Sleep hacking [how to sleep well to learn!] Sleep hacking is an important component of learning. If you don’t sleep well, you don’t learn! Which in turn reduces the chances of doing well in exams. So what does sleep do to the brain? 2 things. (Disclaimer here, I am writing about sleep with focus on learning. It will not encompass the entirety of what sleep does). First, think of waking hours like sitting in a restaurant and having a meal. Serving plates, bowls and cutlery are strewn everywhere. Condiment jars are open and food scraps drip onto the table. Tissues containing human secretions… Once the diners leave, the wait staff clears the rubbish tidies everything up and refills condiments. Also placing a fresh set of cutlery. That is exactly what sleep does. And it does so during NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. There are 3 phases, the last of which is most important. Some call it stage 3/N3/deep/delta sleep whilst others call it slow wave sleep. At this stage the body repairs, organizes itself, directs a return to the optimal body conditions. Second, remember the times you have dreams during sleep? This occurs during the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. A transition from NREM sleep. During this phase, the brain is very active. The brain forms new memories at this stage. And scientists call this procedural memory. Long term memory is a type of this memory. A key component students need to leverage on for their exams. A specialty of this type of long term memory is in aiding problem solving and creativity. Remember times when one sleep on a problem only to solve it when you wake up subsequently? That’s what this type of memory contributes. Long term memory formation is not exclusive to REM sleep. It also forms during the the NREM stage 3 phase. And scientists call this explicit memory. This type of memory tries to process personal experiences (such as that in classroom learning) and factual learning into long term memory. The infographic below summarizes it nicely: Sleep hacking, a constant experiment I frequently remind my students they can do sleep hacking to get better sleep. However, because we are genetically unique, everyone’s optimal sleep conditions are different. What may work for others may not work for you. So there needs to be a consistent way to measuring sleep so that you know what works what doesn’t. I tell my students it is like a science experiment! You can measure sleep quality with sleep monitoring devices. They can come in the form of a wearable or a phone with a sleep app. I prefer the earlier method as it is less intrusive. Either way, they have the ability to analyze your sleep and return a score. Once you are ready, you will need to set a baseline with your normal sleeping patterns. I recommend finding at least 3 random nights to measure your sleep. And the average of the 3 nights will be your baseline score. Now you can add an independent variable (see below) one at a time. Repeat for 3 nights and check if it increases over your baseline scores. If it does, then you are sleep hacking your way to a better quality sleep! Remember the better your sleep, the better you remember and learn! Independent variables to try: the sleeping drink This is one of the things that is easy to implement and you may see results quickly. I make a drink before bed comprising of 1 tablespoon each of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar and raw organic honey. Mixed in and top up with warm water to half a cup. And drink an hour before bed. There have been scientists trying to ascertain the science behind this. Unfortunately there has yet to be any explanation as to how it works. Those who try this report lesser awakenings in the middle of the sleep cycle. Awakenings in the middle of a sleep cycle interferes with the progression through the stages of sleep. Making it harder to get to Stage 3 or REM sleep. This will in turn decrease sleep quality. So the drink will therefore be helpful for those who experience frequent awakenings during sleep. Independent variables to try: light exposure There are photo-receptors in our retina. These capture light so as to modulate our circadian rhythm. During sleep, a lot of biological processes are shut down so as to let restorative activities proceed. The circadian rhythm therefore acts like a ‘master’ switch. It modulates between the restorative activities as well as priming the body to get ready for the rigors of life. And light is an environmental stimuli that tells the molecular mechanisms governing the circadian rhythm to switch on. Its vice versa if there is little to no light. Which can become a problem when one is exposed to light during sleep. This can come in a variety of ways. Such as mobile phone/tablet/TV usage on the bed prior to sleep. Or even something innocuous like the LED light on the air con panel. But they do affect sleep. What I do is to reduce the bedroom environment to pitch darkness. I paste blackout stickers on LED panels on my air-con, have blackout curtains covering the windows, as well as eye masks to improve my sleep quality. In addition, a few hours before bed, all my electronic devices remove blue lights from the screens. Blue light resembles daylight which can have potent negative effects on sleep. On iOS devices, bring up the control center and hold on the light intensity to bring up the night shift option. Switch it on or automate it to switch on at night! On computers or Android, one can download the f.lux app for the same effect. Independent variables to try: mouth taping Mouth taping is an important sleep hacking behavior to prevent mouth breathing. There are several reasons why I do nose breathing. The nose has several anatomical adaptations which are crucial. First, nose hair filters particles in the air even small ones like pollen from getting into the lower respiratory tract (LRT). Second, it adds moisture into the air prior to entering into the LRT. Moisture that is crucial in gaseous exchange at the alveoli. Third, it adds resistance and modifies the composition of the air during the inhale and exhale. The ratio of which is crucial to haemoglobin releasing oxygen subsequently. This is primary reason I ask my students to try nose breathing instead. Because the less oxygenation one gets during sleep, the less efficient aerobic respiration. And consequently, less restorative activities powered by ATP production. Of course, some dental scientists says the anatomical consequences of mouth breathing is the ‘long’ face. So to ensure nose breathing during sleep, I will tape my mouth up. I usually do this by buying masking tape that has a big enough diameter to cover my mouth. Other kinds of tape are too sticky and will be painful to remove. If you find the tape torn apart the next morning, you are definitely a mouth breather. It may then take a few subsequent nights to adjust and thereafter sleep quality may improve. If however, you don’t there may be an underlying medical cause. This can be easily remediated with a visit to the ENT doctor before resuming mouth taping during sleep. Independent variables to try: temperature This is another sleep hacking trick that may make a significant difference for some of you. Temperature is an important component of sleep. Because the body temperature fluctuates throughout the day. This is contrary to the popular belief that the temperature remains fixed at 37 degree Celsius. As the clock approaches daylight hours, the circadian rhythm dictates a gradual increase. And as night approaches, the reverse happens can you can see in the graph below. The core temperature can drop to as low as 36.4 degree Celsius. This study, shows the effects of human sleep loss in the event of global warming. Conversely, modifying the environment to prevent interference with the normal temperature drop may improve sleep. One will have to experiment with the ambient temperatures to confirm what is optimal. Most recommend temperatures less than 20 degrees Celsius. What not to do in sleep hacking Whilst there are drugs that induces sleep. Most of them interferes with REM sleep. So it is not desirable to get a prescription to help induce sleep. Since one cannot experience the most beneficial part of sleep in such states. Bottom-line on sleep hacking Do note I am not a sleep doctor although I have been sleep hacking my way to better quality sleep in the past few years. There are some medical situations that may exceed the methods of sleep hacking. In such cases you may want to consult a sleep or ENT doctor instead. Also, over the next few months, I will be updating the article. Do check back for more independent variables of sleep you can try out.

