P3/P4 Sci SA2 last min preparation tips

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P3/P4 Sci SA2 last min preparation tips

Postby Pangyx » Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:10 am

Pardon me for any spelling and grammatically errors along the way as I am typing this out without editing.

Summary : End of year exam is creeping in as we are approaching the month of September. In this thread, I shall discuss extensively on how to improve the grades by a large margin effectively and efficiently. This thread is going to be extremely helpful for parents who are teaching their own kid with limited time in their hand. After years of teaching, I am going share a few important steps to guide students to improve massively in the upcoming SA2 in the shortest possible time. The best part ? You can do it yourself.

Audience : For parents whose kid are hitting 88% and above for their Science paper, this thread might be a little boring for you. However, if you kid is hovering between 60 to 70 plus for his/her science and you wish to guide them towards the 85 and above, read on.

Part 1 : Analyzing his past exam/test papers.

Why is this important ? Before you even shove a pile of assessment book and stacks of mock exam papers into him /her to practice every single day, why not take some time to take a look at his/her mistakes ? With about 60 more days to go before the big day, it`s time to get straight to the point ; identify the areas that he/she is constantly losing marks and rectify it.

A) Take out his/her Science school file. Sit down with him/her and make a note on every question that he/she got it wrong. From practice paper to exam papers, flip through them one by one, question by question and make a note with pencil for every wrong question answered. Whether it is careless mistake or honest mistake, mark them all.

B) Once you have compiled all the questions, classify them into 2 groups. Main group : TOPIC. Sub group : TYPE OF QUESTION. At this point, both of you will have an idea which topic your child is weak at. The next step is crucial, read on.

C) Openly go through all the questions together with correction. Using the school textbook as source of deriving answers, SHOW him/her that the particular answer can be found in the specific page of the school textbook. T
*The school textbook is often overlooked by many parents and tutor as they tend to judge it by its thickness. However, the school textbook is where the foundation is laid.

D) Upon completion of the above, this leads us to Part 2 of the discussion which is to practice the RIGHT questions for exam.

Part 2 : Getting the right materials
With so many assessment books available in the market, the most common question asked by parents is which is the best assessment book ?
Before we even address this common question, how about we take a peek at the common fallacy of parents when shopping for books.

1. Should I go for Casco because the questions are harder ? Casco`s book also looks thicker u know, i`m sure thicker means more information and details which translates into higher marks.

2. Since I am getting the assessment book, I should also get a science guide book because all my friends seem to get that for their kid. It must be the Casco Science guide book that guided that kid to 90 while mine is still rocking at 70ish.

3. Oh look, there`s a science booster `All in 1` sitting at the top of the shelf. Am I missing out something if I don't buy that `All in 1` book for my kid ? Better by safe than sorry, it`s only $29.90 anyway.

Personally, I stick to the top school past year exam paper. Why ? Because the questions set are all in line with the syllabus! You can`t go wrong by practicing questions set by current MOE schools and teachers, can you ? The problem with many assessment books is that some of the questions are way too complex and out of syllabus. Yes, it might be look nice and competitive knowing that your child knows how to answer way more fancy questions than his peers but we preparing SA2 not Science Olympiad.

Most importantly, as P3 and P4 science students, they are still trying to learn how to answer open ended questions correctly. Unless you child is a prodigy, exposing him/her with too many fancy(yet out of the syllabus) questions is doing more harm than good. With different questions, comes with different answer, different assessment books also have different way of constructing answers. In the end, the poor kid is going to have difficulty absorbing all the different style of answering technique by different assessment books. How about we ace the questions that are in sync with the syllabus first ? I cannot emphasize enough that the stack of top school past year exam paper is extremely relevant in every school final exam. That is the guide to A*

Part 3. Quality vs Quantity. The structured way.
Our focus here is to ensure that your child is understand and answer all the questions at his/her finger tips. Your child should complete 10 sets of question paper 2 weeks before SA2. Every full set of question paper consists of 50-60 questions. Statistically, if your child is getting an average mark of 70 for his class tests and exams, there will be about 12-15 questions wrong for every exam paper. Practicing the exam paper is no doubt crucial but the focus here must be on the 12-15 questions that are answer wrongly. Again, practicing those exam paper without understanding his/her weakness is as good as not practicing. Obviously, the student is not aware of his/her own weakness, therefore, it is your job to know his/her weakness better than he/she does.

