Withdrawing after Sec 3NA and taking O levels privately

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marsilingmom
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Withdrawing after Sec 3NA and taking O levels privately

Post by marsilingmom » Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:12 am

My DD is in Sec 3NA and has problems fitting in at school. She is also being bullied. The school has been notified and teachers are coming up with a plan of action for the remaining weeks of the school year, but my DD says she has had enough and wants to leave the school. She wants to do O levels as a private candidate with the help of a prep course. Her goal is to get into either a biomedical science or nursing or environment science course in poly as she's interested in geographical sciences and medicine.

Her current subject combi is O-level English, Math, Literature, Geog/SS, Bio/Chem, Art and Chinese. She loves Bio, Geog and Lit and is strong in these 3 subjects so she intends to do O-level English, Math, Geog, Bio or Bio/Chem and Lit. This combination reflects both her strengths and her interests.

Would anyone have any insights to share on what it's like to do O levels as a private candidate instead of in the school setting, and how tough will it be for her to scale up from Sec 3NA syllabus to O level? We looked at the various syllabi and it seems she has covered the majority of the topics for the subjects in school but we're not sure about the depth of each topic.

slmkhoo
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Re: Withdrawing after Sec 3NA and taking O levels privately

Post by slmkhoo » Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:38 am

marsilingmom wrote:My DD is in Sec 3NA and has problems fitting in at school. She is also being bullied. The school has been notified and teachers are coming up with a plan of action for the remaining weeks of the school year, but my DD says she has had enough and wants to leave the school. She wants to do O levels as a private candidate with the help of a prep course. Her goal is to get into either a biomedical science or nursing or environment science course in poly as she's interested in geographical sciences and medicine.

Her current subject combi is O-level English, Math, Literature, Geog/SS, Bio/Chem, Art and Chinese. She loves Bio, Geog and Lit and is strong in these 3 subjects so she intends to do O-level English, Math, Geog, Bio or Bio/Chem and Lit. This combination reflects both her strengths and her interests.

Would anyone have any insights to share on what it's like to do O levels as a private candidate instead of in the school setting, and how tough will it be for her to scale up from Sec 3NA syllabus to O level? We looked at the various syllabi and it seems she has covered the majority of the topics for the subjects in school but we're not sure about the depth of each topic.
I don't have direct experience, but I do sympathise with your daughter. At one point, a few years ago, I did look at O level options outside school as we were returning from overseas in what should have been my older daughter's O level year. In the end she didn't take O levels, but took SPERS instead (for returning Singaporeans). We just enrolled her for some tuition classes and also tutored her ourselves.

If your daughter is willing to work hard, you can look for a tutor to work with her from now till the end of the year to do the scaling up. She only needs to scale up to be level with Sec 3 Express students as she will have another year to finish the whole O level syllabus. If you have already found a prep course for her, the teachers there may have suggestions or be willing to provide that kind of tutoring. The main thing is for her to be focused and diligent. You don't mention Chinese as a subject? You may need to check whether she will need that in order to apply for poly.

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Re: Withdrawing after Sec 3NA and taking O levels privately

Post by marsilingmom » Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:51 am

slmkhoo wrote: I don't have direct experience, but I do sympathise with your daughter. At one point, a few years ago, I did look at O level options outside school as we were returning from overseas in what should have been my older daughter's O level year. In the end she didn't take O levels, but took SPERS instead (for returning Singaporeans). We just enrolled her for some tuition classes and also tutored her ourselves.

If your daughter is willing to work hard, you can look for a tutor to work with her from now till the end of the year to do the scaling up. She only needs to scale up to be level with Sec 3 Express students as she will have another year to finish the whole O level syllabus. If you have already found a prep course for her, the teachers there may have suggestions or be willing to provide that kind of tutoring. The main thing is for her to be focused and diligent. You don't mention Chinese as a subject? You may need to check whether she will need that in order to apply for poly.
Thanks! She is a diligent child and motivated to study. Actually I didn't think of the scaling up in terms of working to be on par with Sec 3 Express this year - in my mind it's quite a monumental undertaking to prepare for O levels next year when NA students in her cohort will be doing it 2 years from now. The prep course I've found offers free tutoring for students to catch up during the holidays so if we enrol her there she'd have some extra support.

Her Chinese is horrendous and she is always either failing or passing by a hair's breadth so she definitely won't be taking it as a private candidate. Poly requires just English, 2 relevant subjects and 2 best subjects and for the courses she is interested in, Chinese is not needed.

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Re: Withdrawing after Sec 3NA and taking O levels privately

Post by phtthp » Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:29 am

If your child take O level as private candidate, how are you going to prepare him / her, for Science practical lab work in Bio / Chemistry to prepare for GCE O level, since the student need a school's laboratory facilities, to conduct practical assessment(s)?