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I want to take H2 BIOLOGY but didn’t study it at O levels As a H2 biology tutor, I frequently get these questions from prospective students: I don’t take biology at O levels. OR I take combine science but not pure biology. Is it suitable for me to take H2 biology in JC? Can I take H2 Biology without any foundation? Why yes of course! H2 biology does not have strict pre-requisite requirements. Consequently, you will find many compatriots who may be taking H2 Biology without by foundation in JC. However, it is one of the harder subjects to do really well because of the bell curve and cohort quality. Many want to gain entry into either medicine, dentistry, biomedical science, pharmacy and these are some of the most competitive courses in university to gain admissions. Most importantly for students these courses, H2 Biology is a pre-requisite. What are the chances of doing well in H2 Biology without any foundation? Let me start with this quote from Sylvester Stallone: I am not the richest, smartest or most talented person in the world, but I succeed because I keep going and going and going. Success at JC level is not about whether there is foundation or not. Because of the depth and width of coverage, only the most gritty will find success. In fact, at times, students who have not done the subject may find that they have a slight advantage. They look at H2 Biology with a fresh pair of eyes. Many students who study the subject before JC may have certain pre-conceptions. And these they carry over into JC which may impact how they do. Let me give you an example. Students in lower levels routinely do experiments to show semi-permeability. They do this using iodine, starch solutions and a visking tube. So in A levels H2 Biology, I keep seeing students mention semi-permeable cell membranes. Which unfortunately is incorrect because these membranes are highly selective. Semi-permeability refers to the size differentiation. But when it comes to membranes, they don’t care for the size if they are not usable by the cell. Meaning, if the molecule is small enough, it still will not enter a cell if the cell has no specialised way of transporting it in. A non-biology student will likely not make this mistake! H2 Biology is really interesting! Sometimes, it will help if the subject is interesting to begin with. This will make it easier for the student to study it for exams. Many times, the students only need to look inwards to their body to be able to appreciate what they are studying. Sometimes, it even helps them to hack their body so as to improve biological performance. Therefore, they are hardly if any abstract concepts. Making it correspondingly easier to ‘get it’. H2 Biology is not for everyone It is also one of the most ‘arty farty’ of all the science subjects. One of the most distinguishing features of H2 Biology is that there are many areas which are grey (no definite yes/no). For some people this is highly unsettling. This is because they have a formulaic mind and are looking for the ‘model’ answer. If in your mind, everything exists in a series of steps and is either this or that, then H2 biology may not be for you. H2 Biology: bottomline I hope I am able to shed some light and make it easier to come to a conclusion on whether to take up the subject despite having no biology foundation. Having said that, H2 biology is not easy as well as a subject. And challenges abound (just like any other JC subject). Having dedicated my life tutoring students in H2 Biology, I still find tremendous joy everytime I approach the subject. And hopefully, I can spread this joy to you.
Best A level biology tuition in Singapore [Checklist] You are here to look for A level biology tuition in Singapore. And I am here to give you a checklist to help get you to your decision. This is super important to you because it is the most stressful phase in your life. I understand that. In fact, you may be doing an IP program even. And if you don’t do well, all you have for show will be a PSLE cert. I am even feeling a little bit of stress just typing this. So what do you need to look out for before you decide on the A level biology tuition? 1. How much commitment are they willing to spend with you? Nothing lesser than a full time tutor will do. You need someone who can sense the exam patterns in A level biology. He/she needs to know what has and may come out for exams. Filter down to the most crucial bite size information and help you understand it way before the exams. If he/she is working or studying right now, that is their priority not you. You come in somewhere down the line. This is the most important exam in your life. Why do you pass the responsibility to someone who does not make you top priority? Let me take you aside to a book written by Malcolm Gladwell titled Outliers. In it, he opines that people who are experts in their field practiced in the correct way for at least 10, 000 hours. Honing it constantly which shape them into who they are. This is biologically explainable. The reason why learning and mastery takes time is because the neurons are constantly making new connections. Those connections that yields results have to be strengthened over time. This occurs during sleep and is therefore not instantaneous. Malcolm himself have been writing for over 10 coming to 20 years before his recent books rank in the bestsellers. The best A level biology tuition in Singapore you can find will likely have a tutor who has been at it year in and out for at least a decade. 2. Are they fully aware of the new syllabus? Some tutors even school teachers are oblivious to the major biology syllabus revamp. They teach you everything in the old and new syllabus. How on earth are you going to master everything and squeeze everything into your brain? And H2 Biology is only 1 subject out of the 5 or so you are sitting exams for. You need someone to cut through to the most crucial and bring clarity for you. For example, paper 3 is a completely new format. A series of questions accompanies a text extract from journals or textbooks. The questions requires one to draw knowledge from various topics and extrapolate to the novel situation. This requires an integrative approach to content delivery in biology. Unfortunately many colleagues are still micro-focusing on individual topics leaving students with insufficient preparation for such a format. 