Math Teaching Resources

Review of the GetMeThinking Math Books (Ammiel Wan & Steward Tang; Visible Math, 2013)
Recommended for the GEP or High Ability Math Student looking for that extra edge in PSLE Maths!

Review updated by Mr Zhou (NickleBee Tutors) in Dec 2015 



The GetMeThinking Math Book by Ammiel Wan & Steward Tang (Visible Math) is the cumulation of years of experience and feedback as can be seen from the updated methodology of Parallel Thinking and Read3Write together with the original "Cognitive Conceptual Approach". It should be noted that the GetMeThinking series are recommended for GEP and High Ability students as the questions within can be rather challenging.

It has addressed the main shortcomings of Ammiel Wan's previous books and also, strengthened the approach it takes in reinforcing concepts and knowledge to the students in a non-didactic manner and provides guidance to the student's thought process in an engaging and interesting way

I believe that this will help the students internalize the contextual and conceptual knowledge required in a meaningful manner and help them improve their problem solving skills. Also, I have to add that the procedures and methods in the examples have been greatly updated and are much improved compared to those in "OnSponge" or "Challenging Maths Problems Made Easy".

I would recommend that parents and educators use the "Visible Thinking in Maths Series by Ammiel Wan" to improve on their child's basic mathematical concepts (as tested in Math Paper 1) after which they should then follow up on "GetMeThinking" or "OnSponge" to further enhance their child's intermediate and advanced problem solving skills (as usually tested in Math Paper 2).

Update : 

The PSLE Math paper used to consist of the testing of a child's ability to provide solutions to familiar but tough questions, and in so doing allows the examiner to separate the well-prepared from the rest. However, the PSLE Math paper that students face nowadays tests critical thinking skills and application of heuristics to unfamiliar questions of average difficulty and also examines the ability of a student remain conscientious while doing deceptively simple questions. 

As such, with it's tough questions and emphasis on advanced level procedural knowledge, the relevance of this book to the PSLE in it's current form is questionable. That being said, the GetMeThinking series remains one of the best books to stretch GEP and High-Ability students in their mathematical ability and is still highly recommended. 

The GetMeThinking books are available from http://www.visiblemath.com.sg/



Review of the "ThinkingMath @ Onsponge" Series (Ammiel Wan, Chris Rogers & Corine Quek; 2008)
Recommended for the Mid-Ability Math Student looking for that extra edge in PSLE Maths!

Review updated by Mr Zhou (NickleBee Tutors) in Dec 2015




The Onsponge books are an excellent resource (if a bit dated) for mid-ability students who require a comprehensive and systematic grounding of the various conceptual and procedural knowledge required to ace Problem Sums in the Math Paper 2. 

I personally feel that the some of the procedural knowledge (problem-solving methods) as taught in the Onsponge Books are quite cumbersome and rather lacking in fineness as they seem geared towards higher ability students who already have a working knowledge of problem solving and are just looking for a boost to fine tune the nuances of their problem solving capability. 

For other students who are still in the process of improving their problem solving skills, the way the books are structured has an unfortunate and unintended side-effect (if not taught correctly) of encouraging rote learning and blind application of methods (based on how the child thinks the question should be categorized) without understanding that problem solving is a process where the means is very much as important as the ends.

I still use the Onsponge books for my students because the questions are excellent (on par with top school exam questions) and are still relevant for the PSLE exam. However the techniques as taught within the examples are rather out-modeled and students should attempt to use newer approaches as taught by schools and tutors when practicing on the questions within.


I would recommend that parents and educators use the "Visible Thinking in Maths Series by Ammiel Wan" to improve on their child's basic mathematical concepts (as tested in Math Paper 1) after which they should then follow up on "GetMeThinking" or "OnSponge" to further enhance their child's intermediate and advanced problem solving skills (as usually tested in Math Paper 2).

The ThinkingMath @ Onsponge can be bought from the ThinkingMath Webstore at http://www.onsponge.com/shop/thinkingmathshop.html



An Review of "Visible Thinking in Mathematics" written by Mr Ammiel Wan (Marshall Cavendish, 2013, 2nd Ed)
For Weaker Students looking for a Resource to help with their Basic Mathematical Knowledge and Concepts!

