## Is PSLE really that hard or is the problem somewhere else?

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### Is PSLE really that hard or is the problem somewhere else?

Every now and then, I glance at the Primary School Academic Support thread. Occasionally I come across various gems, which causes one to feel a sudden need to send one's kid immediately for tuition on question answering technique and knowhow. I have no idea whether these questions come from actual past PSLE papers, schools' test papers, outside assessment books or tuition centres. So, I wonder is there really a problem with our PSLE, or does the problem lie somewhere else?

Example from the P5 maths thread:
PSLEguru wrote:
mikyway wrote:Abel, Ben and Calvin completed a project together in 13 days.For the first 6 days, Abel and Ben completed 1/3 of the project. For the next 2 days, Ben and Calvin completed 1/6 of the project together. For the last five days, Abel, Ben and Calvin completed the rest of the project together. They were paid a total of \$1800, which was distributed among them according to the amount of work they did in this project. How much money should be given to Ben?

6 days, Abel and Ben completed 1/3 of the project
1 day, A and B completed 1/18 of the project -- (1)

2 days, Ben and Calvin completed 1/6 of the project
1 day, B and C completed 1/12 of the project -- (2)

5 days, A, B C completed (1-1/6 - 1/3) = 1/2 of the project
1 day, ABC completed 1/10 of the project. --(3)

(3)-(1)
in 1 day, C would complete 1/10-1/18 = 2/45 of the project
(3)-(2)
in 1 day, A would complete 1/10 - 1/12 = 1/60 of the project
so,
in 1 day, B would complete 1/10-2/45-1/60 = 7/180
in 13 days, B would complete 91/180 of the project. He should be given 91/180 of 1800 = \$910.

alternatively,

6 days, Abel and Ben completed 1/3 of the project = \$600
1 day, A and B completed \$100 -- (1)

2 days, Ben and Calvin completed 1/6 of the project = \$300
1 day, B and C completed \$150 -- (2)

5 days, A, B C completed \$1800 - \$600 - \$300 = \$900
1 day, ABC completed \$180 --(3)

(1)+(2)-(3) = 100+150-180= 70
70*13 = \$910

Now, I am sure PSLEguru was giving the correct, orthodox answer. But my issue lies with the question. In particular, why is the answerer expected to assume that each of A, B and C generates output at exactly the same rate each day? A, B and C are not robots, are they?

The idiotic me, having been out of school for apparently far too long, thought that, in the absence of specifics, the answer was much simpler:

At various intervals,

(1) A & B completed 1/3 of the project = \$600. Each earned \$300.
(2) B & C completed 1/6 of the project = \$300. Each earned \$150.
(3) A, B & C completed 1/2 of the project = \$900. Each earned \$300.

So, B should be given \$300+\$150+\$300 = \$750. Number of days spent on each stage of completion was irrelevant.

My question is, are such ambiguous maths questions common in the actual PSLE (then I may have to worry), or do they only pop up in individual schools' tests, outside assessment books or tuition centres (in which case, I don't have to worry)?

Another example, this time from the P1 English thread:
sean wife wrote:Hi which one of the following do u think is the correct one for a question on rearranging words?

The sheep were in the field eating grass.
The sheep were eating grass in the field.

According to the parent who posted this, the first one was marked correct while the second one was marked wrong.

And idiotic me could come up with a third variant:

The sheep in the field were eating grass.

Not to mention a 4th (arguably questionable but not grammatically wrong despite the absence of a hyphen because there is no ambiguity) variant:

The grass eating sheep were in the field.

All four arrangements are sound, albeit each places emphasis on a different element.

Then, there is that infamous rolling ball question in the P6 science thread.

Any views? Is it the PSLE, or are parents made to run around like Chicken Little because of bad questions in school tests, outside assessment books or tuition centres? Should we just chill because funny questions like that do not actually appear where it matters?

pirate
KiasuGrandMaster

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### Re: Is PSLE really that hard or is the problem somewhere els

This year's PSLE is easy. So, no need to worry so much if this is the trend going forward.

ngl2010
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### Re: Is PSLE really that hard or is the problem somewhere els

pirate wrote:
Any views? Is it the PSLE, or are parents made to run around like Chicken Little because of bad questions in school tests, outside assessment books or tuition centres? Should we just chill because funny questions like that do not actually appear where it matters?

hahaha...to me is to be chill man, pirate.

this kind of questions is not a norm in PSLE paper. If it comes out, it will be ONE such question.

whenever I see this kind of question, I will throw it out of windows if I feel the difficulty level is too much for my son to be interested (may frighten him unnecessary and add on to his stress which i don't like).

HOWEVER, if a parent is going for the BEST score, then may have to spend time going through this and other even more challenging ones.

Sky's always the limit when come to 'challenging' problems.

PS:
Those nitty gritty questions on P1 Eng, can close one eye coz over the longer run, all will iron out and nobody will remember about what sheep and grass subsequently... (but of course can read and know about 'patterns' if want). 不要死记，要活用......

insider
KiasuGrandMaster

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### Re: Is PSLE really that hard or is the problem somewhere els

The fourth should be 'grass-eating'?

