2017 marks the first year when GCE ‘O’ Level candidates will be sitting for a brand new Social Studies (SS) syllabus come October. According to MOE, the new syllabus is revised to place greater emphasis on active citizenship and critical thinking in students. While previous syllabus revisions had been minor, the latest update is a significant change with more hot-button topical issues and exam questions meant to test a student’s ability to form reasoned arguments and recommendations.
One of the biggest changes is the removal of the Structured Essay Question (SEQ) component and its replacement by the brand new Structured Response Question (SRQ) in Section B. Comprising 30% of the overall score, it no longer allows students to memorise so-called “model” essays to regurgitate later during exams. The key areas of focus are now on demonstrating critical thinking and selecting information to address the different issues at hand. Here are some tips on how you can ace your new Social Studies exams:
1. Be familiar with the key issues relating to the syllabus, understand the context of events in Singapore as well as around the world.
SRQ sub-part (a) requires students to account for a particular trend in Singapore or to suggest strategies or solutions used to address an issue in Singapore. It requires the students to be familiar with societal concerns (e.g. The uproar over the recent water price hike) relating to the syllabus so that they are able to select relevant information to answer the question, and ensure that their recommendations must also be feasible. There is no right answer, but students must display their thought processes and showcase their ability to view the issue from different angles.
2. Be able to differentiate between core and dynamic content, using the latter as evidence to support core content.
Dynamic content refers to those examples which can be used to illustrate the students’ understanding of the core content. While there is dynamic content in the course book, it tends to be very general in nature. Moreover, most students at the ages of 15 -17 are not be able to use the dynamic content in a way that best fits the assessment requirements. Students would therefore benefit immensely from targeted help and guidance on how to apply the dynamic content in a relevant fashion to maximise their scores in the SRQ section. It is therefore important to select the right mentor or tutor to provide a hands-on application of both types of content.
3. Write your arguments convincingly and within a set time
In the Source-Based Question (SBQ) section which has 5 questions and takes up a whopping 35 marks, there is a new question where students have to test a hypothesis (society’s citizens response to an event and conflict resolution/conclusion) using 6 given sources. This is a very important component as it takes up 20% of the overall score. Hence, a student must be able to strategise and plan quickly before writing and time management is crucial. Many students often waste too much time writing about each and every source, instead of going to the heart of the question and giving the required answer. Without advance planning, some students are unable to finish this question and lose marks unnecessarily.
Humanities Hub is the leading provider of Social Studies tuition in Singapore. Headed by our in-house guru, Mr Tan, our students have achieved excellent results every year without fail since our inception. With close to 20 years of teaching experience, Mr Tan is confident in helping students, weak or otherwise, to navigate the complexities of the new syllabus.
All our S4 Social Studies classes are almost full! If you wish to join us before it is too late, call us at 6264 2236 or 9661 9760 now!