A Crash Course in Surviving PSLE

Its the time of the year, 2 months to go for PSLE or GCE O’ Levels and the panic buttons are being pushed. Here’s a crash course and survival guide:

Make space

Clear out the junk on your table and make your room conducive for studying. This shall be your goto place for study and make sure it is bright and peaceful. A clear table stops any distraction  as well. No TV, games, computers, handphones. Just you and your work.

The 5 P’s

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Write out all the topics that needs to be revised. Calculate how much time that needs. Add in hours to be spent on revision papers and past year exam papers . Divide that by how many weeks more to exams and that is how much time you need to study a day, at the very least. Which leads us to the need for a time table.

Have a timetable

Set up a time table and schedule every minute. Time management is important in making sure all the topics are covered.  Do put in little breathers as all work as no play makes Jack/Jane a dull person.

Start with revising topics

Revise topics from the easiest to the hardest. This helps in covering lots of easy topics fast and as confidence grows, work up to the harder stuff.

Get Help

Have a really solid tutor that you can count on. (Contact Us)  Generally someone who knows enough of your syllabus that you can get help fast and download as much information to you in the shortest time possible. There will be times when you are revising and there’s some questions where you will hit the wall. Mark those down and ask. This will boost your confidence.

Tutors checking primary science papers from school examinations
Tutors checking primary science papers from school examinations

Get those past year papers

Once done with revision, time to hit those past year exam papers. If you have a hard time looking for it, send us an email and we can help you out in obtaining them.

eduKate with Minister of Education, Mr Heng Swee Kiat
eduKate with Minister of Education, Mr Heng Swee Kiat

Sleep your 9 hours worth 

Research has proven that peak performance occurs for individuals that clocks in 9 hours of sleep consistently. Your brain will thank you for it.

 Study hard now, slow down when it gets nearer to exams

That’s stress management. Plan to cover more at the beginning and slower in the end. As the exam nears, we need to spend lesser on studying and more time organising our memory palace. Making sure everything is at your fingertips when you need it and cooling down to make sure your brains can handle the stress when the exam starts.

The calm before the storm

It is best to spend time prepping for the big day. Both mentally and physically. Run through how you will do your papers in your mind. Eat healthy food, on time and drink lots of water. Staying healthy is key to peak performance. Exercise too but not anything that will break bones and end in a trip to hospital. Staying sharp and well rested will keep any sickness at bay.

eduKate is committed to community development. 2014
eduKate is committed to community development. 2014

Stay happy and optimistic

Its also important to stay happy. So whenever you feel things turning dark, slow down and take a breather. Go hang out with friends and family. Do remember its just an exams and its never the end of the world. If you planned it right and did your best, chances are, you’ll be doing alright.

Student gets good grades with the proper help and good attitude towards his studies.
Student gets good grades with the proper help and good attitude towards his studies.

Synching your body to the exam time tables 

Your body is a creature of habit. Wake up and sleep at the same time every day. This includes the weekends. Study at the same time as the exam time table. Sit down for the whole duration of an exam, approximately 2 hours, and do not make any toilet trips during that time. Eat at the same time too as you do not want to get hungry or thirsty during exams. Get your body accustomed to handle the stresses of an exam. Don’t change this until the exams are over. This will lessen distractions and help you in concentrating fully on the exams.

Equipment checklist

Have a checklist of what you need for the exams. Different papers requires different equipment so make sure to bring it along with respect to the paper at hand. Don’t forget your identification papers too. Buy spares and have all your equipment checked for proper working conditions. I always advise students to have duplicates of all their stationery. Better to have more than less or risk repeating another year to retake the exams.  Generally speaking, pens are never enough in an exams, and two calculators just in case one gives up mid way

Bring the right equipment and have backup calculators just in case. Murphy's Law at work.
Bring the right equipment and have backup calculators just in case. Murphy’s Law at work.

The Storm 

Listen to everything the examiner says and only start when they say so. Don’t worry about what happens around you and just worry about your own paper. That’s your own paper and that is the most important task to you right there and then. Do it at a good pace and never worry if someone else are done earlier than you. Once you have completed, make sure that all pages are attempted, your name/identification number is on the paper, and check your work until time is up. You are given a set time for the paper and not a single second should be wasted so make sure you squeeze every mark out of that paper.

Home Sweet Home

Once the paper is done, get back home and do not discuss the exam questions with your friends. That’s just counter productive and could demoralise you if you find out that there is things that you got wrong. Crying over spilt milk won’t help you or get you a better grade once the paper is handed in. Besides, you will never see that paper again in your life so forget and look forward to the next exam. You are better off wisely spending that time winding down, resetting and start preparing for the next paper.