Tuition, one can easily arrange outside on your own externally, for the Theory component learning part. But, how about the lab practical sessions component, for Science subjects like Bio and Chemistry ?

Also, in your last PTM (parents-Tr meet up) with various Sec 3NA subject Teachers, did they say your child can transfer from NA, into Sec 4 Express course ?

Did your child meet all the school requirement(s) for the transfer, from NA into Express ?

In case when you try to enrol as a private candidate trying to take O level exam for those subjects u mentioned, during registration time, when they check against the MOE computer currently enrolled students' database record to check, and if the status show up your child as an "NA" student instead of an "Express" stream student, not sure if they let you to proceed with registration. This part, best to contact SEAB, to clarify in detail.
Last edited by phtthp on Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:43 am, edited 2 times in total.

marsilingmom
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Re: Withdrawing after Sec 3NA and taking O levels privately

Post by marsilingmom » Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:42 am

phtthp wrote:If your child take O level as private candidate, how are you going to prepare him / her, for Science practical lab work in Bio / Chemistry to prepare for GCE O level, since the student need a school's laboratory facilities, to conduct practical assessment(s)?

Also, in your last PTM (parents-Tr meet up) with various Sec 3NA subject Teachers, did they say your child can transfer from NA, into Sec 4 Express course ?

Did your child meet all the school requirement(s) for the transfer, from NA into Express ?
The prep course centre I'm looking at has lab facilities for practical work. There is no transfer from Sec 3 NA to Sec 4 Express. That can only happen in Sec 1 or Sec 2, so it didn't come up for discussion.

My DD had a choice to go to the Express stream but we put her in NA because we felt that it was would be less pressurising for her. It was the right decision because she was diagnosed with an illness shortly after. Now that she is well again, she has worked hard and bounced back academically to her teachers' amazement. She's doing much better than other kids who weren't on medical leave as much as she was. This is why we have some confidence that she should be OK if she takes the exams as a private candidate, in terms of self-motivation and understanding/applying the content taught. We're just unsure of the journey, not knowing anyone else who has gone down this route before.


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Re: Withdrawing after Sec 3NA and taking O levels privately

Post by phtthp » Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:50 am

Perhaps u can compare the GCE O level syllabus against the NA syllabus, in terms of depth of Topics covered, for each of those few subjects (above indicated) your child intend to take.

From there, assses how comfortable or how confident your child is, in tackling those subjects named (through private tuition outside), if he / she intend to take O level, in one year's time, taking into consideration the targeted plan in mind how he / she intend to achieve this, including the targeted grades student intend to hit, bearing in mind the Admission Cut-off-point for Biomedical Polytechnic course ( e.g. : that of Ngee Ann poly, or other poly, that offer such course)

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Re: Withdrawing after Sec 3NA and taking O levels privately

Post by slmkhoo » Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:26 am

marsilingmom wrote:
phtthp wrote:If your child take O level as private candidate, how are you going to prepare him / her, for Science practical lab work in Bio / Chemistry to prepare for GCE O level, since the student need a school's laboratory facilities, to conduct practical assessment(s)?

Also, in your last PTM (parents-Tr meet up) with various Sec 3NA subject Teachers, did they say your child can transfer from NA, into Sec 4 Express course ?

Did your child meet all the school requirement(s) for the transfer, from NA into Express ?
The prep course centre I'm looking at has lab facilities for practical work. There is no transfer from Sec 3 NA to Sec 4 Express. That can only happen in Sec 1 or Sec 2, so it didn't come up for discussion.

My DD had a choice to go to the Express stream but we put her in NA because we felt that it was would be less pressurising for her. It was the right decision because she was diagnosed with an illness shortly after. Now that she is well again, she has worked hard and bounced back academically to her teachers' amazement. She's doing much better than other kids who weren't on medical leave as much as she was. This is why we have some confidence that she should be OK if she takes the exams as a private candidate, in terms of self-motivation and understanding/applying the content taught. We're just unsure of the journey, not knowing anyone else who has gone down this route before.
Based on your description of your daughter's circumstances and her recovery (both health and academics), I think she should be fine. Just arrange for tutoring for the catch-up so she starts in Jan on par with Sec 3 Express students. If she is in one of those centres that caters to private candidates, they should have the experience to advise you through the process too. It may be an idea to ask for statistics of their past students as well?

In terms of eligibility to take O levels as a private candidate, the only criteria is age - she needs to be 15 on 1 Jan of the year she takes the exams.
Info for 2017:
http://www.seab.gov.sg/content/privateE ... idates.pdf
To be safe, you may also want to double-check with MOE and the polys about whether there are any specific requirements applicable to Singaporean private candidates (because a lot are probably foreigners).

