Exam questions that drove S'pore students (and parents) crazy

Because we're not cruel, we provided the solutions. Somewhat.

Mandy How | November 21, 2016, 03:45 PM

Even if the exams are permanently over for most of us, the unfortunate fact is that Singaporean adults still get recurring dreams of exam anxiety from time to time.

These notorious questions, however, seem to pose a deeper threat to our supposedly adult existence. Why can't we solve (some of) them now even as adults? Why?

1. Cheryl's Birthday

Level: Upper Secondary Singapore and Asian Schools Math Olympiad


As one of the most infamous questions on the list, poor Cheryl has been sadly branded as a s*** by logically frustrated Singaporeans after this incident. We've covered this before, so let's move on before we start bleeding from our ears.


2. $1 coins

Level: Primary 6 Mathematics

Question: How much do eight $1 coins weigh? Students were given four options: Six grams, 60g, 600g, and 6kg.

While some parents felt that it was an "unfair" question completely unrelated to the syllabus, Gordon Lim's argument that the question only requires the student to apply basic, real world knowledge - a task that is not only entirely doable, but also achieves its purpose in confronting the fact that maths doesn't solely exist in an academic vacuum.

In other words, common sense.

Solution: Would it be an insult?


3. The Double Decker Bus

Level: Primary 6 Science


exam-bus-2 Source: PSLE Examination Questions

Solution: It has to do with the centre of gravity. Or something.


4. Sequence Confusion

Level: Primary 6 Math

Source: Singapore PSLE Mathematics Extreme Drill Questions Source: Singapore PSLE Mathematics Extreme Drill Questions

Solution: Our outstanding knowledge of mathematics tells us that we have one in four chances of getting it right.


5. And, as always, the classic "Point A to Point B" that drives every Singaporean student nuts:

Level: Every. Single. Year.

"Two stations A and B are 110 km apart on a straight line. One train starts from A at 7 a.m. and travels towards B at 20 kmph. Another train starts from B at 8 a.m. and travels towards A at a speed of 25 kmph. At what time will they meet?"

Source: Indiabix

Solution: Nope.


Top image from PSLE Examination Questions 2003 - 2007 Science.

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