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GP FAQ2023-01-26T01:55:19+00:00

Frequently Asked Questions

About Our Lessons

Is a deposit required and what is it for?2023-01-26T01:52:24+00:00

What are the exact terms of the security deposit?
Please refer to the following for the exact terms of our policy:
1) The security deposit will be used to cover the last four lessons upon withdrawal or graduation.
2) The security deposit will not be forfeited.
3) This means that students can still attend lessons until the security deposit is fully utilised.
4) The security deposit is non-refundable except in the event of a change of tutor or the discontinuation of the GP lessons.

What happens if I miss classes?
1) You can simply attend another class within the same week. All classes within the week (Mon to Sun) cover the same material.
2) If you cannot make it for the entire week, please watch the recording whenever you are able to.
3) As recordings and notes are still provided, please note that no refunds will be given if you do not turn up for the live classes.

Why do you have to collect a security deposit?
Collecting a security deposit allows us to do what we do, and focus on helping our students rather than chasing students and parents for payment. It also allows us to avoid suspending a student from lessons due to late payment. Finally, it ensures that students do not abruptly start and stop lessons from month to month. This would be disruptive, both for the teacher and the student.

The full name of our tuition centre is My Mustard Seed Tuition Centre. We have a physical address at 201B Tampines St. 21, #02-1069, Singapore 522201. We have been operating for over two decades. If you have any further concerns, please feel free to reach out to us.

Why is the minimum commitment period 8 weeks?
We want to see our students all the way through till their A-Level exams. Our goal is not to increase our student count but to fully help those that do choose to enroll with us.

This means that upon registration, we provide our students with many things that are not limited to the regular classes. From the very first week, students gain full access to all of our resources and recordings at no additional charge. They are also free to consult with Mr Liau himself on any queries or past recordings (from our LMS) that they have questions about. All of this is offered as part of the heavily discounted package (effectively $80/week in 2023).

While we understand that many places offer trials (some even free), we seek your understanding that we have different requirements because we operate differently.

All students are personally taught and guided by Mr Liau himself. Accepting too many trial students inevitably means that existing students end up being neglected. In many cases, this means that tuition centres outsource the teaching of existing students to junior teachers and the learning experience changes dramatically after the trial is over. We never wish to shortchange our students that way.

Are the lessons conducted under an established tuition centre?
Yes, the full name of our tuition centre is My Mustard Seed Tuition Centre. We have a physical address at 201B Tampines St. 21, #02-1069, Singapore 522201. We have been operating for over two decades. If you have any further concerns, please feel free to reach out to us.

Please refer to the tuition centre’s business profile below.

What happens if I am unable to attend the lesson for the week?2023-01-25T07:43:34+00:00

If you are unable to attend the lesson for the week, you can either attend another lesson in the same week or watch the recording. Any work that you submit will still be marked. You can also contact Mr Liau directly if you have any questions about the material that is covered in the recording.

How do you train students to develop strong arguments?2023-01-25T07:43:34+00:00

Let’s be real. If there were truly some secret formula to instant success, schools would have taught it by now and you should have already heard about it.

Instead, the key to our success lies in our use of the age-old Socratic method. Through the painstaking process of asking and answering questions, we push our students to think for themselves and justify their ideas.

The studies support this. Our experience supports this. And our students’ results speak for themselves.

Why do you focus so much on arguments?2023-01-25T07:47:08+00:00

Arguments are central to all components of the GP paper. Paper 1 requires students to write an argumentative essay within 90 minutes. Paper 2 requires students to answer short questions about an argumentative essay (the passage), summarise the author’s arguments, and respond to them through the application question. Ultimately, GP is all about arguments.

How do you help students keep abreast of current developments?2023-01-25T07:43:34+00:00

Every lesson, we share deep insights on two or three major developments in the world to help students understand what they are reading in the news. We also discuss how students can use these insights in their essays. Ultimately, the goal of these discussions is to expose students to different viewpoints, provide them with mental tools to analyse the news, and encourage them to take an interest in current affairs.

