It’s finally here! Your O’levels results are released! 

Despite the pandemic, students who sat for the O-level examinations last year set a roaring new record, with over 80 per cent of the cohort attaining five or more passes. 

What should you do next?

For those of you who passed with flying colours, congratulations. For some who didn’t do as well as you like and aren’t sure what to do next. Grab a treat and read on.

 

Let’s start by look at some numbers.

How did the previous batch of candidates fare? In 2019, 85.2 per cent secured five or more passes, while the 2020 batch scored 85.4 percent, up 0.4 percentage points from the previous year.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) said that of the 20,300 candidates who sat for O’levels in 2019, 52 per cent were posted to the five polytechnics here. Another 38 per cent were given places in the junior colleges (JCs) and Millennia Institute, and about another 10 per cent were posted to the Institute of Technical Education.

What to do after O’levels?

 

First and foremost, be brave, if results aren’t what you expected or you have changed in the last year and now want something different, then do it! Defer entry, travel, change your course just don’t feel trapped into doing something that isn’t right for you. If your results did not meet your expectations, chin up. Take comfort in the fact that local universities will no longer factor in O-level results for admission come 2020. 

There could be a myriad of reasons why O’levels did not go well for you. Perhaps, you were too stressed or ran out of time. Move forward. You can’t change the past, but you can make things better. 

Here are some paths you can consider after your O’levels results. 

1. Consider retaking your O-levels

If you have an ambition to fulfil, a dream course or school in mind that you cannot get into after trying all avenues (like appeals), give this option some serious thought. Being a year behind your peers is perfectly okay; everyone takes different paths and you’ll see this especially in polytechnics, where you can have classmates twice your age!

If you decide that this is what you want to pursue, please be reminded that you’ll have to pay to sit for the exams again. There are two ways to go about it:

  • Retaking your O-levels as a private candidate 
  • Retaking your O-levels in your current secondary school, which needs you to meet certain criteria

Retaking as a private candidate demands a lot of self-discipline. You’ll need to work out a studying schedule and keep to it, find out when and where to register for the papers and remember that the extra year you’re taking is an investment of your time and money. Sign up for our preparatory courses for O’levels English or tuition classes and let our tutors guide you. Most of our tutors are former teachers who will definitely be able to give you sound advice. Click here to reach us. 

Alternatively, ITE offers a General Education (GE) Programme that offers part-time classes for English, Combined Humanities, Maths, Additional Mathematics, Double Sciences, Literature, Geography, Chinese, Tamil as well as Principles of Accounts. Classes run up to 32 weeks.

2. Take a Foundation Course

Private institutions here offer foundation diplomas that you can take—these last anywhere from 6-12 months full-time and give you the qualifications to progress to relevant diplomas offered by the same institution. Admission criteria is manageable for foundation diplomas; typically, all you’ll require is one GCE O-level pass and an O-level grade in English ranging from A1-D7, depending on the private institution.

Alternatively, you can explore pre-university entry programmes from private universities like Kaplan, MDIS, James Cook or even foundation year programmes abroad (which give you the chance to gain admission to overseas universities).

Do note that this option can be very costly and in times of Covid-19 pandemic, it may not be the best approach at the moment. 

3. Slow down and study in a Centralised Institute

How about joining Millennia Institute (MI)?A Centralised Institute offers three-year pre-university courses under three streams. These are the arts and science streams that a typical JC offers as well as an additional commerce stream. 

The three years will give you a little more time to catch up on your studies and mug for the A-levels if you need some time (again, you’ll still need self-discipline). You’ll need an L1R4 of 5-20 to be eligible for admission.

Specific subject requirements are as follows:

English Higher Chinese/Malay/Tamil Chinese/Malay/Tamil Chinese Basic/Malay Basic/Tamil Basic E Math/A Math
A1-C6 A1-E8 A1-D7 Merit/Pass A1-D7

 

If you find yourself unable to meet these requirements, Millennia Institute has a conditional student programme which will require you to re-sit for the relevant language and/or mathematics papers O-levels. You can re-take them for 2 times before your offer is revoked.

4. Consider enrolling for Poly Early Admissions Exercise

You can consider studying for a NITEC or Higher NITEC in ITE, before applying for a place in a Polytechnic via the Early Admissions Exercise (EAE). The EAE is a centralised aptitude-based admissions exercise, which allows students to apply for and receive conditional offers for admission to polytechnics prior to receiving their final grades.

This will be a longer route that will require a lot of resilience, but there are many who have taken it before you and succeeded. It’s also a suitable option if you’ve already set your heart on a polytechnic course, or have narrowed down an area of interest. You might need to submit portfolios and undergo interviews and aptitude tests, so start preparing early!

Hopefully, this article clears your doubts and let us link you up with a team of best tutors to help you fulfil your dreams. We are currently offering a trial lesson for private candidates. Email us your interest today.

“We can never close the gender divide.” Do you agree? 