3. What do previous students say? You need to read what your seniors say about the tutors. Because they were previously in the exact same situation as you. This can give you a clue to how helpful the tutor is in their situation. Not only that. You do not want to discover how good a tutor is because you simply don’t have time to try him/her out. Especially for those who are already in J2, half a year of trying later, you are approaching A level exams. By then, it will be too late. Even if the right tutor comes along, there is not enough time to make a difference. 4. English language capability I cannot stress this enough. The biology tutor must have great grasp of the English language. If the tutor speaks in half broken English and cannot make proper sentences, you run away far as possible. I tell my students that Biology is actually English with bits of scientific flavoring. A level biology questions often comes with a twist. And if you don’t look for such nuances, you may completely miss the requirements of the question! Let me list an example below. This is an actual question appearing a few years ago. And has been confusing to many students. Many forget that the British are the ones writing the exam questions and we speak English differently from them. If you put a comma after cristae in the answer and read it. You’ll be interpreting the structure having the diameter. Now change the comma to cristae of, and read it. The subject of the diameter changes to the latter structure. Many students read it in the first way and are not able to find an answer at all. Imagine this happening throughout your exam paper. It will be an unnerving experience for you! 5. Any learning strategies? Does the tutor incorporate learning strategies to help you in A level biology exams? Any Tom, Dick as well as Harry (or Jane) can teach A level Biology tuition in Singapore. But few develop the curriculum to include learning strategies. Because this requires time, dedication and a passion for self-improvement. If the tutor says ‘I am the best’, you run away as far as you can (again). Because this means the tutor doesn’t believe it improving and becoming even better. Instead of only content knowledge mastery, they must have strategies to help you avoid common mistakes. Even remember things a little more easily. And also teach you how to acquire effective study techniques. Let me give you an example. Do you remember the times when you go to bed thinking the next day you are going to be a completely different person. That you will rise from sleep early, go for a jog, make breakfast and study before heading to school. And only to hit the snooze button the next morning and not do any of it? Motivation is garbage because it cannot get you to do the work you need to improve. Tutors who conduct the best A level biology tuition in Singapore are sensitive to the human behavior and will find solutions for you. To start you off, let me direct the following resources for you I think might help you. When you are learning, it is important to take good notes. It saves you the time from having to reorganize it whilst helping to you remember better afterwards. When you are studying making time productive is important. Many students spend learning time doing everything except learning. I talk about the Pomodoro technique here. This is the technique I teach my students to use to become more productive. 6. Can he/she feel any empathy with your plight? A levels in Singapore is tough. And you need to have a tutor that understands the tremendous stress you are in. Having a tutor that keeps piling negative comments at you is not going to motivate you. In fact it might even make you hate what you are doing. Having a tutor who can identify your strengths amid your weaknesses means you can leverage on it whilst rooting out the weaknesses. Here’s an example of a fellow tutor in GP. I respect what he does for his students to the point of capping his salary. That then means his students do not have to pay astronomical fees. That’s true empathy! 7. Are they specialists of A level biology tuition in Singapore? There are many tutors who can tutor multiple subjects. It is convenient to get a 1-1 tutor that can tutor multiple subjects in a session in a span of 2 hours. It also saves on costs rather than to go to separate tutors and each costing in excess of S$300 a month. However, Dr Atul Gawande noted something interesting in his book Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science. That those surgeons who has the highest success rates come from dedicated facilities that specializes in a particular surgery. In the short term generalists might save you money. But in the long term the success seen in grades is often delivered by subject specialists. The checklist above will help you to narrow down the list of tutors for A level biology tuition in Singapore. However, the checklist below will help you when you attend the trial lessons to see if he/she is suitable. A. Does the tutor keep using the phone? Steer clear of tutors who are texting and checking his/her mobile phone during class. Or those who only throw at you practice papers to do without any review afterwards. You won’t learn anything useful and will be wasting your time. B. Does the tutor have their own materials? Do they have their own materials? Or are they just asking you to buy assessment books as ‘material’ for classes? The lazy tutor will use these assessment books wholesale because it is very convenient for them. What is convenient for them will not translate to learning for you. If the tutor takes time to adapt learning materials for you, it means they are thinking about how best to help you. How to break up learning into relevant and manageable chunks. A level biology tuition in Singapore I hope the checklist I have come up for you will help you make that decision as to which A level biology tuition in Singapore you should pick. This road ahead is tough. There will be many lows and hopefully there will be some highs as well. Here’s my sincere wish that you do well, with the ear to ear grin when you pick up the results. And subsequently receive multiple University admission offers. ALL THE BEST!
