Congratulations on your completion of ‘O’ Levels or four years of Integrated Programme! After ten years of education, you are about to transition into yet another major milestone in your education life – the Junior Colleges or Polytechnics (still undecided? Read our previous article on JC vs Polytechnic). This will likely be one of the final laps of your education journey before officially entering the workforce. For those of you who have elected for Junior Colleges, you must be anxious to know what lies ahead of you in your college life. So, what should one expect?
- Understanding the A Level Curriculum
Under the newly enforced curriculum in 2016, subjects are placed into (i) Higher 1 (H1), (ii) Higher 2 (H2) and (iii) Higher 3 (H3) categories. H1 subjects are worth 1 Academic Unit (AU), H2 subjects 2 AUs, H3 subjects 1 AU and students are expected to take a minimum of 10 AUs (viz. 3H2+1H1) and a maximum of 12 AUs (viz. 4H2+1H3) inclusive of Mother Tongue Language (MTL), Project Work and General Paper or Knowledge & Inquiry. Students who have taken the Higher Mother Tongue language paper at the O-level and have obtained a minimum grade of ‘D7’ are exempted from taking formal MTL lessons and examinations, albeit still having to attend MTL-related enrichment and not being allowed to replace the MTL unit with another subject as MTL is still regarded as an integral component of the curriculum. In general, a H1 paper can theoretically be said to be half of the content of an H2 paper albeit being at equal depth and difficulty. The “highest” level subjects, the H3 subjects, are meant to be more pragmatic and promote critical thinking unlike the previous “S” Papers. Consequently, students are able to gain extra credits and skip several modules in the University with the H3 paper done with their other GCE A-level subjects. However, in order to do an H3 subject, students must be offering the corresponding subject at H2 level.
- Intensive and Comprehensive curriculum
Junior Colleges are essentially pre-universities and involve comprehensive and in-depth content. The duration of junior college life typically lasts for only two to three years. Consequently, students are required to grasp the knowledge within a short span of time, especially for the H2 curriculum. This is a stark contrast with primary and secondary school education where students are able to build their foundation over a longer period of time.
- Difference in Learning Approach
Junior College students are exposed to different teaching styles and will be required to change their learning approach in order to excel. Lessons are no longer always conducted in small group sizes. Instead, lectures are incorporated where a lecturer delivers the content to hundreds of students and knowledge will be communicated unilaterally. Levels of interactions will definitely decrease in a group lecture vis-à-vis small class sizes. Students are required to take ownership of their education and clarify their queries with their tutors as soon as possible before the doubt snowballs. Although school teachers provide consultations for students, these are often limited due to their work commitments and their sheer number of students under their charge.
- Longer schedule
The official school schedule will typically end at 3 to 4 p.m. on average and excludes time for co-curricular activities (CCA) and project work. Both CCAs and project work require extensive time commitments by the students. Students would often find themselves with little or no time for completion of tutorials and/or revisions.
Due to the intensive curriculum, decreased levels of interaction with the teachers and limited time above, students would also have to adapt and ensure that they are incorporating the correct technique in their learning. Rote learning and repeated practice of ten-year series questions are no longer effective. Instead, students should grasp the concepts well and apply these to the questions. These may sound daunting, but the good news is that you are able to seek help from someone qualified to clear your doubts and explain the concepts categorically. Ideally, you would want to do this in a consistent manner to strengthen your foundation throughout your education journey in the Junior College, instead of doing so during the final one or two months before the examinations. At The Chemistry Practice, students are equipped with specially curated notes and highly interactive lessons with Mr Kelvin. Mr Kelvin is a highly qualified H2 Chemistry tutor with extensive experience both as an ex-MOE teacher and as a private tutor at an established tuition centre. Students are also able to seek help via unlimited consultations with Mr Kelvin via Whatsapp/Zoom. Sign up for a free trial now for a fulfilling education journey with us!