Bar Model Approach to PSLE-2019 Questions

“There should be no such thing as boring mathematics”

- Edsger Dijkstra

Bar Model Approach to PSLE-2019 Questions

  Ho Soo Thong      

Revised Nov 2021

 In 2019 PSLE Examination, pupils encountered quite a number of challenging questions. 

Here, we intend to highlight the basic mathematics  in a Holistic Bar Modelling Approach to two types of challenging questions :

Ratio (fraction) situations – A Counting Approach with the Greatest Common Unit

Distributive Situations – Mathematics of Distributive Law 

A holistic bar model enables us to understand each question and select an effective approach to the solution. Furthermore, we can  see the challenging level of each question.


Question 1 PSLE 8/02/2019

A box contained black beads and white beads. At first, the number of black beads was ⅓ of the number of white beads. After ¼ of the black beads and ⅜ of the white beads were used,63 beads were left.

(a)What is the fraction of the beads were used? Leave your answer in the simplest form.

b)How many beads were there in the box at first?



Remark  : The question involves three related “Fraction”situations. There is a complex algebraic relation 3X = 8Y for which we apply the Greatest Common Unit Procedure for a counting approach.


Question 2 PSLE 14/02/19 

Kelvin and Julie bought some egg tarts. Each of them spent $61.20.  Julie got 6 more egg tarts than Kelvin because she used a coupon that gave her  a 15% discount.

(a) How many  egg tarts did Julie get?

(b) What was the price of each egg tart without the discount?



Remark :  A challenging Distributive Problem involves the algebraic relation 

Total cost = Unit cost × Number of units

The question can be solved as a Percentage Problem and here we show  a direct ratio approach.