer questions, spanning a large range of topics taught in both Sec 3 and Sec 4.

Hence, here is how to do well for Paper 1 for the EMath O level.

1) Pace yourself through the papers.

To do well in both papers, especially Paper 1 is a matter of pacing. To figure out your ideal pacing, use your past exams and practice papers to gauge your speed. If you’re always about five questions away from finishing the paper when time is up, adjust accordingly.

The same applies if you are always able to finish your Paper 1 with a lot of time remaining. This could potentially indicate that you’ve gone through the questions too quickly, and could possibly have missed out important details or made mistakes due to haste along the way. At the end of the day, it is best to find a good balance between too little and too much time taken to do the paper – an ideal balance is about ten minutes remaining, with you having a feeling of at least having given each question the amount of thought and scrutiny it deserves.

2) It’s better to learn some about every topic than to try for absolute mastery over one.

While in an ideal situation one would be able to have absolute mastery over each topic, that usually isn’t possible, or you wouldn’t be reading this article. If you are weak in very many topics, think about the format of Paper 1. As previously mentioned, EMath O level Paper 1 has 25 questions of various topics. Hence, if you are weak in everything, you will simply suffer great losses in every topic, which could very well lead to failing altogether. However, if you try to master one specific topic, you might have the bad luck of not having the topic come out at all, or for a measly two or three marks on that specific topic. A happy counter to this problem is to learn a bit about every topic, just enough that you can answer at least the easy or medium difficulty questions.

It’s best not to fret over the hard questions that require you to be really skilled in the topic, because there would have been a chance you would have been unable to understand them anyway. While you can’t grab for all the marks, grab for what you can.

3) Ask your teacher or tutor for personalized information about how to improve for your Paper 1.

If you have absolutely no idea why you are failing your Paper 1 or just can’t seem to improve despite your best efforts, it might be time to turn to your Math teacher or your EMath tutor. Teachers often have many years of experience, and may be able to tell you exactly what your problem scoring is, be it time management, careless mistakes or something you did not even know about.

If you are shy and do not want to trouble your teacher, the time is now. It is very important to start off Sec 4 on a good note, as Sec 4 is the most critical year for you, at this time in your life. However, if your teacher is the sort that does not sense the urgency of your impending O levels, it might be time to find yourself a well trusted, established EMath tutor, especially one that is experienced in helping to pull up poor grades with not much time left to the EMath O level.

You can ask your Math tutor for any personal tips or tricks they have up their sleeves, or what they think the potential pitfalls for this year may look like, based on past year trends. Some of them may even have things like spreadsheets they can show you that display the number of questions in each topic for the past EMath Paper ones. This can be good “insider info” that can help you plan your time management strategies.

At the end of the day….

Even if you have been having trouble with getting good grades for EMath, the best time to do something about it is right now. As the saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”