PSLE Maths Paper Allegedly Causes Students Stress, SEAB Says Questions Cater To Different Abilities

Parents Express Displeasure Online After PSLE Maths Paper Allegedly Leaves Children Stressed

The Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) is a major milestone for many students in Singapore.

While it’s normal for stress levels surrounding it to be high, they seemed to be particularly intense yesterday (1 Oct) after the end of the PSLE Maths paper.


Claiming that the exam left their children in distress, parents took their frustrations online, pointing out the allegedly unnatural difficulty of the paper.

Parents complain about PSLE Maths paper difficulty

On Friday (1 Oct), students sat for 2 PSLE Maths papers, which were apparently so difficult that many ended up confiding in their parents about them.

In turn, the parents took to social media to air their displeasure. Many left comments on Education Minister Chan Chun Sing’s Facebook post from 29 Sep.

One parent was evidently upset, even alleging that students have been expressing suicidal thoughts online.

Hoping to get an explanation for the paper’s difficulty level, the parent reasoned that it’s “not being fair” as the pandemic had affected the students since last year.


She also raised the issue of the new scoring system which allegedly makes it difficult for students to excel in difficult papers.

A report by The Straits Times (ST) outlined some of the main concerns parents have.

Among them are the exam standards, and whether they’re suitable for students who’ve experienced many lesson disruptions throughout the pandemic.


All in all, concerned parents seemed to want answers for the stress their children had to go through.

SEAB assures exam difficulty caters to a wide range of abilities

According to, the new scores are meant to better measure an individual’s performance and understanding of a subject. This is a change from the previous system which measures one’s score against the whole cohort.

Responding to a query by ST, the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) clarified that exam questions are of varying difficulty to “cater to the wide range of abilities of our students”.

They also reassured students that they have done their best and that there will be multiple pathways to success.

Communication experts that ST interviewed, meanwhile, advised parents to allow their children to relax over the weekend and not stress too much about the next one.

Ultimately, parents’ support and actions help comfort children and remind them that there’s more to life than exams.

Manage expectations & place less emphasis on PSLE scores

Considering how seriously Singapore students and parents take major exams, the reaction to the Maths paper, while concerning, isn’t entirely new.

But more often than not, the stress is projected onto students due to unspoken expectations, which perhaps have to change.

Hopefully, as a society, we can manage our expectations better and place less emphasis on academic scores.

As for the PSLE students, we wish them all the best for their remaining papers. Whatever the outcome may be, we’re sure they’ll carve their own paths to success, be it academically or otherwise.

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Featured image adapted from Ministry of Education, Singapore on Facebook.

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