Just read an article today on parents sending their kids for tuition. With the GEP selection tests this month, some even send their kids for $200 a session to get trained for them.
Speaking as a mom who has a kid going through the first year in GEP, I would like to share my experiences and why I strongly advise against training for these tests in order to get into GEP.
My child was highly excited about the GEP selection tests, not because we had put any emphasis on it, but more from his peers in school at that time. I suspect it was a measure of ‘how smart they are’ when they compared among themselves. In fact, I deliberately downplayed the importance of the tests as I have heard about kids who cried themselves out when they did not get selected. How would the kids feel if the parents shelled out thousands of dollars on these tuition but did not get selected in the end?
These tuition centres boast high success rates. But think about what kind of students they start with in the first place. One centre actually said that it discourages pupils scoring less than 90 marks in their English or maths school exams from taking his GEP classes. Surely, even without these classes, these kids who can score so well in school would naturally have a higher chance of being selected.
Of course, I must admit that I was very happy when my child got in. There are indeed many advantages of being in the program. One obvious one is the class size. There are fewer than 28 students in the class compared to my child’s previous school which had 43!
In my kid’s previous school, the kids were made to do pages after pages of basic questions from the "My Pals" workbook for Maths. He would be so bored with them and the aim would be to just fill in the blanks as quickly as possible. While these workbook are very useful to help kids grasp the basics of each subject, they do not venture any further.
In the GEP class, however, there are very few questions to do for homework each day. but they are usually quite challenging. Most of the time, I suspect that the kids are not taught in class on how to do the questions. The teachers do not give them the way to answer the questions. They are told the basics and will discuss among themselves how they should approach each question. While this is a very interesting way to learn, this may not suit everyone.
Some parents whom I have spoken to cannot even answer the questions ( and no, this is not about using model or algebra, they truly cannot answer the questions either way). This must surely be a nightmare for kids who are not naturally good in Maths as they will really struggle through. I think that some kids will actually benefit more from classes that teach them how to answer and drilling them with questions.
As for science, I am still quite clueless what they learn every week. There is no textbook (or rather there is a textbook but never used) so the only indication is the experiments or worksheets that they bring back. There seem to be hardly any notes that they have to learn. A lot of learning seem to be from experiments and practicals. But at the end of the day, they still have to sit for exams with questions just like the mainstream students.
These are merely my experiences and they could be skewed as every GEP centre could be doing things differently (although they have the same curriculum). But I strongly feel that training the kids to answer questions for GEP selection tests will only harm them in the long run.