Studying is a 24/7 job because students can never make the bold claim that they have over prepared for their exams because there is always more to learn! Having said that, students need to get ample rest to be in a clear state of mind when answering questions during exams.

In my years of teaching H2 Chemistry tuition classes, I have seen how hard students work preparing for the exams but end up not doing well for their exams because they do not have a clear strategy of tackling the questions during the exam. I will share some tips that will be helpful for students who are taking A level Chemistry or H2 Chemistry.

Tip 1: When You are Stuck, Move On

Students find themselves stuck when working on certain questions and many of them do not want to skip the questions for fear of losing precious marks. The fact of the matter is that students need to skip the questions they can’t answer if they find themselves spending considerable amount of time on it. Sometimes, students just face mental blocks in their repeated attempts at the questions and coming back to the question at a later stage will help them look at the questions from a different perspective.

Tip 2: Focus on answering the question and not be influenced by the mark allocation

Some students have the habit of using the marks allocated to the question as a gauge to determine how in-depth their answers are. That is a fatal mistake because students should focus on answering the questions as well as possible to address what examiners want and not focus on mark allocation which marks assigned may not be correlated to the length of answer.

Tip 3: Check, check and check

Some students finish ahead of time and feel that they can either leave the exam hall or rest after they have checked their answers. Never waste the time to leave the exam early or rest unless you feel that you have marks to burn! You should always check your answers again and again to prevent losing marks due to carelessness. Most students will commit careless mistakes due to time and exam pressures and hence, spending time to check your answers is a must!

Tip 4: Don’t Rush Through the Paper

In general, if students do not have time management issues, do not rush through the papers because rushing through the paper when answering results in unnecessary careless mistakes to be made. Hence, it is better to be slow and steady rather than to be fast and shaky!

In summary, it is important for students to manage their own performance during exams else it will be a waste of their hard work leading to the H2 Chemistry exam. I know it is a tough journey for most JC students. Hang in there, guys!

Being a teacher and a tutor teaching H2 Chemistry tuition for over 15 years, I have heard and seen countless cases whereby the words used by teachers and tutors and how they show up in front of their students impact their confidence in A level Chemistry and other subject. It also affects their interest in the subject. I shall use two stories to share these moments that the students have with their teachers or tutors that result in the confidence of students being shaken.

In my JC Chemistry tuition classes, I have been teaching a group of students from a school that offers both IP and mainstream pathways to A levels. During one of the lessons that I was teaching, the student shared with some frustration that his school compared the results of the mid-year examinations for JC Chemistry between the IP and JC mainstream students to emphasize that the students doing IP did much better than the mainstream students, my student was a JC mainstream student. The impact that it had on him was that he felt like a second-class citizen as compared to those in IP. I can understand the school’s perspective which could be an attempt to jolt the JC mainstream students into action so that they can improve their grades in Chemistry. However, the unintended consequences of the action led to frustration for some students, drop in confidence in the subject and maybe an unhealthy tension or relationship with the IP students. Am sure all is done with good intent but at times, it is best for students to run their own individual race, as long as they have put in their best, that is good enough regardless of the final results.

This is the another story I am sharing. I had a student who joined my JC Chemistry tuition class pretty late in the year, just a few months before the A level exams. The student was pretty weak in Chemistry and I could feel that he was worried about his A levels, in particular his two weaker subjects which are Chemistry and Economics. After a few lessons, he asked me about my assessment on how likely he will do well in the subject. In my mind, I thought that he was really pretty weak and chances of doing well are slim. However, I was aware on the impact of my words and chose to withhold my judgment. I told him not to worry and put in his best and reassured him that I will work alongside him to achieve his own personal best result. He thanked me and went on to share with me that he had also recently signed up for Economics group tuition and upon joining, the tutor told him that he had joined the class too late and probably won’t do well. That remark by the tutor affected his confidence in the subject. While I could understand where the Econs tutor was coming from, he probably wasn’t aware that the remark had made a dent in the student’s confidence.