Failing promos in JC, am I going to fail A levels? Another common question I get. If I am failing promos in JC, am I therefore going to fail A levels too? Failing promos Firstly, this is not the end of the world! For instance, a frequent observation after all these years of tutoring H2 Bio is the incredible variation of teacher competence across different schools. As well as the expected quality of answers in exams. A student may get an A grade from a H2 Bio exam in a school. However, if the script is remarked by another school’s teacher, it may return a U grade in contrast. Which consequently results in the student failing promos. One way to see this phenomenon is to look at the final grade in school versus the A level grades. If we see huge variations, this means that the school teacher grossly over or under-estimate the level of the papers/marking. So this most importantly shows an inadequacy at the school and not the student level. In contrast, many students blame themselves instead when they receive poor grades. My heart goes out to these poor students for all the stress they have to bear. However, don’t forget the opposite can happen! Especially for students who do well when their teachers grossly over-estimate their academic performance. Failing promos: the school’s fault For example, when students send their exam scripts to me to help them break down their performance, I see egregious errors by the teachers. Let me bring up one such example in the following. This is an example scenario where the exam question was set by one JC in Singapore. The question asks for the student to give an evidence. In doing so, such an evidence can then support the scientist … In fact, my student correctly do so by dutifully list the evidence. But see what the teacher do in response? Here the teacher penalises the student who did the right thing because the teacher asked the wrong question. Let me correct phrasing of the question to reflect what the teacher want: Give an evidence AND EXPLAIN why… So how can you expect students to do well in such situations? And worst yet fault them for doing poorly? Failing promos: what can you do about it? Most importantly, instead of worrying about the meaningless promo grades, consider what you need to do right-away to improve. Since the school teacher cannot change, start looking out for tutors who are very familiar with the syllabus. More importantly, they show that they know exactly what and how to interpret exam questions. This way, you can get a proper dissection and approximation of your level of academic performance. In contrast to the vague and useless instructions from many school teachers like study harder. In addition, identify your errors. Likewise, ask yourself if these errors a result of carelessness or concepts that you don’t understand? Is it because of insufficient time? Or if it’s none of the above then are the questions very difficult instead? As such, each of these reasons requires a different ‘treatment’. And the Chinese say it best ‘对症下药’. Subsequently, the students in a bid to improve tries to study harder. Studying harder unfortunately will not make any significant difference. Because that is not the primary reason for the poor results! For example, a number of students spend too much time writing expansive answers. However, it’s unnecessary because they have already gotten all the points. Consequently, this wastes a lot time and they cannot complete the paper therefore losing a lot of marks. As such, studying harder will then be unhelpful for the student in gaining marks in exams.