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GP Essay Question: Model Essay

As the COVID-19 pandemic pushes on and persists to affect lives and livelihoods around the world, we are witnessing a tide of economic fallout, which has a regressive effect on gender equality. According to Mckinsey Research, women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable in this crisis compared to men’s jobs and It is predicted that women make up 39 percent of global employment, will account for 54 percent of overall job losses. Some put forth the view that we can never close the gender divide due to such economic realities, legislative barriers and sexist mindsets that pervades in our society today, creating an irreconcilable chasm between males and females. This has led some to believe that the gender divide is insurmountable. However, it is my conviction that while closing the gender divide will be difficult, it is not out of the question, mainly attributed to changing attitudes in legislature and shifts in societal mindsets towards women. Ergo, it will be difficult, but closing the gender divide is indeed possible.

Some espouse the opinion that it is not possible to close the gender divide largely due to the existence of legislative barriers that institutionalise gender discrimination and perpetuate gender inequality. In Singapore, for instance, although the Government has taken steps in the recent years to educate and incentivise employers to be fair and to promote flexible work arrangements so that, yet there is still an absence of legislation that clearly lays out employer duties and responsibilities, this results in many companies being able to get away with little more than superficial commitments to be more inclusive. The situation is even more bleak in less developed countries like India. In the recent years, the numerous cases of rape across the country once again exposed the failures of the criminal justice system. Nearly six years after the government amended laws and put in place new guidelines aimed at justice for survivors of rape and sexual violence, yet girls and women continue to face barriers to reporting such crimes. Victim-blaming is also rampant, and the lack of witness and victim protection laws make girls and women from marginalized communities even more vulnerable to harassment and threats. Across the spectrum, from developing to more developed countries, what persists is a disturbing observation that legislation either explicitly hurts women and promotes sexism, or it condones behaviours that hurt women and promote sexism. It remains a deeply painful and saddening reality that the patriarchy continues to be entrenched in legislature, and ingrained in societal institutions, leading some to think that it is a futile quest and that we can never close the gender divide. In view of all these challenges, it does seem like an uphill task when it comes to closing the gender divide. But to say that it is an impossible dream would be too fatalistic. I strongly stand by the view that closing the gender divide is not completely impossible- there is definitely more than a glimmer of hope. First and foremost, there have been changing attitudes in legislature that have led to tremendous progress for women’s rights on paper. Right here in Singapore, the government has just announced that they will embark on a review of women’s issues showing a strong committed step towards greater gender equality. In the pipeline are a series of engagements termed as “Conversations on Women Development” scheduled to take place between the public and private sectors, as well as non-governmental organisations, with the objective of identifying and tackling issues concerning women in Singapore.  These will culminate in a White Paper to be issued by the Government in the first half of 2021.

Across the globe, in terms of the right to political representation, the presence of women  has been growing- in the upcoming US Presidential elections, Kamala Harris’s nomination as the Vice President for the democratic party is a milestone. She is the first woman and the first person of colour to serve as vice president.  In Canada, Justin Trudeau made half the ministers in his cabinet women. Similarly, in Singapore, other than having a first female president, the recent election 29 per cent of the 93 seats for elected Members of Parliament (MPs), 27 – or elected seats – went to women, compared to 21 out of 89 seats after the 2015 polls. Even in countries without a female head of government, changes in legislature have indeed been growing to ameliorate gender inequality and boost the rights of women. Japan has adopted new legislation to promote women’s political participation by urging political parties to make the number of male and female candidates as equal as possible and set targets for gender parity. Notoriously patriarchal countries like Afghanistan had a record of 417 female candidates that participated in the October parliamentary elections in 2018. These are all concrete evidence that legislature has been changing to increase rights for women and enact gender parity, closing the gender divide. With more female representation in politics and in view of these steps towards women representation, it is still very much possible for us to close the gender divide in the near future. 

In addition to this, it is definitely possible to close the gender divide because there has also been shifting societal attitudes towards women. At a societal level, the #MeToo movement directed unprecedented attention to the historic injustices and inequalities experienced by women, specifically those related to sexual harassment in the workplace. Led by grassroots activists, this movement gained traction across Asia, opening space for countless stories of harassment and new opportunities to hold perpetrators to account. Even countries that have been traditionally patriarchal in nature like South Korea is making headways in gender equality. Enterprising Korean women are increasingly visible in a traditionally male dominated country like South Korea. More young women are earning university degrees than men. More than 70% of women between 25 and 34 are active in the workforce. Young women are far more vocal than previous generations in challenging the conservative social mores that hold them back. For instance, two female Youtube Influencers Jung Se-young and Baeck Hana, are part of a wave of feminist activism that has swept South Korea. These ladies have cut their hair, thrown away their make-up and sworn off relationships with men. With the advent of social media, the influence of feminism is increasing spreading across social media platforms and society is waking up to the fact that young digital natives no longer want these conservative traditions, and women are free to reject them. Thus, it is highly possible that due to shifting societal attitudes that promote gender equality, the gender divide will be definitely be closed. 

