As the prelims exams draw to an end for some schools, and some even collected the grades back. Many students must be disheartened about their grades too. So there are many questions coming in from different students and I thought I can share some of my responses here.
1. How should I prepare for my A-level?
Firstly, this highly depends on your standards or how you did for prelims (and we should not focus on physical grade here but your percentile!). For students who are consistently 90th percentile and above, I told them to ensure they spend at least 9 hours weekly on H2 Mathematics. 3H without break for each paper 1 and 2. The other 3H to review their mistakes and recap the conceptual problems. They can also let me mark and review their work together. And the end of the day, presentation is really important at A-levels.
Next, for students that have problems passing their prelims. You should not be disheartened if the median mark of your school is 42 (I know of one), Work harder, look at your mistakes and find out what your struggles with the papers are. I have numerous students who consult me with their papers and ask me about their standards individually. They wanted to know where they stand and how they can improve. And I was glad to enlighten them. Times not on our side, so you need to optimise your learning here
2. How many times should I do the past year papers?
Okay, seriously, this method does not work in A-levels. It might have gotten you though O-levels, but it will not be as effective here in A-levels. What I suggest for students is that, you do them once and guess used to the rigour, know their answering style (this is very important!). At the end of the day, there will be core structure (standards) that SEAB will follow in setting the papers. So students still need to be well exposed. And questions in H2 Mathematics aren’t really recycled entirely. We are not doing some science MCQ here.
3. Are you going to spot the A-levels questions?
Well, every year I do a little bit of trend spotting, not questions spotting. It should be noted that examiner’s report had suggested that students do not attempt to spot questions. I guess the harder we try, the harder they set. haha. i do share with students what I feel will be more focused topics; and what I feel will be the questions that will serve as a benchmark to differentiate the top students with respect to the rest.
4. I failed prelims really badly. Do I still have hope? And is it too late?
First of all, how hard was your prelim? You need to have a good analysis of your paper or discussion with your tutor or teacher. It is important for you to be able to benchmark yourself, had the entire cohort took the same paper as you.
Never give up until the end! And yes, it might sound very cliche but it is never too late. I had one student 2 years ago, who got a 4/100 for prelims, and leapfrogged to an A. Of course, this student put in immense effort. I saw her daily for a month and we worked very hard together.
I wish the A-level students all the best! 🙂