Sunday, 16 June 2013

LIFE OVERSEAS: Test of self-discipline

PREPARING FOR EXAMS: Keeping your nose to the grindstone is key

TUITION is a must for most students in my former hometown of Subang Jaya. It was rare to find a schoolchild who has never attended such classes.
I attended tuition because I felt out of place as the only one who did not go for lessons after school. I felt that I would not be able to compete with my friends in terms of grades if I did not join the herd.
My first tuition class was a Science session when I was 11. My friends in Ireland would be shocked that a child of that age needed extra coaching.
At that time, I was struggling in that subject which was taught in Bahasa Malaysia. I found difficulty in expressing myself in the language even though I knew the answer in English.
The tuition helped me a lot. But did I need it? Should I have put in more effort on my own? Did I solely depend on tuition to improve my grades?

I would have probably slaved away at improving my command of the language if not for tuition. Was it just my lack of self-discipline?
During my primary school years, I opted for tuition in Science, Mathematics and Bahasa Malaysia. When I was in secondary school, I had tuition in the first two subjects.
Tuition is relatively cheap in Malaysia. In Ireland, tuition is called “grinds” and an hour for any subject costs €30 (RM120).
When I began my studies in the Emerald Isle, I felt that grinds were crucial as I was not schooled in Applied Mathematics. Instead of straightforward questions, the test revolved around problem-solving with several contrasting methods of coming up with the answer.
Memorising formulas and predicting questions did not work anymore. Regurgitating all the information I knew would get me nothing at the exam. It is a much better way of learning Mathematics because you deal with real-life situations.
I decided to try my best at deciphering it on my own due to the cost of the grinds. But I came to know of revision crash courses at tuition centres when the final examinations approached. After much thought, I decided on tuition for the final time as it was my last year in school.
So, I headed for Tutorial College Limerick which had a four-day revision course from 9am to 5.30pm covering five subjects of my choice. By the time the clock struck four, my mind had wandered elsewhere. After attending the course, I felt that it was only helpful for Mathematics.
So is tuition a necessity? I think not, unless understanding the subject matter is the problem. Self-discipline — not tuition — is key.

Read more: LIFE OVERSEAS: Test of self-discipline - You - New Straits Times

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