We all need to know that the words and actions by tutors and teacher mean a lot to most students and hence we really need to be very careful with what we say or do. Don’t get me wrong, my point isn’t to frame everything positively and sugarcoat our words but we can at least exercise some discretion on how we convey our words and at least be neutral when conveying the message. As humans, we often judge others and it can’t be helped because we are wired in that way. However, we definitely can pause after forming our judgment before taking actions or conveying our thoughts in a manner that will minimize or eliminate the negative impact that we may have on our students because most students take the words of tutors and teachers very seriously.

Time flies and we are reaching the end of 2019. This is the time of the year that my JC 1 students who are in my JC Chemistry tuition classes await with either anticipation or in anxiety for their promo results. For the JC2 students, they are in the thick of the action, working very hard in preparation for their A level Chemistry exams. Despite the fact that this is the umpteenth year that I have been teaching A level Chemistry tuition, I somehow feel like I am the one who is going for the A level Chemistry exam and am also feeling some degree of anxiety. I know I shouldn’t be feeling this way but somehow I can’t help it.

I am sharing on what are the important things to take note in time management which will complement having a good understanding of the subject in order to do well for H2 Chemistry.

Be stingy with your time

Doing well for A level Chemistry goes beyond the mere understanding of the subject. In fact, knowing how to optimize your time is crucial in your preparation for A level exams. Time is your biggest enemy during JC years and I have seen students struggle with time management. Small pockets of time slip past us easily through various activities such as spending time on social media, catching Korean drama or US sitcoms, taking naps, time spent on public transport, just to name a few. Adding up these pockets of time will actually get one to realise that there is substantial time lost.

Be intentional

Being stingy with your time is the first step for creating pockets of time for one to be intentional on where to spend the time on. Schools, tuition centres, family and friends are the most likely sources that you will spend time on. Especially during the nearing of exams, students are likely to be faced with many remedial classes conducted in school and additional tuition lessons for different subjects with one common goal of helping the students ace their exams. It is all done with good intent but students sometimes will need to exercise their own judgement on whether the help rendered is useful and relevant for them. In my opinion, sometimes, interventions for the majority of students may not cater to the individual needs of the student which may end up depleting the student’s precious time. Also, students need to be intentional. For example, students need to come in prepared to clarify on questions they have during consultation sessions in school or with their tutors. If you are going in for the lesson with no questions in mind, the time spent will not be time well spent as compared to students who came in prepared with their questions.

 Be realistic when drafting your daily time table

Most students have the practice of working out their daily time table leading up to exams. Students will have to be realistic when working out the time table by factoring in rest time, transport time and hours spent studying. The consequence of not painting a realistic picture is that students may think that they have more time in their hands than what the reality is which can be really frightening.

JC life really passes by in a flash. Just want to wish all students taking JC Chemistry A level exams this year the very best of luck! Regardless of the results, just remember that A levels is just a milestone in your time and is definitely not the ultimate indicator of your success in life! If you do well, that is excellent. If you don’t do well, fret not, you can still be successful in your own way. The important thing is to try your best and not have any regrets. Good luck folks!

In general, most parents and students in Singapore will enrol for tuition for two main reasons. The first and most obvious reason for enrolling for JC Chemistry tuition is primarily driven out by out of fear for doing badly for the A level Chemistry exam. The second reason which may come out as slightly surprising for some is that parents or students enrol for A level chemistry tuition driven by the need to maintain their good results or secure an A for their A level exams.

In the spirit of not encouraging that all should go for tuition which adds to the already hectic school life that JC students are having, let’s focus our attention and discussion on the students who are enrolling for tuition for fear of getting poor results for their A level Chemistry exam. However, despite getting poor grades for the subject, some students continue to ignore the need for tuition and have the overly optimistic belief or have the false illusion that they will be able to still do well for their A level Chemistry exams despite the fact that the poor results are staring straight in their face. Their optimism stems from the fact that they recalled how they managed to ace their O level Chemistry despite cramming their studies at the last minute. However, reality is that the gap between A level Chemistry and O level Chemistry is huge which means that even for students who score an A1 for O level Chemistry, it means nothing when they are going for their A level exams.

