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.
Not convinced? Go look at a famous generalist Peter Zeihan who comments about a whole variety of issues.
Then look at the specialists of each field that use facts to falsify the sweeping statements made by Peter Zeihan.
8. Shocking mistakes
I am saving the best for the last in the checklist.
Do your A level biology tutor have access to the examiner report? To tell you to the truth, few do. Because there is restrictions to the circulation.
Consequently, many will refer to the ten year series publications sticking to the answers that comes with it.
Do you know they are riddled with errors?
This is because these publications only have access to the questions and not the examiner reports. As such, only guess what may be the correct answers. But they do not put disclaimers anywhere to tell you that fact.
As you can see, there is a discrepancy between the 2. That year, there are 5 mistakes in the MCQs alone! And that is not inclusive of the rest of paper 2 and 3.
And to add insult to injury, none of these type of publications include practical exam paper 4. Which also means that many tutors cannot provide much if any guidance for this paper since they are not part of the ten year series.
That is a significant ‘blind’ spot for students gunning for the A!
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!
Finally, let me know if this has been useful.
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