Keeping yourself optimistic, healthy and happy is a key to achieving a great result.

eduKate is committed to community development. 2014
eduKate is committed to community development. 2014
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Science students are taught to think like a scientist in our Science tuition. To be a scientist and then think logically to get through the questions that are presented in their Examinations.

This week for English (Upper Primary level), we shall talk about Troy, the Trojan War, and Achilles, where the phrase “It is your achilles heel” comes to mean one’s weakness. Below is a Youtube video of The True Story of Troy from History Channel.

How to get your child to read?

Often have I heard parents complain about their child’s lack of reading story books. In Singapore, this is made worse with electronics like games and smartphones becoming a staple in everyday activities of our children. Texting and all that distraction becomes the scourge of the millennium to some parents. Made worse with social media and the need for kids to fit in with their peers.

So how do we change the tides and make the kids read?

reading as enjoyment 

First and foremost, reading has to be enjoyable to our children. It has to be fun, and definitely a million miles away from being a chore. That is the key to starting them on the right path. So let’s see what we can do to make this fun.

information information information 

Children are naturally inquisitive. They crave information of the world they are in.  They are natural learners and if you can light the spark of curiosity, they will carry that spark and more often then not, you will not need to do anymore from then on. One way I create curiosity in my students are to tell them stories. Stories of great people like Julius Caeser and how he is forever remembered in our month July named after him. Stories of how our forefathers struggles lead us to where we are today. Make sure its fun, and something amazing and once you catch their attention, they will want to know more, after which, I print out relevant articles of that story, and they will start reading. With much curiosity.

The idea is to seed their imagination, and slowly they will latch on and take it upon themselves to find out more. And that’s where we welcome in the 21st Century. The internet is a fabulous playground for the child. Google their curiosity away and make technology you were lamenting turn to your favour.

Bear in mind, some stories works wonders to certain groups of students, some not so much. Which leads us to the next point.

customise your reading

Recognise that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. There is an art in tailoring materials that suits your child. More often than not, you probably know what your child likes. Every kid is unique, and what might work for one, will probably not work for another.  Recognize that if you like Lord of the Rings, might not be what your child will naturally take after.  Harry Potter perhaps, or even the great Classics.

Make sure they find it new and relevant, and something they don’t find old fashioned. Nothing stops them dead on their tracks faster than information that is irrelevant and old. Its like owning an old beat up car that you won’t want to show off to your friends. Information that is old makes kids feel like they are learning something that everyone else knows, pretty much like an old beat up car.

the story doesn’t stop there

Support your child’s interests by researching not just the topic itself, but everything else that surrounds the topic.

Transformers the movie comes along and you can start talking about Transformers. Wikipedia has articles about Transformers. Why? How? What? Who? Talk about Peter Cullen and how he got to voice Optimus Prime. Talk about your own experiences about Transformers in your childhood.

The innards and the stories surrounding a story makes it more interesting for your child. Its like a secret that no one else knows. Sssshhhh….. let me tell you something special… and they get all tingly because it makes them special.

be the pillar of knowledge

This is probably a good way to make a child read. Children usually learn more when they find a role model to emulate. Tell them things that we know. Our own stories, knowledge, and pass it on to them. When we tell them so much information, they will want to be exactly like us. And when they find out that we got our knowledge from reading, they will definitely want to do the same too. Birds of a feather, flocks together.

library vs bookshops

Again, technology is starting to be wide spread in this arena. Libraries are finding ways to keep up with the times and don’t forget Amazon’s kindle which is an electronic book. We can easily buy a book off the internet, or even download one of the many free ebooks that are available. iPads are starting to get into the act too with lots of free downloads. The thing is, do what your child likes. Bring your kids to the library, see if they like reading by borrowing books, or try to get down to a bookshop and let them have their fun browsing. Also, go to different libraries as some are swankier than the others. Like us, kids likes new places. And look good too doing it.

So there you go, it takes a bit of effort to start your child on the track. But once you unlock their potential, they will fuel their own passions. All we need is just to kickstart them onto the right path.

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In the 21st Century, how important is it to be able to read, write and speak English in Singapore?

This is an English composition written by a student doing Cambridge O’ levels in 2014.

Standard: GCE O’levels.

In the 21st Century, there has been a vast technological advancement compared to the 20th Century, especially with the development of the internet as a tool for social networking with English as lingua franca. English is a tool in Singapore to communicate effectively with people, locally and internationally. English has two main functions in Singapore’s community: To communicate internationally, and to unify the three main ethnic groups of Singapore.

Singapore is made up of three main ethnicities, Malays, Indians and Chinese, with their own distinct cultural heritage and language. Under the directives of the Singapore Government, English is a compulsory subject for education and represents a disadvantage to those that do not incorporate English into their linguistic abilities to complete their education, as well as to secure a job in an English speaking business environment that Singapore adopted. However, if Singaporeans communicates only in English, this will lead to a loss of culture from the ethnic groups and our ability to engage with our neighbouring countries in South East Asia.

