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 classes 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!

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 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.

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 JC 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!

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.

With the increased demand for JC 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 A Level 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!

Some of the students who have enrolled for 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 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.

Attending tuition (like Ms Sim’s A Level Chemistry tuition) is an investment of time and money. Hence, students should make the best use of the tuition lessons to help them in their learning. Here are four things students should do to derive the greatest value from tuition classes:

1. Be committed to attending classes

One may think that turning up for tuition lessons is an easy thing to do but you will be surprised to find out that some students aren’t able to do it. Students need to commit and make it a habit to attend tuition classes. When students do not turn up for lessons regularly, the momentum is lost and in the long run, they will lose the discipline altogether in attending the classes. Attending weekly tuition classes is a crucial first step towards helping students achieve good results.

 

2. Complete the homework

Questions are often assigned to students to help them gain more practice to be better in the subject. However, many students often do not do the homework at all or did very little before coming for the class. Hence, they end up going through the motion during tuition classes as they have nothing to clarify because they have not completed the work.

 

3. Be proactive in asking questions

In order to ask questions, students need to complete the homework. After the completion of the homework, students need to take the opportunity to clarify with the tutor on questions that they encounter difficulties in. Remember, do not feel awkward in asking questions and don’t self-censor the questions that you want to ask! Tuition is meant to help students clarify their queries and no one should judge the questions that are asked!

 

4. Adopt a learning stance

At times, especially in group tuition, some students will think that they know very well the content of a topic that is covered and do not want to pay attention when tutors are going through the content. Actually, students will be surprised that even when it is content that they think they know well, students who adopt a learning stance and not have a “I know it all” attitude will often find that they gained new insights even if they are not hearing the content for the first time. Research has shown that learning is effective after rounds of repetition.

Attitude towards learning will be the single most important factor that will help students maximise the value they derive from tuition. Just like most tutors who work hard to prepare for the lessons, students must be prepared to work equally hard to maximise learning. To all the students out there, you need to own and be responsible for your learning!

 

About 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.

Having met cohorts of students from our A Level Chemistry tuition, we get a lot of opportunities to speak with parents and one of the more common topics is about the choice the family had to make in deciding on post-secondary education.

Here are 3 things you should know to help your child decide the pathway for post-secondary education.

There are now more pathways for students to choose from after they complete their secondary education. Students can choose to further their education through different pathways that lead to one of the following qualifications:

  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme
  • GCE A Level Certificate
  • Diploma from one of the polytechnics

Each pathway has its own set of merits and it really depends on the strength of the student and what he likes to get out of post-secondary education. Here are three things parents need to know:

1. Type of post-secondary education experience wanted by your child

If your child is looking for a more practical experience in his education, studying in a polytechnic would be a good option for him as polytechnic education will provide students with industry exposure through job attachments. If your child is looking for learning that focuses on critical thinking, pursuing a JC or IB education would be the right choice. IB education is more suited for students who like to be assessed throughout the year through tests and research projects that they work on while JC education is more suited for students who like to be assessed through one major examination which is the A Levels.

2. Strengths of the child

Every child is gifted and has his own unique talents. Some are more academically inclined and they will be more suited for a JC or IB education whereas others are good at hands on stuff which will suit them well for a polytechnic education.

3. Life after completion of post-secondary education

If your child would like to step into the workforce after his post-secondary education, pursuing a polytechnic education will give your child better career prospects and a more attractive pay. If your child intends to continue to pursue his studies after completion of his post-secondary education, a JC or IB education would be a better choice.

All pathways are good and the assumptions of having a JC or IB education as better than the polytechnic education are not valid. The important thing is to maximise the potential of your child based on his gifts!

Career Options for University Graduates in Chemistry

The employment world for chemistry graduates in Singapore can be divided into three main areas of application: Research & Development, Analysis and Higher Education. Each area of application offers a wide range of career options and here are some possible careers that are worth exploring for the different areas of application:

1. Research & Development

Graduates with a Chemistry degree can pursue a career as a Chemist by doing applied research in different industries such as agrochemical, pharmaceutical and personal care. Jobs as chemists require them to apply what they learnt in school to real world issues and develop products that meet a specific need which considers the needs of the business and industry.

2. Analysis

In the specialised areas of analytical science and forensic science, graduates can pursue a career as a Scientific Officer or Laboratory Officer if they decide to apply what they know to perform analysis and conduct investigative work.

3. Higher Education

Graduates who are interested to teach the future generations can pursue a career in Higher Education can consider teaching Chemistry in Junior Colleges or pursue an academic career in universities.

 

Decide which area of application interests you in the field of Chemistry and pursue a career that speaks to your interest! If you are already enrolled in Ms Sim’s JC Chemistry tuition classes, feel free to consult her on your options as well.