DSA Admission Exercise 2012

This June school holiday is no fun because my 12 years old genz kid will be sitting for his  PSLE  end September this year.  He is very busy …. busier than me with days packed with school supplementary lessons, revisions, homeworks, etc.

After his SA1 results was out in mid May, the school had a Meet the Parent Session (“MTP”).   His form class teacher feedbacked during that session that  my genzkid has commented he wanted to go to a good secondary school.  When asked what  is his definition of a “good secondary school”, he couldn’t answer that question. So my first mission after the MTP was to sit down with him and set out his goal; define his definition of “good secondary school”.

The outcome –  he was aiming to get into Dunman High School or Victoria School – both IP schools in Singapore.   Coincidentally these two schools were having open house to attract students for their DSA admission exercise that weekend; hence we decided to visit the two schools to find out more about what they are offering.

That Saturday, our first stop was Victoria School; followed with Dunman High School.   Victoria School is a “all boys” school.   Both schools look impressive and students are well mannered (IP schools – what do you expect rite !)

At Dunman High School, we managed to catch the principal speech and to our surprise, my genz kid was actually qualified for the DSA Admission Exercise via the academic results route. According to the principal, the school was offering 410 seats for 2013 intake and half of the seats will go to DSA Admission Exercise.   Ratio was 1 out of 5 applicants will get a seat via this exercise.   My genz kids’ jaw immediately dropped as that would mean there will only be 205 seats available based on PSLE results. Sensing his uneasiness, I told him to just try his best for PSLE and works towards getting the results that would get him into the school (i.e. a minimum aggregate score of 260 – easier said than done rite !).

That afternoon, we met a relative whose genz kid will also be taking PSLE this year and applying for 3 schools via DSA Admission Exercise – CCA.   She encouraged my genz kid to do the same since he is qualified and the belief is it would be easier to get into your dream school via DSA Admission Exercise than relying on PSLE results.    That evening, my genz kid told me that he would like to give it a try – i.e DSA for DunmanHigh School.   I explained to him the whole exercise could possibly take months and he would need to sit for test, go for interview on top of  preparing for his prelims and PSLE.  This could lead to lots of stress. We discussed and after due deliberation, we decided to give this a miss and just concentrate in preparation for the exams.

Aftermath thoughts – Kids go to school today to enjoy learning or compete with each other to get into niche schools. Seriously, I don’t recall myself studying that hard for PSLE when I was just 12….    Educators always advocate that we should study for knowledge not results!  However, in this society, can we really study for knowledge and not results?

DSA Admission Info: http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/dsa-sec/

List of IP Schools in Singapore: http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/programmes/gifted-education-programme/integrated-programmes/


Improving Your Child’s Grades

Parents all around the world can attest to the difficulty of raising children – especially the challenges of unsatisfactory grades on a child’s report card. Do you find yourself wishing there was a way to help your child get better grades? Are you concerned that your child isn’t performing to the best of his or her ability?

You can’t spend every day at school analyzing what is preventing them from doing better on tests and exams. However, you can make some adjustments at home to better prepare them to succeed in school.

These suggestions may be exactly what your child needs to ensure he or she has better grades on the next report card:

1. Cut down, rather than eliminate, playtime. Poor grades on your child’s report card could be an indication that not enough time is put into studies or that too much time is spent recreationally. However, the answer isn’t to eliminate playtime altogether. It’s important that there is balance in your child’s life.

• Increase the time spent on studies and homework if your child tends to neglect them. However, more effective use of the time spent may be the better technique if your child is spending time on his studies. Reduce distractions and help explain important concepts.

• Allow more recreation on the weekend so your child can take a real break from the books.

2. Encourage reading. Reading is one of the core subjects that aids in a child’s development and progress. However, not all kids like to read the books required by their school because they may not be interesting to them. Try to find more interesting reading formats that will likely catch the attention of your young one:

• Get books that use more illustration than normal; pictures help break the monotony of reading that usually turns kids off.

• Outside of the books that are required for school, choose books with subject matter that will appeal to your child’s interests.

