3 things you need to know not to flunk A level exam

1. Change is the new norm

Syllabus 9758 differs from 9740 not in just the topics, but also the nature of the questions asked. Gone are the days whereby students can just drill on ten year series and hope to score A. In fact, you might not even score a B with this outdated strategy.

Below is a comparison between a question on vectors for 9740 and 9758, both from the same year.

9740 (2017)

Straightforward non-contextual computation question.

9758 (2017)

Contextual, more reading and less straightforward

2. Nothing is out of syllabus

Both 2017 and 2018 contained questions that tested on concepts no students have learnt before. The setter wrote the necessary information required and students need to stay calm and follow the instructions. This means we can no longer predict all the questions as anything outside the syllabus can also be tested.

9758 (2017)

D'Alembert = University stuff

9758 (2018)

Arc length = Further Math

3. TRICKY TRICKY TRICKY

2018 contained questions in which students thought is on "topic A" but in fact they are testing on "topic B". The message here is that students need to read and think from the setter's point of view what they want to "trick" the students. The best part, even school teachers and private tutors also got "tricked".

9758 (2018)

Very long reading, only those underlined is important.

Many thought this is "differential eqn". It is actually on differentiation.

Here is what some "renowned" private tutors commented on this question (in which they toally missed the point of the intention of the setter for crafting this question. One does not need to know anything about the context to solve the problem. In fact my student who has no physics background was able to do it.

Completely missed the point the setter has packaged "differentiation" under the context of differential eqn.

Here is one more question on basic integration, in which O level knowledge is sufficient once you get the "trick". However many teachers and tutors thought it is a "differential equation" again and used some complicated A level techniques to solve instead.

I have let my own student who has not learnt "differential equation" and she was able to solve using O level knowledge. It is all about thinking of a simple solution.

"Renowned" private tutor comment:

Summary

By now you would have gotten a glimpse of what the recent A level paper is like for H2 math. The message is clear, students are not going to have an easy time unlike the previous syllabus. It takes much more than just content to score that A or B. Students need to be exam smart and think rather than just drilling questions to get a decent grade.

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