Over the years in my ‘A’ level physics and maths teaching career, I had come across many parents with very valid concerns about selecting the “right” tutor for their children. I had compiled the top 5 key concerns (part I) that I believe many parents would seek clarification. Remember to check out Part II and Part III
How do you go about conducting the tuition?
Unlike many other tutors who do not prepare any notes nor worksheets nor lecture, Dr Chang’s tuition program is highly structured and geared towards giving students a solid grounding on the concepts and developing the skills to solve application or complex problems. Most chapters will be covered in 2 lessons, leaving sufficient time for overall revision and practice from July onwards.
Normally, the first lesson on each chapter will be a 30 to 45–minute lecture, followed by a set of basic questions to help reinforce the concepts taught. Students who have already gone through the chapter in school and have no difficulty in managing the basic set will be given some slightly more challenging ones. In the second lesson of the same chapter, a quick review of about 10 minutes is conducted, highlighting the key concepts and formulae. This will be followed by a second set of questions which are generally set at a standard slightly above the “A” levels. This is to prepare students just in case the “A” level questions turn out to be more challenging than usual in some particular years. Towards the end of the session, detailed solutions will be given. The set of questions and solutions will be reviewed and highlighting the particular approach used in certain questions.
When overall revision starts in July for JC2 students, different sets of questions integrating various concepts will be practiced. As the entire syllabus has been covered by then, concepts from different chapters can now appear in one single question. Such integrated approach is important from a practical standpoint because many concepts are actually interlinked. Students will now learn how to deal with integrated problems and identify appropriate techniques to solve them.
During practice, students generally will refer to the notes and formula list. However, towards the final “A” level examinations, students are encouraged to start to rely lesser and lesser on the notes and formulae list. This will help them to start memorizing and condition themselves for the final examinations. It will be very stressful for the students to cramp all memory work in the last minute!
My child understands the concepts, but when it comes to application, he/she faces problems and cannot do it, why?
This is one of the most common comments from parents. In actual fact, the student apparently understood the concepts but failed to appreciate the subtle or salient points in the concepts. As such, he may just apply the concepts without due consideration on the constraints or restrictions on certain required parameters. It is also possible that the student misunderstood the question and applied the wrong concepts.
For example, students learn in the chapter “Work, Energy, Power” about Gravitational Potential Energy (GPE) = mgh, where m is the mass, g is the acceleration of free fall and h is the height of the object relative to the ground. When they come to the chapter on “Gravitational Field”, they CANNOT use this formula to calculate the GPE. Why? Because g is no more a constant! Using the formula GPE = mgh has a restriction, which is, g is supposed to be a constant. But in the chapter “Gravitational Field”, one is normally dealing with large distances away from the Earth so g is no more a constant but varies with distance.
This example tells us that sometimes there are subtle points in a concept but usually not explicitly spelt out and students may have easily misunderstood!
My child has been doing badly since the beginning, how can you help him/her?
As long as the student is prepared to put in the effort and is motivated to work hard, there is a good chance that he will score a good grade with the help of the tuition program. However, if a student has been doing badly on ALL subjects, then it may be an uphill battle to get good grades for ALL subjects in a short period of time. Under such situation, it may be best to devise a strategy to maximize the chances of getting into the next level, be it university, JC or poly.
As a general recommendation, Sec 4 students should join the tuition program no later than June and JC students should join at the beginning of JC2.
Will the tuition program help my child? Can guarantee he/she gets an A?
The positive effects of the tuition program can be observed in about 1 to 2 months’ time. Students generally feel more motivated and more confident in approaching problems. Getting an “A” is not guaranteed, but consistent effort will make an “A” grade almost certain! Many students commented that even though they attended the tuition program and learned chapters A, B, C, but they still did well in school when they were tested on chapters D, E, F. Reason is very simple, students appreciate the unique style of learning and teaching, and the methodology in approaching problems. These are versatile skills that will help them throughout their whole life!
Sometimes, Dr Chang asks students a question on why a scientist like him, got employed by the management consulting arm of a Big Four audit firm. Solid analytical skill is the key! Of course, there are other aspects such as the human relationship that are also important element in business management!
When you teach in a group, how do you cater to the needs of each student?
As the group is small, typically 4 to 6 students, rarely exceeding 8, there is ample opportunity to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each student. This will also help to customize individual strategies to plan for their “A” level exams. During the session, as the students are practicing their questions, Dr Chang will be moving around each one, to give hints, to point out errors, to clarify concepts, to highlight similarities or differences, etc. His physical presence, seeing students doing their work, understanding the problems they face in real time, and guiding them through to full mastery, are some of the most critical success factors in the tuition program.
Furthermore, Dr Chang is on call through Whatsapp 24/7! When students encounter problems outside the tuition, they can take a snapshot on the question and whatsapp Dr Chang, and he will try to provide a detailed solution as soon as he can.