3. Provide games that strengthen their weaknesses. If math and problem solving are weak areas for your child, buy games that require more logic and reasoning than normal.

4. Keep meals consistent. Often, if there’s too much time in between meals, it becomes very easy for the brain to shut down and lose focus. This happens to children as well. You can prevent this scenario by ensuring meal times are consistent so the brain is always adequately fed.

5. Consider a tutor. Some children learn better one-on-one. It’s possible that your child isn’t doing well in class because there’s not enough attention being paid to his or her needs. Extra classes outside of school will give your child the attention needed to truly grasp concepts and understand a subject.

These tips will help you steer your child toward better grades and develop the skills necessary to excel in school. Every child is different, and their needs may change from time to time, so you must remain diligent about finding solutions that work for them. The sooner you’re able to pinpoint their specific weaknesses, the faster you can take steps to correct them.

At the end of the day, the more time spent addressing the educational needs of your child, the greater the likelihood they will do well in school!

Free Test Papers

I am just sharing with you on an update of this website – http://www.test-paper.info/.  Some of you may be away of the free website providing primary school test papers.  Well, it has improved its portal.  Now, besides free test papers, there are articles, forum and many more.  Some of the forums are very interesting – parents posting questions on their children’s test papers questions.  Check it out!


Inter-Disciplinary Project Work (“IPW”)

What does it mean when your child told you that he is having IPW week in school instead of his usual class routine?

“IPW” stands for Inter-Disciplinary Project Work and it seems that our primary schools are putting in more effort in promoting inter-disciplinary learning today. IPW allows students to understand a subject or topic in depth not through individual learning but through team work. Through research, discussion and brainstorming, it hopes to allow students to see things from different viewpoints.

According to my son, this is how I think IPW works:

  • Grouping of members followed by appointment of leader by the team members.
  • The team brainstormed on the topic they want to research and write on. 
  • Once the topic is decided, roles are assigned to individuals (e.g. editor, reporter, researcher).
  • The team then works on the timeline & deliverables.
  • Team members start work on their respective areas. • When at home, team members continue to do research (e.g. surfing the web).
  • At next meeting, team members shared with one another on the information and materials they have collated. 
  • Team leader is to check and ensure timelines & deliverables are on track. 
  • Team to submit write up and do presentation on project on D-Day to teacher and class.

Sounds pretty similar to what we have done during our school days right? Yes indeed, just that the children today start to “work” earlier.

A blog on Mathematics in School

A friend shared with me this blog by Dr Yeap who teaches at National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, which I personally find it useful and informative.   It’s a platform to help parents and international teachers understand the way Mathematics is taught in Singapore schools. 

An example of the question asked and answer by Dr Yeap as below (verbatim):

Question: A car needs 7 hours to travel from Town X to Town Y.  A motorcycle needs 8 hours to travel from Town Y to Town X.  The car leaves Town X for Town Y and the motorcycles leaves from Town Y to Town X at the same time. How long will it take for the car and the motorcycle to meet?

Answer by Dr Yeap: Speed Problems are frequently brought up.  The earlier entries discussing Speed Problems.  See below:  So, how long will it take for the car and the motorcycle to meet.  The standard joke is that we hope they don’t!  That aside, we need to assume that the speed of the two vehicles are constant.  If that is so then in an hour, the car travels 1/7 the distance in an hour and the motorcycle travels 1/8 the distance in an hour.  The problem is solved when the distance travelled by the car and motorcycle add up to 1 whole.  In an hour, total distance covered by both is (1/7 + 1/8) of XY.  This works out to 15/56 of XY.  In 2 hours, it is (2/7 + 2/8) of XY or 30/56 of XY.  In 3 hours, 45/56.  In 4 hours, 60/56.  They would have passed each other in 4 hours.  Can I leave it to you to complete the last step of the solution? It is by no means trivial but there are enough leads already.

If you have questions about mathematics learning, you can also send your questions to banhar.yeap@nie.edu.sg and the replies will be posted on http://www.askyeapbanhar.blogspot.com/

Hope you find this blog useful.