The government of Singapore has a bilingual approach to our education system, with English as its compulsory medium of communication. This approach is effected from kindergarten onwards, with English taught to ages four and above. Learning English for the three ethnic groups is based on equality and where no advantages are built in for these groups. It requires all three groups to adopt a new neutral language of English, and puts every group in equal standing and fairness. With English as the main economic language in Singapore, it is imperative for these ethnic groups to master English to gain economic viability. Securing a job and access to a career in Singapore is one of the main reasons for acquiring English as a language.

Singapore is a business hub with multinational companies (MNC) setting up its branches here. Their lingua franca: English. With the United Kingdom and United States of America being strong driving forces economically, English has become a common language that is used throughout the world. With MNC’s setting up in Singapore, it also becomes an economic question that Singaporeans have to answer. To attract more businesses to Singapore, we have to create an environment that can support and service these businesses. If their mode of communication is English, it is only wise and economically beneficial that we converse in that same language. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Of course, being solely dependent on English has its disadvantages, mainly, a loss of culture and our ability to communicate with non-English speaking people or countries.

Singapore’s three main ethnic groups presents a rich and diverse heritage which makes Singapore unique in presenting a harmonious and thriving society to visitors of Singapore. The inability to converse in their own mother tongue will eventually dilute their heritage and lose their ability to experience their own culture, alienating themselves from their own historical background. It is a case of adopting an English language and its culture, and losing their own. Diversity brings pride to its occupants, interests from others and a curiosity to be discovered and shared. With 21st Century cosmopolitan cities looking more alike, similar architectures, built up areas, services and facilities, tourists will be looking at unique countries to spend their savings on as they would be more likely to be attracted to historically and culturally different landscapes than their own.

We will also lose our ability to engage our neighbouring countries, mainly Malaysia and Indonesia. Their predominant use of Bahasa is similar to the mother tongue our Malay community uses, which is an advantage as it lowers any friction from misunderstandings and miscommunications if we were to use English with them, and needing a translation to bridge that language gap. To converse with them in their Bahasa is a sign of respect to them, and our efforts to maintain cordial relations with them will not go unnoticed.

The 21st Century brings with it fresh challenges and a more dynamic world than ever before. We cannot predict what happens next, nor what information or skill set will be needed to survive the near future. English lets us relieve some of these apprehensions. As it is an internationally accepted language, knowing how to read, write and speak it allows us to be adaptable to change. With readily available literature and media in English, it helps us to learn new skills, acquire new information and news easily. Fleet footedness is the key to survival. Since the spine of learning is the English language, then blossom we will with English to grow upon.

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Optimism and its role in studying

There is a direct correlation between the optimism in a student and the success in studying. Just like the answer to the glass is half full or half empty, this concept is very much a question about the outlook and confidence of the individual. The optimism of students to how well they fare in their studies cannot be quantified easily but like with everything, it is always a matter of perspective.

So what is it about optimism?

Optimistic individuals tends to see the light. The light at the end of the tunnel. This tunneling effect blocks out all the other distractions and pains that comes packaged into an examination. This is akin to a 100m race and its training requirements. An athlete competing for a 100m race hits the gym, trains on the same 100m strip for years, only to feature in a race that lasts less than 10 seconds. Yes, other aspects of characteristics like determination, talent, etc is needed, but the optimist will definitely have an edge over the one that is pessimistic in this, who would have given up long ago, unable to see why one would go through it at all. It is about aiming for the light at the end of the tunnel and knowing that everything else will fall into place that gives the athlete a spring in their steps.

The same can be said for students who knows what they want. Aces in exams? Sure! Let’s go for it. Blocks out all the other distractions, and confidently knowing that it can be done.

How to keep a student optimistic?

Perspective. The ability to see it half full. Generally, the student that are optimistic tends to ask more questions and this is where teachers, tutors, and parents are required to be patient and explain without getting angry nor frustrated. How many students have tried asking but gave up the second time round knowing full well that their teachers will get angry if they didn’t get it the first time hands up! Yes, encourage students or your child to ask, and do not get angry if they don’t get it. Learning is heuristic in nature and requires students to gain the experience to attain mastery. If the student fails to experience it the first time round, it does not mean they are slow, it just means they are trying.

And trying is the best ingredient to success.

No one wants to be scolded. Especially if they are trying to learn something. And being scolded during their formative years are just sending out the wrong messages that will hinder their development.

