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Tough Secondary 1 Maths Topics and How to Prepare Your Child

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

secondary 1 maths topics

Secondary 1 Maths Topics your child will face in their new school can be challenging. Unlike Primary 6, they now have to learn and understand a broader range of topics in more depth. Secondary Mathematics no longer uses model drawing to solve word problems like Primary level. Instead, algebra gains significant importance in Secondary Mathematics.

With the help of qualified and experienced AGrader tutors, we’ve highlighted two key topics that most students struggle with and tips to prepare for tackling Math problems in Secondary.

Secondary 1 Maths Topics

Basic Algebra and Algebraic Manipulation

Algebra is a central piece in Secondary 1 Mathematics. The important topic forms the foundation for understanding Calculus and future Secondary school topics such as trigonometry at upper secondary school levels.

Additionally, it is the main method of solving problems at the Secondary level. Instead of the model drawings that students used in Primary school, they will now be required to show and solve algebraic solutions.

Students may struggle to use other mathematics concepts such as like and unlike terms, or miss out on applying the order of operations when simplifying algebraic expressions. They may incorrectly apply how positive and negative values should be used and make mistakes such as - 3 + 5 = - 8 when it should be: - 3 + 5 = 2.


Students who struggled to build strong foundations in understanding percentages in primary school may find the topic more challenging as they enter Secondary 1. This is especially so for percentage changes.

At Secondary 1, students are expected to apply the concepts in real-world contexts – which is a change from their Primary 6 curriculum. As a result, students tend to struggle with understanding the question. Adapting to this change is possible with time. Invite your child to take the time they need and be kind to themselves as they navigate this change.

Beyond the classroom, encourage them to practise working out things like percentage changes when you’re out shopping. For example, what is the percentage of price savings between Netflix subscription plans? Or if the price of an Xbox console drops from $699 to $399, what is the percentage change? (Get more tips on using Maths outside the classroom here.)

Build the Right Foundations

In addition to learning new Secondary 1 Maths topics and concepts, it’s important that students make every mark count. Here are three tips to help your child build the right foundations for Secondary Mathematics.

secondary maths exam time management

1. Practise Exam Time Management

Students tend to spend more time than they should on challenging questions – which is completely natural! Complex questions take more time to process, but they can also add stress that may prevent your child from completing easier questions they know the answers.


Allocate time for each question using the number of marks assigned to each question. For example, allocate 2 minutes for every 1 mark. This way, even if your child gets stuck working out challenging questions, they’d be reminded to move on to questions they’re able to answer and score marks. They can always return to working on tough questions if there is extra time.

secondary maths exam

2. Read the Question

Under the time pressures of the exam, students tend to scan through the question, pick up keywords to note and rush to answer the question. This may result in mistakes, such as giving the answer in the wrong format. At Secondary 1, problem-solving skills and presentation are key – so don’t waste marks unnecessarily.


Highlight the keywords and points such as the required answer format before starting on the question. The highlights offer a visual reminder of what to focus on and what your child should check after they’ve completed the paper.

secondary 1 maths topics

3. Check Carefully

Students know they should check their work – but they may miss out on what and how to check. Without thorough checks, avoidable mistakes could be made.


At AGrader Learning Centre, we recognise the importance of habits and systems. Under exam pressures, obvious things may be overlooked. Therefore, we encourage our students to run through the three questions below as they review and check their work.

Did you leave any questions blank?

Try all the questions, even if solving the question isn’t a possibility. Marks may be awarded for correct steps that show their reasoning.

Have you shown your steps?

Even without the final answer, showing the steps are important. Method marks may be given for any correct steps stated. This is especially important for questions that do not require using a calculator.

Have you checked your working?

Getting the concept and methods right is one thing. But a simple typo in the working can result in the wrong answer! In Secondary 1, calculators are permitted so use them to check that the working is accurate and avoid making careless mistakes.

Let’s say you’ve solved (a) in the example below:

secondary 1 maths workings

Use your calculator to check if 8 (or x) + 2 = 10.

Have you checked how your answer is presented?

The answers should show the correct unit of measurement and be in the right degree of accuracy as required by the question. If the latter isn’t specified, leave your answers in 3 significant figures or one decimal place for the degree of angles.

Have you labelled all the diagrams?

Label the diagrams fully, including titles where applicable. More is better than less in this case.

secondary math tuition class

Systems are important to us at AGrader Learning Centre. In addition to the checklist above, a key part of our robust curriculum includes the proven EverLoop Improvement System which eliminates ‘academic forgetfulness’. Find out more about the system and our Secondary Math tuition programmes to support your child in achieving excellence here.


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