To help students anticipate if they need Chemistry tuition, we have listed the five signs that signal that students need A level Chemistry tuition sooner rather than later

Sign 1: Scoring poorly despite working very hard

You burn the midnight oil and worked very hard in preparation for the upcoming tests/exams. However, when doing the tests, you are still unable to do well and apply what you learnt. You get bad results which don’t seem to commensurate with the efforts that you have put in and resulting in you feeling despondent and deeply disappointed. Guess you just need a tutor to guide you in tackling the key concepts and questions.

Sign 2: All the topics are difficult for me

As you try to strategise and prioritise which topic to focus well, you find that you don’t know which of the topics to start with because you find all the topics challenging which results in you feeling paralysed, not knowing where to start and how to start.

Sign 3: Looking back to your past glory

After getting successive poor results for your Chemistry test at A levels, you reassure yourself that you will eventually do well in A levels by recalling how you have managed to clear O levels and PSLE despite doing last minute cramming. Unfortunately, A levels does not work like this. The duration for A levels is very short and the content is much more difficult than the O levels. Hence, even if you have secured an A1 for Chemistry at O level, it means nothing at A levels. Hence, it is better to do a reality check and not assume that past glory will carry you forward for A levels.

Sign 4: Experiencing negative emotions in your day to day life

You may not realise that the poor results that you are getting may get into the way of how you relate to your friends and family members. You may subconsciously project your negative emotions at people around you due to the poor results which have caused you to have negative emotions. You may be wallowing in despair and blaming everyone around you except yourself for the plight that you are in. Watch out for such signs and get someone to speak to or start to do something about your studies to stop it from perpetuating.

Sign 5: Procrastinating about studies

Despite your busy schedule, you choose not to study even when you get pockets of free time. You choose to watch TV, play computer games, watch movies, spend time on social media or engage in other activities except to study despite knowing that you badly need to study to do well for A level Chemistry. The sign is clear, you are choosing an avoidance strategy to get around the actual task of studying.

Just one final thought. It is perfectly alright to get help through tuition if that is needed. So if you are experiencing one of the 5 signs mentioned above, do not hesitate and just enrol for tuition. All the best for your A level journey!

About The JC & IB Tuition Specialists: We are formed by a group of dedicated tutors who specialize in providing H2 Chemistry tuition, H2 Maths tuition, and H2 Physics tuition in Singapore.

Among the different subjects at A levels, Chemistry is often mentioned by students as a tough subject due to the unique demands of the subject that requires both bookwork or memorising of content and application. Comparing to other science subjects at A levels, while Physics requires some level of memorising content, the focus is largely on application. As for Biology, the focus is largely on bookwork. Hence, Chemistry has semblance of the rigour required of Physics and Biology due to the emphasis on both bookwork and application. Having taught A Level H2 Chemistry tuition for more than 15 years, here are some study tips I have to offer.

Preparing for Bookwork

For bookwork, plainly speaking, it is all about the memorisation of content. Memorisation work may not be for everyone but it is definitely possible for every JC student to acquire memorisation techniques to help them prepare for the bookwork component of A level Chemistry. Let’s go through the techniques one by one in the following paragraphs.

  1. The first technique is memorisation using repetition. Different individuals have their preferences on memorisation through repetition. Different approaches include copying notes, recalling the highlighted text of the notes, recalling important paragraphs of the notes and going through the summary points of each chapter. However these techniques often may be perceived as boring or not meaningful because the truth of the matter is that most people do not enjoy memorisation. Of course, there are always exceptions =)
  2. The second technique is using mindmaps to reinforce our memory. Mindmaps are diagrams used to visually organise information in a way that revolves around a key concept or theme. Mindmaps will be more well suited for students who are able to see connections and leverage on visuals to remember things better.
  3. The third technique is what we called memory devices. Basically, it is a way of remembering information that ties to something meaningful. An example of a non Chemistry memory device is “Toa Cah Soh” (which means Big Foot Auntie in Hokkien) was a phrase that was used to teach students secondary school maths to remember and understand geometry. “Toa” means Tangent= Opposite divided by Adjacent, “Cah” means Cosine=Adjacent divided by Hypothenuse and “Soh”= Opposite divided by Hypothenuse. Pretty cool isn’t it? To think that I can recall this despite graduating from secondary school for almost 20 years! An example of a Chemistry memory device is “Soft Boiled Fabulous Egg” is a phrase used by students to remember on the points to write for Chemistry bonding questions. Soft: Structure (giant ionic, simple covalent, etc), Boiled: Bonds (type of bonds present e.g. hydrogen bonds, ionic bonds, etc), Fabulous: factors (factors affecting strength of bonds e.g extensive ness of hydrogen bonds, bond polarity, etc) and Egg: energy (always end off the answer by relating to the energy required to break the bond) Guess, the beauty behind using memory devices to remember things is that it will last a lifetime because of the association to something meaningful to the student.

