A little reminder to students doing Calculus now

A little reminder to students doing Calculus now

JC Mathematics

When \frac{dy}{dx} = 0 , it implies we have a stationary point.

To determine the nature of the stationary point, we can do either the first derivative test or the second derivative.

The first derivative test:

First Derivative Test

Students should write the actual values of \alpha^-, \alpha, \alpha^+ and \frac{dy}{dx} in the table.

We use this under these two situations:
1. \frac{d^2y}{dx^2} is difficult to solve for, that is, \frac{dy}{dx} is tough to be differentiated
2. \frac{d^2y}{dx^2} = 0

The second derivative test:

Second Derivative Test

Other things students should take note is concavity and drawing of the derivative graph.

Vectors Question #2

Vectors Question #2

JC Mathematics

If c = |a| b + |b| a, where a , b and c are all non-zero vectors, show that c bisects the angle between a and b.

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.

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?

2016 A Level H2 Physics (9646) Paper 1 Suggested Solutions

JC Physics

All solutions here are SUGGESTED. Casey will hold no liability for any errors. Comments are entirely personal opinions.

  1. B
  2. C
  3. B
  4. D
  5. D
  6. C
  7. D
  8. D
  9. B
  10. C
  11. A
  12. D
  13. D
  14. C
  15. C
  16. A
  17. D
  18. A
  19. B
  20. D
  21. Question 21 is a flawed question. When unpolarised light goes through a polarizer, the I is halved while the A is reduced by a factor of root 2. But based on the information Cambridge provides, the answer is C.
  22. D
  23. D
  24. C
  25. C
  26. B
  27. C
  28. A
  29. B
  30. B
  31. A
  32. C
  33. D
  34. B
  35. B
  36. B
  37. D
  38. C
  39. C
  40. C

Note to all: Casey will not respond to most of the comments as he is busy. You may contact him by SMS at  +65 9474 5005 if you have a burning question.

Feel free to explain the answers, if you are confident. Many thanks.

Special Post for A levels Students GP

Special Post for A levels Students GP

JC General Paper, Studying Tips

Dear students,

This is a special post going out to all of you. Considering that your A levels are drawing near and you are already in the midst of your prelims, what are some topics that you are still struggling with? What are some essays that you would like to see a post on?

The team will do their best to meet your requests! Just comment on the section below the post 🙂

 

General Paper Crash Course Sept- Skills focused

JC General Paper

Dear readers,

In view of your upcoming examinations and to help you better prepare for them in this final stretch, we are pleased to announce that we are having a crash course for General paper this September holidays. We will be focusing on imparting our skills to you to help you ace your examinations. Our content lectures have been covered during the June holidays already (but pls request for them if you have missed them or feel that you really need them, we may consider re-running depending on demand).

Our crash course will focus on:

  1. Analyzing the different essay question types and the strategies on how to tackle them.
  2. Techniques to tackle and handle Application Questions effectively for both single and double passages
  3. Techniques for short answer questions especially literary-types of questions (like metaphors, paradox etc).
  4. Scaffolding of content to handle the requirements of each type of essay questions.

Each crash course will be 8 hrs long from 8th-9th Sept.  The timings for J1 would be 8-12pm on both days; for J2 it would be 1-5pm.  Please note that this is your last chance to get intensive revision before your A levels. Miss at your own cost.

For registration and further enquiries, please contact us at 90050181 or 92223423.

Getting what one wants in life is what matters. Discuss.

JC General Paper

Getting what one wants in life is what matters. Discuss.

This is a very deep philosophical question that requires students to answer in a mature way on what do they think life is about. What are the things that matter to us? Do they hold any meaning at all at the end? Is it even possible for us to get what we want, if at all?

First, let’s define what are the things that matter to us in life. To most of us, some of the tangible and intangible things that we have been pursuing sure hold some weight: Money, status, power, love, relationships with friends and family, good health, career goal, collecting of a myriad of life experiences etc. Though these things do matter in some way or another, do the attainment of these make us less contented and fulfilled over time? Will the initial satisfaction of attaining these goals be waned off?

What exactly is important in life? Is it the attainment of what matters or the pursuit of these goals that give us a sense of fulfillment, life purpose and satisfaction? For me, I think what I’m after is more of the pursuit and the challenge of attaining the goals, than the goals themselves. The thrill of the chase is definitely what keeps many ambitious and driven individuals going, with a focus and a sight of the goal in mind. The prospect of getting the goal one fine day is what keeps individuals going and giving them a sense of hope. We do not necessarily need to get our goals, it is alright to fall short of them. After all, with a bit of failure that we get to appreciate some of our success. That is the paradox of life itself.

Of course, others will argue and think that there is no point in the continuous chase if the goal is always unattainable. What we want ultimately is the goal in itself. But then, what’s the point of possessing the goal/item since we have to lose them anyways? Nothing in life is permanent and we cannot continuously hold on to them anyway right? 🙂

P.s This post is not meant to be written in the full essay structure outline. Is just meant to get you thinking more about life, and what exactly is meaning to each and every single one of us. Is the attainment and our obsession with goals so important at the end of the day?