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SPM PMR Crash Course : Tips and Techniques for self study

Report Card Day has come and gone for most schools. Students sitting for SPM PMR would have gotten either praises J or scolding L from their parents.

Here’s some study tips for those of you starting to panic, worry, sweating, pressured etc etc.

 First Key

Focus 100% on only 1 thing at any given time.

Concentrate fully on that task for that time. DO NOT allow anything to distract you, and that means NO sms, NO phone calls, NO chatting.

Let’s say you decide to learn Chap 3 of Form 4 Physics – Pressure for the next 1 hour. Then please commit to Focus 100% on that for 1 hour.

Most people (and that includes adults too) live through distraction the whole day. The world is getting more and more ADD, probably due to more and more distractions in our lives. Therefore, many people do not realize the POWER and EFFECTIVENESS of focusing 100% on something, even though it’s only for a short period of time. 

Second Key

Use Time Budgeting Technique.

Budget a time for your lesson. Let’s take the example of learning Chap 3 of Form 4 Physics – Pressure. Let’s say you decide to allocate 3 hours to complete the chapter, then stick to the 3 hours. Meaning you don’t give yourself excuses and do something else in that 3 hours. (toilet break is acceptable J)

It doesn’t matter whether the time allocated is enough or not. What matters is you learn the habit of FOCUSING 100% on a given task. I guarantee after FOCUSING 100% for 3 hours, you’ll definitely see significant improvement of understanding in that Chapter.

Please stop after 3 hours. Don’t over shoot your budgeted time. Learn to be disciplined.

You can be flexible – but please understand that if you’re always flexible with your time, you’ll not have enough time to finish your syllabus. Learn to balance flexibility with discipline.

Third Key

Chunk Down your lessons.

Slice your budgeted 3 hours into smaller lessons. Preferably complete the lessons within a day or 2. Maximum 3 days if the chapter is long.

For example – you may decide to study 1 hour each lesson. You can study 1 hour in the morning, 1 hour in the evening and then another hour the next morning.  (Remember to give 100% FOCUS to the subject matter in that 1 hour)

Fourth Key

Don’t sit.

That’s right, you heard me the first time. Stand up and look down at your books on the table, or hold the book up with your hands and read it standing over your desk. Do that periodically over your lesson time – I suggest to stand for 5 – 10 min.  Or better still, hold the book or your notes and pace a while around your table.

Why? You’ll be less sleepy this way.

 Fifth Key

Create a study environment that you like.

If you like music, then study with music. If you like to munch snacks, then study with snacks. If you like cold, then study with the air-cond blasting. (BUT – please make sure you’re giving 100% FOCUS to your lessons and not your snacks!)

Try it out – You’ll be amazed with the Power of 100% Focus

On-going Classes


Ø   SPM  : Add Math, Physics, Modern Math

Ø   PMR  : Math & Science

Ø   IGCSE O-Level : Math & Physics

 (for Year 10 & Year 11  International School students)

Our Expertise :

    Drilling exercises based on exam-oriented questions.

    In-depth discussion of questions & active student participation in class.

–  Easy to understand methodology of teaching Add Math & Physics

    For SPM students, include intensive revision for Form 4 syllabus.

    For PMR students, include intensive revision for Form 1 & Form 2 syllabus.

    Limited to max. 14 students per class.

    Monthly tests to track progress.

    Significant improvement in 3 months! J

Books Books and more Books!

The Big Bad Books Sale has come and gone. I must say that it was The Absolutely BEST book sale I’ve been to, and I know many concur. It’s been a long time since I felt the rush of exhilaration and adrenalin pumping when I walked into a sale. By nature, I’m not a shopper (yeah – I’m the minority among women who doesn’t like to shop) But – I was fully pumped up by the time we arrived at about 11am.. several aunties/uncles were walking out with bags of books! Naturally, we peeped at their bags when we passed them from the car park (a good 200-300m) away duh. Parking in Section 13’s horrible on a working day. I almost sprinted to the place when I saw loads of books by Jeffery Deaver in one of their bags. For those of you who “Jeffery Deaver who?” – he’s the guy who wrote The Bone Collector starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.  (yeah – I have a fascination with psychopathic serial killer books :))

We walked in about 1110am on Thursday (1st day of sale since we had this kiasu mentality that all the good books will be gone after the 1st day) and wow! we spent 5 hours there. The end result was –

big bad books sale 1

50 books, the most expensive one cost only RM 10. Amazing! Most of the books were in excellent condition (to my laywoman’s eyes anyway – though the more meticulous ones or those in printing industry probably disagree) .

