Many kids lose marks in primary school maths because they calculate wrongly or commit transfer errors – writing the wrong answer even though the calculation was correct, notes Karen Ng, centre manager of tuition centre NumberWorks’nWords.
True Learning Centre tutors point out other common errors in primary school maths
Common mistake #1: Misconception
This affects students who cannot grasp word problem sum situations clearly, as well as students who normally do well, but don’t read the question carefully.
Expert’s tip Avoid such errors in primary school maths by writing out explicitly what each value represents, as above or underlining the keywords in the question that will help identify the actual number.
For example, write “3/4” above “of the remainder” in Example 1 and “100%” above “boys” and also above “girls” in Example 2.
Common mistake #2: Not stating the explanation for working done
This is more common for word problem sums worth four to five marks each. Pupils tend to simply write down the working as they do the question, without labelling the calculations properly.
For instance, in a question that involves apples, pears and oranges, the pupil does the working for apples, then pears, then the difference between pears and oranges, and so on.
Problems arise when, say, he realises that he may have missed an important step, and then has to start from scratch because he can’t remember if that set of calculations done previously was for apples or oranges.
This can waste time, cause confusion and may result in a loss of marks.
Expert’s tip Remind your child to state what each working represents. This is especially important for problem sums that require many working steps.
Common mistake #3: Failure to apply prior knowledge
Make sure your kid works out the solution with the right method for the topic.
Expert’s tip When revising topics, make sure he uses the right method of working.
Common mistake #4: Not converting the units before calculating
Note the following example of an incorrect working, which has both kilogram and gram measurements:
Expert’s tip Remind your child to check all values and units. Often, pupils know how to solve such sums, but forget to convert their units.