My children weren't in exactly your daughter's situation, but there were some similarities. They were educated in the US system, where some subjects (especially Maths and Sciences) were not at the same level as Singapore requirements for their ages. We tutored them ourselves, and sent the older one to some tuition classes when we first returned to Singapore, to reduce the gap and prepare them for their return to Singapore school. We aimed to have them on par with students of their age and stage - the younger one to be able to cope in Sec 2, and the older one to be equivalent to O level English and E.Maths to be eligible to enter an A level programme (Arts stream). This was 4 yrs ago. The older one, not a strong student, eventually did well enough in her A levels to be admitted to NTU (not a popular course, but still better than we had hoped), and the younger one is doing well (A levels this year). So I think your plan for your daughter is fine. The main thing is that she must continue to work steadily and not slack.

marsilingmom
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Re: Withdrawing after Sec 3NA and taking O levels privately

Post by marsilingmom » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:54 am

Thanks for the insights slmkhoo and phtthp - it helps me crystallise my thinking about this.

Yes, a lot hinges on her willingness to put in the work required. She is pretty excited about this path because she gets to take the "pure" versions of her favourite/strong subjects with more content i.e. Geog, Lit (which she's already doing), and Bio. Will definitely look into catch-up during the holidays.

For poly admission, the criteria stated on MOE's website for Joint Admissions Exercises 2017 is based on examination results achieved at:

- 2016 Singapore-Cambridge GCE ‘O’ Level Examination or
- a combination of one past year and 2016 Singapore-Cambridge GCE ‘O’ Level Examination

So basically for 2019 JAE, she will use 2018 O level results. Or, if she decides to take two years to do this, 2020 JAE will use 2018 and 2019 O level results (if she does 2-3 subjects each year). If she takes two years, time-wise it would be the same as if she had finished Sec 5.

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Re: Withdrawing after Sec 3NA and taking O levels privately

Post by mooners » Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:05 pm

marsilingmom wrote:Thanks for the insights slmkhoo and phtthp - it helps me crystallise my thinking about this.

Yes, a lot hinges on her willingness to put in the work required. She is pretty excited about this path because she gets to take the "pure" versions of her favourite/strong subjects with more content i.e. Geog, Lit (which she's already doing), and Bio. Will definitely look into catch-up during the holidays.

For poly admission, the criteria stated on MOE's website for Joint Admissions Exercises 2017 is based on examination results achieved at:

- 2016 Singapore-Cambridge GCE ‘O’ Level Examination or
- a combination of one past year and 2016 Singapore-Cambridge GCE ‘O’ Level Examination

So basically for 2019 JAE, she will use 2018 O level results. Or, if she decides to take two years to do this, 2020 JAE will use 2018 and 2019 O level results (if she does 2-3 subjects each year). If she takes two years, time-wise it would be the same as if she had finished Sec 5.
My boy is also facing the similar issue. He was from Sec 2Exp down to Sec 3NA. His current subject combi is English, Math, Geog/SS, Phy/Chem and Chinese.Has pass his Sec 3NA but he wants to take private O level so he will not waste the 1yr in N level, take into consideration that he still need to serve NS.

I wonder how to go about applying a prep centre for his Yr 2018 O level as a private candidate.
He is currently attached to a home tutor which giving him tuition 4x a week on English, Math, chem / physic, social study / Geo but not mother tongue.
Was thinking of going to ITE for their GE course for their cheap course and practical for science.
Can you advise me?
Should he drop out from gov school to joint as private candidate?

marsilingmom
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Re: Withdrawing after Sec 3NA and taking O levels privately

Post by marsilingmom » Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:27 pm

mooners wrote: My boy is also facing the similar issue. He was from Sec 2Exp down to Sec 3NA. His current subject combi is English, Math, Geog/SS, Phy/Chem and Chinese.Has pass his Sec 3NA but he wants to take private O level so he will not waste the 1yr in N level, take into consideration that he still need to serve NS.

I wonder how to go about applying a prep centre for his Yr 2018 O level as a private candidate.
He is currently attached to a home tutor which giving him tuition 4x a week on English, Math, chem / physic, social study / Geo but not mother tongue.
Was thinking of going to ITE for their GE course for their cheap course and practical for science.
Can you advise me?
Should he drop out from gov school to joint as private candidate?
I can't really advise if he should drop out of school or not. But I don't think the N level year should be seen as a waste, as it leads to many paths - ITE, PFP, O levels. The key thing to consider is whether your son has the self-discipline to study for the O levels without the rigour of a school environment. Also, having been in Sec 3 NA he will have to catch up to the Sec 3 Express syllabus before he starts the Sec 4 syllabus next year, which means he has to work quite hard between now and January.

As for how to withdraw from school, the school will want to understand your reasons for doing so. They will then ask for a formal letter from you stating your intention to withdraw your son and the reasons, which they will submit to MOE for approval. At the same time, the private school will have to submit an application to MOE for permission to enrol your son in their preparatory course. Not sure if it is the same arrangement for ITE though.

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