Now that we have heard about the techniques to tackle bookwork, let’s look at what we can do to tackle the component of application.

Preparing for Application

The first approach is to practise application questions by topics. In order to test if your understanding translates into actual application, practising the questions is the only way to find out. Hence, students should try out questions by different JCs and those found in the A level exam papers. It is also important to take note that if you are building your foundation for the subject, choose the easier questions that match your standard for a start so that you feel a sense of progress by being able to solve the questions. Subsequently as your understanding of Chemistry improves, try the questions based on increasing level of difficulty.

Another approach to application is to practise by doing A level and JC prelims exam papers after you have completed your revision of all the topics in A level Chemistry. Many students make the mistake of trying the exam papers before completing the revision. Trying out the exam papers before completing your revision is wasteful because students deprive themselves of actually knowing how they fare overall in the subject. When trying out the papers, students should work on the more recent papers as the questions will be more current and are more relevant as compared to the earlier papers.

Trying out the questions by topics and doing exam papers are useful but still insufficient to enable you to be fully ready for A level Chemistry exam. To be exam ready, students need to try out the exam papers under time conditions that will mirror the exam conditions which require students to solve questions under time pressure.

In summary, students need to put in a lot of effort because 2 years is a short time and A level Chemistry is a demanding subject which requires both bookwork and application. Over the years, I have seen many students work really hard but did not achieve the results due to using the wrong technique when preparing for A level Chemistry exams. As such, students should spend their time wisely and maximise their chances of scoring by paying attention to the techniques outlined in the article pertaining to bookwork and application.

About The JC & IB Tuition Specialists: We are formed by a group of dedicated tutors who specialize in providing H2 Chemistry tuition, H2 Maths tuition, and H2 Physics tuition in Singapore.

Among the different phases of your education, time spent in junior colleges passes by in a flash and before you know it, it is gone. On average, students spent two to three years preparing for their A levels. While the time spent is the shortest as compared to primary and secondary school education, a lot of student who attended our A Level Chemistry tuition tell us that it is also the most stressful period. This is because students have to quickly know how they fare in terms of their academic performance in A level subjects such as Chemistry, Physics, Maths and Economics, just to name a few.

To gauge one’s performance, students have to look at their own results at three levels of analysis. Firstly, the simplest way to do this is to look at your score in your school’s tests and exams. This gives you a rough indication of how you did in relation to the school’s tests or exams. However, this level of analysis can be pretty superficial because the comparison of your score is at best a gauge of your own individual performance and does not take into account of the performance of the other students in your school. Hence, this level of analysis isn’t sufficient for you to make sense of your own performance. Next, let’s look at the second level of analysis: percentile.

The second level of analysis is to look at your percentile which indicates how you stand in your school’s cohort taking the subject. Let’s use an example, using H2 Chemistry as a subject to illustrate. Getting a B for your H2 Chemistry may sound like a good grade. However, despite getting a B, your percentile is only at 40%, it shows that 60% of the cohort has achieved a stronger B or an A which shows that they are doing better than you. This level of analysis takes into account of how you fare as compared to the other students in your school but does not consider the performance of students outside your school who are taking the A level examinations. Hence, we need to take a look at the third level of analysis: your school’s past performance in a particular subject.

Lastly, the third level of analysis is to look at your school’s past performance in A level examination for a particular subject. Why is this important? While one can argue that past performance cannot be an accurate predictor for future performance, it still serves as a good estimate to roughly gauge how well your school will perform for that particular subject. For example, for the past two years, on average, your school has 30% percent of the cohort scoring an A for H2 chemistry. This implies that to get an A, you need to aim to be in at least to be be 70th percentile consistently for your exams to stand a chance of scoring an A at A level examinations.

