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Mr Chen's anecdotes.


Updated: Mar 7, 2022

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"It’s so good to be a student! All you need to worry about is just your studies!"

"I miss school so much. So much less pressure compared to life!"


I grew up hearing those lines multiple times and I’m sure you have too. Such lines serve no other purpose than to belittle what you’re already achieving or dismiss any possible complains you have in terms of school. I absolutely hated it whenever I heard it.

Hence, I never said that ever to any of my students in tuition.

Just because you only have one area of focus does not necessarily make that task easier. We need to find ways around it to achieve the level that we think we deserve. Hence, students find themselves asking the following 3 questions.

The first…

1. Is there a secret study method?

Many of you probably already searched for answers on YouTube and I’m pretty sure you found and have seen videos titled "The 4am Rule" or "Why Successful People Wake Up Early". With the media hyping up Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s schedule as well, you might genuinely consider that as a way to fix all your academic woes.

Sleep 2 hours lesser equates to 2 hours more to study, workout or whatever that is productive by your standards. It makes perfect sense! How did I not see that?!


Allow me to share a story.

There was a classmate of mine in 09S19. (Yes, he was a classmate.)

Park, like most of us, struggled for a majority of JC1. We were all struggling to adjust to the pace of JC introducing new concepts to us and PW. One day, in the TPJC café, the image etched in my mind, clear as day, he said…

“Guys, do you know that RI students sleep at 8pm and wake up at 4am to study?”

“Nobody is up at 4am and it’s incredibly conducive to study. After which, you go straight to school, wide awake and ready to absorb! Genius isn’t it?!”

Park thought he could adopt that strategy towards the JC1 promotional exam period. After all, Koreans are known to be great in academics. And so he did.


Moron got retained.


Maybe it does work for some of you. I applaud you for your persistence and genetic ability to alter your sleep cycle with minimal to no repercussions or difficulty. Successfully waking up at a time when the body is in prime recovery mode and being in a sharp critical mental shape to solve problems. I absolutely lack the ability to do that.


Unlike the genetically superior, yours truly sleeps at 10:30pm and wake up at 6:20am, with all my work completed. This sleep cycle served me well throughout Primary, Secondary and JC education. I never saw a need to stay up for anything and I was always punctual.

The key lies in time management and discipline. Whether it is waking up at 4am to study, sitting down to study or hitting the gym, it all revolves around discipline. If you have the discipline to fight against your biology to wake up at 4am, why don’t you utilize that same discipline to get your work done within the confines of usual working hours?

Certainly, there are ways to improve your "yield of returns" from studying. However, if you are expecting a just-add-hot-water-and-wait-5-minutes instant noodles kind of life hack, it does not exist. Regardless of the method you use, it still comes back to one thing.

There is no secret.

It comes down to discipline.


2. How can I improve faster?

Of course there are ways to improve faster. But I have genuine distaste towards the above saying.

It seem to imply that if you are working hard, you clearly are not smart. It is coupled with a hidden jab of lack of time management on your part with a small tinge of condescend.

Regardless of the method presented to you, it will require some form of perseverance and grit to power through the grind. I had tuition where I was never given any homework. At all. However, during the tuition class, I would pick my tutor’s brain. I would have deliberated the question thoroughly and from various angles before Math tuition. I would note down my questions and my reason for struggle and probe my tutor during tuition class. My H2 Math tuition teacher would then clear my doubts and enlighten me with his clear explanations.


An absolute classic line from "I Not Stupid" on the "secrets" to improve your Math

This is precisely what I do with my older students. (For A level Math, Chemistry and Physics tuition) Little homework but an underlying silent demand towards them to challenge me with questions in the subsequent tuition classes. There are many other ways to improve faster. But the most important is to be disciplined enough to consider the question at hand extensively and ask intelligent questions.

'The key lies in time management and discipline.'

3. Do I need a tutor?

For most, if you feel that you cannot bring yourself to absorb anything in school due to reasons beyond your control, the answer is short. Seek out a private 1-1 tutor and request for a trial lesson. Trial lessons may be free for some while others are willing to do an ad hoc session for you. Tuition is costly but necessary for some. It is common to feel a heightened sense of uncertainly and anxiety. Ultimately, tuition is a form of investment and naturally, you would want to maximise your Return of Investment (ROI).

It’s inevitable that when we fail, we shoulder the entire responsibility. For some, a thought of how if you’d worked harder, things would have been different. You were just lazy and if you actually studied, given your sheer intelligence, things would have turned out otherwise.

Unaware of the disaster you're in

I agree, I was like that. I was just lazy and am still incredibly confident of my ability to perform in any task if I put my heart and soul into it, as proven by the myriad of achievements in my life.

I never felt a genuine need for tuition even though I had tuition between Sec 3 to the end of my A Levels. Personally, Math tuition was just an avenue for me to attempt more practice questions and expose myself to a variety of questions. I never felt the desperate need for it though it was incredibly helpful because of the way I utilize it. (Read section for Q2)

On hindsight, it probably wasn’t a smart use of money. Instead of spending hard earned resources on tuition, I could have consulted my school teacher who was just as competent and paid for by the government. (Now I’m paying for it through my taxes).

At the same time, however, I never liked the idea of consulting my teachers. Even though I was close to most of my teachers, I never felt the impetus to approach them for consultations. I enjoyed the fact that I can gather different perspectives from my teachers and tuition teacher on a question or topic before deciding for myself what works best for me. Furthermore, consultation hours could be limited especially if you are in a competitive environment.

True story with G, Sec 2IP, during one of our sessions.

In my view, my position as a 1-1 private tutor differs significantly from that of a school teacher. I’m a mentor and friend whom students share a good relationship with. We share jokes and stories so that a student wouldn’t shy away from asking a question for fear of sounding stupid. (Contrast that to asking a question out loud in class… But yes, this home tutor will still laugh at you first.)

In addition, we are able to pick out similar questions from our library for you to attempt again to ensure you thoroughly understand the question at hand. Whichever area you are lacking, we focus and improve specifically on that, a luxury usually offered by private tutors only.

Most recent results (March 2021)

Regardless, tuition will certainly be useful if you utilize it right. Not every tutor will be a good match for you. Hence, request for a trial tuition session which is usually commitment-free and available from most private 1-1 tutors.

"Ultimately, tuition is a form of investment and naturally, you would want to maximise your Return of Investment (ROI)."


It is true that, as a student, our (supposedly) main concern is school. We are told it is the much easier event to be engaged in compared to everything else in adulthood. While that may be true, school itself presents many challenges that give rise to pressure. It is then, no surprise that students look for a quick fix to their problems.



We at VANTAGE TUTOR don’t promise to get you there in X amount of time.

But we promise to help you seek out the path of least resistance and lead you there in time.

Vantage Tutor is proud to announce that we are now providing tuition on online platforms such as Skype to serve audience beyond our geographical location!

Alternatively, you can also read the other articles available here.

Get in touch with Mr Chen and his team for a free consultation now.

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