What to do if you get bad SA1 results?

Nope. The answer is not to immediately look for a private tutor. It actually depends on the level and subject for which you get the poor results, and how badly you had performed.

(1) If you are in Lower Primary (P1 to P3), chances are, it is because your foundation in English and Math is weak. Buy good assessment books and start practising right away, with coaching from family members.

(2) If you are in P4 or P5, it is quite a serious matter as it means you are not coping well with the introduction of more complex questions. You may need to get private tuition before it is too late.

(3) If you are in P6, chances are, it is because your school wants to ‘wake you up’ before the PSLE. So don’t panic (just continue doing your assessment books or exam papers), unless you have been doing badly since P4 (in which case you’d need individual tuition as it is quite late already).

(4) If you are in Lower Sec, it depends on the subject for which you did badly. If you need to improve your grades in the languages, do more reading and practise exam papers. If your bad grades are in History or Geography, read the textbook more often and make your own notes. If you had performed badly in Science, start reading Upper Sec Physics, Chemistry or Biology books as practically all the lower sec science books do not contain enough information. If you had done poorly in Math, focus on Algebra and Arithmetic (BODMAS) for the next few weeks.

(5) If you are in Sec 3, it means that you have not adjusted to the O-Level standard of answering questions and/or you underestimated the difficulty level of the Pure Sciences and Pure Math (A. Math). You have to spend the June holidays reading, understanding and practising answering questions and solving problems, else you’d perform worse in the SA2 exams as things don’t get easier.

(6) If you are in Sec 4, you had probably encountered ‘killer papers’ meant to ‘wake you up’ before the O-levels. Thus don’t be demoralised. Sec 4 students seldom do well in their SA1 exams because they don’t have enough time to revise BOTH their Sec 3 and Sec 4 work, yet teachers gleefully set very difficult questions in the name of “stretching” their students. However, you can still learn about some of your weak points from the exam papers and practise doing questions for those topics or writing essays for languages and the humanities subjects. Focus on doing well for your Prelim exams and have your own master revision timetable based on your own needs. Ignore your school’s revision schedule if it is not aligned to your needs. Write your own notes and read and understand solutions to difficult problems.

(7) If you are in JC1, you probably have not adjusted to the pace of JC life. In a way you are in serious trouble because the academic pace in JC is very fast and the learning curve is steep. You have to spend the June hols revising all your weak topics and must be on your toes in the second semester as the Promotional exams are purposely set at a difficult level to ensure that you will be ready for JC2. Read recommended textbooks, and not just your own notes.

(8)  If you are in JC2, focus on doing well for the A-levels as there is still time to revise EVERYTHING. Ignore your Prelims as it will come before you are ready and it is not important anyway, unless you need your prelim results to apply to overseas universities. Write your own notes, and read up on good solutions to tough questions. Concentrate on topical revision first of weak topics and then move on to do past year papers. For some really tough topics such as Complex Numbers in H2 Math you may need to consult a tutor if you still can’t grasp it after reading many times.

Good luck!




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