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How to manage time during PSLE Maths exams: Tips from teachers

How to manage time during PSLE Maths exams: Tips from teachers

Are you facing challenges when it comes to completing your Maths exams? Students can significantly improve their scores by effectively managing their time and cultivating habits that enhance their problem-solving speed.

Exams can be nerve-wracking, and effectively managing your time during the exam can make a big difference. Employing suitable strategies aligned with the examination format is crucial.

1. Cultivate Habits To Enhance Problem Solving Speed And Accuracy

Besides practising different problem-solving strategies, experiment with different approaches and strategies during practice and discover what works best for you. When revising, simulate exam conditions by completing an entire exam paper within the allocated time.

Simulating exam conditions exposes students to the pressure and time constraints they'll experience during the actual exam. This prepares them mentally and emotionally, reducing exam anxiety.

It will also provide a realistic assessment of their current readiness and help them to identify strengths and weaknesses in their knowledge and strategies.

Sitting through an entire exam paper helps students build their concentration and stamina, which are essential for maintaining focus and performance throughout a lengthy exam.

Becoming familiar with the format and structure of the exam enhances students' confidence and efficiency when navigating through different types of questions.

Simulating exam conditions provides comprehensive preparation, addressing not only content but also the psychological and logistical aspects of the exam-taking process.

2. Prioritise The Sequence Based On Your Thinking Pattern And Energy Level

Identify if you get more tired or energetic as you progress during the exam. Attempt the questions with higher difficulty level when you are most energetic. It is better to process the more demanding questions when you have better energy level and focus. This means you need to have a good understanding how your mind works. Knowing how you function allows you to allocate your time and energy wisely.

For students who lack confidence, a helpful approach is to start by tackling questions they are most familiar with. Apart from boosting confidence, this strategy can provide your child with additional time for the more challenging questions.

While it's advisable to attempt questions in sequence whenever possible, it's important not to be discouraged by skipping questions. Instead, it can be viewed as a strategic move to manage time effectively.

3. Organise Your Exam Materials Before The Exam

Before heading to the exam venue, ensure you have all the necessary materials organised and ready. On the night before, pack your stationery, calculators, and any permitted reference materials if you need to revise on the way to your exam. Being prepared saves precious time and minimises stress on the exam day. Very often, invigilators witness students fumbling with faulty stationery or waste time sharpening a pencil. Ensure that your calculator has a working battery. Bring an extra battery if you have one.

4. Understand The Structure Of The Paper

Understand the structure of the paper and the allocation of marks for each section to strategise your time allocation based on the weightage of questions.

psle maths paper structure

Based on this structure, 

For Paper 1

Time spent on 1-mark question should be 1 minute or less and time spent on 2-mark question should be 2 minutes or less.  

This means you should spend 10 minutes on the first 10 MCQ questions, and 10 minutes on the last 5 MCQ questions. Then for short-answer questions, you have 30 minutes for the 15 questions in Booklet B.

For Paper 2

Word Problems may require a longer time to think and process. 

You should devote no more than: 

  • 2 minutes for the short-answer questions 
  • 4 minutes or less for 3-mark questions.
  • 6 minutes or less for 4-mark questions.

and 8 minutes or less for 5-mark questions.  

This means you will have 10 minutes for 5 short-answer questions and 80 minutes for 12 long-answer questions.

Do note that the timing includes reading the question, planning the strategy, writing down the statements and finally checking the solution and calculations.

5. Control The Amount Of Time For Each Question

As shown above, allocate more time to questions that carry more marks, but be mindful not to spend too much time on a single question, especially if you're stuck. Move on to other questions and return to the incomplete ones later.

6. Keep An Eye On The Clock

Glance at the clock every 10 minutes during the exam to track your progress. Avoid getting stuck on one question for too long. If you find yourself spending too much time on a challenging question, move on to the next one and come back to it later when the rest of the questions are attempted.

7. Review And Check

When working on each question, do a quick check that the numbers transfer from question to statement to workings and back to statement are correct. With a few minutes left, go through your answers, ensuring you've attempted all the questions and made the necessary corrections. Reviewing your work can help you catch any mistakes or omissions and maximise your score.


Time management during an examination is a skill that can significantly impact your performance. By doing challenging questions when you are more energetic, preparing your stationery in advance, reading instructions carefully, controlling time spent on each question, keeping track of time, and reviewing your answers, you can approach exams with confidence and set yourself up for success. Remember, effective time management not only enhances your academic performance but also equips you with valuable skills for life beyond the exam hall. 

Best of luck with your exams!

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