 

Is it enough for students to memorise facts and examples?2023-01-25T07:43:34+00:00

In 2013, Cambridge examiners explicitly pointed out that GP is not a test of general knowledge. Students who receive poor grades despite their extensive use of examples should note that no amount of facts and statistics can make up for a poorly-developed argument.

The General Paper subject is primarily about the arguments. Cambridge examiners have made that abundantly clear. Students must argue, reason and persuade, not flood the examiner with details and lengthy descriptions.

This is the trickiest part about GP. Memorising model essays will not work. Neither will copying and pasting canned arguments. Because every question is different, every response must be unique. Within those 90 minutes, students must formulate and express their own arguments.

It is therefore important for students to learn how to use examples to support their points. This is why we teach students to focus on convincing the examiner with persuasive arguments, substantiated with strong examples, rather than on impressing readers with their depth of knowledge.

How do you help students build content knowledge?2023-01-25T07:43:34+00:00

Memorising facts and statistics without understanding their context or knowing how to use them is actually worse than useless. It can be harmful because it instils a false sense of confidence. A student may think he is impressing the examiner when in fact he is merely frustrating him.

It is therefore important to build a solid conceptual framework first before students jump into the examples. To accomplish that, we often start with in in-depth discussions of pertinent case studies. Through these discussions, students may ask questions, clarify doubts and attempt to articulate their own understanding of the subject.

In addition to the class discussions, we provide content packages and comprehensive notes that are designed to expose students to popular arguments and examples. Through these content packages, students will also see how the evidence can be marshalled to support their arguments.

 

How important is content knowledge?2023-01-25T07:43:34+00:00

Contrary to popular belief, GP is not just an English subject for JC students.

Content matters.

Cambridge examiners have made this abundantly clear. They award low grades to students who exhibit a poor understanding of the subject and fail to substantiate their arguments with robust evidence.

Those who cannot address differing viewpoints fare even worse. They receive failing grades because they are “unable to meet the basic requirement of this paper”. (Examiner Report, 2013)

It’s therefore no surprise that students score poorly when their scripts are filled with comments like: “lacks balance”, “weak argument” and “poor evidence”.

No matter how effusive a student’s language may be, he will not get a good grade. Cambridge has made that abundantly clear.

How do you teach students to write good essays?2023-01-25T07:43:34+00:00

We often see students struggle with essay writing but simply cannot figure out why. In most cases, the answer is quite simple: they have nothing meaningful to say. The first thing we like to tell students is to figure out what they want to say, then say it as simply as possible. Students are discouraged from blindly emulating the flowery prose of their more proficient peers. Instead, they should seek to develop an in-depth understanding of the topic and express their own views clearly and concisely. Our in-class discussions and essay planning exercises play a vital role here. Students will also receive extensive reading materials and comprehensive notes.

This is not to say that our focus is purely on content knowledge. If a student has good ideas but cannot articulate them, those ideas will be for naught. Every week, we encourage students to complete at least two paragraphs (or a full essay if possible). Mr Liau personally marks and provides feedback on all work that is submitted as part of the regular classes. Every month, we also devote some time to covering common writing errors.

 

How are lessons conducted?2023-01-26T01:46:12+00:00

Lessons consist of a combination of short mini-lectures, in-class discussions, interactive exercises, exam practices, and a variety of activities that are designed to help students develop the following skills: critical reading and understanding, critical writing and expression, argumentation and evaluation, and finally, interdisciplinary thinking.

As Cambridge’s focus has shifted away from rote learning, students who focus on mindless practices and drills tend to perform poorly for the A Level exams (often in spite of good scores in school).

To tackle this, we place heavy emphasis on the aforementionaed skills and achieve the development of these skills through a combination of five things.

