Does my son need tuition in JC?

This query comes from a parent:

First of all, I like to express my thanks to u all for doing such a great job on this site. My query is as such:

My boy is sitting for his O levels this year, and wants to go to a JC next year. He plans to see if he can cope with the curriculum in the first half of J1 before deciding if tuition is required for weaker subjects. However, my friends advised me this is an unwise move; they said their children are already struggling despite having external help from the very 1st day.

What advice would u give? I would say my son is above average in sch, but definitely not anywhere near the top. Hope to receive ur reply soon! Blesses :-)

The Response:


There is certainly a huge gap in terms of difficulty, between the O level and A level syllabus.

From my experience, many academically excellent secondary school students (either IP students, or O level students qualifying for the top 5 JCs) end up struggling for the entire first year in JC (and for some, all the way to the A Levels), because they are constantly faced with new (and potentially more difficult concepts) before they even have the time to deal with their difficulties with the earlier topics.

As an example, in H2 Physics, Forces and Dynamics are two of the more problematic topics taught in the first 3 months of JC1, yet many JC2 students continue to struggle with questions related to these two topics close to the A levels.

I would say that tuition definitely helps in staying ahead, or just keeping up with the syllabus, especially since the pace of learning is so hectic compared to secondary school.

Most importantly, a good tutor should be able to prepare the student early and adequately for exam-difficulty questions (which is important; just ask the struggling students who are “shocked” by the time constraint and difficulty of their JC1 common/block tests, and the subsequent poor grades).

I hope this helps.

Eric Chng

(Senior Councilor: May 2013 - December 2020)

Answered On 25 September 2013