Do’s and Don’ts For Application Question (AQ)

Do’s and Don’ts For Application Question (AQ)

JC General Paper

Are you interested to know what are the requirements of a good Application Question (AQ)?

Well according to the examiner’s report, the best AQ responses are/demonstrate:

“eloquent”, “mature”, “lively”, “well-informed personal voice”, “energetic”, “well-organized”, “fresh insights”, “evaluative”, ” written with clarity, confidence and conviction”

On the other hand, mediocre marks are awarded to individuals who:

“mere description”, “mechanical”, “mere reproduction of ideas from the texts with little or no discussion or expansion of them”, “lack of focus on own lives or wider social context”, “little more than a summary of author’s arguments”, “abrupt ending” and “haphazard or disjointed paragraphing”.

*note that reference to your ‘own lives’ does not mean that you blather on with lengthy and trivial details about your personal life. Taking into account that these are the requirements and pitfalls of AQ, I’m sure you would be able to make some adjustments in order to score on the marking band.

Responsibility of Protecting the Environment

Responsibility of Protecting the Environment

JC General Paper

Environment is a common and easy essay question that could potentially come out for the exams… Students should always analyze their essays from a stakeholder’s perspective to give a more holistic evaluation.

Developed countries

Governments in developed countries have the necessary skills, influence and resources to aid the protection of the environment. They would have the financial means to invest in necessary science and technology which could improve the environment. At the same time, they would also possess political clout to enact policies to force companies to comply with their environmental standards. Education and campaigning to change the mindset of the people towards the environment would be within their means as people are generally more educated and aware.

Businesses could practise corporate social responsibility, and stand to gain since green consumers are more likely to purchase their products. Consumers are more concerned with the origins of their products they buy today. As such, MNCs could influence these green consumers to raise awareness about environmental issues using their products.

Individuals could make a difference by starting with themselves first. A small step could go a long way such as supporting Earth Hour or even car pooling.

NGOs no doubt would have more political clout than individuals, and do not have the same restrictions that are placed upon government agencies. They do not have to balance certain commitments such as the living standards in the country. This would result in them having greater flexibility when it comes to their operations and should be able to achieve more. \

Developing countries

Governments have the sole responsibility for the enactment and enforcement of policies to protect the environment. Unfortunately, their main priority is to ensure economic growth rather than the protection of the environment. Developing countries are more likely to have unstable government and corruption is usually rampant making it difficult to care for the environment. E.g Shell engaged in dodgy/shady dealings with the government officials in Nigeria in order to gain a foothold in the country.

Businesses are usually in the primary and secondary sector which focus on the harvesting of raw materials and manufacturing. These are highly damaging to the environment as the mining process results in large amounts of pollutants and waste. Many of their factories are owned by MNCs, and they would have little say in the production methods used.

Individuals concern would be to earn sufficient money to stay alive, they would not mind harnessing the earth for the raw materials or resorting to more efficient methods of clearing the land if they could help to save some money for them.

Considering the situation in both developed and developing countries, who do you think should be responsible for the environment?

Singapore Budget 2017- What it means for Singaporeans?

Singapore Budget 2017- What it means for Singaporeans?

JC General Paper

Future Economy: What is in store for all of us?

Recently, news have been focusing on changes in technology that bring about new prospects for certain segments of the population but disenfranchises others. Some would call it the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. This is a situation in which disruptive technologies streamline processes making work more efficient and productive, leading to increasing number of Singaporeans being structurally unemployed. One instance could be seen in the transportation industry with the entry of Grab and Uber, reducing the need for traditional taxi drivers who would not embrace technology. Of course, this situation would be made worst when Uber and Grab introduce driverless cars, eliminating drivers as a viable occupation for many people.  As such, the Singapore state appeals for Singapore citizens to embrace technological change. This point on embracing technological change is also highlighted on the Singapore Budget website.

Singapore plans to cope with the Fourth Industrial Revolution by becoming a Smart Nation. The Smart Nation initiative aims to rally the collective efforts of people, businesses and government to work together to support better living, create more opportunities, and support stronger communities by harnessing info-comm technologies, networks and big data… As such, this year’s budget emphasizes a lot on helping SMEs expand overseas especially into regional markets through the help of government funding, and of course to embrace technology.