All in all, although the path towards gender equality may seem frustratingly slow. But the fact that inequality is now being openly discussed is progress in itself. In these recent years, societies and government worldwide have been placing gender equality issues on their agenda. With this growing trend towards more rights for women on paper, coupled with the shifting societal mindsets, it is completely possible that our generations will be able to close the gender in our lifetime. The journey towards gender equality may be winding. There is no silver bullet and admittedly there is a lot to do in the field of equality, but nothing is impossible. We must and can continue to fight and narrow the gender divide. 

(This essay has been reviewed and marked by GP Tutors. For GP tuition by school teachers or full time tutors, contact us today.)

 

GCE A-Level Singapore – H1, H2 and H3 Explained

 

After the GCE O Level, students in Singapore proceed to their tertiary education, which is any one of the following: ITE, Polytechnic or Junior College. 

 

There are 3 different tertiary options for a student after their O Level results; ITE (Nitec or Higher Nitec), Polytechnic and Junior College (JC) or Millennia Institution (MI). 

Junior College

To enter any Junior Colleges in Singapore, students will have to look at their L1R5 instead of their L1R4. A maximum of 4 points can be deducted from a student’s raw L1R4/5 score*.

2 points from their CCA achievements and commitment and 2 points from passing their Higher Mother Tongue Language in Secondary school. 

 

*The meaning of Raw Scores for their cut-off points is the score they have obtained without any deduction of points from CCA or Higher Mother Tongue Language (HMTL). 

 

Junior College is a 2-year programme for all students. Students that attend the Junior College or Millennia Institution take the GCE Cambridge A-Level examinations. The Singapore GCE Cambridge A-Level is slightly different from the International Cambridge A-Level and this article covers only the curriculum for the Singapore A-Levels. 

 

View the official eligibility criteria to Junior Colleges here

Millennia Institution (MI) – An Alternative to Junior College

Millennia Institution offers the same subjects and curriculum as the Junior Colleges in Singapore. The only difference they have is that the Milennia Institution is a 3-year Pre-U course, while the other Junior Colleges offer only 2 years. MI looks at a student’s L1R4 instead of their L1R5. 

gce-a-level

Singapore GCE Cambridge A-Level Curriculum

Students are allowed to choose which streams they want to enter; Science or Arts when they are choosing for their post-secondary choices. 

 

Students have to meet the cut-off points for the streams they which to enter for the specific Junior Colleges they wish to enter. Junior College cut-off points focus on student’s L1R5 instead of their L1R4, with MI as an exception. This is a list of the Junior Colleges’ cut-off points for 2019. 

View the entire 2019 JAE booklet here  officially distributed by MOE. 

 

Junior College Arts Science/IB
Anderson Serangoon JC* 12 11
Anglo-Chinese JC 9 8
Anglo-Chinese School Independent) 5
Catholic JC 13 14
Dunman High School 10 9
Eunoia JC 10 9
Hwa Chong Institution 6 5
Jurong Pioneer JC* 16 15
Nanyang JC 7 6
National JC 8 7
Raffles Institution 5 5
River Valley High School 10 9
St. Andrew’s JC 11 10
St. Joseph’s Institution 7
Tampines Meridian JC* 13 14
Temasek JC 11 9
Victoria JC 8 6
Yishun Innova JC* 20 20

*For these 4 merged Junior Colleges, the cut-off point is the aggregate score of the lowest-ranked students who were admitted to the merging JC which had a JC1 intake in 2018.

gce-a-level

What is H1, H2, H3?

The H in H1, H2 and H3 stands for Higher. 

 

The basic subject combination for a JC student would be:

  • Three H2 content-based subjects
  • One H1 content-based subject
  • Compulsory H1 subjects
    • Mother-Tongue Language (MTL)
    • General Paper
    • Project Work 

H1 subjects are worth 1 point and H2 subjects are worth 2 points. H3 subjects are offered to students who are academically able to cope with the additional subject(s) on top of their H1 and H2 subjects. 

 

Overview of the GCE A-Level curriculum 

gce-a-level

H1, H2 and H3 refer to the depth of the subject taken by the student, with H1 subjects being briefer than H2 and H3 subjects and H3 being a more advanced level of the subject. 

 

For example, an H2 Chemistry subject would have more topics than H1 Chemistry but their difficulty level of the questions asked would roughly be the same. 

As for H3 Chemistry, the topics learned will not be more than H2 Chemistry since H3 subjects are an extension to H2 subjects. This would mean, learning would be more in-depth and specific when it comes to taking an H3 subject. 

Arts/Science Stream Criteria 

One of the four content-based subjects must be from a contrasting discipline. In other words, you are not allowed to take all Science-based subjects as such; Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. 

H1 

The compulsory subjects that should be taken by all students would be General Paper and Project Work. Students may also offer Knowledge and Inquiry in place of General Paper (GP), or offer Mother Tongue Language and Literature at H2.

 

Students can be exempted from taking H1 Mother Tongue if they have passed their Higher Mother Tongue in Secondary School, but it still counts as 1 point. However, if the student did not undertake Higher MTL in Secondary school ‘O’ Level, it is compulsory for him/her to complete H1 MTL in JC. 

