This blog is managed by Song Hock Chye, author of Improve Your Thinking Skills in Maths (P1-P3 series), which is published and distributed by EPH.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Holiday Update - Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada

It's not just cold in Toronto, the air is also very dry. That means humidity is low. Guess what happens to the rate of evaporation when humidity is low, students. Remember your science? Yes, the rate of evaporation is higher when humidity is lower.

That is correct. That means your clothes dry faster, and your body loses a lot of water through perspiration. Toronto is the first place I've been where the average daily temperature is around 12 deg C, yet even after drinking over a 2 litres of water, I still feel thirsty. All other cities/countries where I have had to drink lots of water, had average daily temperatures above 30 deg C.

Well, that is Science in action - the lower the humidity, the higher the rate of evaporation.

That's the PSLE Science part. Here is the holiday part. Toronto is a big city. You don't have to miss your home food, because Chinatown in Toronto offers you value for money Asian food and spices. For those who prefer Indian food, there are also many outlets selling such food.

Here is a couple of Toronto photos.

Scenic view of Toronto Harbour View, from CN Tower, the world's highest free standing structure.

Downtown Toronto.

That's all for now.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

If Cambridge can release “A” and “O” Level Exam Qs, why does MOE not release PSLE Qs?

An interesting letter regarding MOE’s decision not to release PSLE Questions to the public was published in the Straits Times.
Release all exam questions, says tutor

AS A private maths tutor, I wish to share three perspectives with worried parents like Ms Jessica Chong.

First, schools should not be blamed for setting unusual questions, which usually involve challenging maths IQ and Olympiad-style methods. Past questions of this nature are not released for publication in the PSLE question papers sold in bookshops.

When I asked the Ministry of Education last year why these questions were not available publicly, I was told that these questions were required for research, benchmarking and re-use.

I am certain schools do not have access to these questions either.

Second, it is prudent for parents to help their children master 'tricky maths questions' by studying additional books or attending additional classes, instead of relying only on school textbooks or school teachers.

Do not be surprised to find that even some school teachers have difficulty solving some of these tricky questions. Self-help is better than waiting for miracles to happen.

My estimate is that there are about 10 exam questions, or 20 per cent of a total of 48 each year, which are not released each year.

Finally, rather than endure the annual bouts of complaints, I urge the ministry to release all PSLE questions to the public.

Schools and teachers should be given the chance to find solutions to help their students.

Holding back examination questions is unproductive and creates unnecessary stress among schools, teachers, students and parents.

Lim Boon Tong

Ai Tong School P6 SA1 2006 Math (Q44)

John and Ken took part in a race. When Ken had completed the race in 20 minutes, John had only run 3/5 of the distance. John’s average speed for the race was 60 m/min less than Ken’s.
(a) Find the distance of the race.
(b) What was John’s speed in m/min?


2 units ----- 60 m/min
1 unit ----- 60 m/min divided by 2 = 30 m/min
(John’s speed) 3 units ----- 30 m/min x 3 = 90 m/min

Ken’s speed ----- 90 m/min + 60 m/min = 150 m/min
Total distance ----- John’s speed x time
= 150 m/min x 20 min = 3000 m

Answers: (a) The total distance is 3000m. (b) John’s speed was 90 m/min.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Big Thank You to our loyal supporters

Excel Eduservice started this blog in November 2007 with the purpose of helping its average students. What started off as a small project intended for a small localized target in Tampines, has turned into a bigger project helping PSLE students nationwide.

The success of this blog can be attributed to our supporters who have been returning to this site consistently, thus creating a situation where search engines have diverted keyword searches like “PSLE, Maths, Science” etc to this blog.

Here are some statistics. (Click on images below for a clearer view)

From Sitemeter

Based on the past month's statistics, the projected number of visitors for the next month is 2499.

From Google Analytics

This site registered 2681 visits for a period over the last one month, out of which 1576 came from search engines.

Excel Eduservice would like to thank everyone for making this site a success.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ai Tong School P6 SA1 2006 Math (Q42)

There were 128 cups on sale. ¾ of them were made of clay and the rest were made of plastic. When some clay cups were sold, the number of clay cups left was 3/7 of the total number of cups left.

(a) How many plastic cups were there?
(b) How many clay cups were sold?


(a) ¼ x 128 = 32
Answer: There were 32 plastic cups.

(b) Clay cups at first ----- 128 – 32 = 96

After selling

4 units ----- 32
1 unit ----- 32 divided by 4 = 8
3 units ----- 24

Therefore, number of clay cups sold is
96 – 24 = 72

Answer: 72 clay cups were sold.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Letter from a parent to the ST

Exam offers troubling peek into school attitude

I SIGH with resignation as I write this letter. For the past few days, my daughter has been distracted and subdued. The school examinations have just ended and her usual celebratory mood is clearly absent.

I found out that half her classmates in this top, all-girls' school had flunked mathematics. Another class managed four passes. I have not seen the paper. Nor do I know if my daughter has passed. All I know is this: She studied very hard, prepared herself well, especially for maths; she was determined and motivated to excel.