How many times have we witnessed the student ability to produce model answers for practice questions but fail to do so for the same question in the exam ? I am going to share a very common observation I have made in my many years of teaching with P3/P4 kids where they appear to know how to answer a question but in actual fact, they don't. That explains why they could not produce that model answer they produced during the last practice question.

On top of the observation, I will reveal some tricks to address such problems. Lastly, I will be sharing how to gear up on exam preparation during the final 2 weeks before SA2 with speed revision and methods to minimize careless mistakes.

To be continued..

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Re: P3/P4 Sci SA2 last min preparation tips

Postby jnemummy » Fri Aug 19, 2016 8:28 am

Following the thread. Thanks for sharing.

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Re: P3/P4 Sci SA2 last min preparation tips

Postby Pangyx » Sun Aug 21, 2016 3:21 pm

All right, before I even begin, this discussion is not about nurturing your child to be the next Nobel Prize winner. It`s also not the latest breakthrough or some state of the art method to unlock the little Einstein in you. The focus here is only on how to improve your SA2 and it`s something very fundamental and yet often overlooked.

To determine if you are going to spend some time to read this lengthy post, here`s a guide..

50marks to 70marks ? YES
60marks to 70plus ? YES
70marks to 80plus ? YES
Low 80 to High 80 ? YES
90marks to 100 ? Sorry, I can`t help you in this

When a student gets 70 or 80 for his/her previous exam, essentially, there are only 2 reasons why he/she fails to get the additional 20-30marks. These reasons are obvious but I`ll state them anyway

1. Careless mistakes
2. Genuinely don't know

I am going to make a bold yet accurate statement here; students can lose up to 20marks for careless mistakes. Take some time to flip through his paper, you will agree that I am not exaggerating my claim. In this thread, I am going to go in great detail on how to eradicate these mistakes , converting mistakes into marks. Like I mentioned earlier, you can do it yourself.

I know a couple of parents who are indeed Kiasu. Yes, you can provide him/her with the most expensive current MOE teacher to be the tutor. You also can spend a ton of money on branded tuition and expensive books but are we tackling the above 2 problems ? These are the 2 problems that caused students to lose marks. Unless the student is gunning for the Science Olympiad, he/she does not need to know if Pluto is still part of the solar system or not.
If you are going for SA2 and practicality, focus on these 2 type of mistakes and you will see improvement. There are 5 parts in this post and each is linked to the other.

1. Identify if the error is a careless mistake or he/she genuinely does't know
2.A microscopic view on careless mistakes
3. How to ensure student truly understand the question(Not memorizing answers)
4. Thorough testing
5. Speed revision

Part 1 : Careless or Genuinely don't know ?
In this section, we shall assess the student actual potential in an exam. Actual potential refers to the marks one can achieve without careless mistakes. This brings us to : How do we know if that error is a genuine mistake or a careless one ? Here is how

Example :
Provide a practice paper for the student to do. Let`s assume that in this set of paper, the student managed to score only 70 out of 100. Out of 60 questions, the student has gotten 14 questions marked wrong. Out of the 14 questions, how do we know which is which ?

Step 1. Cover the answer and ask the student to re-do
- If the student is able to produce the correct answer without any prompt, classify it as careless mistake. If the student is still unable to give the correct answer, go to step 2

Step 2 : READ the question to the student out loud.
-Reading only, do not prompt or provide hints. If the student is able to answer, classify it as careless mistake as well. You will be surprised.

Put a “C” beside the question to indicate careless mistake
After 2 attempts, if the student is still unable to provide the correct answer, this falls under “Genuinely don't know”.
Put a “Star” beside for questions he cannot answer.

If the student has 7 careless mistakes (7x2mark for example), his actual potential is 70+14=84 marks. As for questions which a student genuinely does not know, we`ll come to that in the later section.

Part 2 : A microscopic view on careless mistakes.
What are careless mistakes ? Careless mistakes are actually the result of lack of practice. Students know how to answer the question but they just fall for the trick. Does it mean that I should buy more assessment books and give him more practice ? Not really. We are looking at how to rectify careless mistake in that very particular type of question. Increasing the number of practice papers and hours is extremely ineffective . It`s like casting a net into the sea to catch a specific type of fish. You don't need a larger net, you just need the right bait.

One approach is to practice that particular type of trick question over and over again until u are so good at it. It sounds rather straightforward u might say but a lot of work had to be done to achieve that efficiently. We are talking about constant exposure to that particular type of question (lets call them trick questions) that the moment u read the question you smell something fishy. That is adequate practice.