 

National Examinations for H1 subjects will be taken at the end of JC2 (second year of JC) with the exception of H1 Mother-Tongue Language and H1 Project Work which will be taken in JC1. 

H2

Taking 4 H2

Students can be offered to take up 4 H2 instead of the standard combination of 3 H2 and 1 H1 at the beginning of their J1. Schools will determine whether a student can be offered to take up 4 H2s, determining factor being the student’s raw cut-off points when they enter the JC. This differs from JC to JC. 

GCE A-level Rank points

The maximum number of rank points (RP) for admission to university a student can achieve is 90. A higher score would place a student in a better position for admissions to university. 

 

Grade Scores H1 Ranking Points H2 Ranking Points
A 70% and above 10 20
B 60% to 69% 8.75 17.5
C 55% to 59% 7.5 15
D 50% to 54% 6.25 12.5
E 45% to 49% (passing grade) 5 10
S (sub-pass) 40% to 44%  2.5 5
Ungraded 39% and below 0 0

 

GCE a-level Rank Points Calculation

Calculation of Rank Points without H1 MTL 

A student’s rank points are calculated by adding together the rank points the student has achieved for the following: 

  • Best four content-based subjects (3 H2 + 1 H1)
  • H1 General Paper 
  • H1 Project Work 

 

Maximum Achievable RP (assuming the student has perfect scores) →

 3 H2 + 1 H1 + 1 H1 GP + 1 H1 PW 

= (20+20+20) + 10 + 10+ 10 

= 90 RP

 

Calculation of Rank Points with H1 MTL 

H1 MTL may be included in the computation of the rank points and in such events, the rank points inclusive of the H1 MTL will be rebased from /100 to /90.

 

Rank Points →

[(3 H2 + 1 H1 + 1 H1 GP + 1 H1 PW + 1 H1 MTL)/100] x 90

= [(20 + 20 + 20 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10)/100] x 90

= (100/100) x 90

90 RP

 

What about students that are offered 4H2 instead of 3H2 and 1H1? How do they calculate their RP?

In the event of a 4H2 student and do not have an H1 content-based subject, the student’s weakest H2 subject will be computed as an H1 content subject. This means the rank points of the H2 subject would be halved (calculated as /10 instead of /20).

 

Rank Points →

3 H2 + weakest 1 H2 calculated as H1 + H1 GP + H1 PW

= (20 + 20 + 20) + (17.5/20 x 10) + 10 + 10 

= 88.75 RP

H3

H3 subjects are not graded into the rank points. They are additional subjects that are taken on top of their H1 and H2 subjects. H3 subjects can allow students to be exempted from modules in their university, depending on the course and module taken by the student. 

H3 subjects are taken as an extension to H2 subjects which allows more in-depth study and advanced content exposure. Not all subjects are available in H3. 

Academically strong students can choose to take up an additional H1 or H2 subject OR up to two H3 subjects. 

Visit the SEAB official website to check the A-Level syllabus Examined in 2019 for the different levels. You can also have a glimpse of the subjects that are offered in H3 at the bottom of the page. 

 

GCE A-level H3 Content

Quick Look into H3 Chemistry Topics for 2019 syllabus 

H3 Chemistry Topics

  1. Molecular Orbital Theory
  2. UV-vis Spectroscopy
  3. IR Spectroscopy
  4. NMR Spectroscopy
  5. Mass Spectroscopy 
  6. Advanced Stereochemistry
  7. Kinetics and Thermodynamic Controls
  8. Advanced Reaction Mechanism 

The content of H3 subjects, not only for the Chemistry subject, is highly dynamic and students are expected to perform many inter-topical links. 

Should you take up H3 subjects? 

Many recommend students to be able to cope with their standard combination before deciding whether to take an extension to their H2 subjects. What are some tips Tutopiya can provide you when it comes to deciding whether to proceed with any H3 subjects? 

 

  • Know what you are pursuing in university 

This would greatly help you to decide whether the H3 subject you are being offered would be helpful when you pursue your dream course at university. Some universities allow students to be exempted from certain modules if they have taken H2 or H3 subjects for their GCE A-Levels, with a desirable grade (may differ from universities to universities). 

Before you make the decision, know what you are pursuing for and which university you are aiming to go to since criteria may vary from schools to schools. 

 

  • Your confidence and passion for the particular subject 

Your confidence and passion for the subject play a big part when it comes to preserving when things get tough. Taking an H3 subject is no easy task and it boils down to your passion and perseverance. You have to be mentally prepared for failures and obstacles that may stumble your way when you are doing an H3 subject. 

Always consult your seniors and be aware of the content and topics covered for H3 subjects before diving into it. 

 

  • Ability to cope with stress and have good time management 

H3 is an additional subject on top of all your H1 and H2 subjects, therefore, you have to be mentally prepared to devote more and sufficient time to all your subjects. 

Grading
H3 Grade Marks (%)
Distinction 70 to 100
Merit 55 to 69
Pass 45 to 54
Ungraded 0 to 44

 

Looking for more GCE A-Level related resources? Click here for GP Model Essays.

