Taking H2 Maths as a private candidate

I produced a detailed reply to a student who asked about the stakes involved in taking H2 Mathematics as a private candidate, so I thought it should be good to share with the rest out there who are contemplating similar actions.

Dear Mr Koh,

It will really help me if you can share your thoughts about taking the A levels H2 Math Examination as a private candidate.

It goes like this. The JC I am going to does not allow me to take H2 Math as my results for a-math at secondary school was not above B3. But my parents are adamant on me studying math at H2, as taking H1 Math will mean I'll 'lose out' to the rest of my peers in my school as well as the country, majority of whom are taking math at H2. In fact, they intend for me to self study H2 math with the help of a private tuition teacher.

Do you think I'll be able to achieve a 'A' for H2 Math without the help of JC teachers? Is it a feasible plan to carry out?

Thank you!

Yours Sincerely,

Student X (Identity kept anonymous)

Good Day,

Your parents are not wrong in explicitly acknowledging you are likely to suffer a disadvantage should you choose not to pursue H2 Maths; however given your O level grade which doesn't reflect well on your current math ability, being hell bent on taking up the subject might not be the wisest choice. Unless of course you had been performing consistently well throughout secondary 3/4 and this rather disappointing recent showing came as a consequence of other unexpected personal/external factors, the tone of my recommendations wouldn't change considerably for a much more positive, upbeat one.

Compared to A maths, H2 maths goes far deeper in terms of concepts taught (not to mention there are numerous fairly new, bulky topics being introduced) and demands so much more of the learner in terms of being able to think flexibly and adapt rapidly to various modes of problem solving. Given that students who previously excelled at A maths may not necessarily cope well with H2 maths, it isn't difficult to see those crossing over into junior college bearing shaky foundations from their secondary school days would suffer so much more.

After reading the above, if you are still determined to take up the challenge of trying to conquer H2 Maths as a private candidate, there are a few things you have to seriously consider:

1. Cost

While a student who attends school may require just one tutoring session per week to clarify stuff, you will need probably three to four sessions a week (or even more depending on your pace of learning) since the tutor has to cover everything from scratch. It isn't hard to imagine your parents having to fork out thousands per month just for H2 Maths. Throw in additional tuition fees possibly for other subjects, it will be a terrible drain on your parents' finances.

2. Time

The 2 years you are about to spend in JC will be extremely fast-paced and hectic; think: literally tons of tutorials/lectures, remedial lessons and countless tests/exams. Not to forget the extremely time-consuming CCAs which would typically leave one exhausted for usually more than one day per week. Do you think you can squeeze out pockets of time to do self-studying? Don't answer that yet, because you will only find out for yourself when things are in full swing at school. Also, your junior college schedule might always be in a state of flux (aka change) such that planning for consistent, regular tutoring lessons will prove to be a large conundrum. Most tutors won't be so generous to oblige your incessant requests for shifting of lesson timings.

3. Feasibility

I am presuming your current intention is to take 3 H2s in school, and H2 maths as a private candidate? It is best that you verify with the relevant education authorities if such a "strategy" is even allowed. Also, what happens if you discover your struggle to cope with H2 maths has started to affect the grades of your other subjects? Will you cut H2 maths loose and call it quits? If you do, the money your parents spent till date on private tuition would have been completely wasted. If you don't, your studies may continue to suffer drastic setbacks,to the extent you end up with overall mediocre A level grades. By then, you would be neither here, not there.

There you go, hopefully I have given you sufficient points to mull over. Do think carefully, in fact very very carefully before making any decision. All the best and god bless. Peace.

Best Regards,

Mr Koh

Dated 20 January 2013

Answered by

White Group Mathematics


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