Part 3 : How to tackle careless mistakes/ensure certainty in questions
In order to do that, we need to collate and compile these type of trick questions. In the above section, we have marked questions with “C” and “Star” from the exam papers the students had done, these will come handy. Marking a “C” and “Star” beside each question allows you to put their understanding to the test every other week.

Why should test them every other week ?

Let say the student had correction done for a particular type of open ended question. If you test him/her immediately or after the lesson, a lot of them are able to produce the answer from memory. In fact, a lot of the student can even produce model answers. At this point, parents and tutors will feel that the job is done that If the same question were to appear in the exam, he/she will produce the model answer. That is common mistake . How many times have you flipped through his/her exam paper only to find out that he/she had written rubbish in the exam but produced model answer at home ? Yes, we are talking about same question. The exact same question from the practice paper.

Instead, test the student THAT question a few days or even a week later. Not once, not twice but all the way till the eve of SA2.

So, if I go through a question with my student and 2 weeks later, he/she is able to answer correctly, should I be convinced that he/she is able to duplicate such results in the exam ? Is the job done here? Unfortunately, the answer is still NO because you want absolute certainty from the students. That bring us to the next part; thorough testing

Part 4:Thorough testing

When I use the term “test” the students. What do I mean by test ? How do I test to ensure absolute certainty from the students ?
You see, kids are smart. They are a lot smarter than we think. How do I know if this kid is memorizing a pattern ? Because I had repeatedly showed him the same question, testing him the same thing, in the same way, a pattern is formed. Essentially, we do not want students to recognize a pattern, we want students to have a hammerlock on the question.

There are 5 ways to put them to the ultimate test. I am going to input a simple question for illustration purposes. These 5 ways are applicable to MCQs and open ended questions which includes experiments.

Sample question : State a difference between a butterfly and an eagle.

1. Tell them the wrong answer and ask if that is correct. (The wrong answer is actually the answer he had wrote previously or you can come out with your own wrong answer)

Example : The answer is “The eagle feeds on other animals but the butterfly feeds on plants”. Do you agree ?
-> If the student disagree and says that the answer should be : The eagle has a beak but the butterfly does not.
Take it to the next level

2. Justify the wrong answer and ask him to explain his correct answer. Why ?

Example : Justify : “But the eagle does feed on small animals and the butterfly is often seen near a flower, don't you see that on TV as well?” Why is this wrong then ?
-> At this point, the student needs to explain to you that stating the difference between the 2 animals should be based on characteristics and not assumptions or TV.

3. Let them read the question and their wrong answer, ask them to explain why is their answer wrong.

Example : Their previous answer was “The eagle feeds on other animals than the butterfly feeds on plants”
->Ask them, why is this wrong ? Why should I compare their characteristics ? Can I compare their sizes, colour or habitat instead ?

4. Mix it up ; tell them the correct answer and ask if they agree or not. Why ?

Example : “The eagle has 2 legs but the butterfly has 6 legs”
->Question them why is this correct ? If I compare legs, why can`t I say both have 2 eyes if the question were to ask for similarity ? Can I say both are animals too ?

5. Tweak the question. If the question is asking about mammal, replace mammals with birds. If the experiment involve using steel (for topic on magnets), change it to copper. Add 2 more magnets and explain your observation. For experiment on photosynthesis, replace the plant with a fungi. Instead of using sunlight, change it to torchlight etc. Too many ways to do that.

Example : State a difference between a sunflower and a mushroom. (Here we test them the characteristic of fungi)
State a difference between the life cycle of these 2 animals. (same type of open ended question, different topic)
Can you name a similarity between them ? (Add-on to the existing question)

All these mentioned are just 1 simple example of a common open ended question. As mentioned earlier, there are only so many trick questions that are within the syllabus that school can test. This is not rocket science, it is lower primary science. Identify them, test them thoroughly. Get the results.

Part 5 : Speed revision.
Towards the last 2 weeks of the final exam, you should have at least 8 sets of SA2 paper done and marked with “C” and “Star”. As enough work has been done previously, this is the time to focus on the “C” and “Star” questions for the whole 2 weeks until the student can whiff out the trick in the question just by reading it.

On a few occasions, you might want to “role switch” with your child. Personally, I will use this method when I noticed that the student is restless or tired. Just tell him to sit down and relax. You appear to give him/her a better deal by holding the pencil and writing the answer while he/she provides the answer. Do not hint or prompt, simply write whatever the student provides, word for word. It may sound easier for him/her but it`s actually a true test to his understanding of his work. This is because you are physically there, sitting beside him/her and every question he/she provides is under your direct scrutiny. Every question has to be explained, it had to be justified in front of you, no room for guesswork.