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I want to take H2 BIOLOGY but didn’t study it at O levels As a H2 biology tutor, I frequently get these questions from prospective students: I don’t take biology at O levels. OR I take combine science but not pure biology. Is it suitable for me to take H2 biology in JC? Can I take H2 Biology without any foundation? Why yes of course! H2 biology does not have strict pre-requisite requirements. Consequently, you will find many compatriots who may be taking H2 Biology without by foundation in JC. However, it is one of the harder subjects to do really well because of the bell curve and cohort quality. Many want to gain entry into either medicine, dentistry, biomedical science, pharmacy and these are some of the most competitive courses in university to gain admissions. Most importantly for students these courses, H2 Biology is a pre-requisite. What are the chances of doing well in H2 Biology without any foundation? Let me start with this quote from Sylvester Stallone: I am not the richest, smartest or most talented person in the world, but I succeed because I keep going and going and going. Success at JC level is not about whether there is foundation or not. Because of the depth and width of coverage, only the most gritty will find success. In fact, at times, students who have not done the subject may find that they have a slight advantage. They look at H2 Biology with a fresh pair of eyes. Many students who study the subject before JC may have certain pre-conceptions. And these they carry over into JC which may impact how they do. Let me give you an example. Students in lower levels routinely do experiments to show semi-permeability. They do this using iodine, starch solutions and a visking tube. So in A levels H2 Biology, I keep seeing students mention semi-permeable cell membranes. Which unfortunately is incorrect because these membranes are highly selective. Semi-permeability refers to the size differentiation. But when it comes to membranes, they don’t care for the size if they are not usable by the cell. Meaning, if the molecule is small enough, it still will not enter a cell if the cell has no specialised way of transporting it in. A non-biology student will likely not make this mistake! H2 Biology is really interesting! Sometimes, it will help if the subject is interesting to begin with. This will make it easier for the student to study it for exams. Many times, the students only need to look inwards to their body to be able to appreciate what they are studying. Sometimes, it even helps them to hack their body so as to improve biological performance. Therefore, they are hardly if any abstract concepts. Making it correspondingly easier to ‘get it’. H2 Biology is not for everyone It is also one of the most ‘arty farty’ of all the science subjects. One of the most distinguishing features of H2 Biology is that there are many areas which are grey (no definite yes/no). For some people this is highly unsettling. This is because they have a formulaic mind and are looking for the ‘model’ answer. If in your mind, everything exists in a series of steps and is either this or that, then H2 biology may not be for you. H2 Biology: bottomline I hope I am able to shed some light and make it easier to come to a conclusion on whether to take up the subject despite having no biology foundation. Having said that, H2 biology is not easy as well as a subject. And challenges abound (just like any other JC subject). Having dedicated my life tutoring students in H2 Biology, I still find tremendous joy everytime I approach the subject. And hopefully, I can spread this joy to you.
Best A level biology tuition in Singapore [Checklist] You are here to look for A level biology tuition in Singapore. And I am here to give you a checklist to help get you to your decision. This is super important to you because it is the most stressful phase in your life. I understand that. In fact, you may be doing an IP program even. And if you don’t do well, all you have for show will be a PSLE cert. I am even feeling a little bit of stress just typing this. So what do you need to look out for before you decide on the A level biology tuition? 1. How much commitment are they willing to spend with you? Nothing lesser than a full time tutor will do. You need someone who can sense the exam patterns in A level biology. He/she needs to know what has and may come out for exams. Filter down to the most crucial bite size information and help you understand it way before the exams. If he/she is working or studying right now, that is their priority not you. You come in somewhere down the line. This is the most important exam in your life. Why do you pass the responsibility to someone who does not make you top priority? Let me take you aside to a book written by Malcolm Gladwell titled Outliers. In it, he opines that people who are experts in their field practiced in the correct way for at least 10, 000 hours. Honing it constantly which shape them into who they are. This is biologically explainable. The reason why learning and mastery takes time is because the neurons are constantly making new connections. Those connections that yields results have to be strengthened over time. This occurs during sleep and is therefore not instantaneous. Malcolm himself have been writing for over 10 coming to 20 years before his recent books rank in the bestsellers. The best A level biology tuition in Singapore you can find will likely have a tutor who has been at it year in and out for at least a decade. 