06 Dec What Is The Use of Additional Mathematics?
In Additional Mathematics, students are given opportunities to reason with and about mathematics. Beyond developing an awareness of the mathematical modelling process, you will have the opportunity to represent solutions in an appropriate mathematical form and interpret the solution with respect to the given context.
As such, you will improve your critical thinking processes and gain new confidence in dealing with numerical logic. These traits are evergreen and can be applied to a whole range of careers in the future. In fact, it is hard to find an industry that would not value these skills.
Before we dive further into the merits of Additional Mathematics, allow us to first back up and explain what exactly is “A” Maths.
What is “A” Maths?
Additional Mathematics is an optional subject that is offered to upper secondary school students in Singapore. Starting from Secondary 3, students with an aptitude in mathematics are encouraged to take this optional subject as part of their subject combination.
“A” Maths serves as a prerequisite for students who are intending to take H2 Mathematics at junior collage level. Moreover, it serves as a building block for a host of related mathematical concepts that are taught in polytechnics and universities.
If you are confident and comfortable with Mathematics in lower secondary, you should strongly consider taking Additional Mathematics. Other than it being a requisite for more advance subjects, it gives you another subject to score in and pad your “O” level score.
Syllabus and Learning Experience
According to the Ministry of Education, “A” Mathematics is divided into three strands – Algebra, Geometry & Trigonometry, and Calculus. Each of these strands serve as a basis for more advance applications of mathematics in real life and in professional fields. The subject is also designed to provide a learning experience that provides opportunities for students to:
- Enhance conceptual understanding through the use of different mathematical tools
- Make connections between topics and methods
- Reason and communicate using mathematics as a language
- Apply mathematics concepts and knowledge to real-world and related discipline problems
- Appreciate the beauty and value of mathematics in society
How Does “A” Maths Differ From “E” Maths?
While “E” Mathematics is compulsory for all students, “A” Mathematics is optional. “A” Mathematics enriches your secondary school mathematical journey by providing depth on certain topics. While the focus of “E” Mathematics is on developing an awareness of the mathematical modelling process, the focus of “A” Mathematics is on implementing concepts, representing solutions in mathematical form and interpreting your solution in the context of the problem.
Ironically, many students find “A” Mathematics easier to follow as it is more systematic. As such, having paying attention in class coupled with plenty of practice is sufficient to ensuring competency in the subject. However, that is not to say that you will find it easy to score an “A” grade in this subject. Rather, most students who choose to take “A” Mathematics are those who are confident and comfortable with Maths.
As such, it stands to reason that the bell curve of the marking for “A” Mathematics will be skewed to the right. With such fierce competition, it would hugely benefit you to attend sec 3 A math tuition classes. This will help you to clarify doubts early and to head into your exam with confidence.
“A” Mathematics requires that students apply relational understanding when solving exam questions. In layman terms, students have to actually comprehend why certain concepts work and how they are related to each other. This contrasts with instrumental understanding that involves students merely needing to recognise different techniques and apply them to solve particular problems.
In “A” Mathematics, questions will often combine one or more concepts, thus students have to first understand why a technique works in order to recognise when to apply it. Furthermore, flexibility is introduced into problems by testing how well students can relate one technique to another.
Exam Components for Additional Mathematics
At “O” Levels, Additional Mathematics consists of 2 papers:
- Paper 1 has a duration of 2 hours and constitutes 44% of your O Level Additional Mathematics grade.
- Paper 2 has a duration of 2 hours and 30 minutes, constituting 56% of your O Level Additional Mathematics grade.
A variety of topics are tested over the course of the two papers, including – differentiation & integration, advanced trigonometry, binomial expansion, indices, plane geometry and more.
Why a Good “A” Maths Tutor Could Make a Difference
As alluded to before, “A” Maths is highly systematic, thus rewarding students who have thoroughly understood a topic and practiced its steps repeatedly. Unfortunately, fully comprehending a topic is much harder than it sounds. In class, teachers rarely have the time to address individual concerns or doubts.
Instead, given the tight time constraints and large class sizes, teachers primarily try to finish teaching a topic in class to the best of their ability. Limited time is given for students to try and solve questions or to raise any doubts that they have. As such, if you are not highly vocal or have trouble with a particular topic that differs from the concerns of the rest of the class, you may not get the chance to raise it.
When you engage a good tuition centre or tutor, you will get the attention required to bring out your best potential. Due to increased resources, tutors are able to cater to the your learning style while giving you time to explore a topic. Since “A” Mathematics consists of several core concepts that once understood can be applied widely, the extra help with learning these concepts would go a long way towards helping you tackle your exams confidently.
Additional Mathematics is a highly valuable learning experience for students who are comfortable with lower secondary school mathematics. It develops deeper mathematical competency and helps open multiple doors in further education for you.
However, stiff competition and a steep learning curve that is embedded in the complex concepts taught do create a frustrating experience for students. To give yourself an edge and a less stressful time, consider enrolling with an upper secondary school tuition centre.