Difficult PSLE exam questions
Nothing is certain except death and taxes. However, if you’re a 12-year-old in Singapore, then you can throw PSLE into the mix as well. Not only is it the first major exam of our lives, it has evolved to test our IQ and creative thinking over the years – these six difficult PSLE questions will not only test your knowledge, but also challenge your creativity and critical thinking.
Even if it’s been a decade since you’ve completed primary school and think that your childhood nightmare can’t possibly hurt you anymore, think again – these difficult PSLE exam questions might just give you those pre-exam jitters once more.
Psst – if these questions are proving a little too tough, scroll to the bottom of this article to access Geniebook’s free strengths analysis to help your children understand how to learn better.
– Math PSLE questions –
Jamie and Oliver used $61.20 each to buy some egg tarts. Jamie had a 15% discount coupon and bought six more egg tarts than Oliver.
a) How many egg tarts did Jamie buy?
b) What is the cost of an egg tart without the discount?
a) 40 egg tarts
From grocery shopping to maxing out our savings when checking out our online haul, adults regularly juggle percentages – so this question might seem trivial on the surface. Most would see immediately that Jamie’s 15% savings has enabled her to purchase six additional egg tarts.
15% of Jamie’s money = 6 egg tarts
100% of Jamie’s money = 6/15 x 100 egg tarts = 40 egg tarts (a)
Oliver on the other hand, could only purchase 40 – 6 = 34 full-priced egg tarts
As such, each full-priced egg tart costs $61.20 / 34 egg tarts = $1.80 (b)
This question requires mastery of the concept of percentages and keeping track of the different intermediate values before arriving at the final answers. In fact – all the colleagues we posed this question to had gotten at least one part of the question wrong due to slip-ups. Just imagine the poor primary school kid staring at this question in a frigid exam hall as time ticks away.
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a) 3.769 metres
With a plain diagram and a single figure to work with, this question might look like a straightforward geometry problem – but most students would get stuck right from the get-go.
To solve this problem, they would have to work backwards from the circles, instead of starting with the figure given for the perimeter.
Looking at the top and bottom benches, it’s easy to see that the lengths of each bench are four times the radius of each table, or 4r.
Looking at the benches on the sides, we can deduce that the breadth of each bench is r. This lets us find the perimeter ABCD in terms of r:
6 metres = 20r
From here, we can see that the diameter of a table, 2r is 0.6 metres. This, multiplied by 𝝿 gives a circumference of 1.884 for a single table, or 3.769 metres for both round tables.
– English PSLE questions –
1. Mother suggests that Mark _______ part-time on Saturdays.
(4) were working
2. Wayne said it was essential that Jacob _______ the treasure.
(2) are guarding
(4) were guarding
3. It is imperative that the trial _______ at once.
Answer: Option (1) for all three questions
While we might intuitively choose (3) for all three questions, these questions actually test your understanding of the subjunctive mood. This refers to hypothetical statements like suggestions and proposals, e.g. “Mother suggests that Mark work part-time on Saturdays”, as compared to the more matter-of-fact statement in the indicative mood “Mark works part-time on Saturdays”.
An easy way to grasp this concept is to rephrase each statement so they’re simpler:
- Mother wants Mark to work part-time on Saturdays.
- Wayne wants Jacob to guard the treasure.
- The trial must begin at once.
Choose the option that matches the underlined word most closely:
Mrs Li stared at the gift from her grandson. She could not figure out what it was. It was the size of her thumb, black and rectangular. Handling it gingerly, Mrs Li tried to no avail to open it. She placed the device back on the table, sceptical that it was of any use.
Answer: Option (2), doubtful
In this case, both options (2) and (3) may seem possible at first glance. The careful reader, however, would infer from the first sentence that a gift from one’s grandson would hardly raise any red flags for anyone to feel suspicious. Therefore, (2) should be the correct answer.
– Science PSLE questions –
Malaria is a disease spread by mosquito A. Children infected with malaria are found to be bitten more often by mosquito A.
Joel wanted to find out if children infected with malaria are more attractive to mosquito A due to a certain smell that they produce. He used the set-up shown with 20 of mosquito A in box P.
Joel counted the number of times mosquitoes landed on the shirt for three minutes. He repeated the experiment using another shirt worn by an uninfected child in box Q.
(i) Joel used white shirts instead of black shirts for the experiment. Suggest why using white shirts allows him to obtain more accurate results.
Since mosquitos are black in colour, black shirts would have made the mosquitos harder to spot and count. On the other hand, white shirts provide better contrast, making the mosquitos more visible and easy to count.
Unlike typical Science questions that test our memory of facts and figures, this problem puts students in the shoes of a scientist and tests students’ creative thinking, logical reasoning and visualisation skills.
Study the set-up. The volume of the container is 50CM³.
Using the pump, 5CM³ of water and 10CM³ of air are added into the container.
What is the final amount of air in the container?
Air can be compressed, whereas water – and all liquids – cannot be compressed. When 5CM³ of water was added to the container, the amount of space left for the air was reduced by 5CM³.
While not a particularly hard question, students would need to be familiar with the properties of gases to tackle this question. Students need to carefully read the question to see that it essentially asks for the remaining space left for air to occupy.
Preparing your child for the future with Geniebook
Challenging PSLE questions like these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Singapore’s evolving educational syllabus. With the pressure of performing well in school, Geniebook helps to make revision and learning as efficient and fun as possible, while equipping students to tackle difficult questions from increasingly complicated topics.
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Singapore’s national exams have come a long way from simply testing our memorisation – now, our logic and creativity are also put to the test. For an efficient and effective way to get up to speed with the syllabus, Geniebook’s innovative AI and a team of dedicated teachers is a surefire way to build confidence – perhaps to tackle some of these most difficult PSLE questions.
This post was brought to you by Geniebook.
Photography by Clement Sim.