Gauging one’s performance at three levels of analysis is important for students to know how they fare in their A level subjects. However, the challenge lies in doing the second level of analysis as some schools choose not to disclose the specific percentile of the students out of good intentions. They do not want the disclosure of percentile to result in a competitive and results oriented culture that results in diluting the intent of education which is to gain knowledge and learn with the outcome of contributing to the society. While we all recognise the good intentions, we do need to trust that the students at ages 17 to 18 are mature enough to handle the reality as they prepare themselves for the school of hard knocks in life. Perhaps one way to get around this is to reveal the scores in terms of Q1 (75th to 100th percentile), Q2 (50th– 74th percentile), Q3 (25th to 49th percentile) and Q4 (1st to 24th percentile). This will help students to know where they roughly stand in terms of their scores.

To all students out there taking A levels, do remember this: you are not running alone in the race, you are racing with all the students who are taking the A level subject. Hence, your individual score does not mean anything as it is how the cohort does that determine your final grade!

About The JC & IB Tuition Specialists: We are formed by a group of dedicated tutors who specialize in providing H2 Chemistry tuition, H2 Maths tuition, and H2 Physics tuition in Singapore.

Students enrol in JC chemistry tuition classes in the hope for doing well for their A levels. However,
some students aren’t exactly clear on what they expect out of tuition as different tutors will conduct
their classes with different intents in mind. Basically, there are two main types of how lessons are
delivered which serve different types of intentions. They are Advancement and Reinforcement.

Advancement is the approach taken by tutors who teach the students ahead of time on the a level
chemistry topics that have yet to be covered by the schools. For such an approach, tutors will teach
the topics in a certain sequence based on their scheme of work. The upside of this approach is that
students will learn more than what is covered in school. The downside is that for the weaker
students, they will struggle as they have challenges navigating their current work.

Reinforcement is the other approach taken by tutors who believe in going through the existing
topics taught in school to reinforce their learning. For such an approach, tutors will summarise the
key concepts to reinforce their learning as students have already been taught in school. The upside
of this approach is that the topics covered will not be foreign to the students as they have already
gone through it in school. Furthermore, it helps them clear their challenges on existing topics that
they are grappling with. The downside is that the topics aren’t taught in advanced.

Decide which approach suits you best: Advancement or Reinforcement. Find a tutor which delivers
the approach that best suits you.

About The JC & IB Tuition Specialists: We are formed by a group of dedicated tutors who specialize in providing JC H2 Chemistry tuition, JC H2 Maths tuition, and H2 Physics tuition in Singapore.

With the increased demand for A Level H2 Chemistry tuition due to the demanding A level examinations and students’ desire to excel, the tuition industry has seen a surge in the number of tuition centres and tutors who offer JC chemistry tuition. Below are three factors for parents and students to consider when choosing the right tutor.
Results of past students
Good results are the desired outcome by parents and students and tuition is all about achieving results. Beyond judging the tutors based on the final grades of the students under their charge, it is more important to see the value add provided by the tutor. For example, a student who has improved from U to A shows greater value add by the tutor as compared to a student who has improved from B to A under the charge of another tutor.
It is important to check out the number of testimonials written for the tutor. Have a large number of testimonials that showed good results and affirming the tutor’s ability proves the tutor’s consistency in producing good results as compared to another tutor who has few testimonials to show for.
Style of teaching
The style of teaching by the tutor must have the students in mind and the ultimate goal is to ensure students derive maximum benefit out of the lesson. Effective teaching ensures that students get personalised attention and have their personal needs addressed through consultation and coaching provided by the tutor. An effective style of teaching must also include a practice component that helps students apply what they learnt by working on the questions. The teaching or lecturing component of the lesson should be focusing on helping students to grasp key concepts and complement what was taught in school. It should not be a 2 hour lecture that duplicates what was taught in school.
Teaching experience and academic background
While there are many Chemistry tutors who brand themselves as experienced former teachers, it is important to check their academic background and assess the relevance of their teaching experience to assess if it suits the needs of the student. A simple rule is that an experienced tutor needs to have at least 8 years of experience to chalk up the experience needed to be effective in helping the students. It would be ideal if the tutor has a relevant degree in Chemistry
Do your homework and choose the right tutor by considering the factors mentioned. Choosing the right tutor is the important first step for your child’s academic success!
About The JC & IB Tuition Specialists: We are formed by a group of dedicated tutors who specialize in providing H2 Chemistry tuition, H2 Maths tuition, and H2 Physics tuition in Singapore.

