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Singapore Math Program FAQ

“It is unreasonable to assume that Singaporean students have mathematical abilities inherently superior to those of U.S. students, there must be something about the system that Singapore has developed to teach mathematics that is better than the system we use in the United States.”

- American Institutes for Research Report What the United States Can Learn From Singapore’s World-Class Mathematics System (and what Singapore can learn from the United States): An Exploratory Study.

What is Singapore Math?

Singapore Math is a math curriculum that was created by and for Singapore to use in their school systems. The Singapore math curriculum received notable attention when Singapore students were ranked first in mathematics achievements in comparison with students around the world. Educators, parents and students alike became curious about the reasons behind the superior math abilities of the Singapore students.


Singapore Math adopts a “spiral approach” teaching technique, where each level was built upon the previous levels taught. Re-teaching of concepts are not necessary as previously learnt techniques are reinforced through their applications in the new levels of learning. Valuable class time can therefore be more efficiently used.


How is the Singapore Method different from other curricula?
  • Each lesson is presented concretely, then pictorially, before the abstract representation is shown.

  • There is a greater emphasis on problem solving.

  • Fewer topics are taught in a year.

  • Topics are taught to Mastery – concepts are not re-taught, but rather are extended the following year.


Is Singapore Maths for struggling or gifted pupils?

Though "both" may sound idealistic, especially from a commercial point of view, the real answer is still both! One of the fundamental concepts of Singapore Maths is the Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract approach to each lesson which enables  the weak learners to gain basics knowledge which will help them develop whilst at the same time, due to "instructional" differentiation in lessons, the high achievers will reach new heights.


My child's school has adapted the new Common Core State Standards. How does Singapore Math relate?

Singapore was one of the programs looked to when developing the Common Core. There are Common Core versions available of Singapore Math Primary Mathematics Series. The content is more rigorous than the Common Core Standards; the methodology is the same.


Does Singapore Maths have a lot of rote learning?

Singapore Maths is very much against rote learning. Of course some elements of Mathematics will require children to have a good grasp of their number facts but the way Singapore Maths is taught, it is very much hands on and fun in nature. This is why Singapore not only tops the world league tables in Maths education but from recent surveys it has been highlighted that Singapore is the country where the greatest number of children actually enjoy maths lessons!


Why use Singapore as a model when other countries have high scores on the TIMSS also?

Finland has very strong scores, but the number of people in the US that speak Finnish is very small. Since the national language of Singapore is English, it didn’t take much to adapt the books for US students.

It is important to note that Singapore was in the lowest quartile in the international math exams in the 70′s. It was only when they made distinct changes that they started climbing the charts. This disproves the effect of an “Asian Math” gene.

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