Nebbermind
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### Re: Is PSLE really that hard or is the problem somewhere els

I think the problem with PSLE is that there is too much PSLE stuff around. MOE doesn't publish the past papers in full, and anyway, a 10-yr-series would only be 10 papers per subject. When parents and teachers want kids to practise more, assessment book writers oblige by producing more questions and mock papers, but the quality and standard varies, and some will be more difficult or badly-written than actual PSLE questions. Add to that the 'top schools' papers, often not vetted carefully by teachers due to time pressure and with inadequate or wrong answers provided by who-knows-who, as well as the pressure to set 'killer' papers to impress others, the quality of questions floating around gets even worse. Since parents do not usually check where the questions come from, I think a lot of the angst about 'bad PSLE questions' are actually 'bad or unrealistic PSLE-type questions produced by ???'. Just my opinion.

slmkhoo
KiasuGrandMaster

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### Re: Is PSLE really that hard or is the problem somewhere els

Gotta avoid falling into the trap of

source: http://baike.baidu.com/view/37791.htm

insider
KiasuGrandMaster

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### Re: Is PSLE really that hard or is the problem somewhere els

insider wrote:hahaha...to me is to be chill man, pirate.

this kind of questions is not a norm in PSLE paper. If it comes out, it will be ONE such question.

whenever I see this kind of question, I will throw it out of windows if I feel the difficulty level is too much for my son to be interested (may frighten him unnecessary and add on to his stress which i don't like).

HOWEVER, if a parent is going for the BEST score, then may have to spend time going through this and other even more challenging ones.

Sky's always the limit when come to 'challenging' problems.

PS:
Those nitty gritty questions on P1 Eng, can close one eye coz over the longer run, all will iron out and nobody will remember about what sheep and grass subsequently... (but of course can read and know about 'patterns' if want). 不要死记，要活用......

Totally agree =) Often when ds cdnt do a qn here and there, I would think abt it for an hour or two... maybe ask another PSLE mum, and if I think it is just too ridiculous, I tell him to pretend it doesnt exist Let's not waste time.

The other thing is that my ds doesnt write "creative" EL compos. He has the language but not the content. It is his form teacher's consistent comment - that he doesnt write with enough flair aka PSLE style. I have read his compos and feel he writes clearly and with good language but he is not good at making up stories or fancy writing and I refuse to drill him in PSLE compos. They are not relevant in life nor will they help him in EL and GP in sec sch/jc. So when he gets 28-32 /40 for compo, the ONE area that affects his chance for an A* in English, we just accept it as his best. Never thot of sending him to a compo class to hit an A*.

3kiddos
GreenBelt

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### Re: Is PSLE really that hard or is the problem somewhere els

This reminded me of what I told DD when we came across such mind boggling questions.

I told DD all these questions not meant for normal capability kids like her. If can do, do, if not no choice. No need to sweat over that 1 or 2 question.

DD told me, ehhh.. mummy, these 2 questions hor, about 8-10 marks total leh. If it is meant for super clever kids then why put so high marks? Then when we don't know how to do make us feel like we are not doing well.

I told her true hor. Anyway, that is the way the allocate the marks. Just make sure you do those questions for normal capability kids well and you don't have to worry about these 8-10 marks loh.

Funz
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### Re: Is PSLE really that hard or is the problem somewhere els

This is one issue I am with pirate.

I too believe the questions for PSLE can be set clearer and vet more thoroughly to avoid any form of debate. Any questions that are debatable are not good questions in such a critical exam like PSLE. I believe when setter set the questions, they are very focused in the answers they want, hence sometimes they overlook that the question actually can result in a few possibilities. So to me, SEAB can focus on the vetting exercise more by trying the questions on a few subject matter experts. If they can come out with different answers, it means the question has some problems.

This issue is different from truly high order questions set to sieve out the HA kids. There are some really good high order questions set that are NOT based on ambiguous trickery.

However, I do see why the two issues can be mixed.

sushi88
KiasuGrandMaster

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### Re: Is PSLE really that hard or is the problem somewhere els

How to chill, when we know our kids are penalised for mistakes that aren't mistakes in the eyes of the parents? How not to scrutinise, when today's pr sch tchrs and authors might not realise there could be alternative interpretations or were not vigilant in vetting the content? How not to criticise, when most parents believe they're smarter than the tchrs?

Like the "grass-eating sheep or sheep eating grass" e.g, the Han Yu candlelight story, or the "only energy" Scientific English debate...all are a result of setters not vetting the qns carefully to cover their

But why are parents obsessed with such ambiguity these days? Internet perhaps?

In the past, my tuition kids will just quietly do the assessment books and top sch papers, accepting the answers as they should be, instead of posting diff qns online for the whole world to scrutinise, advise or solve. Occasionally we DID spot an error or two in the answer scripts, but no one bothered to complain to their parents or flag to top schs/EPB that produced those papers. We just took it "As Is", reminded ourselves those qns won't come out in the final exams...and MOVE ON!

Today, everyone has access to internet. 1 click u can get many versions of answers and solutions...not everyone will agree to the final prescribed answer, so there'll be a lot of debate generated in the chatrooms or FB walls. The more intense the debates get, the deeper our impression get that PSLE qns hv become ridiculously unsolvable and/or ambiguously composed.

jetsetter
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