Review updated by Mr Zhou (NickleBee Tutors) in Dec 2015


The Visible Thinking in Mathematics series are aimed at helping weaker students improve their basic mathematical concepts and computational skills through the use of the Cognitive Conceptual Approach.  It does so by emphasizing the development of the student's computational and knowledge recall skills while helping students progress from the pictorial stage to the abstract stage of mathematical learning.

This book starts from the basics and helps get the child used to a thinking and reasoning based approach rather than a rote-learning approach of learning basic mathematical concepts. This book helps the parent or educator to cultivate the child's thinking skills and direct the student's thought process on key concepts. And in so doing, the student would be better able to integrate the Problem solving concepts and Heuristics as they come along later.

The 2nd edition includes a variety of problem-solving questions in each chapter so as to expose the students to basic problem-solving skills as tested in Paper 2. This new addition helps to ease the students into the more complex problem solving skills and procedural knowledge that they learn later.

Overall, i think "Visible Thinking in Mathematics" is a good "Broad-Based" resource (as compared to "OnSponge" which only focuses on Problem Sums) to help them build up their fundamentals while improving their thinking skills and understanding of mathematical concepts. 


I would recommend that parents and educators use the "Visible Thinking in Maths Series by Ammiel Wan" to improve on their child's basic mathematical concepts (as tested in Math Paper 1) after which they should then follow up on "GetMeThinking" or "OnSponge" to further enhance their child's intermediate and advanced problem solving skills (as usually tested in Math Paper 2).

Visible Thinking in Mathematics are available from any Popular Bookstore.



Review of thinkingmath@OnSponge PSLE Practice Papers (Onsponge, 2013)
Recommended for the Primary 6 Student looking for a Primer on the OnSponge Math Approach before the PSLE.

Review written by Mr Zhou (NickleBee Tutors) in June 2013




"PSLE Practice Papers" consists of 10 practice papers (each of which is equivalent to a Paper 2 of the PSLE Math Exam), with each practice paper preceded by a summary of a "Key Conceptual Knowledge/Strategy as required in Problem Solving".

The quality of the questions set are indisputable and the mix of questions are enough such that there are sufficient challenging questions for the students to test their grasp of problem solving conceptual knowledge and procedural strategies. I find that while some of the questions are indeed quite unique and are interesting takes on what can be tested in the PSLE (and which would provide a challenge for even top students), most of the questions are essentially quite similar to those which can be found in the "Onsponge Conquer Problem Sums Series" or Past Year Exam papers from Top Primary Schools.

I have to say that i found the "Summaries of Key Conceptual Knowledge/Strategy as required in Problem Solving" before the start of each Practice Paper rather underwhelming as they are essentially rehashed from the examples found in the "Onsponge Conquer Problem Sum Series" and are starting to be a little dated as compared to what other competitors are offering in the market. 

All in all, questions in the practice papers are well-designed (a hallmark of the OnSponge Brand) and will provide a good practice for the average to good student. However, most of the questions in this book are similar to those found in Top Schools Past Year Papers. It would be rather pointless and unproductive to do both as the child will be quite bored with doing similar questions repeatedly and a point of diminishing returns will be reached.

For those who have gone through and done the "Onsponge Conquer Problem Sum Series" and Mr Ammiel Wan's "Get Me Thinking Math Book Series" with their teachers, tutors or parents, i would recommend that they stick to practicing Past Year Exam Questions from Top Schools for a more varied mix in questions practiced.

For those who are in Pri 6 and have not had the opportunity to practice the "Onsponge Books" or the "Get Me Thinking Books" and who are gearing up for the last lap before the PSLE, I would recommend that they buy and use the "Onsponge PSLE Practice Papers" as a primer of the various conceptual knowledge and procedural strategies as required in Math Problem Solving and following which they can practice and internalize their newly learnt problem solving skills using the practice papers in the books.

The Onsponge PSLE Practice Papers can be bought from the ThinkingMath Webstore at http://www.onsponge.com/shop/thinkingmathshop.html