The Learning Space is a 1-1 Live Online Tutoring platform for students from Preschools to Junior College , The Learning Space  provides online tuition for Primary to Junior College A-Level  students. Save time and money on travelling and learn from home with our strong team of former MOE Teachers and tutors. The Learning Space has highly qualified and experienced tutors ready to teach, including ex-MOE teachers that are familiar with the MOE curriculum. 

Sign up for a FREE 30 minutes trial lesson, contact us today. 

what do voters want

 

If you stayed up watching CNA till 4am this morning, you would have known that the PAP was narrowly defeated in Sengkang GRC yesterday. Only one opposition party won seats in the parliament. PSP led by 80 year-old Dr Tan Cheng Bock Singapore Progress Party was (narrowly) defeated in West Coast GRC while the Worker’s Party won Sengkang GRC, Aljunied GRC and Hougang’s SMC.

Source: Straits Times July 10 Singapore Election Results

The worker’s party team comprising of lawyer He Ting Ru, 37, economics professor Jamus Lim, 44, social enterprise founder Raeesah Khan, 26, and equity research analyst Louis Chua Kheng Wee, 33 knocked out The People’s Action Party team for Sengkang consisting of Labour chief Ng Chee Meng, 51, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min, 50, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin, 41, and lawyer Raymond Lye, 54.

In this 2020 election, one of the main observation is the rise of younger voices and younger candidates. Is the fall of Sengkang GRC a reflection that younger voters in Sengkang and perhaps Singapore on a whole, are reflecting their desire for post material value beyond that of bread and butter? What role has Social Media played in this year’s 2020 election?

Stay tune to our page as our class of A’level GP students share their essays on leadership, examine the impact of Social Media on governance and politics. Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to get sample essays, test papers and notes.

class size in Singapore

Former Secondary Math Teacher with over ten years of experience Mrs Elizabeth Ong shares her views:

Talk to any teachers or parents and you will surely hear mixed responses on what exactly should be the ideal class size in school. Being a former teacher, I am definitely for the (piped) dream of having a smaller class size, simply because it would allow me to get to know my students better and dedicate more resources towards them.

My sentiments are shared by others. According to a study by Princeton University professors, one of the key advantages of having smaller class sizes is that teachers are able to get to know their students better, and can build stronger relationships. The Princeton study also noted that students who were in schools with smaller class sizes scored higher on achievement tests, even when they were no longer in a smaller-class-size model school.

Currently, the average class size in Singapore for mainstream schools (primary and secondary) can go up to 40 students per class. Each class usually have a Lead Form Teacher and one or two Co-Form Teachers (usually for Normal Technical or Academic Classes which will cease to exist by 2024.) In the recent years, MOE has gradually been trying to increase the Teacher to Student ratio by having some classes to be conducted by two Teachers, one leading and the other facilitating. MOE has also hired more Allied Educators that can support Teachers during lessons administratively or reaching out to “weaker” students that need more guidance.

It is no secret that teachers find it more challenging to work with students in classes larger than 25 or 30 students. Large classrooms make discussion and group work more difficult. A study conducted by three professors at the University of London found that in larger classrooms, students were definitely less engaged. What was most surprising to the professors was that students who disengaged were the students struggling most in school. Also, the teacher had more negative behaviors to address with students who were having difficulty in school.

Will there ever be a day where our class size in government schools will shrink to just 20 per class? Perhaps.

In the upcoming GE 2020 election in Singapore, the worker’s party is proposing that reform as part of their manifesto.

Here are some of the proposals WP laid out in its manifesto:

SMALLER CLASSES

  • Prune average class sizes to 20 — from the present 29 to 34 in primary and secondary schools
  • In nations that are part of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, whose membership comprises mostly rich countries, the average class size is between 21 and 24
  • The smaller classes should be instituted progressively, with academically weaker students benefiting first. Priority should be given to foundational subjects in primary schools and Normal stream subjects in secondary schools

Although there are numerous advantages when it comes to having a small class size, yet there are similar benefits that we should recognize when it comes to having a larger class can offer. Other than easing the taxpayer’s pockets due to economics of scale, a larger class size can actually promote diversity and having more students in a class often translate to higher energy and fun. Classes will go by quicker and are less boring, students may also indirectly become more independent because teachers would not be able to pay too much attention to them.

A smaller class size may be a pie in the sky for now. Most parents would definitely wish that it can be realised soon. In the meantime, finding tutors can definitely help support your children’s academic journey. For math tuition by former MOE teachers , please contact here.

Fahrenheit 451 English Literature
Studying English Literature In Singapore and Dystopian Novel

Imagine a society where all books are banned and firemen don’t put out fires, instead they are hired to set ablaze houses that contain outlawed books. A world where you have robotic dog-like creatures that go around hunting book hoarders and intellectuals are now drifters who have each memorized books should the day arrive that society comes to an end and is forced to rebuild itself anew.