For any parent, that's all that matters: a self-motivated child who is willing, diligent and conscientious.

Regardless of her marks, I am disheartened that the school set an overly challenging paper which bore such atrocious results, that the matter was raised as an issue during the parent support group meeting.

Please spare me the usual 'it was challenging but we expect the girls to manage it well', or 'this is to make the girls buck up for PSLE'. These garden-variety remarks reflect a school's way of shifting blame onto the pupils and to pressure parents to get additional tutorial help for their children.

Surely if the paper was challenging, the maths teachers should have prepared their pupils better. Such poor results must also put the ability of the maths teachers in doubt.

This paper affected my daughter's desire to study hard, her creativity and her self-confidence.

As an active parent who works as a school facilitator to support the parenting programmes of the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, I believe in reaching out to as many families as possible. But, I find myself asking now: 'Why bother?'

This is not about a frantic parent who is hurt because her daughter has suffered a setback. It was, after all, only a maths paper.

This is about the attitude of a school, school leadership and teachers. It is about an education system, which, in a bid to fuel an extreme race to excel in academic achievement, douses the spark and enthusiasm of learning.

I appeal to the Ministry of Education to compare the disparity between the simplicity of published primary maths textbooks and worksheets with the difficulty of exam papers set by schools, if my daughter's school is any yardstick. The disparity is unrealistic, places an unfair burden on pupils and parents, and may end up making a mockery of the education system.

Jessica Chong (Ms)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ai Tong School P6 SA1 2006 Math (Q41)

Alex has twice as many pokemon cards as Bod and Charles and ¾ as many pokemon cards as Alex.
(a) What fraction of the pokemon cards does Charles have?
(b) If they have 90 pokemon cards altogether, how many cards does Alex have?


(a) Charles -

3/9 = 1/3

Answer: The fraction of cards Charles has is 1/3.

(b) Alex had –

9 units ----- 90
1 unit ----- 90 divided by 9 = 10
4 units ----- 10 x 4 = 40

Answer: Alex has 40 pokemon cards.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Choosing a Secondary School

This site has been receiving quite a number of hits from search engines, pertaining to the cut off PSLE aggregate scores for secondary schools.

To help parents and P6 students, here is link to an old post from this blog, that guides you how to look for past PSLE aggregate cut off for all schools.

Finding out more about the Secondary School of your choice online

With the knowledge of past cut off points, P6 students can now set their target on their PSLE aggregate scores so as to increase their chances of the school of their choice.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ai Tong School P6 SA1 2006 Math (Q40)

A tour bus has a capacity of 42 adults or 56 children. There are 18 adults and 19 children on the bus. How many more children can the bus take?


Adults : Children
42 : 56

(reduce to lowest term)

3 : 4

For every 1 group of 3 adults, the bus can seat 1 group of 4 children.

Currently in bus
18 adults + 19 children

Equivalent to
6 groups of 3 adults + 19 children

Equivalent to
6 groups of 4 children + 19 children

Equivalent to
24 children + 19 children = 43 children

No. of children more that the bus can take
56 – 43 = 13

Answer: 13 more children can take the bus.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ai Tong School P6 SA1 2006 Math (Q39)

At a furniture sale, Mrs Devi paid $140 for two chairs and one coffee table. Mrs Siti paid $160 for one chair and two coffee tables. What is the cost of one chair?


C ----- Chair
T ----- Coffee Table

(Mrs Devi) C C T ----- $140
(Mrs Siti) C T T ----- $160

If Mrs Devi bought twice the number of chairs and tables, the chairs, coffee tables and amount paid would be doubled……

(Mrs Devi x 2) C C C C T T ----- $280
(Mrs Siti) C T T ----- $ 160

Note that Mrs Devi paid, $280 - $160 = $120, more than Mrs Siti.

This extra $120 paid by Mrs Devi more is due to the 3 extra chairs she bought more than Mrs Siti.

3 chairs ----- $120
1 chair ----- $120 divided by 3 = $40

Answer: The cost of one chair is $40.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Monday, May 05, 2008

Ai Tong School P6 SA1 2006 Math (Q38)

2/5 of a box of assorted buttons are white and 1/6 of the remainder are blue. The rest of the buttons are yellow and green in the ratio of 3 : 2. If there are 28 green buttons, how many buttons are yellow?


(Green) 2 units ----- 28
1 unit ----- 28 divided by 2 = 14
(Yellow) 3 units ----- 3 x 14 = 42

Answer: There are 42 yellow buttons.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Ai Tong School P5 SA1 2006 Math (Q48)

At the beginning of a party, the ratio of men to women was 4 : 3. There were 84 women. Later, some men left the party and the ratio of the number of remaining men to the number of women became 3 : 4. How many men left the party?


No. of men left the party -----
112 (men at first) – 63 (men remained) = 49 men left the party.

Answer: 49 men left the party.