What exactly is the main message of the budget? I think it serves one aim, to inform Singaporeans that their jobs are no longer secure in this uncertain and volatile economy, and that they would need to take action right now if they would like to income-proof their earnings. This would be in terms of being more open to technological changes in the workplace. Of course, the budget sends a strong message that the Singapore government is aware of these structurally changes and challenges in the economy, and that they would support Singaporeans as much as possible.

If you are interested in more budget discussion, you could keep up with the discussions about Budget 2017 on https://www.reach.gov.sg/budget2017;

 http://www.singaporebudget.gov.sg/budget_2017/home.aspx;

https://www.facebook.com/REACHSingapore/

PS: This article is not meant to be an analysis of the budget 2017, as I’m not tutoring economics. It is meant as a context for students to understand the Singapore’s economy and to think of the various social issues, and how policies affect various stakeholders in society.

Post-Results 2016

Post-Results 2016

Chemistry, JC Chemistry, JC General Paper, JC Mathematics, JC Physics, Mathematics, Studying Tips, University Mathematics

Let’s face it. Some of us will not get the dream results we want. Don’t give up and let fear conquer you.

For students unsure of the available courses, they can check out the following post. It contains the grade profile for local universities.

Our Team will be here if you need help/ advice. Feel free to text us.

P.S. Today, I saw an image shared by Mr Wee, which said that “You’re the architect of your own life”. So let’s not let the grades define us.

In times of economic hardship, should a country still be expected to provide financial or material aid to others?

In times of economic hardship, should a country still be expected to provide financial or material aid to others?

JC General Paper

Students are expected to address the criteria of this question throughout the essay; it being in times of economic hardship. For a quality essay, the terms “should” and “expected” should be addressed as well. For instance, a country should still give aid, but perhaps not be expected at a time when its survival is in question, and it does not have a healthy budget balance.

Financial aid- capital/loans/money

Material aid- manpower/distribution of basic goods and necessities

  • Provision of aid during economic hard times could be a political statement and commitment to the recipient country, helping to foster greater political relations in the long term. Giving of aid should be expected especially if the recipient country needs it more than the donor country. Such circumstances could be when the recipient country is facing civil war and there is urgent need of aid to cease the fighting etc. Another possible instance could be during times of natural disasters/emergencies. Also, for most of the donor country, aid takes up a small portion of their budget, hence it should not affect the current economy severely even if the country continues to give out aid during hard times. Aid accounts for 0.5% of the US budget yearly.
  • Governments should be responsible and accountable to their citizens first especially during hard times, hence aid should be allocated domestically rather than elsewhere. The dollar votes of the citizens and their voices are important, and it is only right that countries should be concerned with their own self-preservation before others. After all, an economically prosperous country will then be able to contribute more to the international community, rather than a slow and stagnate economy that is facing difficult times.
  • Perhaps a country should look at other means of support, rather than the provision of aid during bad times. It is presumptuous to assume that aid helps to alleviate the problems faced by the recipient countries. Often, aid may actually harm local industries and foster this sense of self-entitlement and dependency on the donor nations.
  • Legal obligations under international law could possibly bind countries to continue giving aid to another country. A short term economic difficulty does not suffice to repudiate this commitment, especially when contracts have been signed beforehand, and the donor country may risk ruining their legitimacy and international standing.

In dire situations, countries should still continue to give aid to one another. However, expectations to scale down in terms of aid is definitely reasonable and justifiable.

Singapore Inclusive Policies- A reflection

Singapore Inclusive Policies- A reflection

JC General Paper

“An Inclusive Society, A Stronger Singapore” Budget Plan 2012-2016: fulfilled promises, financial burden and new directions

In 2012, the Singapore government introduced a 5-year budget plan aiming to make Singapore a fair, stronger and inclusive society. The main features of this ambitious project were:

  1. Restructuring to sustain growth
  • Less dependency on foreign labour
  • More grants and support for SMEs
  1. Building a fair and inclusive society
  • Improving the social mobility of lower income families through improved financial and educational subsidy and/or grant schemes
  • Helping seniors live long and well by offering housing purchase schemes, credit incentives for hiring aged workers, increased retirement savings and more affordable healthcare
  • Supporting those with disabilities and special needs through subsidies for employing caretakers, providing educational and skills support facilities and building elder-friendly infrastructure
  • Sharing the fruits of Singapore’s economic growth by giving out GST vouchers in cash, Medisave and U-save