Book Review – The Diary of Amos Lee

Have you read “The Diary of Amos Lee” written by Adeline Foo? I brought the 1st book “The Diary of Amos Lee: I Sit, I Write, I Flush! for my son during his December school holiday last year. He enjoyed the book so much that he finished reading the book within a day. He said he couldn’t stop reading it once he started reading the same. I suppose the book must be entertainingly as I could hear his laughter while he was reading it. He said it was one of the best books he had read.

Last Sunday, my son was expected to write a journal as homework and he used the book as a reference. I read his master piece and gees, it was pretty interesting and humorous that I can’t stop giggling while reading it. Even Genz Dad thinks that the journal was written very creatively. As a result, in a spur of moment yesterday evening, I got him the 2nd book – The Diary of Amos Lee: Girls, Guts & Glory! As expected, he finished ¾ of the book last night and I bet he would finish the whole book today.

Here’s the extracts of the book review from the official website of The Diary of Amos Lee (http://www.amoslee.com.sg/home.html):

The Diary of Amos Lee: I Sit, I Write, I Flush!

This diary began as Mum’s New Year resolution to get me to write. She told me to write when I am doing my big business. “Five to eight minutes max!” she said. “I don’t want you to develop piles!” And so my writing in the bathroom began. My entries started with the boring old stuff… then Mum got this new job as a writer and, following her around, I got to do fun stuff, like ogle at deformed frogs, see into the future with a fortune-telling parrot and wow at a life-sized F1 car made of chocolate! That’s how I got more interesting things to write about. Plus, I had to deal with an EVIL bully who was tormenting me at school… thank goodness for my best friends, Alvin and Anthony, we rallied against the bully and got through this year with lots of adventures and good fun!

The Diary of Amos Lee: Girls, Guts & Glory!

The story of Amos continues. He is still writing his diary in the toilet, but he has found a way to hide it from Mum’s prying eyes. Amos joins the school’s swim team and learns about hunger, not the sort to make you want to eat food, but the drive to excel and win medals in competitions! The themes in Book 2 touch on family, friendship and loyalty. Lessons are also drawn from Olympic legends like Michael Phelps, Carl Lewis and Sebastian Coe, in inspiring legions of young athletes to be the best in both studies and sports. Amos seeks his Olympic dream, in this second installation.

Parents, if you are trying to cultivate good reading habits of your children, try these books.

Advice or Advise?

English can be quite confusing.  There are a lot of words and some may sound the same, some with similar spelling but different meaning.  It is almost impossible not to make mistake in English, even if you are a teacher or a university graduate.  The only thing we could be is perhaps to avoid making them.

There are these 2 words which can be confusing – “Advise” and “Advice”.    When do you use “advise” and/or “advice”.  Firstly, we need to understand that these 2 words though somewhat sound the same, have different meaning.  “Advise” is a verb meaning the act of giving a recommendation and therefore refers to the act of giving advice. E.g.  The lawyer advised that the defendant plead guilty to the charges.    “Advice” on the other hand is a noun meaning recommendation.  E.g. The client thanked the lawyer for his detailed advice.

There are many other confusing words such as altogether vs all together, any one vs anyone, borrow vs lend,  everyday vs every day, enquiry vs inquiry, I vs me, me vs my, who vs whom, and the list goes on and on..

Here are some useful resources on Common Mistakes and Confusing Words in English.  They are easy to understand so very suitable for students too. Happy reading …



I Passed My Driving Test!

I passed my driving test few days ago at my first attempt.  The whole test was not smooth sailing, I had a strict tester.  I googled his name when I reached home and  found that he was rather infamous and failed most of his students.  He is named the “No. 1 killer tester”.   His name – Poh Ah Soon.

Anyway, that’s not the purpose of my blog today.  My purpose of today’s blog is to share with you some “exam techniques” that I shared with my son after the test. 

