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Mr Chen's anecdotes.


Updated: Jul 5, 2022

Statistically speaking, the students who managed to enroll into a JC are the upper percentile of students. All of you have scored L1R5 raw score of below 20. You are deemed competent to manage with the academic rigor that follows a 2-year JC journey.

For most students, their grades for A Math and E Math were at least a B3. At the same time, a significant number of students score A2 and A1. Hence, many students enter JC thinking that they are able to cope with Math at a higher academic level. Some might even consider H2 Further Mathematics. (Hurhur, have fun.)

However, most students experience a culture shock where they only score 30% or less on their lecture test. The consistent failure of mini-tests and quizzes made them question whether their O-level results were a fluke. Truth is, there are many reasons why you would struggle with H2 Math.

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H2 Math is not Additional Math

In order to qualify for JC H2 Math, most schools would require their students to have taken E and A math during their O levels. In secondary school math, especially A math, questions are rather predictable. There is usually a fixed way of solving a question.

For example, in the application of differentiation, a question would provide a context such that 2 equations can be formed. Upon forming the 2 equations, substitute one into the other to remove the other variable. Proceed to then differentiate and equate the derivative to zero in order to solve for the variable that gives a maximum or minimum.

Upon solving such questions for the 1000th time during their revision, most students are just looking for pieces of the puzzle to put together. They realize there is a pattern in solving a question.

In H2 Math, it is rather the contrary. Even though there are parts of the H2 Math syllabus that overlaps with O level A math such as differentiation, the majority of the syllabus differs significantly beyond just content. Topics such as vectors prove to be highly challenging for most students.

In vectors, students are required to understand the 3D model and every context can be very different. Beyond just understanding the question, the student would need to apply the formulas differently to suit the question and their perception of the question. There are a variety of ways to solve a question.

Hence, for the students who only rely on sheer and raw practice (or as parents like to fondly call "drilling of questions"), you would be consistently trying to keep your nose above water.

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Paradigm Shift

Furthermore, students need to view Math from a different angle in H2 Math. Math used to be just algebra where an equation is to be solved by algorithm and manipulation. However, in H2 Math, most topics can be considered from the perspective of a graph.

The first major investment you make in JC is $190 towards a Graphing Calculator by Texas Instrument. The first few topics taught to you are graphing techniques, graph transformations, standard curves, parametric equations, and functions. The message is clear - your GC is god-sent.

Solving a question via algebra manipulation is convenient but highly limited. Some equations simply cannot be solved that way and can only be solved through the intersection of graphs.

Furthermore, graphs can help us understand the context better through the analysis of asymptotes. All in all, any algebra expression can be conceptualized through a graphic representation. Hence, students would need to have a paradigm shift in their perception of Math. This will help them fully appreciate the question at hand and increase their chances of solving it correctly.

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Long Tedious Workings

Don't you feel a sense of achievement when you look back at your O level A math? The long page of workings before deriving at your answers. It's as if you're Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.

Get ready to feel even more pleased with yourself when you enroll in H2 Math then!

Students are no longer stranger to long tedious workings of Math. Gone are your primary school days when math workings can be limited to 5 lines or less. In H2 Math, especially calculus, workings can stretch as far as 1 and a half-page worth, with workings written on the right-hand side of the page as well. Skipping steps wouldn't be very viable as well. Given the lengthy nature of the mathematical problem, it is best to include steps clearly in case you lost your train of thought. In other words, you need to possess mental fortitude and endurance.

Classic examples of such topics include Maclaurin's series and Integration.

Even though long and tedious workings are no strangers to Singaporean students anymore, the risk of careless mistakes remains unchanged. Long and tedious mathematical workings tend to wear a student out mentally. It is inevitable that you go off course temporarily and make a mistake. That one mistake would cause subsequent parts to be wrong.

Furthermore, This mental fatigue will only snowball as you proceed along with your 3-hour-long paper for H2 Math. (Oh, by the way, H2 Math is of 2 papers, each of 3 hours duration. Yay.)

And there goes your distinction.

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Reach out for help

Nobody likes to hear this but you might need help. Most students' knee-jerk reaction upon failing consistently is to cry on r/SGExams. (Alternatively, they google "H2 Math Reddit" and end up here instead.) However, when a tutor offers help, they either expect it for free or see it as some Ponzi scheme. They would rather invest their money in crypto because they are going to be the next Dogecoin millionaire in a couple of years.

No doubt, most students do not need tuition or my help. Ultimately, most of you do have a better O level and PSLE score than me, you bright minds of Singapore. However, a competent tutor would be able to identify your weaknesses and strengths. He will refine your weaknesses and develop a strategy going forward that would maximize your chances of scoring a distinction for A levels. (If you let him).

I was a student who struggled with H2 Math. (I know, so hard to believe!).

I know the struggles and what you're going through which is why students like engaging me in a conversation. I know why you are confused and I know exactly how to untangle that knot. Contact me and let's develop you into A Class Above The Rest.

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