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Mr Chen's anecdotes.


Updated: Feb 3, 2022

I was there. 13 points raw for L1R5 and I didn’t have much of a choice in terms of Junior College selections. I enrolled into TPJC and sat in my first H2 Math lecture and consistently hearing my Math lecturer repeat "infinity" a million times (Hurhur, geddit?) as he explained asymptotes.

A number of thoughts went through my mind…

"The F he talking about?"

"Is it too late to go to a Polytechnic?"


"Now what?"


Many of us goes through the motion as students, picking a path & eventually following the path that was set out to us, not knowing what awaits us ahead. I was no different. I don’t have the answers for everyone simply because we are all different. But allow me to offer you an insight and my thoughts on what lies ahead for you in the short 1.8 years stint in Junior College.

1. Project work

Part of the reason why I didn’t pick the Polytechnic route, despite my then perceived interest in Tourism, is the notion that I have to consistently work in group assignments that would determine my academic performance.

Unfortunately, Project work is a H1 subject that will contribute to your overall rank points for A levels. Fortunately, it will only take a year to complete.

You will be allocated to a group arbitrarily. You will be given 2 topics which your group will deliberate over. There will then be milestones set out for you on a timeline and your PW tutor will oversee the whole process, guiding you along the way. There will be differences, between you, your teammates, your group and your tutor, your group and other groups.

You will have long consultation hours and meetings with your group. You will find other aspects of school (and possibly even aspects outside of school) taking the sidelines. But it is all part of the process, teaching you that working in a group can be a bitch.


2. Re-learning

"I thought atoms follow the electronic configuration of 2 . 8 . 8?"

"I thought you can’t solve square root of a negative number?"

Those are some thoughts that my tutees share with me in class. Part of the reason why A level syllabus is difficult is because things we learnt in O levels are partial truths.

There will be concepts that require you to un-learn your preceding knowledge and overwrite them with new knowledge. While there will be other concepts that require you to deliberate and consider in a more wholesome manner from a different perspective. This is very often the root cause of high frequency of failures and biggest struggles for JC students.


Part of the reason why I enjoy my job is what got me into public speaking initially. Communicating ideas.

Very often, we start out teaching a new topic through factual stories about the concepts at hand or even personal anecdotes. It is our job as tutors to show you the link between the new incoming knowledge and your existing knowledge. We demonstrate to our students how everything they have learnt so far is part of a process and how it is simply an extrapolation of ideas. It is only then, a student can fully comprehend the concept before applying it to a problem.

Students will struggle and it is those who can amalgamate new information with preceding concepts while simultaneously considering ideas on a macro level that will excel.

3. Consistently depleted class fund and piling of notes.

In secondary school, most of the teaching materials are either provided by teachers or referring to textbooks. However, in JC, teaching materials are prepared by the school but sold to you through the school’s bookstore. (Hence the limited assessment material available in commercial bookstores. No market.)

The most common practice adopted is each class would have a class fund set up with the purpose of buying the notes and other materials as a class. (I know, I wish the class fund was for a weekly BBQ too.) The subject rep would then withdraw money from the class fund to purchase the respective materials required from the bookstore which would then be distributed to everybody in the class.


One might think the monetary output to be rather limited but ask any seniors how frequently they have to top up their class fund. Also, ask them for a picture of the piles and mountains of notes and worksheets in their room. So don’t be too surprised by the financial outlay when school proper starts.

Yes, they are my original JC notes from 2009/2010.

You probably would have heard from Students who have chosen routes outside of JC…

"They chose a JC because they didn’t know what they wanted to do."


I agree.

Even till this day, as a 29 year old man, I don’t have my entire life figured out yet. The truth is very few actually know what they want the path ahead of them to be. Those who claim they do would probably change their mind later and attempt to justify it with sub-par arguments and a variety of excuses.

My philosophy in life has always been the same. Whatever I do, I get my head down and do my best.

Outshine, Excel and Achieve.

Be A Class Above The Rest.
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