My son was very proud of me and commented that  I’ve never once failed a test.  I told him that I was actually very nervous before the test and asked if he would like to know my “tricks” on how I managed to pass the test.  He eagerly replied with a “yes!” and this is what I shared with him:

  • Be well-prepared for the D day.  Practice makes perfect! 
  • Have a bottle of water with you on the exam day.  Before the exam, sip some water (not too much, else you might have to go to toilet).  This is a trick my lecturer taught us in school.  Thirst+ nervous = lack of oxygen to brain
  • Though it’s common to be nervous before any exam.  It is important to stay calm.  Take a deep breath before the start of exam.  
  • During the exam, if you do not know the answers to some of the questions, don’t panic – move on to the next questions, highlight those questions you have yet attempted and go back to those questions you do not know later (for my driving test, I made some mistakes at the circuit, but I just moved on and not think about the mistakes that I’ve made earlier.)
  • Check your work if you have the time.
  • After the exam, accept whatever outcome it may be as long as you have tried your best.  If you failed or didn’t do well, try again the next time.

Good Luck to all taking exams (whatever type it is)!

Opening of a Composition (A parent view)

I am writing this article from a parent view and what I’ve learnt from my son’s teachers.

How important is a good opening of a composition?  Well, imagine you go for a movie, the opening is so dull that you nearly fall asleep, would you be keen to finish watching the movie?  What if the opening of the story book immediately caught your attention, would you be interested to finish reading the book as soon as you can?  Do you know why the story books by Geronimo Stilton are so popular amongst school students?  The answer, the opening of the story book is always so catchy and fun to read.  My son can’t wait to complete the book once he starts reading it. 

Here’s an extract of I’m Too Fond of My Fur by G. Stilton:

When my old friend Professor von Squeaker called to ask for help, I agreed immediately – even though it meant trekking halfway around the world to Mouse Everest! The trip was long and dangerous. I almost froze my tail off along the way. And then I was kidnapped by a yeti! Yes, it was truly an extraordinary adventure…

Like a good movie or good book, a good opening of a composition gains the interest of the reader right away.     Here are examples of a few ways you can catch your readers’ attention when writing your opening paragraph (Topic – An Unlucky Day):

Using a question

How would you feel if everything you do goes wrong on the same day? …..

Using Dialogue

“How was your day today, John?” Mom asked.

“It cannot get any worse, Mom!” I exclaimed.

Create a climax

“What’s going on, nothing seems to be going right today!” I uttered to myself as tears keep flowing down my cheeks.

Flashback (extracted from Towards Better Composition Writing Primary 4 by EPH)

Standing at the edge of the drain, I stared at my notes and worksheets floating on the filthy water.  There was no way I could retrieve them.  What was I going to tell my teacher?

The day had started fine.  I woke at my usual time …

Oh yes, besides having a good opening, be sure that the opening paragraph is relevant to the essay you are writing.

Banding in Primary School

After streaming in primary school has been scraped, primary schools band their students based on their abilities and results at year end.  For my son’s school, there’s no banding in Primary 1 & 2. Banding starts when they are promoted to Primary 3. What the school does was to place the best 40 students in 1 class and the next 40 in the 2nd class.  Rest of students will be of mix caliber.    From then on, students would be “classified” based on their final year results.   As such, for example, if you are in the 1st class in Primary 3 but your overall position is no. 90 in school, you would be demoted to a “mix ability” class.  I can’t help but question “would the child’s confidence level and morale be affected?”

Frankly, I’m not sure if this is a good way of “classifying” the students. The teacher also pre-warned the parents before the school reopens that because the children are the “best” in their level, they would be “drilled” to do better.  My son commented that his class was too competitive and some of his classmates are very proud because they think they are the best.  Some of these students even called those who didn’t score more than 90 marks for their test / exams “stupid”.  Is that what the school aim to achieve? In addition, I felt that the students in the top two classes are placed with lots of unnecessary stress and pressure.  Is the school concentrating too much on their best students and “ignore” the rest?

While I understand that every school wishes to produce good results students especially top students in PSLE, shouldn’t we remember what is the main purpose of educating these children?