Myth buster: You cannot use a-math formulae in e math exam?
Why are students not allowed to use a-math formulae in e math exam? Do you know the reasons behind this tacit rule that is not stated in the syllabus? Some students may be puzzled why there is such a rule despite both being math exam papers. However the more savvy students are not surprised by this rule and are able to bend around this rule to their advantage.
In this post, we will walk you through the reasons behind this tacit rule and why this is a myth and how you can utilize the a-math formulae in e math exam to secure better results.
We have divided this post into three sections to help you easily find what you’re looking for:
Why do Students Use A-math Formulae in E Math Exams
In the GCE ‘O’ level exams, students taking both the additional math (a-math) and elementary math (e math) subjects will sometimes wonder if they can use the formulae in a-math and e math interchangeably. Some students learnt by the hard way when teachers penalized them for using a-math formulae in e math exams.
If you look at the SEAB syllabus for a-math and e math, you will find that a-math builds on the knowledge in e math. There are common topics in algebra, geometry and trigonometry in both subjects. The formulae in calculus are especially useful in e math exams. It does not take long for some students to find out that using a-math formulae in e math exams will allow you to solve a question or part of a question faster. You will arrive at the same answer but using fewer steps. However, doing so may not score you any marks for that question.
Students are puzzled when teachers penalized them for using a-math formulae in e math exams. The SEAB e math exam syllabus does not state specifically that a-math formulae cannot be used. There are, however, good reasons for this tacit rule.
Reasons for the rule of not allowing a-math formulae in e math exams
Some teachers will remind students not to apply a-math formulae in e math exams even though it leads to a shorter way to solve a problem. Markers will penalise students who apply a-math formulae in e math exams. The SEAB e math exam syllabus does not give mention to this rule.
If you think about, you will understand the reasons for the rule. Close to half the students sitting for e math exams do not offer a math as a subject, while the rest of these students offer both a-math and e math at the GCE ‘O’ level. Hence it is an unfair advantage if a-math students can apply a-math formulae in an e math exam.
The A-math students have the added advantage of learning additional concepts and higher order thinking skills in the common topics of algebra, geometry and trigonometry. They would develop better thinking and problem solving skills. These skills would give these students an advantage compared with those who studied only e math. Imagine the added disadvantage to the other e math students if a-math students can use a-math formulae in e math exams. Hence the a-math students need to consciously remind themselves during the e-math exams not to apply a-math formulae to solve problems.
Another important reason why a-math students should not apply an a math formulae in an e math exams is that this way of solving the question will not appear in the e math exam marking scheme. These students will definitely lose the method marks but may secure the answer marks. This is in line with the e math syllabus objective of requiring students to approach problem solving using fundamental math knowledge and skills instead of the advanced ones. Therefore it is important that students do not use a-math formulae in e math exams.
How you can use a-math formulae in e math exams to your advantage
Does it mean a-math students really cannot use a-math formulae at all during e math exams? Of course, you can use a-math formulae on certain questions or topics during e math exams indirectly. You can use a-math formulae in e math exams to speed up your problem solving processes. You can also use a-math formulae in e math exams to confirm that your answers are correct and you have secured the marks allocated for that question. The formulae in calculus are especially useful in e math exams.
During our lessons at tuitioncafe, we will give examples of how you can use a-math formulae to your advantage during the e math exams
Once you are familiar with the e math and a-math formulae lists and the best practices for the e math and a-math exams, you will know how to apply the formulae interchangeably to your advantage. You will be able take your math problem solving skills to a higher level to get ahead of your competition in the GCE ‘O’ level exams.
Engage Math Tutors who are Experienced School Teachers
For parents with children preparing for national exams this year, they will need to be very selective when choosing math tutors. Now is the time to go for tutors who are preferably experienced school teachers who have kept themselves abreast with the latest syllabus requirements. These tutors will be able to identify learning gaps promptly, cover all learning objectives and boost exam readiness in your child.
If you are looking for an online tutor for physics, chemistry and math, we are here to help. We are a team of ex-teachers from HCI/RI who are experienced online tutors. We impart knowledge and skills based on the latest syllabus requirements to guide students to prepare for their GCE O and A level, IGCSE or IBDP exams. Our substantive student-teacher interaction coupled with reliable resources is back by a strong track record of student satisfaction, learning outcomes and exam results.
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We hope you understand why you need to distinguish between the formulae in the a-math and e math syllabus. You will not lose unnecessary method marks by inadvertently using a-math formulae in e math exams. You will be on your way to securing more marks for e math exams.
Read our other article on using e math formulae in a-math exams.