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Transiting from Secondary School to Junior College: What you need to know
January 7, 2020

This article provides tips that are aimed at improving the learning quality in class and studying efficiency.

Your performance or rather your readiness for examinations, is dependent on

  • The total amount of class learning time;
  • Your learning quality in school; and
  • Your Study Efficiency.

The coming to JC marks another milestone, just like the transition from primary to secondary school – new environment, new classmates, teachers and school culture.

The class learning time is fixed (to the hours in tutorial and lecture) and your targeted performance/readiness is fixed, and that leaves you only with 2 variables and they are the Learning Quality in class and Study Efficiency.

This series of posts are aimed at improving the learning quality in class and studying efficiency. Let us start with…….

Paying Better Attention in Class

1. Mind and body

Your mind does all the work involved in earning awesome grades, and the performance of that mind is dependent on the state of your body. Let your body and mind rest adequately so that it can perform optimally! All the little mind hacks and study tricks in the world won’t help you if you’re constantly suffering from bad health due to poor nutrition, lack of sleep, and inadequate exercise.

2. Sit Up Front and Be Present

If you can choose your seats, sit up in front, in that way your tutor can tap on you if you fall asleep!

I Kid. I Kid. The real difference is that sitting up front and making a deliberate effort to be present helps your focus, attention, and energy levels.

And it all starts with choosing that row the moment you walk into the classroom.

3. Be Prepared for lesson

Every teacher you have ever had has told you to come prepared for class. It’s not some new piece of advice! Plan to prepare in advance – set your alarm or keep a habit of checking the schedule coming up for the next few days. This will create your habit of being prepared for each lesson.

“IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN, YOU PLAN TO FAIL”

For lectures: Read lecture notes before attending the lecture, recap on the previous parts that were taught previously. – All these can be done on your journey to school, between your breaks in school!

For tutorials: Attempt the questions whenever you can find time, in between lessons.

Easier said than done right? Have a study buddy to keep each other away from phones!

4. Get Help From Your Tutor RIGHT AWAY

Before you approach your tutors, ask yourself this question: “What is it that I don’t understand?”

When you go for help, you should be able to show exactly which parts you do not understand and which parts you do. Do not just rely on your tutor to re-teach the whole bulk of notes! The real learning starts only when you can retain and process the content taught. You should have a checklist of what you know and what you do not understand even after reading MANY TIMES.

Remember your grades depends largely on your effort. 

“FIRST YOU MUST TRY, THEN YOU MUST ASK”

For chemistry, there are a lot of precise terms we use, e.g. electronegativity, covalent character, polarising power; and you must know exactly what they mean before you fully can understand and apply the knowledge.

When you are stuck with at a question, apply the 15-minute rule:

  1. When you get stuck, push yourself to solve the problem for 15 more minutes.
  2. During that 15 minutes, write down all the working, your thought process, keywords etc, keeping in mind that someone else will need those details if they’re going to help you.
  3. After that time, if you’re still stuck, you must ask for help.

4. Active Participation

When it comes to lecture-style classes, the best ways to be active are to speak up in class discussions and to take lots of notes.

Take down examples/explanations given by your tutor; analogies or diagrams will help you too!

These notes taken down will help you to break down big content/ concepts easily, because it is already scaffolded for your understanding. Basically, because the notes are not written by you, so what you are doing is to understand the content and how to use the notes more effectively when you are studying on your own.  

Next up: How to take effective notes!