Skip to content

Lousy prelims, preparing for A levels [Tip]

    A lot of JC students don’t do well in their prelims. They subsequently worry whether they can make it through A levels.

    If you have this worry, let me dissect the problem for you. Hopefully this will direct your preparations heading into A levels.

    Poor prelims performance but have sound knowledge

    In the instance when the student has good grasp of knowledge as well as getting good grades from TYS then there is nothing to worry about.

    This shows that you have sound knowledge. That is the foundation in which answers to questions will come from.

    The problem here is the school teachers. Unfortunately, some of them like to make their prelim exams exceedingly hard.

    To make matters worse, they are sometimes also unreasonable when it comes to awarding marks.

    For example, I have seen some teachers practice awarding ½ marks.

    In a 3 mark structured question, instead of writing 3 valid points to score the marks, students end up having to write 6?!

    Unfortunately, it often causes the students to write too much. Consequently, they do not have enough time to finish answering the exam questions.

    Not only that, when the teachers implement such practices, they want to jolt students into working hard for the finals.

    This only serves to make students even more stressed heading into the exams.

    More damningly, it also prevents students from using the prelim results to apply to top universities in the world because their deadlines close before the release of A level results.

    Below is the timeline for applications process if one seeks admissions into Oxford university.

    prelims oxford timeline

    If a Singaporean students takes exams in 2019, the exam results will only come in late Feb 2020.

    So the only way to gain admissions is via prelim results. And the ignorant school teachers don’t care anyway.

    Even if the data is prevalent on the fact that positive reinforcement aids in learning.

    Poor prelims performance poor knowledge

    On the other extreme, there are some students who are just not ready.

    This is due to poor grasp of knowledge.

    For these students, my suggestion will be to do TYS questions ignoring the grades.

    This helps the students to identify which topics and concepts are weak instead.

    And to go back and reinforce concepts within these topics.

    Re-attempt again to see if there is improvement.

    This can help to increase will-power and also shorten the time to preparations.

    You don’t want to end up wasting time going through things you already know.

    Especially so when each student has so much academic load to bear.

    For those JC students who are studying H2 Biology, I have a set of notes written in the simplest manner and clearly organized which will be useful in times like these.

    For other subjects, do hunt for similar resources.

    Poor prelims performance ok knowledge

    Most students belong to this group.

    Like my advice for the group above, cover the TYS questions to identify knowledge gaps.

    More importantly focus on why your answer is wrong.

    Majority of the time, there is no problems with the answers but instead, the student is not answering the question.

    It may be surprising to note that there are very high rates of incorrect interpretation of H2 biology questions.

    Examiners frequently set unique twists to routine questions and students who routinely cut, copy and paste textbook phrases are unlikely going to answer the questions correctly.

    Let me give you an example from an actual TYS question: Explain the significance to the alpha and beta cells of their blood supply.

    I guarantee you almost 70-80% of students will focus their answers on the alpha beta cells. In my experience, only a small minority will see the focus being on the blood supply.

    Unsurprisingly, many school teachers even miss out such twists in exam questions!

    To improve, you will need somebody experienced to read through your answers and comment on them.

    Join my H2 bio classes if you need help in this specific area.

    Poor prelims performance bottom line

    I hope this is a helpful guide especially for those who are facing the final examinations soon.

    Here’s wishing you will find exam success in A levels! Finally, let me know if this has been useful.

    Parent/student questions sitemap:
    Do I need tuition?
    H1 or H2 biology?
    Should I repeat A levels?
    I want a career in medicine
    1-1 or group tuition classes?
    Teaching career, how to start
    Must I participate in CCA in JC?
    Choosing A level tutor [checklist]
    Lousy prelims, what should I do?
    Lousy JC teachers, what do I do?
    I failed my promotion exams, so how?
    Should I consider overseas universities?
    Which subject combination for A levels
    What is A level Singapore 2020 schedule
    COVID-19 basics for the H2 Biology student
    Why is Singapore-Cambridge A levels so hard
    Can I do H2 Biology if I didn’t do O levels Bio?
    How to improve your online learning experience [2 tips]