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More top students opting for tuition

A different kind of tuition

Referring to this news article, more top students are opting for tuition

More top students opting for tuition

More top students opting for tuition

When we think of tuition, the picture of a student grappling with a difficult subject will come into our mind. It is hard to imagine a student who embraces extra classes that can be otherwise spent on entertainment, sports or other leisure activities. However, the landscape of tuition is changing. We now see increasing number of top students voluntarily opting for tuition in subjects that they are good at. Why do they want to have extra study when they are already good at it?


Do you want to own the bell curve?

The simple answer to the above question is that because students and their families see benefits in doing so. The education environment in Singapore is increasingly competitive. We see the cut-off points for the PSLE keep rising and the situation for the O-Levels and the A-levels is not getting any easier. Many schools are catching up in their teaching capabilities and many parents are putting more resources in ensuring that their children have the best education possible. Hence a student has to constantly improve himself/herself in order to stay ahead of the competition, even though he/she is already doing well for the subject. The learning curve may suddenly increase, especially at some critical transition periods such as from Sec2 to Sec3 or from secondary school to junior college/polytechnics. It is always wise to avoid complacency and seek extra learning opportunities whenever possible.

What’s in it for top students?

But how is tuition class going to help top students? To answer that question, we need to first clarify what we mean by top students. We normally define top students as students who score well in exams. However, scoring well in exams is not absolute guarantee that the student learns well. There are many factors other than learning outcome itself that affect a student’s grade, such as difficulty of exams, the type of questions that come out or simply luck of the students. It is not safe to say that a student who scores well for one exam will definitely score well for the next or that a student who does well for school exams will definitely do well for national exams. Hence tuition comes in to further help the top students. Having tuition gives students valuable opportunities to have extra practices and receive marking or feedback for their practices. Students can also listen to different interpretation of the same subject from the perspective of a private tutor; different Interpretation contributes to more robust understanding of the same subject. When doubts arise, students can also clarify with the private tutor who is solely dedicated to the tuition session. The benefits for top-students are many and given the fact they have the pressure to stay at the top of their classes, it is not surprising that we see top students seeking tuition.

Let the intellect roam free

However, other than the practical motivation to stay ahead of the competition, some students seek tuition because they want to pursue their passion for certain subjects. That will only happen to an academically strong student who has the luxury of extra time to study beyond the scope of exams. For example, a student may want to participate in the Singapore Mathematics Olympiad, so he needs a tutor who can give him rigorous training on the subject that is often beyond the concern or expertise of a school teacher. If a student is very interested in history but feels that the syllabus of the history class in school is too restrictive, he may engage someone who majors in history in university to give extra classes so that he has greater understanding of different periods or greater appreciation of what he learns in school. Moreover, we also see university students opting for tuition in areas that they perceive as in need of improvement. A business student may take extra classes on calculus or statistics that are useful to his career in the future. There are many reasons other than the need to improve exam grade for people to apply for tuition.

It has come to the time when we need to have a new understanding of tuition. Tuition as a method to impart knowledge goes beyond serving the academic needs of students who are falling behind. It is also a medium for students to satisfy their intellectual curiosity or achieve self-improvement. It is heartening to see a more diverse tuition landscape, as that partly reflects more diverse needs of knowledge that is not restricted by school syllabus or exams.

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