This is the synopsis of the book Fahrenheit 451. The significance of the book’s infernal title Farenheit 451 is because that is the temperature which papers/books burn. The book is a dystopian novel by American writer Ray Bradbury, which is one of the texts which secondary schools students can choose to read for O’levels Literature in English (Syllabus 2065).

The current Covid-19 pandemic has been said to be one of the most surreal and scary global disruptions of our time. As we embrace a reality where social distancing is a norm, wearing masks is a daily affair and having PUB’s robotic dog-like creatures prancing around imploring joggers to observe social distancing becomes a common sight. Perhaps having students read dystopian fiction in school is one way to allow them to draw strength from characters of the novel and make sense of this rather unpredictable and volatile world?

Over the years, some Language-Literature students who taking International Baccalaureate are also reading dystopian literature like ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Brave New World.’ Exposing students to such genres in unprecedented times like these, may just help them discover another dimension to governmental policies and events happening around them.This is because very often Dystopian fiction explores at least one reason why things are that way, often as an analogy for similar issues in the real world.

Why do writers write Dystopian Literature?

Dystopian literature is used to “provide fresh perspectives on problematic social and political practices that might otherwise be taken for granted or considered natural and inevitable”.

A worldwide decline of Liberal Arts subjects

All over the world, subjects like Literature and English are seeing a sharp decline in enrolment. According to figures from the Ministry of Education (MOE), only about 5,500 students sat for the literature O-level examinations in 2015, down from about 6,000 students in 2012. Liberal Arts education worldwide has seen a sharp decline as governments drive to steer young people away from the arts and humanities to study science, technology, engineering and maths – the so-called Stem subjects, which have become the holy grail of 21st-century education in Singapore and England. Simply put, students just do not see the value of taking English literature and are preferring more practical humanities like International Baccalaureate Business Management, iGCSE Business Studies, Economics and likes.

What are the benefits of learning Literature?

Fahrenheit 451 English Literature

MOE Singapore Literature

Although there are fewer English and English Literature majors, governments do realise (to a certain extent) the value of literature for every student. Literature is still compulsory for lower secondary students in mainstream schools. Similarly. all IP schools like Raffles Girls, ACS, Methodist Girls, Cedars Nanyang Girls, Dunman High et cetera makes Language Arts (a combination of Literature and English) mandatory for the lower secondary students. The Ministry of Education shares that one substantial benefit of having students in Singapore pick up literature is because the study of Literature raises awareness of the range of perspectives that human beings – separated by time, space and culture – are capable of developing. This increased awareness promotes empathy and global awareness. Students become cognisant of and reassess their own values, beliefs and biases.

Is it near impossible to score a distinction for literature?

Mrs Wee, a full time teacher and a former MOE teacher English and Literature at Raffles Institution, recognises the fluidity of all humanities subjects but stresses that there is indeed a formula for getting distinctions. She adds that “It is still very possible to score distinctions for literature, provided that students are guided on the correct strategies and approaches.”

If you need a helping hand for literature tuition or Language Arts and Literature tuition in Singapore, drop us an email here and we will match you with a suitable tutor from our strong bastion of English and Literature tutors. If you are looking for literature notes and handouts, subscribe to our newsletter and you will be the very first to get model essays, notes and more.

Situational Writing

In O’levels English Language Paper 1 (Singapore, Syllabus 1128), you will encounter The Situational Writing in Section B.

Section B:

You will need to write 250–350 words on a given situation which will involve viewing a visual text. The weightage (30 marks) is the same as Section C: Essay. Candidates will need to write a text of 250–350 words based on a given situation which will involve viewing a visual text (e.g. an email, a letter, an article, a report or a speech) to suit the purpose, audience and context.

How to score?

You will be graded according to your content and language. To get the top band for Task Fulfilment, you must show a very good understanding and clear awareness of the PAC (Purpose, Audience and Context).  

To get the top band for Language and Organization, your language must be accurate with hardly any errors in grammar, expression, spelling and punctuation. You must use a variety of vocabulary and sentence structures. 

To really, really shine, stand head and shoulders above your peers, your script must demonstrate a high level of personal engagement and inject your personal voice. Most students are caught in the Average-Marks-Belt because they are unable to differentiate themselves due to a lack of character in their writing or they merely copy or re-hash the points given in the stimulus.

Remember, your ideas and facts must also be well-linked and sequenced, such that the information presented is very clear.

Format:

What are the types of situational writing? 

  1. Formal Letter
  2. Informal Letter 
  3. Proposal
  4. Report
  5. Article / Newsletter
  6. Speech 

1. Understand what are the requirements of the question. 

The first thing you should do for situational writing is to analyse the prompt. A prompt is the brief passage of text (first few paragraphs) in the question paper and the visual stimulus that paints the scenario. Within the prompt, you should identify the PAC and apply the 5Ws brainstorm principle. Ask yourself, who am I writing as? This will help you to get into character (who are your writing as, are you a student leader giving a speech? You need to be mindful of your tone while elaborating on the important points in the prompt. 

Planning:

Identify the writer’s role – What is your role/character?