The greatest advantage is you will have a clear picture on where he stands as there is no way for him/her to sneak past you. You will know exactly where are he/her weaknesses and strengths and how to tackle them effectively and efficiently.

The disadvantage is it is extremely time consuming. It can take up to 3 hours for a full paper.

Acing in an exam is no easy feat for students because we were once students too. To get students to ace is as difficult. However, it can be done. If you have read till this point, u will come to realize that if executed properly, any poly/JC student is able to the job @ $20-25/hour, you might want to coach your child personally. Did I miss out anything in this thread? Let me know your view 

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Re: P3/P4 Sci SA2 last min preparation tips

Postby iceteasu » Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:16 am

Thank you for sharing!

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Re: P3/P4 Sci SA2 last min preparation tips

Postby Pangyx » Wed Aug 31, 2016 2:03 am

I cant really get any Kiasu points to start a new thread so I guess I shall continue with this then. Hopefully some of you will get this far and benefit from it. In this section, I will be going in detail on how to score in MCQ questions in P3/P4 science, specifically P4 SA2 MCQ. If you find this useful, feel free to open a new thread and re-post for the benefit of others.

How to score in MCQ question ?

Anyone who had taken the driving theory test will tell you how tough the questions were. One must score 90% of the question in order to “pass” the test. A few of us had cleared it on the first attempt will share with you that of the easiest way is to practice the online booklets in the driving centre because those questions are either similar or repeated. Simply put it, you practice those similar questions and you nail the test.

I cannot emphasize enough the sheer importance of the top school exam paper. These papers are so useful that in the recent years, I have even promised “guaranteed marks” to parents out there who want their kids to get 85 and above for Science. If I don't deliver the results I don't get the monetary incentives. If I do, I receive a bounty. Anyway, to give a good insight of that, I took some time to dissect all SA2 paper1 for P4 to show exactly what I mean by that. A total of 500 over questions (17 sets of SA2 Paper x 30 MCQ questions) is a good enough sample size to identify questions that are likely to appear in the exam. The figures that I will be providing will also give you an idea on why some students are getting around 70 and a low 80 for Science. Last but least, these are based on actual on facts and statistics and not random claims.

I grouped all the MCQ questions into 2 main groups; direct and indirect

Direct questions : These questions are simple and straight forward. These questions are meant to give students who have basic grasp of the subject. Questions are always tested on these few aspects like characteristics, functions, properties and correct arrangements of life cycle, systems, magnets and growth related topics. Direct questions can also come in a form of tables and flow charts where you basically just follow the arrows or answer true/false. They are easy to score and take up approximately 22-24 questions out of 30 (74-80%)

Indirect questions : These questions not straight forward and require a little bit more time to work it out. As these questions are not as common as the direct questions, more often, there is a lack of emphasis on these questions. Unfortunately, these are the questions which make up the remaining 20% which most students are chasing. Irony isn’t it ? They take up approximately 6-8 questions out of 30 in the MCQ sections (20-26%). These 6-8 questions come in many forms and I had classified them 6 different TYPES.

TYPE 1. Light source shining on an object ( Transparancy of the material, presence shadow, size of shadow)
TYPE 2. Choose the suitable graph out of 4
TYPE 3. Choose 2 set-ups for a fair experiment
TYPE4 - Extracting information from experiment with tabulated result
TYPE 5. Reading Graph
TYPE 6. Drawing conclusion from experiment

My estimated figures for students who lost 20-30 marks in SA2

MCQ Direct questions – Average 1-2 questions (2-4marks) lost due to carelessness
MCQ Indirect questions – Average 3-4 questions (6-8marks) lost due to unfamiliarity

A student who scored 70-80 marks in his exam will lose an average of 10-12marks from MCQ on a modest side. With Paper 2 yet to be added in, it`s no surprise that students can lose 20-30marks in SA2. Feel free to take these figures and match it in his SA1 result or even his/her upcoming SA2 result. Are students losing more marks in the indirect questions ? If that's the case, are the tuition and assessment books focusing on these type of questions ? Because if they don't, there is a good chance that the student is going to get the same or worse result.

The final part of the thread is some intense work I had compiled for all the parents out there who are preparing their kid for the upcoming SA2. I had identified EACH TYPE of indirect questions from EVERY top school SA2 paper, a total of 107 indirect questions to practice for MCQ.

