Problem-Solving Heuristics


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Apply logic to solve puzzles – that’s all it is. And there’s a systematic science to it.

Most children love activity books. This proves their innate need to be challenged and mentally stimulated. Math puzzles tap into this instinctive desire to stretch children’s minds. Challenging Math questions challenge them to find and apply faster, more creative solutions. This trains them in higher-order thinking and decision-making skills on top of subject knowledge.

Now, don’t we all apply these skills at home, at work and at play? Therefore, heuristics practically take children beyond school, right through their lives.

primary-sec topicsHeuristics in PSLE Math

More than half of PSLE Maths marks go to heuristics-related questions.

Approximately 55% of PSLE Maths marks are dedicated to long, open-ended questions that necessitate problem-solving. Several are routine questions, easily solved using the four basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Many are non-routine questions, requiring the four basic operations AND problem-solving heuristics.

The Ministry of Education has identified 11 heuristics for primary-level Math, and two more for secondary-level Maths.

Problem Solving Heuristics in Action

See how problem-solving heuristics efficiently solve challenging questions in PSLE Maths exams.

  • PSLE Maths 2013
  • PSLE Maths 2012
  • PSLE Maths 2011
  • PSLE Maths 2010

Have your child try out a test paper listed here. Better yet, try a test paper alongside your child. Remember to choose the test paper appropriate for your child’s level.

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Congratulations, if your child breezes through the paper.

If he/she finds the paper tough, he/she is not alone. Most children and their parents find the questions very challenging. Yet, this is the level of Math competency expected at school today. And that’s why the SMART Excel programmes was developed – to help children master the specialised techniques needed to solve such questions.

SMART Excel believes in effective teaching so that children truly learn and apply, instead of memorise – memory work does not work with challenging non-routine Maths problems. SMART Excel first opens students’ hearts and minds to learning heuristics, then teaches them heuristics processes, before finally helping them habituate process application.


Opening Hearts & Minds

  • Accertation
    SMART Excel teaches students problem-solving heuristics. Students simply add this new information (heuristics) into their existing mindset.
  • Tunning
    SMART Excel guides students in heuristics application. Students begin to realise the limitations of their existing mindset. They begin to modify their existing mindset to incorporate heuristics.
  • Restructuring
    SMART Excel exposes students to the variety of challenging Math problems that necessitates heuristics application. Students begin to address the inconsistencies between their existing mindset and heuristics. They begin to recreate their existing mindset to feature heuristics.

Habituating the ProcessB

  • Understanding the problem
    Students will be trained to look for, visualise, organise and connect information. They will also develop Maths language proficiency.
  • Choose an appropriate heuristics
    Students will learn how to select, and combine where necessary, the most appropriate heuristics for different problems.
  • Perform the chosen heuristics
    Students will develop computational skills, geometrical skills and logical reasoning.
  • Reflect
    Finally, students will be trained to check their solutions, to improve on the methods used, to seek alternative solutions, and to extend the methods to other problems.

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