Last week, we wrote a note for students who are on the verge of failing the PSLE. Today, we focus on helping students who are eyeing the A*.
Note that PSLE is based on a bell curve, i.e. your grades are based on how your peers perform. It doesn’t mean that you automatically get an A if you score more than 70 marks, If everyone gets 90 marks, you need to be the top few percent to get an A*.
In a nutshell, you need to differentiate yourself from the others.
– Try more school papers. Regardless what subject it is, the more practice, the more you are exposed to the different tough questions.
– This applies to both strong and weak students- even when you are working on the assignments, behave like you are at the exam hall. Try all questions, don’t leave any questions unanswered. Do not make any careless mistakes.
If you get into this good habit, it would be an ease during the exams to be careful. Remember, the absence of careless mistakes could move you up a grade and distinguish you from your stiffest competitor.
– Composition: You should be already predicting questions for the exams and thinking of what you can write.
Your story should be outstanding, think out of the box, be different from the rest. For example if you think everyone else is going to write about a fire, you should avoid that and think of something more interesting.
You should start memorizing good phrases for all the different scenarios possible and think about the best way to start a composition to entice the reader to continue reading the story.
(Warning to the weaker students who are struggling to pass: you should be conservative and stick to what’s most logical and make sure you are grammatically correct. I won’t want you to go out of point in a bid to be creative.)
– For Paper 2, which is the component that you are weakest at? If it’s comprehension, keep doing them and get your teacher/tutor to mark them. Find out what’s your flaws and try to avoid them. For instance, are you answering the question? Why are you getting the inference questions wrong?
If synthesis is your worst nightmare, get assessment books and keep working on them. There are only a handful of ways the question can be set. The ways to use “Unless”, “No sooner”, “Prefers”- Get them at your fingertips.
For vocabulary and comprehension cloze, you can often find the answers by trying to guess from the context of the passage. Try more of these to master the “art of guessing” in the event you don’t know the answer.
– Concentrate on the last five questions of paper 2 for all of the top school’s past papers. These questions are usually the toughest and it’s what you need to be able to do to differentiate yourself from the best.
– Occasionally remember to also do the rest of the easier questions. You need to be able to comfortably get 100% of the easier questions correct.
– Don’t bother reading your textbooks anymore. Just work on exercises.
– Memorise all the key concepts. Make notes to help you.
– To really differentiate yourself from the best, you’ll need not only to understand the details but also communicate this understanding.
– To understand the details, you’ll need to read further than the textbooks. There may be little time left for this – but if you have time and have the interest, a way to read further would be to Google the topic and read about it on wikipedia.
– To communicate well, make sure you’re able to regurgitate the key phrases for each concept. Common questions include:
– why did she set up experiment B (” to act as a control …”)
– what does this experiement show? (“… shows that light travels in straight lines …”)
– what would you expect to happen (“… the temperature would increase …”)
– what is the relationship between X and Y (“when X increases, Y decreases”)