(taken from http://www.singaporebudget.gov.sg/budget_2012/download/FY2012_Budget_in_Brief.pdf)

It is not difficult to understand why the government initiated such a plan. In the words of PM Lee “We all have something to contribute,” (channelnewsasia.com, 31 Oct 2015) hence maximising the potential of our human resource: young, old, poor, rich, abled and disabled, and keeping them healthy and happy is a strategic move to support Singapore’s future economic growth.

It is now 2017 and the government has indeed delivered most of what was promised in the budget plan. To highlight a few of these achievements, our neighbourhoods and transport systems are now more elder-friendly, we receive our GST cash vouchers as promised, we have two spanking-new hospitals in the West and are currently in the midst of integrating our healthcare groups to streamline operations and make healthcare more affordable, we built a $25million Enabling Village to help those with disabilities and special needs and we have decreased the local to foreign worker dependency ratio. However no success story is without sacrifice and just who or what were the sacrificial lambs in this budget plan? Moreover, which areas should the government focus on in the next one?

Tax payers are once again not spared from funding Singapore’s progressive aspirations and why should they? The money is redistributed and re-invested to make Singapore a fairer and stronger society. However tax rates have gone up again for YA2017 for the rich and upper middle classes, from a range of 17-20% to a range of 18-22% and with the addition of two new income tiers (www.iras.gov.sg). The question is, is this really fair? I heard that little “Yes!” go up in your head. Truth be told, it depends on how the rich make their money. For those who own successful local businesses, the new tax hikes are going to hurt and might even discourage further business growth or expansion. For those who make their riches through stocks and shares, guess what? These are not declared when filing income tax! Perhaps we should work towards minimising the number of those who profit from loopholes in the system if we truly wish to build a fairer – also towards the rich— and more inclusive society.

Finally, what new directions might we find in the AY2017 budget? The Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) of Singapore recently released a report highlighting key growth sectors and proposed seven strategies to sustain Singapore’s economy in the coming years.

Key growth sectors: finance, hub services, logistics, urban solutions, healthcare, the digital economy and advanced manufacturing

Seven strategies:

  • Deepen and diversify international connections
  • Acquire and utilise deep skills
  • Strengthen enterprise capabilities to innovate and scale up
  • Build strong digital capabilities
  • Develop a vibrant and connected city of opportunity
  • Develop and implement Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs)
  • Partner each other to enable innovation and growth

(taken from https://www.gov.sg/microsites/future-economy/the-cfe-report)

One can therefore expect more money in the AY2017 budget to be channelled into re-skilling the workforce, encouraging innovation and improving digital infrastructure and technology i.e. building a Smart Nation. Support for the elderly, disabled and those with special needs might take on a minor role in the budget this year because it was the focus of AY2012-16’s budget plan.

Nonetheless, there is so only so much money can do in helping a country to survive. As pointed out by PM Lee, Singaporeans need to practice active citizenship. This means making the effort to keep oneself fit and healthy, using the incentives and support systems in place to reskill or retrain oneself to meet with changing labour demands, revising educational content to ensure our students are prepared for the future by the time they graduate and managing ones expectations and demands in times of economic difficulty. Policies, systems and budget plans will change but the brunt of it can be softened by adopting the right attitude and mentality. Thus when the AY2017 budget comes out, hold your tongue for a moment, understand the changes and safety nets in place and learn to embrace them. If not, a corner of Hong Lim Park beckons you.

“In your society, do the arts merit the vast sums of money spent on it?”

“In your society, do the arts merit the vast sums of money spent on it?”

JC General Paper

Between the 1960s and 1990s, there has been a strong perception that the arts were an abstract waste of time. More focus was invested on STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – to boost the value of each worker and compensate for our geographical disadvantage. Recently, the Singapore government revealed that $210 million fund will be allocated to the arts under its Community Engagement Masterplan. With the arts, people will be able to connect with one another on a deeper level, promoting understanding. There will be preservation of culture and heritage that fosters a sense of identity. The arts are able to reap various tangible and intangible benefits proving that is does merit the vast sums of money spent on it.