First of all, we provide high quality notes and explanations every class. Students will learn about essential concepts and be exposed to a wide variety of examples in class. They will also receive sample paragraphs and essays, structured outlines, and tips on answering techniques. During the Case Studies MasterClass, students will explore exciting current affairs events in an in-depth and interdisciplinary manner. All classes are personally taught by Mr Liau, a former journalist with op-eds published locally and internationally on newspapers like The Guardian. (We do not “bait and switch”.)

Second, we provide ample opportunities for student engagement and interaction. The studies have shown that students learn best when they are deeply invested in what they are learning. Students are also much more likely to develop an interest in the subject if they are active participants in their own learning rather than mere absorbers of information. To facilitate student engagement and interaction, we make an effort that give each student an opportunity to participate in the discussion, whether verbally or in written form.

Third, we provide students with ample opportunities to practise a variety of skills. This includes all of the exam components: essay writing, comprehension, summary and AQ. Students will learn the relevant exam/answering techniques and will have opportunities to practise them.

Fourth, Mr Liau personally marks all work submitted by students as part of our classes. All feedback on essays, AQ responses and comprehension answers is provided by Mr Liau himself, the author of the 2021 A-Level answer key. Again, we do not “bait-and-switch”. We do not outsource the marking.

Finally, Mr Liau personally keeps in touch with students. They can clarify doubts and bring any questions they may have directly to him. Mr Liau has been teaching for 11 years.

In essence, our lessons focus heavily on understanding rather than memorisation of facts. Over the years, we have observed that Cambridge is placing increasing emphasis on two things: interdisciplinary thinking and logical analysis. To help students meet these new demands, we have made these aspects of learning an integral part of our lessons. Students can expect to develop fresh insights, be exposed to a vast array of views and be challenged to think analytically. For more information about how students feel about our lessons, please refer to our testimonials here:  https://gptuition.com/testimonials/

About Online Lessons

How effective are online lessons? What happens if the student is unable to focus online?2023-01-25T07:43:53+00:00

We have been conducting online classes since the end of 2019 and have pioneered innovative methods for keeping students engaged. As our classes are conducted live, students are kept on task by the teacher, Mr Liau.

All our students who took the A-Level exams in 2020 were taught online for almost the entire year. They outperformed previous cohorts. 97% of them attained ‘A’ and ‘B’ grades.

We have thus remained 100% online because our students have indicated a preference for our online lessons and because they have continued to achieve stellar results.

 

How are materials provided through online lessons? Will printed materials be provided?2023-01-25T07:43:53+00:00

The materials will be uploaded to our Learning Management System. Students can access the notes and materials at any time, download them and even print them out. However, as there are a lot of notes and materials, we will not be printing them out for students.

During the class, all work is submitted and marked online using Google Docs. Students have generally found this to be a superior approach for their learning compared to using pen and paper, then taking photos of their work and uploading the photos.

Extensive notes are provided both in class and after class.

Why aren’t you offering physical lessons?2023-01-25T07:43:53+00:00

Our students have expressed an overwhelming preference for online classes for a few reasons:

  • More alert in class because they are less exhausted from travelling
  • Greater convenience and easier to fit into their busy schedules
  • Instant marking and feedback can be provided online during classes
  • Able to ask questions directly via text messaging in class
  • Unique learning experience with Mr Liau

As such, we have remained 100% online since March 2020. We intend to continue with online classes for now.

In fact, our online classes have proven to be equally, if not more, effective. Students who attended online classes did well with 97% of them scoring an A or a B for the A-Level examination.

Do you only conduct online classes?2023-01-26T01:49:17+00:00

Yes, all GP classes are conducted online. We are the first 100% online GP tuition centre. No physical classes at all.

For GP, online classes are actually better. Sometimes, students’ preferences can be quite sticky so the most we can do is try to explain how online classes have helped our students score better and learn more than in previous years when we had offline classes.

