Quality of Tuition Service nowadays

I have decided to pour out my thoughts after one unhappy incident when I was invited to upload my portfolio onto a new startup tuition platform named yod**.co but the person in – charge has been quite persistent about me doing something which are against my principles. It is compulsory for me to either

  1. Post my students’ photos with details such as school or name and ask them to write a testimonial.
  2. Link their Facebook pages to the website.

I stick to my principles and asked for my profile to be removed.

Many tuition centres and private tutors are doing these, so what’s wrong?

1. Using students as marketing tools



  1. Students engage us to help them academically, not to use them as marketing tools to boost our reputation.
  2. I view it as an infringement to the students’ identity since for y0d**.co, the students must show the photo, name, school and other information.

I have even seen flyers of students in their uniforms holding their A level results slips and a cheque (why is money involved?). What really saddens me is that education is treated purely as a profit driven business. When we as tutors see our students, what is the image in our mind?

  1. A student who is in need of help academically?
  2. Money generator?

There are some tutors or tuition centres I really applaud who respect the privacy of their students. I knew some of them personally and they have students scoring As but in their flyers there’s no mention of any names or whatsoever. It is perfectly fine to upload a few group photos without citing any names, purely as evidence that there is such a tuition service going on.


To put it simply, to find out whether a bowl of noodles is good: Buy 1 and try it out for the first time for yourself. In other words, request for a trial lesson and see it for yourself.

As a parent do you wish to see your child’s face on a flyer advertising for the tuition centre? As a parent myself, I think probably not. My child is worth more than being a cheap endorsement for a tuition centre.

2. Everyone wants a slice of the billion dollar pie.


If you go to Carousel app, you can  see many people posting to hire them as tutors, even students who just graduate from O level, A level etc. Some even post and say they are only free until, say, March next year. It is clear that people are viewing tuition as solely a part time job for pocket money, and that they will quit when their holidays are over. What about the student?

This brings bad light to the good tutors out there who are committed and responsible to fulfil their duties for main reason of assisting the students in need.

The quality of private tuition is dropping because many people regardless experienced, skilled or not wants to be a private tutor. Hence the newspaper reports a survey that minority finds tuition useful.

Straits Times survey

Personally, tuition can be helpful if

  1. You find the right person to coach the student,
  2. The student is willing to accept tuition and cooperate fully with the tutor.


Face to Face vs Video Tuition

The recent 9pm Channel 8 drama by Mediacorp: Crescendo has been quite an interesting one as it shows the struggle of local business in the music industry.


One advertisement I kept seeing is the so called “superstarteacher” whereby I believe students can go watch video clips of lessons by the “super” teachers and the advertisement mentioned “there is no need to go to tuition centres”.


That got me thinking: will watching video clips be a complete replacement of face to face tuition? I think it is unlikely. Here are the reasons:

1) Watching video lessons is just a 1 – way learning whereby the kid has to follow the methods taught through the video. If the student has any question he cannot ask the video to answer or explain in another method can he?

The advantage of face to face tuition is that the tutor can provide immediate answers to the students’ questions or adjust the teaching method / pace according to the students’ needs.


2) The video cannot provide the students’ help in their homework, so the students have to try out the exercises provided before going back to homework, that may just add to the pile of work the students have to do.

Face to face tuition will be more beneficial in the sense that the tutor can check through the student’s work and point out any mistakes the students make. Sometimes a more efficient way to improve is not to do 1001 questions and make mistakes 1001 times (nobody is there to correct the mistakes!), rather doing 5 times and correcting the mistakes along the way.


3) Most of the time students are distracted during their revision due to electronic gadgets and the last thing I wish my students do is to use the computer and then these devices caused diversion of their attention. While having a tutor physically present will give some “pressure” to ensure the student is focused on the work for 1.5 or 2 hours.


Don’t get me wrong: Having video lessons have their advantages but the question is whether it can be as effective or not is another issue to be pondered.

Taking national exams is not all about scoring A

A student asked me last night about how nervous she was for A levels and worried if the papers are too difficult she cannot get the grades she needs.

Then I asked her what is the purpose of going through the A level system. Is it for scholarship? Or are you satisfied as long as you can enroll into a university course of your choice?

She mentioned that she is not interested in scholarship but just want to enrol into a course of her choice.

Then I explained that it is about number of vacancies and where you rank among the applicants, not by the absolute scores of your exam papers. If a paper is difficult, everyone underperformed then you may not be at a disadvantage compared to the rest. On the other hand, if a paper is too easy and everyone scores A except you due to some carelessness, then you will be at a huge disadvantage.

Take home message: It is not a “DIE DIE” must get As situation. Important thing is you work hard, get the grades you need to enrol into a course and everyone will start anew since your university grades doesn’t depend on your A level grades.

Personally I was not a straight A student but in University I did better than my peers who were Straight As from the top 2 JCs and got my first class honours (only a small number in my course).

Just for sharing:

A Level Math Preparation Tip #3: Complex numbers

Complex numbers usually come as 2 questions, 1 on the loci and 1 on algebraic properties involving Cartesian, Polar or Exponential form.

One common type of question is on the properties of argument and modulus when we multiply, divide or raise a complex number to a certain power. Recall:

\displaystyle \arg ({{z}_{1}}{{z}_{2}})=\arg ({{z}_{1}})+\arg ({{z}_{2}})

\displaystyle \arg \left( {\frac{{{{z}_{1}}}}{{{{z}_{2}}}}} \right)=\arg ({{z}_{1}})-\arg ({{z}_{2}})

\displaystyle \arg ({{z}_{1}}^{n})=n\arg ({{z}_{1}})

\displaystyle \left| {{{z}_{1}}{{z}_{2}}} \right|=\left| {{{z}_{1}}} \right|\left| {{{z}_{2}}} \right|

\displaystyle \frac{{\left| {{{z}_{1}}} \right|}}{{\left| {{{z}_{2}}} \right|}}=\frac{{\left| {{{z}_{1}}} \right|}}{{\left| {{{z}_{2}}} \right|}}

\displaystyle \left| {{{z}_{1}}^{n}} \right|={{\left| {{{z}_{1}}} \right|}^{n}}


Next is the finding roots of a polynomial with unknown coefficients.


One common “not smart” approach student is to write “since -2+i is a root, the conjugate -2-i is also a root”. Followed by factorising the polynomial into linear factors and compare coefficient to find “a” and “b” and then the roots.

It is easier to follow the instructions given the question. A root means when you sub z = -2+i into the polynomial you will get 0. Then compare coefficient (real part = 0, imaginary part = 0) to get “a” and “b”. This method is faster as once I know the values of “a” and “b”, I can use GC “polynomial root finder” to search for the 3 remaining roots (usually it is quite nice).

Also if the question did not mention “a” and “b” are real, it is not right to say -2-i is a root.