Image Alt

Primary 5 Math Guide

for Busy Parents

Over the years, Primary 5 Math has proven to be an important progress point for many students moving up to the upper Primary level. Not only does it mark the beginning of a 2-year journey towards PSLE, it is also a crucial make-it or break-it period for them.

To help your child advance smoothly through the levels, we have specially written this guide for first-time Primary 5 parents to help you prepare for what’s to come.

For parents with a second or third child in Primary 5 (P5) this year, we hope that this guide will aid you in keeping updated with the new changes in 2019.

What are the Important Exam Dates that I must be aware of?

To help you with that, here’s the 2019 school calendar for Singapore Primary Schools.

Use it to plan your leave for coaching your child or a family bonding trip.

School Term Calendar
School Term Wed 2 Jan to Fri 15 Mar
March Holidays Sat 16 Mar to Sun 24 Mar
School Term Mon 25 Mar to Fri 31 May
Exam Period Mon 13 May to Fri 24 May
June Holidays Sat 1 Jun to Sun 30 Jun
School Term Mon 1 Jul to Fri 6 Sep
Sept Holidays Sat 7 Sep to Sun 15 Sep
School Term Mon 16 Sep to Fri 15 Nov
Exam Period Mon 4 Nov to Fri 15 Nov
Dec Holidays Sat 16 Nov to Tue 31 Dec


What are the topics for P5 Math?

The topics that are covered in the P5 Maths Syllabus are as follows:

  • Whole Numbers
  • Fraction
  • Decimals
  • Ratio
  • Area of Triangle
  • Volume
  • Percentage
  • Rate
  • Quadrilaterals
  • Average

The topics of Whole Numbers, Fraction, and Decimals are built upon what your child has learnt in Primary 4 while the rest of the topics (for e.g. Ratio, Area of Triangle, Volume, Percentage, Rate, Quadrilaterals and Average) are new topics.

See the entire Primary 5 Math Syllabus for a more detailed breakdown.

Knowing the Math syllabus is handy when you are picking the right assessment books or learning resources for your child. Besides that, it helps when you are communicating with your child’s Math tutor too!

How does the Primary 5 grading look like? 

Unlike the banding system that is used in Primary 4, the Primary 5 grading system makes use of letters as a form of feedback that’s similar to the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE).

Here’s a short interpretation of what the letters in your child’s report book mean.

Grade Mark Range How to Interpret It
A* 91 and above Has Strong Understanding of Subject
A 75 – 90 Has Good Understanding of Subject
B 60 – 74 Has Fair Understanding of Subject
C 50 – 59 Has Shaky Foundation
D 35 – 49 Advisable to Re-learn Subject
E 20 – 34 Advisable to Re-learn Subject
U Below 20 Need to Work On Foundation

In addition to the grades, it is also important to take note of the percentile that your child is in. This is a measurement of your child’s performance to their peers and is a much better gauge of how they are faring in school.

If you are planning ahead for PSLE and wondering what’s a good grade to have? Take a look at this post where we explore the T-score and this means for your child in PSLE.

What are the main changes from P4 to P5?

In terms of requirements

Primary 4

The requirements of Primary 5 Math are much higher as compared to Primary 4 and this big “jump” is a problem much discussed by many parents and teachers.

When your child is in Primary 4, they only have to deal with 1 Math paper. The questions are fairly simple and straight forward and the duration of the paper is 1 h 45 minutes.

Here’s a breakdown of the components of the Primary 4 Math paper.

When your child is in Primary 4, they only have to deal with 1 Math paper. The questions are fairly simple and straight forward and the duration of the paper is 1 h 45 minutes.

Here’s a breakdown of the components of the Primary 4 Math paper.

Paper 1
Booklet A 20 MCQs 2 Marks / Question 40%
Booklet B 20 Short-Answer Questions 2 Marks / Question 40%
5 Long-Answer Questions 3-4 Marks / Question 20%
Total 100 Marks 100%

Booklet A contains questions that test basic knowledge and recall, and also a range of competencies and skills, including problem-solving proficiency.

Booklet B tests basic knowledge and a range of competencies and skills including problem-solving proficiency. However, the Long-Answer Questions (also known as Problem Sums) can be quite challenging.

You can see an example of the types of questions below:

Example of a P4 MCQ in Booklet A:

Round off 88 244 to the nearest hundred.

(1) 88 200

(2) 88 240

(3) 88 300

(4) 89 200

Example of a P4 Short-Answer question in Booklet B:

George has some chocolate bars. He kept 9 for himself and gave 5 to each of his 3 friends. How many chocolate bars does he have?

Example of a P4 Long-Answer question in Booklet B:

Grandma packed an equal number of curry puffs into 10 boxes and had 140 curry puffs left. If she packed the same equal number of curry puffs into 6 boxes, she would have 600 curry puffs left. How many curry puffs did Grandma have?

Primary 5

Now let’s take a look at the requirements of Primary 5 Math.

In Primary 5, schools start to prepare their students for the eventual PSLE. Therefore, the format of the exam paper is often similar to that of the PSLE paper. Not only do they need to deal with more questions, the difficulty level of the questions has also increased with a greater focus on problem sums which explains why the duration of the paper is also longer.

Your child will be sitting for 2 Math Papers in Primary 5 – Paper 1 and Paper 2. The duration for Paper 1 is 1 h and the duration of Paper 2 is 1 h 30 minutes. Hence, the entire Primary 5 Math paper will be 2 h 30 minutes long.