Being a country, lacking natural resources, people may argue that Singapore should pay more attention and energy to pragmatic aspects such as education, trade and science. These fields are guaranteed to yield tangible economic benefits. The Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Economic Survey of Singapore has shown that the main indicators of the Singapore economy include finance and insurance, manufacturing, construction, and information and communications. The arts are regarded as mere entertainment and not worth the money spent on it.

However, according to statistics from the National Arts Council, the arts in Singapore have developed tremendously over the last 10 years. Artistic creativity is closely tied to business entrepreneurship and technological innovation. The trail-blazers in this new economy are expected to be creative and imaginative. The creative sector is increasingly embraced in Singapore. In order for a business to be successful, entrepreneurs have to come up with differentiated ideas to ensure that their products will be unique in the competitive market. This debunks the argument that the arts will not reap economic benefits. Through innovation, companies can earn a higher revenue, with their larger and widespread clientele. The Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts released statistics that the total nominal-value added of the arts and cultural sector has increased steadily from $822 million in 2003 to $1.28 billion in 2010. The arts have been playing a larger role in the building the Singapore economy, justifying the money spent to promote the arts among the younger generation.

The arts play a vital role in encouraging Singaporeans to have a sense of belonging and pride towards their homeland. Sir Julian Huxley once said that art is “the effective organization of experience into integrated forms which are emotionally significant and aesthetically satisfying”. Art can be used to document human progress. The number of museums in Singapore has increased from 28 in 2004 to 58 in 2015, including the newly inaugurated National Art Gallery. The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) stated that more Singaporeans are embracing the arts as visitor ship to national museums and heritage institutions reached 3.2 million in 2013. Museum and heritage centers hold great value in our society. They are visual evidence of the developments Singapore has undergone through the years. The fact that more people are willing to visit these heritage centers correlates to the improvement of national identity. People will be better equipped with knowledge about the hardships their pioneers had to go through. They will be given the opportunity to learn from the past mistakes and experiences. The amount of money spent to preserve the history of Singapore is justifiable, as the future generations will be allowed to learn about their homeland’s humble beginnings.

Using the arts, Singapore is able to build and maintain its reputation in the world affairs. The diversity and scale of arts-related events and exhibitions in Singapore demonstrate the vibrancy of the arts scene and, in particular, how Singapore is a place for cultural exchange and collaboration for the global arts community. The National Arts Council initiated Art Week in 2013, to ride on the momentum of the growing visual arts scene. They include the growth of Art Stage and the launch of the art gallery cluster and NTU Centre for Contemporary Art. Singapore is drawing attention from all around the world, and many are willing to take part in this international fair. Countries will be able to gather in Singapore and establish long-term relationships between their art sectors and communities, on a larger scale. Singapore presents itself as an arts hub platform. Other countries will begin to notice the potential of the tiny red dot, known as Singapore. They will be willing to be our allies and possibly, involve in our trade and economy. Being as arts hub introduces many opportunities for Singapore to improve regional and international ties, as well as, boost its economy. This benefit proves that the arts warrant the large amount of money spent to support international fairs.

The arts are a form of universal language and expression. Singapore has a rapidly ageing population and is well known to be the home for multiple races and religions. The arts can be used to bring people of different backgrounds and walks of life together, and motivate them to share their experiences and cultures with each other. In July 2015, there was a special concert put together by creative director of New Creation Church KC Gan, titled “Harmony In Diversity”. This concert brings together Singapore’s 10 major religions and 4 main races. The medium of a concert, with colorful songs and dances, was used to promote racial harmony, as it is likely to be enjoyable and have a wider reach to the public. Moreover, since the arts do not require physical fitness, the elderly can also be involved to encourage inter generational bonding. Similar to the workshop “Sounds Like Fun!” organized by Year 2 students of the Arts Management Program in Laselle College of the Arts in 2013, there can be activities prepared to bond senior citizens and the younger generation. In order for the mentality of social cohesion to be ingrained in all Singaporeans, the arts can be used as a platform. Social cohesion is one of the main principles for Singapore to be a pleasant country to live in. Hence, it is justifiable to spend money on the arts to promote this social cohesion.

