Home > Conferences - PD > Mathematics comprehension tests as a tool in talent identification

Mathematics comprehension tests as a tool in talent identification

Presenters : Lee Su Yin Caroline and Tan Jiaxiu

The 15th Asia-Pacific Conference on Giftedness (APCG2018) was held in Bangkok from 20-24 August 2018 and the the theme for the conference was Inspiration, Motivation, and Creativity: Leading the Way to Giftedness’An RGS team comprising of 5 teachers presented at the conference.


As part of the process of selecting students into a mathematics programme for the gifted and talented, off-level tests are often used together with a basket of other criteria such as good performance in mathematics olympiad competitions. However, students from less privileged backgrounds may have the potential, but not the exposure to be able to do well in off-level tests nor the opportunities to participate in related competitions. On the other hand, students from privileged backgrounds with the resources to attend enrichment classes and tuition may  perform well in such tests and competitions, but their good performance may have been the result of drill and practice rather than true ability.

In an attempt to address this problem, our department has decided to include mathematics comprehension (MC) tests in the selection processes to measure the extent to which candidates are able to understand new material on their own.  

Since the testing of comprehension is well established in the languages, these were refered to  in order to determine if there is a parallel in mathematics. Other strategies including the Frayar Model was also considered. Based on these references, a list of the types of questions that can be posed to collect evidence of understanding of new mathematical material was created in 2017.

With information so readily accessible in the 21st century, educating the gifted and highly-able should include preparing them to become self-regulated learners who are able to learn beyond any given curriculum independently.  Therefore, a Mathematics Comprehension Taxonomy (MCT) was developed at the beginning of 2018 with the aim of providing a simple “checklist” for students to use in checking their own understanding whenever they read mathematical material and providing some structure and guidelines for teachers in designing mathematics comprehension tests.