Problem-solving Heuristics

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. Maths puzzles tap into this instinctive desire to stretch children’s minds. Challenging Maths 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.

Heuristics in PSLE Maths

1. Use Diagrams / Models
2. Act it Out
3. Use Before & After
4. Use Systematic Listing
5. Look for Patterns
6. Work Backwards
7. Use Guess & Check
8. Simplify the Problem
9. Make Supposition
10. Solve Part of the Problem
11. Paraphrase the Problem
12. Think of a Related Problem
13. Use Equation
Source: Ministry of Education of Singapore (2007). Mathematical Syllabus Primary. Singapore: Curriculum Planning and Development Division.

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 Maths, and two more for secondary-level Maths.