Understand concepts well; memorizing repeat answers no good anymore

Most of the students in Singapore would memorize the answers from 10-year-series assessment books and paid more attention to repeated questions. The students were so much dependent on these assessment books for certain subjects that the books would be available in major book stores in January and only by August, the books would usually be sold out.


The 10-year-series books had questions sourced by tutors and teachers, the questions, especially the multiple choice ones, were normally phrased how they would appear in the exams (the options were not even jumbled) over the years, which allowed students to rot learn the answers without giving the concepts any heed. Students thus fared well in examinations by simply memorizing the answers in the 10 year series without trying to understand how they would arrive at the answer.

For the last four odd decades, teachers and students have been relying on these series books and their repeated questions and model answers to clear the O and A level exams. In recent years, the trend has somewhat changed. The exam questions are not similar to the ones featured repeatedly in the 10-year-series books. So, the scenario has changed, students cannot pass now by simply memorizing all the questions and their answers.

Ministry’s Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board has not provided any explanation for the change in exam pattern but we can assume that the message is straight. Student should only use the 10-year-series books to familiarise themselves with the exam format but shouldn’t rely too much on the content in these books, instead they should apply concepts and must learn the new concepts to arrive at the correct answers during exams.

The changing trend has surely made exam preparation a little difficult for some students, but students with the vision to do well, have taken the challenge most courageously. Tutors and teachers have also begun adapting more creative teaching methods instead of relying on the 10-year-series books. 

The exams now have questions which cannot be regulated by 10-year-series books, thus students only memorizing model answers from these mock question papers are only facing difficulty in answering the new questions which are phrased and presented differently.