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The roles of mathematics competition in Singapore mathematics education
Mathematics competition
Problem solving
Higher order thinking
Issue Date: 
Paper presented at the 12th International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME-12), Seoul, Korea, 8-15 July 2012
The roles of mathematics competitions in Singapore mathematics education have expanded beyond helping the country in identifying and supporting of mathematical talents. In this note, test items from the past years mathematics competition were examined. It was proposed that mathematics competitions can potentially play three important roles in Singapore mathematics education: to (1) stretch students to explore mathematics beyond the usual school curriculum; (2) set direction in higher order thinking skills could be infused into the usual classroom teaching; and (3) preserve the “elementary mathematics” within the constantly evolving national mathematics curriculum. This note further presents some episodes of students’ responses to some competition questions from previous years. It was found that some students developed incomplete or incorrect mathematical reasoning but gave the correct answers to these questions, which is contradictory to the intention of setters of the questions. Readers are cautioned to the existence of a mismatch between the intentions of these competition questions and the actual format and structure of the competitions.
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