2. Are they fully aware of the new syllabus? Some tutors even school teachers are oblivious to the major biology syllabus revamp. They teach you everything in the old and new syllabus. How on earth are you going to master everything and squeeze everything into your brain? And H2 Biology is only 1 subject out of the 5 or so you are sitting exams for. You need someone to cut through to the most crucial and bring clarity for you. For example, paper 3 is a completely new format. A series of questions accompanies a text extract from journals or textbooks. The questions requires one to draw knowledge from various topics and extrapolate to the novel situation. This requires an integrative approach to content delivery in biology. Unfortunately many colleagues are still micro-focusing on individual topics leaving students with insufficient preparation for such a format. 3. What do previous students say? You need to read what your seniors say about the tutors. Because they were previously in the exact same situation as you. This can give you a clue to how helpful the tutor is in their situation. Not only that. You do not want to discover how good a tutor is because you simply don’t have time to try him/her out. Especially for those who are already in J2, half a year of trying later, you are approaching A level exams. By then, it will be too late. Even if the right tutor comes along, there is not enough time to make a difference. 4. English language capability I cannot stress this enough. The biology tutor must have great grasp of the English language. If the tutor speaks in half broken English and cannot make proper sentences, you run away far as possible. I tell my students that Biology is actually English with bits of scientific flavoring. A level biology questions often comes with a twist. And if you don’t look for such nuances, you may completely miss the requirements of the question! Let me list an example below. This is an actual question appearing a few years ago. And has been confusing to many students. Many forget that the British are the ones writing the exam questions and we speak English differently from them. If you put a comma after cristae in the answer and read it. You’ll be interpreting the structure having the diameter. Now change the comma to cristae of, and read it. The subject of the diameter changes to the latter structure. Many students read it in the first way and are not able to find an answer at all. Imagine this happening throughout your exam paper. It will be an unnerving experience for you! 5. Any learning strategies? Does the tutor incorporate learning strategies to help you in A level biology exams? Any Tom, Dick as well as Harry (or Jane) can teach A level Biology tuition in Singapore. But few develop the curriculum to include learning strategies. Because this requires time, dedication and a passion for self-improvement. If the tutor says ‘I am the best’, you run away as far as you can (again). Because this means the tutor doesn’t believe it improving and becoming even better. Instead of only content knowledge mastery, they must have strategies to help you avoid common mistakes. Even remember things a little more easily. And also teach you how to acquire effective study techniques. Let me give you an example. Do you remember the times when you go to bed thinking the next day you are going to be a completely different person. That you will rise from sleep early, go for a jog, make breakfast and study before heading to school. And only to hit the snooze button the next morning and not do any of it? Motivation is garbage because it cannot get you to do the work you need to improve. Tutors who conduct the best A level biology tuition in Singapore are sensitive to the human behavior and will find solutions for you. To start you off, let me direct the following resources for you I think might help you. When you are learning, it is important to take good notes. It saves you the time from having to reorganize it whilst helping to you remember better afterwards. When you are studying making time productive is important. Many students spend learning time doing everything except learning. I talk about the Pomodoro technique here. This is the technique I teach my students to use to become more productive. 6. Can he/she feel any empathy with your plight? A levels in Singapore is tough. And you need to have a tutor that understands the tremendous stress you are in. Having a tutor that keeps piling negative comments at you is not going to motivate you. In fact it might even make you hate what you are doing. Having a tutor who can identify your strengths amid your weaknesses means you can leverage on it whilst rooting out the weaknesses. Here’s an example of a fellow tutor in GP. I respect what he does for his students to the point of capping his salary. That then means his students do not have to pay astronomical fees. That’s true empathy! 