Format (e.g. formal letter, newsletter, article, proposal, speech, complaint letter, report)

P (What do you hope to accomplish through this speech/article/formal letter/proposal)? 

A (Who are you writing to?)

C (What prompted you to write this letter?)

2) Always refer to the visual stimulus / text given

Pay attention to the details provided, annotate by applying the 5Ws and 1H principle.

3) Structure your proposal

A general rule of thumb, the situational writing (except speech and article) should be divided into 6 body paragraphs in the order of :

Para 1 : Intro:

You should explain what is your objective of writing this and why they are writing it. This will show that they understand the objective and purpose behind the situational writing question.

Para 2 : Point One 

Para 3 : Point Two 

Para 4 : Point Three 

Para 5 : Counterargument + Rebuttal (if necessary) 

Para 6 : Conclusion

-summary of the whole proposal 

-a polite thank you for favourable consideration of your ideas

3) Language

Keep in mind these language tips you write, for a well-rounded and watertight proposal. 

> Write in present tense (predominantly) unless you are citing a past event 

> Be persuasive, respectful and polite. 

> Be clear and precise (describe with details your activity e.g. how you will be conducting the event)

>Each paragraph should have a clear topic sentence and connectors to make your writing more fluent and coherent.

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father's day

How did Father’s Day come about?

More than a century ago, an American woman, Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, sat in church listening to a Mother’s Day sermon and felt strangely detached. She was brought up by her father as her mother had died in childbirth. A sense of indignance surged within her and she decided she wanted to designate a day for her dad, William Jackson Smart. Dodd’s father, a Civil War veteran, had taken the responsibility of singlehandedly raising her and his other five children.

Unfortunately, not everyone can share her sentiment.

Elon Musk, for one, calls his father ‘a terrible human being’. The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX is not a fan of his father and even forbids his children from meeting his father (who was said to have killed three men who broke into his home and married his stepdaughter who is forty years younger than him.)

Admittedly, there are mixed messages are everywhere when it comes to the paternal figure. For some adults raised by single mothers, the holiday conjures painful moments when their fathers were AWOL. According to the National Retail Federation, spending for Father’s Day is estimated at around $15 billion compared to $25 billion spent on Mother’s Day.

Why doesn’t Father’s Day get as much respect as Mother’s Day?

The answer is a question of simple math. Traditionally, most men simply don’t invest a high percentage of their waking hours with their children compared to women. The last boomer generation of men often are breadwinners who delegate domestic duties to their wives and don’t invest emotionally with their children.

In The Father Factor from National Fatherhood Initiative, the writer sagely shares the concept of a love bank. Coming from a financial background, the writer talks about how important it is to “invest” in your child’s life and how critical it is for dads to make regular, substantial, and consistent “deposits” in their children’s relationship “bank accounts.”

If you have not made these deposits to your children’s love bank, you could end up with conversations that sound something like this…

(Scene—You rush into the lobby of the ‘First National Bank of Your 15-year-old Daughter’s Heart’ and quickly approach her window.)

Your Daughter: Good afternoon. How may I help you?

You: Hi. I need make a big withdrawal fast!

Your Daughter: Ok, sir. No problem. Could you please let me see some ID?

You: Sure.(You hand her a copy of her birth certificate where you are listed as “Father.”)

Your Daughter: Everything looks in order, Dad. Please wait just a minute while I check your account.(She turns away from you but then gets a strange look on her face.)

You: Is there a problem?

Your Daughter: Yes, sort of. I clearly see that you opened an account here a long time ago, but it doesn’t appear to have a sufficient balance for you to make a big withdrawal. When was the last time that you made a deposit?

You: Well, I don’t remember. I guess it’s been a while. You know, I have been very busy working and stuff like that. But, my wife has been making lots of deposits. Seems like every time I turn around she is heading here. Since we are married, can’t I just make a withdrawal from her account?

Your Daughter: Dad, no you can’t because we don’t offer joint accounts here.

You: Oh yeah…That’s right…I remember hearing that. What about a loan? Can I get one of those?

Your Daughter: I’m sorry…We don’t offer loans either. You can only withdraw what you have deposited.(You start to get a bit upset…)You: Well that just doesn’t seem fair! I clearly have an account. And, well, I need to make a withdrawal. Can’t you make an exception? After all, I am DAD.

Your Daughter: Dad. I am sorry. I just can’t help you…(You are becoming more upset…)

You: Well, doggone it, I am not going to take no for answer.(Your daughter gets a concerned and stern look on her face and you can see her reaching under the counter to push the button for security.)

Your Daughter: As I said, I can’t help you. You knew the rules when you opened the account. How can you expect to withdraw funds that you didn’t deposit? That’s just not the way it works here. All you had to do was make consistent deposits. Even small ones would have been fine because “interest”—your interest—would have compounded these deposits substantially over time. Taking deposits that don’t belong to you is, well, robbery. So, I need to ask you to leave now. Or, do I need to call security?

How can fathers make a change?

