Primary Math



Primary school students often face issues solving mathematical problem sums. In fact, problem sum is considered one of the biggest challenges in PSLE Math Paper. The PSLE Math paper time and again become a matter of contention and concern, leaving some children in tears and many others fearful. Despite complaints from many parents and students that the PSLE Math Paper was too difficult, the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) remarked that “the standard of the examination paper as a whole is comparable to past years“.

So how can you, as a parent, help your child to improve in their Math Problem Sums skills? Speaking from experience, do you feel that drilling your child with assessment books and past years’ papers would do wonders? To a certain degree, perhaps. Without a doubt, constant practice will provide y0ur child with the exposure that will benefit them. However, there are some complex exam questions which may leave them stumped and helpless. So, the question is why? Why can’t my child grasp the concept of solving problem sums?

Well, stick around and continue reading to find out how your child can easily tackle any problem sum questions.



How about getting my child to memorise and and vomit out random mathematical formulas as they attempt problem sum questions? Surely that is helpful, right? However, if your child fails to understand what the question is looking for or missed a part of the question, they may not successfully able to score full marks for that specific question.


Math Problem Sums Trick: Signature S.O.L.V.E. Technique

BlueTree has come up with our signature S.O.L.V.E technique that has been proven useful in assisting our students as they go about solving problem sums questions. Hopefully it will be of use for your child too!

SOLVE technique

Marks are given for each clue you solve in the question. In order to find the clues, read the questions carefully. You must comprehend what the question is asking for and how to get to the final answer by identifying these clues.

SOLVE technique

Imagine yourself as lawyer defending your client’s innocence in court. You will need to provide sufficient evidence to justify your statement.

Similarly, you will need to provide evidence (workings) to back your answer given in the problem sum. Failure to provide working means marks will not be given to you, regardless if you have gotten the correct answer.

In order to obtain this evidence, you will, again, need to understand what the question is looking for and what it has already given to prompt you further into solving the problem.

SOLVE technique

A problem is solvable because of the obvious keys has already been given in the question. Reading and understanding what it has already given and how it can be used leads you closer to the final step.

SOLVE technique for Math Problem Sums

When you have successfully understood what each sentence in the question is asking for, you should:

Search for Clue, back your clues that lead to your answer with workings, Obtain Evidence, Locate the Key that is already given in the question besides the clues, you finally Solve your Mystery!

Doesn’t it just feel good solving every problem sum correctly with this method?

If you have made it through this part of the whole article, congratulations you have finally reached the evidence section of how we put our technique to work!


S.O.L.V.E. Math Problem Sums Technique in Action

Here is an example of one of our own BlueTree question set by our Math Subject Specialist (an ex-MOE teacher):

PSLE math problem sums difficult for students

Model Drawing is one of the most effective visualising ways that most children understand better with in Maths.

The first sentence in the question gives away that both May and Nancy have Equal number of coins.

With that clue you draw 2 same models and label “May” and “Nancy” accordingly as shown above.

They then go on to say that in the mix of 20 cents and 50 cents coins that they both have May has 1620 cents coins and Nancy has 720 cents coins.

From this, we understand that Nancy has a partial remainder of 950 cents coins, highlighted in blue in the model drawing above.

To further deduce the total difference in value as asked in the question, we now have all the values to work towards our final answer.

To make it easily achievable, we only have to think about using the values in between the dotted lines for May and Nancy as shown in the last working.

math joke count dracula monster

How can I help my child solve Math Problem Sums?

Want your child to be able to tackle any and every problem sum? First and foremost, you must ensure that they do tremendous amount of reading to improve their English. This is the only way to ensure that they are able to comprehend what the problem sum is asking from them, part by part.

The key take-away from this is for you is to learn the importance of understanding.

Without understanding, your child will not be able to hunt for evidence effectively. Or in other words, provide workings towards the right answer. And in turn, whether you manage to derive the answer or not, you will miss out on the marks in between. By failing to instil the significance of… UNDERSTANDING, you will end up not doing well for the paper.

Get in touch with us at 9616 0312 or to find out how BlueTree can help your child to resolve their Problems in Problem Sums!

Read also: Lego Math: Math-Mayhem with Lego!