In this article, we will take a look at how to interpret the questions for Secondary School Maths, in particular, Elementary Mathematics. Maths has changed from heuristics in PSLE to more systematic and analytic in secondary. More often than not, difficulty in maths occurs in interpreting and understanding the questions, rather than the methods. Let us look at a few types of questions that need to be interpreted.

Eg. 1 – **Manipulate the equation in the given question to suit the graph provided**

Let us look at this particular question:

Question:

Solution:

This is a typical question for graph questions in E Maths. For part (cii), a seemingly unrelated equation is given and required to solve using the graph drawn in part (b). The trick is to manipulate the equation such that the left hand side becomes the graph expression (y = x + 4/x) and whatever remains on the right hand side is the additional graph that you need to draw (usually a straight line). The resulting x-coordinates of the point(s) of intersection will be the solution(s).

Eg. 2 – **Change your point of view**

Let us look at another question:

Question:

Solution:

At first glance, this looks like a question from coordinate geometry. However, there seems to be no sight of any coordinates at all! The hint is in the question: OX’ = ½ OY’ & the overlapping circles with diameters on the x and y axes. These hints tell us that using properties of circles (i.e.: angles in a semi-circle), angles OPX’ and OPY’ are right angles and hence triangles X’PO and OPY’ are similar. Thus, we can actually use the theory of similar triangles to find the required ratio of X’P to PY’.

So, with these tips in mind, you can interpret the questions with better knowledge, efficiency and solve with greater ease!

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