The 3 Steps To How P4/5 Students Have Been Using Maths Olympiad To Secure Seats In Top Schools Without PSLE

The 3 Steps To How P4/5 Students Have Been Using Maths Olympiad To Secure Seats In Top Schools Without PSLE

Many parents think that securing your child's ideal secondary school is about doing well for PSLE - but did you know there is a small group of students who have already secured their seats even before the PSLE? In fact, many of these students are scoring AL6/AL7 for English, Science and Chinese.

Just last year, 3000 students received confirmed offers from schools, compared to 2500 in 2017. Based on recent trends and MOE's efforts to making DSA more accessible to students, this number will only get higher. Now you might think it is not possible and might be wondering how they did it.

That's right, these students have been securing their seats ahead of time through the use of Maths Olympiad (MO). This article reveals how, through Direct School Admission (Maths Domain), you can help your child secure a seat in Singapore top schools.

Russell was selected by the school to join the NMOS competition in P5. With sufficient training, he managed to win a Gold Medal. Subsequently, we applied for DSA and he was shortlisted. After being put through the DSA test and interview, his entry was finally confirmed.


Direct School Admission (DSA) is a program in Singapore introduced in 2004 for students who are in Primary 6 or Secondary 4 to be guaranteed a place in a secondary school or junior college without having to rely on the results of the national examination. So how does MO tie into this?

Any student who is good in maths may use DSA to their advantage:

  1. Take part in one or more recognised MO competitions

  2. Win a medal (or several) at these competitions

  3. Submit an application for DSA

  4. Get shortlisted for the DSA test and interview

  5. Receive a confirmation letter from the school

If you have a child who seems to be talented in mathematics and you are serious about helping him or her secure a seat in a top school, this article will show you how you can make it through DSA by using MO to your advantage.

Determine If Your Child Is Suitable For MO

"Does my child need to be a genius?" "Is it too late to start?" "Is my child too young?"

These are the most common questions parents ask when deciding whether or not to take part in the Olympiad. Statistically speaking, the definitive answer is 'NO'.

Less than 3% of competition participants are geniuses. They are few and far between. Even if a child were to be determined to be a genius, proper training is needed to unleash his or her full potential. That being said, the bulk of those who have won medals are not geniuses!

IQ does not play a substantial role in the outcome of a competition.

Although students who have started training from a young age tend to be more consistent and have overall more reliable results, those who start out at a later age do still get their day in the sun. For instance, out of the 50,000 students who have taken part in the Southeast Asian Mathematical Olympiad (SEAMO) International Maths Olympiad Competition, a survey of 4,712 GOLD and SILVER medal winners across 15 countries in 2018 found that 56% of them had taken up Maths Olympiad less than a year before.

Furthermore, a third of the 752 students who participated in SEAMO X - the final round of SEAMO - were aged between 7-9 years. These are the creme de la creme of young mathematicians who found themselves representing their countries in Singapore on 19 Jan 2019.

Mr Terry Chew B.Sc addressed the 2019 cohort during his opening speech at Suntec City Convention Centre, expressing his amazement at the young age of the competitors and the standard of maths education across Southeast Asian countries in this day and age.

I am heartened to see so many Davids among the Golliaths. Most of you here are so young and dedicated. You children have the luxury of an advanced education and I am glad you have taken full advantage of it and made it here today.


Maths Olympiad Competition Preparation

Whether you were born talented or not, winning a medal is by no means easy.

Difference between Maths Olympiad and School Maths

Firstly, the concepts and skills required for Math Olympiad (MO) are vastly different from those of normal Maths that is taught in school. Even though generic categories of topics like Ratio, Percentage, Average, Speed and much of Geometry (which are taught in school) are also tested in MO competitions, the difficulty level of MO competition questions are a world away. The greater complexity in MO problems makes them impossible to solve for an untrained student (or adult) - or the student may be able to solve it at the cost of an exorbitant amount of precious competition time. On top of that, there are also concepts that are not taught in school that the student has never yet been exposed to.

How are students ranked?

Secondly, whether or not one wins a medal depends not only on one's own performance, but also on the performance of his competitors. It is called a 'competition' for a reason - there is no cut-off mark for Gold, Silver and Bronze but instead, students' rankings are determined by a bell curve. If one scores 49/100 marks in a competition while everyone else scores 48/100, then one may find himself earning the highest accolade. In order to win, one must outperform the rest.

This brings us to the final, yet most important point. What kind of preparation is required to do well in such competitions?

How effective is the training provided by the school?

Although most students who are selected by their teachers are offered the chance to undergo training in school, many are seeking professional assistance. Because MO is not part of the school syllabus, most students find themselves at the bottom of a steep learning curve. Training once weekly in school, usually for 12 to 20 weeks, and in large groups of 30 to 40 students is inefficient and insufficient. Parents are also unable to help their children and find themselves at a loss of what to do.

How effective is the training provided by larger tuition centres?

The typical maths enrichment centre in Singapore that teach maths heuristics for faster problem solving are unable to provide maths olympiad training as they do not have a strong background in MO. The bigger tuition centres in Singapore are largely catered towards the mainstream (or higher ability maths) but may not specialise in Maths Olympaid. Since MO is such a niche subject, only a few qualified learning centres whose teachers are well-trained in the subject will be able to deliver effective training and help your child be prepared for MO competitions.

At this point, you may be wondering how to find the best maths tuition centre in Singapore to prepare your child for the competition?

Be sure to select a tuition centre that has a structured curriculum and teaching methodology developed by a specialist in the field. Mr Terry Chew B.Sc was the first author in Singapore to publish a workbook series (since 2007) that focuses on helping students prepare for Maths Olympiad competitions. He also appears in international news for developing The RA*CE Framework which is a strong and proven teaching methodology that has helped hundreds of students win medals in prestigious maths competitions around the world. This makes Terry Chew Academy (TCA) one of the most highly sought after maths training centres in the region.


Finding the right approach makes a big difference in whether or not your children manage to achieve the results they want.

Students today need to have critical and inventive thinking skills to thrive in a complex world, where jobs now require non-routine analytical and interactive tasks.

Be it for the purposes of DSA or simply to increase your child's interest in the subject, there are only benefits to taking up Maths Olympaid. At TCA, at least 60% of our students have won GOLD or SILVER medals but all who have gone through the MO training course have easily secured an AL1 in PSLE Mathematics. The concepts and problem-solving skills acquired helps students make connections and think outside the box - something that MOE demands of them as part of the 21st Century Core Competencies.

So to all of you parents who are exploring this opportunity, we say, Unleash the Maths Olympian in Your Child!

Get In Touch

Looking for the best math tuition centre in Singapore or need extra-curricular math training? Tell us your needs and interests!


8809 5884
Click here to WhatsApp us!



167A Thomson Rd, Goldhill Shopping Centre, Singapore 307619
View Map | Visual Guide

Office Hours

Weekdays 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Weekends 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Thank you! Your Message has been sent. Something went wrong, Please try again!