In summary, after switching to online classes, we experienced the following:
— Exam scores improved.
— Class participation increased.
— Assignment submissions increased.
— Questions asked after class increased.
— Reading of notes and articles increased.
— Class attendance became more regular (fewer excuses to skip classes when they are online).

Why online lessons?2023-01-26T01:50:15+00:00

We only conduct online lessons because they are more effective.

Students frequently tell us that our lessons are radically different from the typical online lessons that they received during HBL in school / other tuition centres.

In particular, they find that our lessons have helped them remain more engaged, have given them more opportunities to complete practices and receive feedback, and have eventually helped them score well in exams.

We are thus the only tuition centre that only offers online lessons for GP. 100% online. No physical classes. First and only in Singapore to do this.

We help our students achieve good results by effectively using technology to provide simultaneous student engagement and collaboration opportunities. We are also better able to provide feedback, recordings, notes and resources online. Students who have doubts can easily raise questions and receive answers.

In fact, our students have performed even better through online lessons than before. Our online lessons have enabled our students to achieve 97% A and B grades for GP, an increase over physical lessons.

Ultimately, our lessons are only available online. So the only way to benefit from our expertise and guidance is through these online lessons.

Mr Liau is certified in Online Teaching and Education by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Post-Graduate).

He is the invited author for the A-Level General Paper Answer Key (2021-2022).

All classes are taught by Mr Liau.

For more information about how students feel about how classes, you can read their reviews here: https://gptuition.com/testimonials/

About Trial Classes

Do you offer trial classes?2023-01-26T01:54:05+00:00

We do not offer trial lessons as we are not that kind of tuition centre (see details below).

We adopt a unique research-driven pedagogy that is unmatched in Singapore. Our curriculum and materials are developed by Mr Liau himself, the author of the 2021-2022 A-Level answer key. Mr Liau personally teaches all classes. Registered students can go directly to him for help and guidance.

Our track record of 97% A and B grades speaks for itself and we are happy to let our former students tell you what you can expect from our classes. You can check out their reviews here: https://gptuition.com/testimonials/

The full name of the tuition centre is My Mustard Seed Tuition Centre. We have a 100% five-star review on Google with many happy students and parents. We have been operating for over twenty years.

Why don’t you offer trial classes?2023-01-26T01:57:18+00:00

Trial classes undermine the learning and development of long-term students because lessons must be dumbed down to cater to the constant influx of new students. The teacher’s attention is also diverted towards satisfying trial students rather than teaching the entire class. This is unfair to long-term students and does nothing for trial students either (since they too would eventually become long-term students). Students who attend such classes often end up discovering that they are merely repeating the same superficial basics over and over again. This is a complete waste of money.

In fact, trial lessons are not representative of what a student will experience throughout the year since trial classes can easily be manipulated to appear better than the actual classes. It is quite common for some places to engage in a form of “bait-and-switch” where the founder teaches the trial class but other classes are taught by trainee teachers. Only the tuition centre’s bottom line is enhanced by this arrangement.

For our part, our primary interest lies in the education of the students we are entrusted with. We have more than enough students every year so we absolutely have no qualms about taking in fewer students to ensure that those who do join us get the very best.

We will let the results that we produce speak for itself. We cannot comment on the practices of other tuition centres save to say that we disagree that such practices are in the best interests of students.

If you have confidence in your classes, why don’t you offer a trial? How else can I be assured that your classes are good?2023-01-26T01:57:41+00:00

Actually, it is precisely because we have great confidence in our classes that we do not need to offer a trial. Moreover, we are fast approaching our yearly enrolment limit so we have no need to resort to gimmicks like that.

If you are still unsure if our lessons will be suitable for you, feel free to reach out to us and we will try our best to address your concerns.

If you still do badly after attending our classes for more than 3 months, please reach out to Mr Liau. He will personally mentor you for the rest of the year to ensure that you do well.

Note: If you subsequently encounter any issues over the course of the lessons, we encourage you to reach out to us for additional assistance or individual guidance.

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