On top of these 107 questions, i had yet to tweak them to stimulate exam-like situations where questions are ever changing so that students are trained to face changes for any questions. Perhaps next year, I will provide this add-on and Section B if there is a demand. Nonetheless, these is a list of indirect questions, the number beside the question indicate the type of indirect question as mentioned above. All the best in SA2!

Tao Nan
Q14 – 3
Q18 – 1
Q19 – 1
Q20 – 6
Q21 – 2

Q14 – 4
Q17 – 1
Q18 – 4
Q25 – 4

Q9 – 1
Q10 – 1
Q11 – 1
Q17 – 4
Q30 - 4

Q12 – 3
Q18 – 6
Q19 – 4
Q22 – 6
Q24 – 4
Q26 – 1
Q27 – 1
Q30 - 2

Red Sawastika
Q8 – 1
Q12 – 3
Q15 – 4
Q17 – 3
Q18 – 6
Q20 – 6
Q22 – 1
Q24 – 4
Q30 – 6

Q13 – 3
Q17 – 6
Q18 – 1
Q24 – 5

Pei Hwa
Q20 – 6
Q21 – 1
Q23 – 1
Q24 – 1
Q26 - 4

Pei Chun
Q20 – 2
Q21 – 6
Q26 – 2
Q27 – 1
Q29 -6
Q30 -4

Nan Yang
Q12 – 5
Q16 – 3
Q21 – 1
Q22 – 1
Q24 -4
Q27 – 6
Q28 -6

Nan hua
Q19 -5
Q20 – 5
Q21 – 3
Q23 – 4
Q26 - 6
Q30 - 6

Q9 – 2
Q14 – 6
Q20 – 1
Q27 – 2
Q 29 – 1
Q 30 – 5

Maris Stella
Q4 – 1
Q18 – 6
Q20 – 6
Q22 – 6
Q24 – 1
Q27 – 6

Maha Bohdi
Q15- 2
Q18- 6
Q19 - 6
Q 22 – 4
Q 24 – 2

Henry Park
Q10 – 1
Q11 – 1
12 – 1
13 – 1
14 – 1
15 -1
16 – 1
17 – 1

CHIJ St. Nicholas
Q 16 – 6
Q17 – 6
Q21 – 4
Q25 – 4
Q26 – 2
Q27 – 4

AC S junior
Q9 – 5
Q10 – 5
Q14 – 2
Q16 – 5
Q17 – 3
Q19 – 1
Q33 - 3
Q 20 – 2
Q39 - 5

ACS Primary.
Q11 – 5
Q 13 – 1
Q17 – 6
Q18 – 2
Q25 – 1
Q26 – 3
Q27 – 1
Q28 – 1
Q29 – 1
Q30 - 4

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Re: P3/P4 Sci SA2 last min preparation tips

Postby Pangyx » Wed Aug 31, 2016 3:22 pm

Must know questions before taking the exam

1. Syringe with air pump questions –Students must know if the volume of air changes after a few pumps
Common mistake :
-Students tend to add the volume of the air in the container plus the volume of the air pumped in which is wrong. Air can be compressed.

2. Light source with object and screen – Students must be able to visualized the shadow formed by the object using different screen materials and object.
Common mistakes :
-Students tend to assume that a light shining on a piece of glass will have no shadow on the screen.

3. Stroke method magnet (just a few stokes) or electromagnet (a few turns around the magnet) is unable to pick up any steel paper clips.
Common mistake : Student always mentioned that the steel rod is unable to pick up any paper slips because it is not magnetized and will be given 0 marks. The answer is the steel rod is magnetized but it`s too weak to attract any paper clips.

4. Experiment with 4 different materials dipped into a container of water. Results are recorded in a table. Question is asked which material is suitable to make X. This type of question is either asking for a material that is absorbent or waterproof in form of a product like a raincoat/diaper.
Common mistakes :
-Students who lack exposure for this type of question will end up choosing the most waterproof material to make a diaper and the most absorbent material to make a raincoat.

5. Relationship between X and Y question. How does X affect Y in this experiment ? There is a table with the headings as guide to help student to answer
Common mistake : Students tend to miss out the headings as guide and come out with their own distorted explanation which make sense when we read it but they are not answering the question.

6. A typical MCQ question where an experiment/scenario is created and students are asked to choose a correct graph out of the possible 4. Topics can encompass matter, light(shadow), digestive system with the X-Y axis appearing in different forms like temperature/time, height of shadow/time, amount of digested food/time.
Common mistake : Student understood the topics and concept but could not pluck the information into the X and Y axis of the graph to derive a conclusion.

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