It’s amusing the hear the reaction from people when I told them excitedly – “Hey you know what, I bought 50 books for RM 407.00 that day!”

“50 books? as in 5 times 10?”

“You sure you can read all of them?”

“Do you actually read all of them?”

“You don’t plan to buy anymore books for the next 10 years?”

Hmm… from the responses I got, I came to realise something – many Malaysians have trouble understanding how someone can read as much as they eat or sleep. Yes – I’m not exaggerating. I read as much as I eat. It’s also very surprising to many, that I can read Douglas Preston’s “Dance of Death” in 2 nights. (10pm – 2am) His books are relatively easy read, but give me Jonathan Kellerman – that’ll probably take a few more nights.

I know of 2 students who can read as much and who will sacrifice their sleep time for a good read – one of them read James Patterson’s new book “Sail” in just one night. I introduced her to the Big Bad Books sale. 🙂

james patterson sail

Another observation I made was that – there were loads of people buying books by the boxes. Me and a friend shared 2 boxes on the 1st day, another box the next day – totalling up to 70 books. One lady had about 9 boxes with her, and she was carrying a child in her arms while shopping for books!. This tells me something very important – when books are made affordable and accessible, plenty of people will read them.  

RM 30+ for a fiction is a ridiculous price and to think our government kept insisting they want to instill reading habits among Malaysian. (of course I’m talking about overseas fiction, not Malaysian storybooks or comics). Some government official was quoted in the paper not long ago, “Malaysians are more willing to spend on food than on books.” (not exact words as I don’t recall, but the gist is the same). What a silly reason – RM 30+ per book will buy 2 person a very nice decent meal in a nice restaurant in 1 Utama. Stretch it a bit and it can feed a family of 4 a few meals. If I earn RM3-4k a month, how many books can I afford to buy? Even at a 20% discount, books in Malaysia still come at a hefty price for many. So – unless the government can step up some genuine effort to reduce the costs of books, they will remain a luxury to the upper middle class, forever out of reach for some, especially the rural folks.

70 books will last me about 1 year (at a rate of 5 per month which is slow). Whenever I bought books, I always tell myself to read slowly – I remember reading Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in one night on a single sitting! (10pm to 4am) – and there goes RM 80+ in one night. Would have bought me and my parents a nice dinner. Haha, but no regrets. That’s the price of getting a book upon it’s release!

SPM Results!

Unbelievable! I am extremely proud of my SPM students last year. Let me share with you their stories.



1) Christine Yap Hwee Yeen, Catholic High PJ. (Right most in picture)

SPM 2008 Results – Add Math A1, Modern Math A2, Physics B4. (others she won’t tell as I didn’t teach her those subjects)

Christine has consistently barely passed her Add Math and Physics throughout her Form 4. Even her Math is usually a B. However, she has been determined and with encouragement & nagging 🙂 haha from me and her mother, she puts in several times more effort in Form 5. Some radical steps she took to achieve her results which I trully commend and feel proud of – she took 2 Add Math tuition, consistently completed my Physics homework (though she disliked the subject) and I drilled her with some last minute Math topics which she’s weak at. She got a B for the Physics because she answered her Section C question wrongly and there goes 20 marks. Otherwise she would have gotten an A.

Christine is the epitome of success and she serves as a motivation to students who didn’t do well in Form 4, those who disliked Physics and are careless in Math. She took responsibility for her own results and took action to be better. Congratulations Christine and I’m proud of you!

2) Yeap Ern Lyn, Catholic High PJ (left most in picture)

SPM 2008 Results – Add Math A1, Modern Math A1, Physics A1 (others she won’t tell)

A close friend of Christine, Ern Lyn has been a quick student and your typical brat with a smart brain and an even smarter mouth. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy teaching students with smart mouth as long as they speak with reasons. In fact, they make the class more interesting. As her tutor, I had to be real careful not to make any mistakes in my teachings, since this girl can sometimes race me in doing Add Math (I win of course!) – However being smart without effort and proper guidance, you still can’t do well in SPM, a certain amount of discipline and responsibility has to come from the student, and I’m happy to say that Ern Lyn may be smart mouth and sometimes lazy, but she knows it when she needs to work harder.

