Sec 2 students: Should I take Additional Math (A-Math) in Sec 3?
To all the Secondary 2 students (going to Sec 3): Congratulations in successfully clearing your secondary 2 exams and getting promoted to secondary 3. Now comes the time for you to make the decision on what subject combination you want to take up in Secondary 3. To some of you, especially those who are not too confident in mathematics, you are considering whether to take up Additional Mathematics. I hope this article will benefit you! Do also consider take a look at this article on why students drop Additional Mathematics later on!
For some schools, it is compulsory to take Additional Mathematics (A-Maths) in Secondary 3. This article is not meant for you.
1) Do I enjoy mathematics?
If your answer is yes, then you should take up A-math. Duh! But if your answer is no, please read on.
2) Do I want to challenge myself and stretch myself a little more?
If your answer is yes, then take up A-math! If your answer is no and you want to take the easy way out for the next 2 years, then don’t take A-math. As I will explain later, additional mathematics is not necessarily a difficult subject, but it is harder to score due to external reasons.
3) How will Additional mathematics benefit me? What skills will I pick up?
Additional Mathematics trains you to become a stronger critical thinker and improves your confidence in dealing with numbers and logic. I cannot stress the importance of having strong arithmetic and logic skills in our society. In fact, it is difficult for me to come up with an example of a career choice where arithmetic and logic skills will not benefit you. Be it a hawker or stock broker or doctor or pilot or fire fighter or businessmen or even a comedian, having strong numerical skills and logic will have its benefits to you.
In addition, A-Math questions are designed such that they penalize careless mistakes quite harshly. As a result, you will be trained to become more meticulous and careful.
4) For those planning to go Junior College, think about H2 or H1 Mathematics.
In order to take H2 Mathematics in A-Level, you need at least a pass in O-level Additional Mathematics. H2 Mathematics is a requirement for certain university courses such a physics, mathematics and almost all engineering courses.
To take H1 Mathematics in A-Level, you do not need Additional Math in O-level. But Additional Math will give you a huge advantage compared to those who do not take it. H1 Mathematics is required for university courses such as business, economics and some of the social sciences.
5) For those planning to study in Polytechnics
If you plan to study in Polytechnics, you will need to know what courses require O-level Additional Mathematics. You can do a search online on the entry requirements for the various courses. Most courses that are related to Engineering, Mathematics and Physics will require you to at least pass your O-level A-Maths.
6) O-level L1B4/ L1R5
Be it L1R5 for JC or L1B4 for Poly, you may include both A-Math and E-Math in your score calculation. There are students who do better for their A-Math and use their A-Math score instead of E-Math in their point calculations.
7) What are your aspirations?
It would also be wise to start thinking about what you aspire to become in the future (Career-wise). And consider whether having a strong mathematical skill set important to you. If you do not have an aspiration, then spend some time talking to your parents, grandparents, your older relatives, teachers, tutors, mentors and friends! In general, if you plan to be rich, mathematical skills will be important. But if you plan to be a philanthropist, perhaps it is best not to be too calculative.
8) Is Additional Mathematics (A-Math) more complex than Elementary Mathematics (E-Math)?
Not really. In fact, many students find A-Math easier than E-Math because A-Math is more systematic and you can do well as long as you revise and practice sufficiently. On the other hand, E-Math requires you to use more logic and the questions are often more creative.
In the O-level A-Math examination, 100% of the questions are based on knowledge taught in secondary 3 and 4. While in the E-Math examination, about 30% of the questions are based on lower sec materials and 70% on upper sec materials. In other words, E-Math have less new content to learn compared to A-Math.
9) Is it easier to score for A-Math or E-Math?
The contents of A-Math might not be tougher than E-Math but A-Math is definitely harder to score distinction than E-Math in O-levels. Thank the bell-curve for that! E-Math is a requirement for everyone but A-Math is mostly taken by students who are already more confident in mathematics. Also, most students who take A-Math also have extra math tuition (unless they are already really good at it). Hence, the bell curve for A-Math is definitely more competitive.
Other considerations: Are your good friends taking A-Math too?
To your parents, this might seem like a trivial reason. But nevertheless, it is a valid consideration for you! It is a perfectly normal thing to want to be in the same class as our friends! After all, friends that you make in secondary school goes a long way. If they are important to you, you can either join them or persuade them to join you in taking/not taking A-Math. Also, it is much more motivating if your good friends take the same subject!
Advice for Parents:
For parents reading this article, I would advice you not to make the decision for your children! I understand you want to make the best decision for precious children. But the best decisions are the ones they make themselves and are held responsible for them. Provide your son or daughter with the information they need and let them make the decision themselves. After all, they are already 14 years old! Give them a chance to grow up!
If you decide to take up A-Math, make sure you work hard for it! It is not cool to end up having to drop it later on! All the best!
To get professional help (Math tuition) on secondary school mathematics in Singapore, click here.