7. Are they specialists of A level biology tuition in Singapore? There are many tutors who can tutor multiple subjects. It is convenient to get a 1-1 tutor that can tutor multiple subjects in a session in a span of 2 hours. It also saves on costs rather than to go to separate tutors and each costing in excess of S$300 a month. However, Dr Atul Gawande noted something interesting in his book Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science. That those surgeons who has the highest success rates come from dedicated facilities that specializes in a particular surgery. In the short term generalists might save you money. But in the long term the success seen in grades is often delivered by subject specialists. The checklist above will help you to narrow down the list of tutors for A level biology tuition in Singapore. However, the checklist below will help you when you attend the trial lessons to see if he/she is suitable. A. Does the tutor keep using the phone? Steer clear of tutors who are texting and checking his/her mobile phone during class. Or those who only throw at you practice papers to do without any review afterwards. You won’t learn anything useful and will be wasting your time. B. Does the tutor have their own materials? Do they have their own materials? Or are they just asking you to buy assessment books as ‘material’ for classes? The lazy tutor will use these assessment books wholesale because it is very convenient for them. What is convenient for them will not translate to learning for you. If the tutor takes time to adapt learning materials for you, it means they are thinking about how best to help you. How to break up learning into relevant and manageable chunks. A level biology tuition in Singapore I hope the checklist I have come up for you will help you make that decision as to which A level biology tuition in Singapore you should pick. This road ahead is tough. There will be many lows and hopefully there will be some highs as well. Here’s my sincere wish that you do well, with the ear to ear grin when you pick up the results. And subsequently receive multiple University admission offers. ALL THE BEST!
Failing promos in JC, am I going to fail A levels? Another common question I get. If I am failing promos in JC, am I therefore going to fail A levels too? Failing promos Firstly, this is not the end of the world! For instance, a frequent observation after all these years of tutoring H2 Bio is the incredible variation of teacher competence across different schools. As well as the expected quality of answers in exams. A student may get an A grade from a H2 Bio exam in a school. However, if the script is remarked by another school’s teacher, it may return a U grade in contrast. Which consequently results in the student failing promos. One way to see this phenomenon is to look at the final grade in school versus the A level grades. If we see huge variations, this means that the school teacher grossly over or under-estimate the level of the papers/marking. So this most importantly shows an inadequacy at the school and not the student level. In contrast, many students blame themselves instead when they receive poor grades. My heart goes out to these poor students for all the stress they have to bear. However, don’t forget the opposite can happen! Especially for students who do well when their teachers grossly over-estimate their academic performance. Failing promos: the school’s fault For example, when students send their exam scripts to me to help them break down their performance, I see egregious errors by the teachers. Let me bring up one such example in the following. This is an example scenario where the exam question was set by one JC in Singapore. The question asks for the student to give an evidence. In doing so, such an evidence can then support the scientist … In fact, my student correctly do so by dutifully list the evidence. But see what the teacher do in response? Here the teacher penalises the student who did the right thing because the teacher asked the wrong question. Let me correct phrasing of the question to reflect what the teacher want: Give an evidence AND EXPLAIN why… So how can you expect students to do well in such situations? And worst yet fault them for doing poorly? Failing promos: what can you do about it? Most importantly, instead of worrying about the meaningless promo grades, consider what you need to do right-away to improve. Since the school teacher cannot change, start looking out for tutors who are very familiar with the syllabus. More importantly, they show that they know exactly what and how to interpret exam questions. This way, you can get a proper dissection and approximation of your level of academic performance. In contrast to the vague and useless instructions from many school teachers like study harder. In addition, identify your errors. Likewise, ask yourself if these errors a result of carelessness or concepts that you don’t understand? Is it because of insufficient time? Or if it’s none of the above then are the questions very difficult instead? As such, each of these reasons requires a different ‘treatment’. And the Chinese say it best ‘对症下药’. Subsequently, the students in a bid to improve tries to study harder. Studying harder unfortunately will not make any significant difference. Because that is not the primary reason for the poor results! For example, a number of students spend too much time writing expansive answers. However, it’s unnecessary because they have already gotten all the points. Consequently, this wastes a lot time and they cannot complete the paper therefore losing a lot of marks. As such, studying harder will then be unhelpful for the student in gaining marks in exams.
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