9 Sep 2010
How to prepare for SSAT and elementary math contests in Vancouver
Frank Ho and Amanda Ho
Teachers at Ho Math and Chess Tutoring Centre
September 8, 2010
Some parents were surprised to learn that just because a child getting A in math at school does not mean this “A student” will automatically do well in SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test) or elementary math contests such as PIMS being held annually at UBC, Vancouver, BC, Canada. As experienced math tutors and math, puzzles workbooks creators for over 16 years, we can appreciate why parents were perplexed as to why their children could not do well. The basic reason is the math questions in SSAT or elementary math contests do not necessarily follow the math curriculum guidelines administered by the Ministry of Education in BC, so under this condition it could mean some math knowledge tested in SSAT or elementary math contests may not be familiar to some students. Especially the SSAT lower level is being taken for all the current students from grade 5 to grade 7 so the standard for each grade is different but it causes some confusion to some students as to their test results. In this case, how can a student study so the test result will be outstanding and stands out above the crowd? There are a few factors students could do to increase the odds of getting high percentile ranks. We list them as follows:
1. Make sure to build a solid foundation.
If a student has not learned some concepts such as fractions or percentage, we have fast track materials and method to specifically help student to boost their marks at a very short time than it would normally take to teach a student. If a student is at the level which is below Vancouver, BC curriculum guideline and if the student also has mental math ability deficiency then it would take more than a group teaching effort to get this student up to an average level. In this case, the group lesson may not be suitable.
2. Student must have a desire to learn.
Some students take SSAT preparation lessons or participate math contests because their parents want them to. These students have no interest in doing them, but simply obliged. In this case, they are teachable but not effective since these students do not really care if they understand or not. Some students will rebel to the extent that they will treat math class as a social club and just come to chit and chat in class whenever they can. So it is utterly important parents shall have good talks with children before joining the class and also realizes that SSAT and elementary math contests are not for everyone.
3. Materials must match a student’s background.
How much students have learned and how much do they know about the subjects being tested in SPSS or UBC PIMS elementary math contests? Can one type of teaching material be used to teach students from grade 5 to grade 7 students when they all sit in the same classroom?
The biggest problem of some of these SSAT preparation workbooks is they all take “one size fits all” approach so all students from grade 5 to grade 7 use it, and it causes some stress and panic to parents when they see many questions grade 5 children just could not do them. We at Ho Math and Chess has developed some worksheets which teaches fundamentals to grade 5 and grades 6 students and also some challenging worksheets for grade 7 students.
How are Vancouver math curriculum contents different from subjects covered in SSAT? We have the experiences and expertise to guide students and help them to overcome the differences.
In summary, to do well in elementary math contests and SSAT, it is not just to go to a bookstore to buy a SSAT preparation guide and work on some problems, students need to be guided by a very experienced and professional teacher or tutor to conduct a thorough background check and analyze the students’ weak areas and then zero in those weak areas with additional materials.
To conduct a group lesson, it is not just to get all grades 5 to 7 students to sit in one classroom and give a lecture. The teaching materials must be tailored to suit the backgrounds of the particular group of students and adjust its contents accordingly.
Frank Ho, Amanda Ho