Our current generation of modern fathers is already leading this Dad-volution in fatherhood. Some men are fiercely progressive and believe in being a nurturing influence in their kids’ lives.

In our tiny Singapore, we are seeing a surge in a breed of “progressive dads”. A strong tribe of men, who makes the effort in making sure they deposit emotionally to their children’s emotional banks. Forty-two-year-old Technopreneur Jay Huang , a father of twins, is proud to be part of this Dad-volution. Growing up without the presence of a strong father figure, Jay is committed to making a difference. He is the family’s chef, driver and music tutor – all in one. Jay makes it a point to put his children first. Being a music aficionado himself, he goes to Violin lessons with his son and learns together with his son. At home, he helps his children with their music homework. At night, before the children sleeps, Jay would play a round of UNO cards with his children and hopes to make this a nightly ritual. He would then burn the midnight oil so as to ensure that his own work is in order.

At the other end of Singapore, Bobby Sim, 40, is a stay-at-home father who’s opted to take the road less travelled – by staying at home to take care of his five-year-old daughter, while his wife goes to work. He says, “I believe modern fathers want to be great parents. And other than breastfeeding, dads can do practically everything the mum can do, and sometimes even better. (There shouldn’t be any) gender stereotyping.”

Coincidentally, both Huang and Sim grew up without a father by their side. Because of that, both said that they are inspired to become the fatherly figure they themselves never had, for their children.

Indeed, this modern generation of fathers has greatly outdone their predecessors.

As we celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, let’s all remind one another the importance of saving (emotionally) for a rainy day.

Bond with your children today, learn to play nursery rhymes together here or download a free printable and spend some quality time with your young ones.

Non-verbal IQ Test

Looking for a quick and fun test to see how your preschooler is progressing before he or she begins Primary One? Let them take a fun non-verbal IQ test.

The Weschler Intelligence Scale is an IQ test that is often used by school psychologists to determine cognitive ability. This non-verbal Intelligence test is designed for measuring child’s I.Q from five years to and 7 years old.

Why is Non-Verbal IQ important for your child?

When your child enters Primary One, he or she will realise the importance of nonverbal intelligence. It is imperative for every child because it enables students to analyze and solve complex problems without relying upon or being limited by language abilities. Many mathematical concepts, physics problems, computer science tasks, and science problems require strong reasoning skills which stem from non-verbal intelligence.

Non-Verbal IQ is the ability to analyze information and solve problems using visual, or hands-on reasoning. It is the ability to make sense of and act on the world without necessarily using words.

This IQ test is specifically designed to test the ability of children to
1) Tell the differences and similarities from one object and another

2) How to determine mathematical progressions

3) How to manage with quantities and spatial relationships

Q1)

Non-verbal IQ Test

Answer: C

Explanations: The only one is a carrot, where the others are animals or birds.

Q2)

Non-verbal IQ Test

Answer: D

Q3)

Non-verbal IQ Test

Answer: C

Our children’s thinking in their early years is naturally dominated by their perception or what their senses tell them. To help them in the learning and development of various abstract numeracy concepts, it is vital to equip them with opportunities to:

1) Explore with objects
2) Identify written words or symbols in their daily play experiences
3) Talk about their solutions when solving problems

These opportunities will help them in the development of skills and concepts such as matching, sorting, comparing, ordering, patterning, counting and number sense, basic shapes, and space.


Want more free printable for preschoolers or are you looking more more quizzes and educational materials for your child? Subscribe to us today. For more primary one related post, click here. You can also hire a tutor, get in touch with us today.

secondary school students

Will access to technology help Singaporean students reduce inequality?

Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced during a national broadcast on today, June 17 that 

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung has plans to fast-forward the plan to equip all secondary school students with their own personal laptop or tablet by next year 2021.

This means all students (regardless of family income) can finally have their own private digital devices where they can access HBL online learning materials, attend online tuition lessons, do research on their tablets, download educational apps and of course, socialise all on their very own devices. 

In recent years, Senior Minister Tharman has often advocated that social mobility has been and is at the heart of Singapore’s ambition and how it is absolutely imperative for the government to do their best to address this concern.

Like most globalised nations, social divisions are part of an unfortunate reality in meritocratic Singapore. On one end of the spectrum, we have some students in Singapore who are trapped in the poverty cycle, struggling with basic needs, living without access to wifi or their own laptop devices. On the moneyed end, we have students in Raffles Institution who flush S$50 and call it ‘our toilet paper’.

secondary school students

Not too long ago, in 2018, Singapore ranked 149 in an Oxfam index where 157 countries are ranked based on their efforts to tackle the gap between the rich and poor. Singapore is just eight ranks ahead of countries like Nigeria (157) and Bhutan (152). 

In his speech, Senior Minister Tharman recognises that due to the Covid-19 crisis, the income inequality has definitely widened. Job and income losses have hit some groups much harder than others. Children without well-off parents are falling behind, with their schooling disrupted and little done to help them. 

Singaporeans spend twice the global average on children’s local education and buying assessment books are one of the expenses that they incurred. 

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