In any learning environment, the basis of an education is the interaction between teachers and students. And the trust between students and teachers must be there to foster a strong bond in learning. The job of a student is to learn, and the job of a teacher is to teach. Failure to do this most basic requirement is usually the reason for an unsuccessful stint in school. A patient teacher who teaches properly but also encourages questions or repeats themselves to make sure their students gets it creates students who is unafraid to ask if they don’t get it. This creates a calm and trusting environment to study in.

With trust, confidence grows. With confidence, optimism grows.

written by 
Wong Kin Leong

How to improve discipline in a student

Discipline, the main ingredient to success. Sprinkle with concentration, a dash of  determination and double boil with patience. That’s the making of a properly executed education. In every education system around the world, the recipe above are quality prerequisites because students spends years in school before gaining their certification and joining the workforce. The need to have the discipline to stay on course, and the patience to knock in the hours (or in fact the years before they reach university and graduate) are what causes only a small percentage of students that can reach their goal of obtaining their degree. Even though over the years, this percentage has grown in Singapore, it still takes a lot of effort and consistency to win this studying game.

So what separates the wheat from the chaff?

Take the recent GCE “O” level results and ask the successful candidates what they did in preparation for their examinations and you will get the common reply of countless studying hours, sitting themselves down by their quarters. That takes discipline, and a matured mind. Its the ability to do more than just the ordinary, the discernment that the future grows brighter with a better education, and to find the energy locked within to do that extra mile. Again, this takes discipline. They could have been out playing, watching a movie, hanging out with friends or god forbid, playing computer games. Instead, they took the back-breaking path and stood firm in the face of distractions.

So how do we cultivate discipline and reap a successful harvest?

One of the most important ways to cultivate discipline is to complete tasks. And start when they are young. Tasks don’t have to be onerous, or even exacting as this will put the child off. It does not need to be annoying too, like taking out the trash or washing the dishes. It could be something fun, like games, or doing jigsaw puzzles, or even reading a book. The idea is to teach your child that whenever you set about a task, you should complete it. Think of what goes through the mind of someone running a marathon. Grueling, definitely. But add the sense of self accomplishment at the end of the race, and it all makes it worth it. That’s what we should help the child feel. That once you complete the task, no matter how arduous, the triumphant result outweighs its tribulation.

There are many times that children gives up too easily, and parents lets them do so. And, the parents completes it for them, or it just stops altogether. Its easy to see why this gives out all the wrong signals to the child. Inability to complete the job and see through the full cycle means that the child does not learn anything from that job. This could lead to pessimism that things cannot be done, laziness creeping in, and an unproven bout of self censure.

Its like baking a cake. Do up the dough, all the ingredients nicely folded in, let it rise, into the oven at 350, and out it comes. If you don’t try the cake yourself at the end, you will never know if you succeeded in baking a tasty cake, or it could be just a ho-hum piece of dough that you just created. Its the last steps that makes all the difference, self evaluation. When you are learning how to bake a cake, you have got to eat it too. Try it out, see if its any good, evaluate the outcome to see if its a success or failure, take notes on how it looks and tastes, and think of how the baking can be refined. Then set off and bake another cake, now improved, and that process gets repeated until you have a proud product that can win the hearts of many. (Nevermind if your kids complain of the copious amounts of cakes they have to eat before you get there) A healthy postmortem documentation of the process by oneself creates a greater self upon further refinement, an intimate knowledge of what has been done, and what else can be improved.

In every process of learning, there needs a leverage of self evaluation on the completed cycle. Students are taught by a teacher, learns it, understands it, practices sums of it, memorizes it and finally, gets tested on it. Something is missing from this formula. and that is “self evaluation”. For a good score in the final test, there is a need to self evaluate before being tested. To see if all the fundamentals of the class are properly digested. Much akin to the baking process, a baker who never tastes their own cakes, will never have a winning product. How can one sell something that doesn’t know how their products tastes? Its just silly. And that is what students must do too. To complete the cycle, a student must always evaluate themselves and improve themselves before they finally go for their finals. Making sure of this is imperative to a successful candidate. Knowing where went wrong, and correcting themselves gives them the confidence they need to attempt a major examination.

Again, that is where discipline comes into play. It takes discipline and determination for a child to sit down and study the needed hours but more if the child wants to complete every task and evaluate themselves to know if they are doing it right. Methodology, and creating an efficient learning program will help too in this case.

Generally, completing a task like a major examination takes years for the students and the daily grind of school could take the wind off of their sails by the time the examination approaches. There needs a steely determination and the discipline to keep themselves on track, with their heads up high and constantly be above of their curriculum to perform well. But if they complete their daily tasks consistently, eventually, they will complete their examinations with ease. Like a very popular Malay idiom, “sedikit, sedikit, lama lama menjadi bukit” (little by little, a long time later, makes it into a hill), doing well in their final examination is the culmination of all the small tasks that were completed earlier on in their studies. And sweet old Mr and Mrs Discipline gets you there.

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