Here’s the format of the P5 Exam paper as well as examples of the types of questions you can expect:

Paper 1
Booklet A 10 MCQ 1 Marks / Question 10%
5 MCQ 2 Marks / Question 10%
Booklet B 5 Short-Answer Questions 1 Marks / Question 5%
10 Short-Answer Questions 2 Marks / Question 20%
Total 45 Marks 45%
Paper 2 (Calculators are allowed)
5 Short-Answer Questions 2 Marks / Question 10%
12 Long-Answer Questions 3-5 Marks / Question 45%
Total 55 Marks 55%
Example of a P5 MCQ in Paper 1 Booklet A:

The amount of money raised during a charity drive was $54 600 when rounded to the nearest hundred dollars. What could be the actual amount raised?

(1) $54 509

(2) $54 540

(3) $54 629

(4) $54 660

Example of a P5 Short-Answer question in Paper 1 Booklet B:

Mrs Lee has some sweets to give to her students. If she gives each student 3 sweets, she will have 15 sweets left. If she gives each student 5 sweets, she will need another 7 sweets. How many sweets does Mrs Lee have?

Example of a P5 Long-Answer question in Paper 2:

Winnie started a savings plan by putting 2 coins in her coin box every day. Each coin was either a 20-cent or 50-cent coin. Her father also put in a $1 coin in the box every 7 days. The total value of the coins after 126 days was $92.40. How many 50-cent coins were there in Winnie’s coin box?

The questions asked are usually more indirect and require more thinking skills as compared to Primary 4. On top of that, the heavier weightage on problem sums (20% in P4 vs 45% in P5) also means that students need to be good at problem-solving in order to do well.

Most students tend to struggle with the longer, more complex problem sums in Primary 5.

In terms of tools:

Primary 5 is also the first year in Primary School that students are allowed to use an electronic calculator to help them with problem-solving in Paper 2.

Although this brings joy to many Primary 5 students, many of them tend to get carried away with the idea of using their calculators. As a result, they may end up being overly-reliant on them, using it even for the simplest calculation.

Drop in marks from P4 to P5
– Does it happen to everyone?

If this is not your first child going through Primary 5, you might have recalled the nightmare of seeing that huge dip in your child’s results from P4 to P5.

To give parents a heads up, do not be alarmed if you notice a drop in your child’s results from Primary 4 to Primary 5 Math.

A common experience that Primary 5 parents share is the shock that they get when they receive their child’s SA1 results for the first time.

In some cases, it’s a 10-mark drop, in more extreme cases, it could be as much as a 55-mark dip.

With such a significant drop in results, parents are naturally apprehensive, especially if your child has been doing fine in Primary 4. As ex-educators, we know it’s normal and that’s we want to explain to parents like you why this happens so that you won’t be overly worried.

Why is there a drop in results?

The reasons are pretty straight forward. Your Primary 5 child needs time to adapt to the changes in requirements and exam formats. Remember that the changes are taking place for all 4 subjects in school, so do give them more time to get used to the new requirements. For most cases, you’re likely to see your child’s results reverting to normal during SA2.

Are there exceptions to this?

Yes, there are. If your child has a strong foundation in Math, it’s likely that they will be spared from this scare.

How to help your child with Math at home?

If you are looking for ways to help your child with Math at home, here are some suggestions.

1. Teach them how to Start Problem-solving

P5 problem sums are more complicated and require more steps to solve.

Some children may feel lost after reading them because they have no idea where to start or some might just give up totally. Teaching your child problem-solving techniques and exposing them to some common Math heuristics equips them with the tools to guide their thinking. This can be very useful to help them to work in the right direction towards the right solutions and make a tremendous difference to your child’s overall confidence in Math.

2. Instill good calculator habits

Using a calculator saves us much time and energy. However, it can also remove our need to think. Therefore, as parents, we need to be mindful about how we teach our children to use calculators.

Instead of automatically punching numbers to seek for the answers each time your child needs to do a calculation, encourage them to do calculate mentally first before using it to check their answers. This will greatly reduce the automatic reflex of our children to reach for the calculator as and when they need it and turns them into independent thinkers.

3. Help your child build a good foundation by seeing connections

There are many new topics in P5 that are built upon your child’s foundation in Primary 4. Guide your child to understand the relationship between these topics to increase their depth of understanding of each topic. This helps them apply what they have learnt and increases their flexibility in solving Math questions.

If you are looking for a good way to set a solid foundation for your P5 child, the best advice we have is to let them do short but frequent Math practice.

4. Train Good Time Management Skills

Remember what we said about the difficulty and complexity of the paper?

In order to complete the paper on time and leave ample room for checking, it is important to train your child to solve questions quickly and accurately. Do this as early as possible and your child won’t have a problem with this.

Need a rough guideline to how much time should be spent on each type of question? Here’s one for you.

Paper 1
Booklet A 10 MCQ 1 Min / Question
5 MCQ 2 Min / Question
Booklet B 5 Short-Answer Questions 1 Min / Question
10 Short-Answer Questions 2 Min / Question
Checking: 15 Min
Paper 2
5 Short-Answer Questions 2 Min / Question
12 Long-Answer Questions 5-6 Min / Question
Checking: 15 Min

You can always adjust that according to your child’s comfort level.


During an exam, your child doesn’t have to check the time after every question. You can teach your child to use checkpoints instead. For example, you can teach your child that after doing the 5th MCQ, check that the time is 5 minutes or less, then check again after the last MCQ, and so on and so forth.


Thank you for taking the time to read this guide. We do hope that it has been useful to you. Are there any other concerns that you have as a P5 parent? Let us know in the comments below!

Share this with a friend
Post a Comment