Modern education in Singapore and globally has gone beyond learning, instead of focusing heavily on making us academically inclined. And the degree to which one succeeds becomes our permanent measure of worth through labels of ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ students, ‘Normal’, ‘Express’ and ‘Integrated Programme (IP)’ students, and more.
In Singapore, this manifests itself through ranking and differentiating us using the bell curve, distinguishing the good students from the better ones, the better students from the best ones and the best from the elite.
Not everyone can get an ‘A’ in their PSLE/ N'level/ O'level/ A'level examinations as there will always be people scoring lower or presenting their answers differently from the ‘standard’ answer. However, even if everyone falls within the ‘A’ range, the bell curve ensures that students are separated into the respective ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ categories, which is why you are out of luck if you score 0.2 marks lower than the cut off for the A grade.
Although this form of mark moderation sounds unfair, this system greatly impacts you because the smallest difference in marks can influence your future schooling, friend networks, and career prospects. It is like hitting a golf ball; a world-class player would know that a mere 0.2 cm would cause the ball to fly at a different angle, landing in a very different position than expected.
[ source: "Bell Curve" by hardeep.singh ]
Of course, everyone wants to be better. Every student and parent will want to be the very best and achieve unparalleled excellence. As a Chinese proverb goes, “水往低处流，人往高处走。”
[Water flows to an area of lower altitude whereas people walk to areas of higher altitude]. Nobody wants to be left behind or lose out in the rat race for bigger, greater and better prospects.
Therefore, it makes sense that whoever puts in more effort and understands how the system works will produce better results. It is like a game, and whoever knows the rules of the game and devises a better strategy “wins”.
So, what are the rules of the game? MindWorks provides you with 8 Rules designed to be the game manual and cheat sheet you need to succeed in school and surpass everyone else.
Read Rule #1 in this post, and join our email list to follow MindWorks Blog so you can receive an email notification when we post the next 7 rules!
Rule #1: KNOW the syllabus and the keywords
“To know what you know and what you do not know, that is true knowledge” - Confucius
Usually, the must-know concepts are introduced at the beginning of each chapter. More often than not, teachers will share with you the syllabus on the first few pages of the notes and worksheets provided. If you find that the syllabus has changed, fret not! Simply click here to find out the latest syllabus.
Besides being aware of the current syllabus while revising, you should ensure that you know keywords that the examiners are looking for and apply them consistently and well in your answers.
For example, in ‘O’ level Pure Biology, for the question "What is the function of insulin?", if your answer is "Insulin converts glucose to glycogen", you will not receive any marks. The most appreciated answer will be, "Insulin converts excess glucose to glycogen". Without the keyword ‘excess’, you would not score any marks for this question.
Hence, students MUST be acutely aware of the keywords examiners are looking for.
The next question many students will have at this point is how?
How do you know what the keywords are?
The easiest way to do so is to listen attentively in class. Your teachers know these keywords, and good teachers will stress them upon you in class, so keep an ear out for it. This advice may seem simple, but it helps greatly!
Also, look through your worksheets, tests and examination papers. Particularly, look out for questions where you may understand the concept but did not receive marks for your answers. Clarify with your teacher why you lost marks, and what kinds of answers are expected to receive the full marks for those questions.
You should also practise other school papers and Cambridge papers with detailed marking schemes. The marking schemes will underline keywords that are required in the answer.
To get more Cambridge papers, you may click here!
If you need more help sharpening your answers to receive full marks, talk to your parents and consider getting a private tutor. Tutors are highly experienced in the subjects they teach, and they can offer you personalised tips and tricks on making your answers the best possible. However, finding the right tutor can be very difficult.
That is why MindWorks is here to help: click here and fill a simple form to request a tutor right now! Our coordinators want the best for you so that you may realise all your dreams. That is why we look at many different aspects such as budget, subject, educational qualifications, personality and more to find you a tutor who can guide you and assist you by providing high-quality tuition experiences.
Wishing you all the best on your academic journey!
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