The arts are a core contributor to building Singapore’s national identity, boosting its reputation as an arts hub and fostering social cohesion between Singaporeans. Although some may argue that money should be invested in more pragmatic issues, the future of Singapore is more likely to be successful if they are creative and innovative, similar to other countries in the world. Hence, the vast amount of money spent on the arts is driving towards this end goal, and is justified.

P.S: This essay is taken from one of my current student who got 32/50 for a school exam. What do you think of this essay? Leave your comments below and we can take up a discussion from there.

How to maintain your self discipline to study?

How to maintain your self discipline to study?

JC General Paper, Studying Tips

Dear all, this is a general post on how to keep your study momentum up during this december holidays. As you already know, this december holidays is not only a time for you to rejuvenate yourself from the hectic JC life, it is also an important revision time for you! It is a time when you consolidate all that you have learnt in this year, so that you would have a good foundation to start JC2. (For those who didn’t do well in the promos, you should be doing catch up. For those who did well, you could possibly revise your learning and embark on a head-start program.)

So what are the 3 tips for you to have self-discipline?

One of the reason why students do not have self-discipline is because they do not believe in themselves and their abilities to attain academic success. They attach negative talk to themselves such as they are stupid, lazy and not cut out for straight As. Hence, their inner beliefs shape their actions and their revision process. One way to change it would be to change your identity. Start thinking to yourself that you deserve Straight As everyday and you will soon internalize it and manifest these behaviours. 

Secondly, you should attach pain to the notion of you not achieving your goals. Each time when you think about how you would not achieve your goals, it will automatically propel you to take action! It could possibly be a lack of self esteem, respect from your parents and society. Regret for not achieving your aims etc.

Finally, you could think about how to reward yourself whenever you achieve your goals and to get a trusted person to be accountable for you. One way to do this is to tell your friends or parents what you desire to achieve for the A levels, and to get them to monitor your revision schedule. I know this sounds unappealing to you, but this could perhaps be the best way to make sure you stay discipline to your goals!!

Have a good break everyone! Of course have a fruitful revision time too!

Commentary for 2016 A level paper

Commentary for 2016 A level paper

JC General Paper

1. ‘Any adaptation of a novel for a film, television or the theatre is never as effective as the original.’ Discuss. (Media)

2. Assess the view that traditional buildings have no future in your society. (Arts and SG Society)

3. ‘Longer life expectancy creates more problems than benefits.’ Discuss. (S&T)

4. Considering the money involved, should developing countries be allowed to host major sporting events? (Sports)

5. ‘Human need, rather than profit, should always be the main concern of scientific research.’ Discuss.  (S&T)

6. ‘Countries experiencing conflict should be left to sort out their own problems.’ How far do you agree? (International politics) 

7. How far has modern technology made it unnecessary for individuals to possess mathematical skills? (S&T + Maths)

8. ‘People who do the most worthwhile jobs rarely receive the best financial rewards.’ To what extent is this true of your society? (General)

9. Evaluate the claim that equality of opportunity for females is a desirable, but unrealistic, goal. (Gender)

10. Assess the view that most natural disasters are the result of human activity. (Environment)

11. Is competition always desirable? (General)

12. ‘Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone’s opinion is of equal value.’ What is your view? (General)

Based on the above questions, it appears that this year’s paper is relatively easy to prepare for and address. Common topics that come out yearly include science and technology and arts and culture. This year’s paper has a high percentage of science and technology question (Q3, Q5 and Q7), 2 being comparison in nature and 1 being a general question. Topics of focus are narrow and specific. Hence, for students preparing for questions on science and technology, they should be well versed in the different sectors and to be prepared for a specific question type. General and opinionated questions form the other bulk of this year’s paper (Q8, Q11 and Q12). It would be harder to predict and prepare for these questions, but they tend to appeal to students who either have a flair for smoking or did not prepare for the other content-based topics.

Moving forward, students should know what type of questions they are strong in, whether they should do a specific question type or a more open-ended/general question. Second, students should also know the question requirements in order to tackle the essay effectively. Absolute terms, matrix questions and even criteria questions have been evident for this year’s paper.

Are you prepared enough at this stage if you are taking A levels in 2017?