Some of the students who have enrolled for JC H2 chemistry tuition in Singapore face the dilemma of deciding whether or not to drop to H1 chemistry at some point due to the challenges of the subject and the overall pressure that they face leading up to A levels.
For students who are deciding whether to take H2 or H1 Chemistry should note the key differences between the two levels:
  1. Practical examination– For students taking H1 chemistry, they do not need to take practical examination which is required of H2 chemistry.
  2. Content– H1 chemistry has much lesser content as compared to H2 chemistry. Topics such as Energetics, Kinetics, Alkane, Allene and many other topics are much lighter in content for the H1 syllabus
  3. Additional topics– H1 Chemistry syllabus has additional topics such as Polymer Chemistry and Nanomaterials which are not found in H2 syllabus
  4. Entry requirements for university courses– For students taking H1 Chemistry, they need to note that they will not be able to enrol for many science related courses which require H2 Chemistry.
Students who are taking Chemistry at H2 level are more likely to enrol for H2 Chemistry tuition rather than H1 Chemistry tuition because H2 Chemistry is much more difficult than H1 Chemistry.
Ultimately, whether or not to take H1 or H2 Chemistry depends on students’ self assessment of their mastery and flair in the subject and also taking into careful consideration of the factors mentioned above.
For all students out there, think carefully and make informed decisions!
About The JC & IB Tuition Specialists: We are formed by a group of dedicated tutors who specialize in providing H2 Chemistry tuition, H2 Maths tuition, and H2 Physics tuition in Singapore.

In the tuition industry, tutors need to teach and market themselves well to stand out from the competition. To outdo each other, one common phrase that frequently appears in advertisements is to include a phrase on “Best xx Tutor” or something to that effect which xx stands for the particular subject the tutor is teaching.

The word “best” has a wide range of interpretation and will share the following thoughts in the subsequent paragraphs.

  1. Defining the word “best” – How does one define he or she is the best? Grades achieved? Teaching approach? Going the extra mile to help students? Who can solve the questions fastest? Who can engage and motivate the students to learn? Clearly, the word “best” can be interpreted differently by different individuals.
  2. Claiming to be “best” in terms of grades achieved – Tutors will claim to be the best by showing the percentage of students who obtained A’s and B’s as their final grades under their tutelage. Nothing wrong with that claim but if the students were already scoring well or are academically inclined, scoring good grades wouldn’t be that challenging for such students. On the other hand, parents and students can look at “best” in terms of grades achieved from the value-added perspective. What this means is when looking at grades, it is taking into the initial difference from the initial grade upon enrolment to the final grade. Surely, more credit should be given to the tutor who helps a student who improves from U to A as compared to another tutor who helps the student maintain an A grade.
  3. Suggesting to be “best” because of the large classes taught – Some tutors that teach large classes (20 or more) will say that they are the best because they are able to communicate effectively to large audiences without compromising the quality due to effective delivery. There is no doubt in that precise and clear delivery helps students understand the concepts and content. There are also some subjects that may be more suitable to be taught for large classes. However, there is no denying of the fact that many students require the individualised attention of the tutors when they face difficulties while practising the questions. Individualised attention to answer specific questions is impossible in a large class setting no matter how clear the lesson delivery is. Hence, private tuition and small group tuition will be defined as best in the eyes of these students in those instances. Both arguments make sense and it is a matter of different perspectives.

The point to be made in this post is that “best” doesn’t exist. All teachers who are able to make a difference and add value to the students are good and effective teachers. So when you read the headline “best xx tutor”, think again! Let’s agree to disagree.

At the JC & IB Tuition Specialists, we are formed by a group of dedicated tutors who specialize in providing JC Chemistry tuition, JC Maths tuition, and JC Physics tuition.