3) Jervis Koo Jing Cheng, SMK Bandar Utama 4

SPM 2008 Results – Add Math B3, Modern Math A1

Jervis came to me in Feb 08, when he was in Form 5. He was in Arts Stream, taking Add Math as extra (his dad wanted him to). He has never passed his Add Math before. He failed his Mid-Year paper (I was so stressed then). We had loads of extra classes. As a kid who considered himself a rascal and disliked Add Math, the effort he was willing to put in was highly praiseworthy. I gave him extra classes on Sat 9am and sometimes even Sunday. He was always willing to wake up early for classes despite sleeping late (he’s a football fan). He grumbled consistently about how he disliked the subject, but always made time for extra classes. Very commendable.

4) Liew Bo Yuan, SMK Bandar Utama 4

SPM 2008 Results – Physics A1 ( he got 11A1 – I taught him Physics 2008)

Bo Yuan has only missed 1 class throughout the year 2008 and our physics classes was on Fri nights. This shows the commitment he has for his studies. A bright and pleasant boy, he has been easy to teach and was one of the few who was able to complete his work faster than my pace in class. A typical straight As student, Bo Yuan takes tuition from different places – he follows the teachers and their speciality, not tuition centres. I know many parents do not wish to send their children to different places, however I believe it is best for students to seek out a tutor whom they are comfortable with as what Bo Yuan had done.

To be continued.. Need to run out for errands now.

Why Start a Tuition Centre?

Why am I in this business? This is the core question that I’ve been asked several times as I start this tuition centre. I still recall vividly years ago when a student’s mom asked me, why don’t you start your own centre instead of travelling to different places everyday to give home tuition? My answer was firm and sure then – I didn’t want the hassle, risks and trouble of renting a place, hiring tutors, dealing with parents and students, getting licences etc etc – wow! – What a long list of reasonable excuses.

So what makes the difference now? Why have I changed my mind? What am I doing now saddled with this shoplot, having to do promotion and marketing to tell people about my centre, cleaning up the place myself after classes etc etc?. I believe the reasons behind me and my partner starting this biz – they are vital to our development and success.

Teaching ordinary kids to be extraordinary – that’s what inspired us to build this business. Imagine a child who consistently barely passed his Math, suddenly finds that it’s really not such a frustrating subject after all, suddenly the kid feels that he too can be just like his friends who always get 90+ marks.

When I first started to teach, I preferred teaching above average students who are “easier” to teach, but somehow I’ve always been given students who are just average or below. Then a friend who’s also a mentor told me – ” if they are so smart, why would they need your help?”. It was then that I realised – having a gift to teach well means I should bring this gift to those who needed it most i.e. the normal ordinary kids who are not so significant in their classes.

A 17 year old boy made a remark in my Add Math class last year ( I was teaching Quadratic Functions – F4 Add Math) “OMG! – I can’t believe I didn’t know how to do this last year”. That statement stuck with me till now and I believe it will stick on for a long time. It feels fantastic to know that we can bring a spark of understanding and hope to kids who feel overwhelmed with their life – not just studies, but their life as a whole.

At the end of the day – exam results matters, but what matters more is this – does the child feel proud of himself, does the child feel good in my class, does the child feel that he/she’s important, respected & cared for, that he/she has the potential to be extraordinary, does the child find learning enjoyable. – These are the questions I always ask myself whenever I teach.

However, there’s only me who feels this way. And I can only teach Math, Add Math, Physics and Science. So what about students who struggle with their BM, English, Chemistry etc? One of my student who’s in Form 4 this year told me that she didn’t understand a single thing for the past 2 chapters of her Chemistry, and she kept asking me why don’t I also teach her Chemistry. My standard reply is – “Ms Ng can’t be superwoman la. I can’t specialise in so many subjects and teach everything and still be good at the subject.” This student got 8As for the her PMR and I could feel how worried she is about her Chemistry and Biology. This is also one reason why I decided to have a tuition centre – to provide help for students in other areas that I can’t. There’s only one of me, and I want to find other tutors who are equally committed to help the students. So what happened to this Form 4 girl? Luckily she has been accepted into Sekolah Berasrama Penuh (Boarding School), and she doesn’t have to worry about looking for a good Chem & Bio tutor now.

And so .. there you have it. My dream business is to create a learning place where ordinary students find inspiration to be extraordinary. Why is this so important to me? Because it feels really good to know that I have a hand in creating the extraordinary in this world.