Our Math Approach

Model Method, Unitary™ Method 2.0 & Heuristics

We teach all our students on how to master and apply the “Model Method” (in P3 & P4) and our proprietary “Unitary™ Method version 2.0” (in P5 & P6) to solving PSLE Math problem sum questions.

Most, if not all the problem sums in the PSLE, can be solved using the simple combination of understanding the context of the problem, followed by application of the necessary conceptual and procedural knowledge.

The “Singapore Model Method” is taught to our P3 and P4 students. It advocates the Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract approach, as recommended by MOE for the development of mathematical concepts, skills, and process. In this approach, students are provided with the learning experience and meaningful contexts, using concrete manipulative and pictorial representations, to help them learn abstract mathematical concepts.

Our proprietary “Unitary™ Method version 2.0” is taught to our P5 and P6 students, who tend to find the Singapore Model Method too cumbersome and tedious to use for tougher PSLE questions.

The Unitary™ Method version 2.0 advocates the direct usage of abstract manipulatives, with an emphasis on proper application and effective presentation, to give our students the confidence and speed to solve ALL Challenging Problem Sums efficiently and accurately.

We will also teach our students “Heuristics” which is a set of thinking tools or frameworks to solve unfamiliar and complex problems.

An example of heuristics would be “HOTS” or higher order thinking skills which is the ability to analyse (Break information into small pieces), synthesize (put separate information together in different forms) and evaluate (deduce and judge value of outcomes in a logical manner)

C3PO™ Math Problem Solving Framework​

To complement the above-mentioned Heuristics and our proprietary “Unitary™ Method version 2.0”, Mr Zhou uses the “C3PO™ Math Problem Solving Framework” as his teaching methodology.

The C3PO™ Math Problem Solving Framework was developed by Mr Zhou based on knowledge and experience gained from more than 10 years in the educational sector, and elements of his approach are adapted from Mathematician George Poyla’s influential Math Heuristics guidebook “How to Solve It”, and Mr Ammiel Wan’s ground-breaking “Cognitive Conceptual Approach in Learning Maths” (Mr Ammiel Wan is the author of the popular “thinking Math @ OnSponge” & “Get Me Thinking” Math Books and was formerly Vice-Principal of Rosyth Primary).

Mr Zhou recognized that most students view solving Problem Sums as merely a “Means to an End”, where the final answer is the focus, and less thought is put into how the question is approached, or the thought process that allows one to derive the answer. That will prove detrimental to the child’s educational development, as such an approach encourages rote learning and the blind application of algorithms and techniques, without any proper understanding as to why such techniques are used.

The C3PO™ Math Problem Solving Framework comprises of the following 5 steps:


Reading to understand the context of the question, and how the words and numbers are woven together to form a coherent whole. If necessary, break down the question into smaller ‘bite-sized’ components, so it’s easier to understand.


Usage of your innate Reasoning & Analytical ability, and application of Higher Order, Thinking Skills (HOTS), to convert raw data from the question into useful information, which you can use to decide which concept or heuristic to use.


Application of the chosen Concepts or Heuristics, that will help you solve the question! The student must recognize that the same concept / heuristic, can be applied across questions of various contexts.

Some examples of C3PO™ concepts / heuristics that we teach are “repeated identity”, “total unchanged”, “difference unchanged”, “gap - difference”, “same time or distance”, “make suppositions”, “work backwards” and “before - after” etc.

In all, NickleBee Tutors teaches 11 Heuristics tools and 18 Problem Solving Concepts, that are required to ace the PSLE Math Exam.


How you solve the question! We teach and use our very own proprietary “Unitary Method (version 2.0)”, which gives our students the confidence and speed to solve all challenging problem sums efficiently and accurately. Alternatively, students can also choose to use the Singapore Model Method, or any other mathematically correct procedures.


Reflect on your thought process (meta-cognition). Check back on the viability of your procedures and accuracy of workings. Extend the problem, by thinking briefly of any alternative solutions that could be used.