Tips from an Olympiad Instructor

26 Jan

Dear Parents and Readers,

This post would be the first part of a message from Mr. Khoo Seng Teck. He is one of our instructors and he took the time to say something that he thinks would benefit our students and perhaps others too.

I have interacted with many pupils from Primary 4 to Secondary school in the various Olympiad training modules I have taught. Having been a contestant in various mathematical competitions, I have a piece of useful but very simple advice for them if they aspire to perform well — Keep Trying.

That is no secret and is the hallmark of any person who wants to achieve success. Both persistence and focus are needed.

Pupils and their parents must understand that the format and requirements for competition mathematics and academic mathematics are vastly different. In academic mathematics, with the prescribed techniques taught by the teachers, pupils will often see the answers relatively fast. However, the same cannot be said for competition mathematics. Questions often involve the amalgamation of different skills and techniques, and it takes more than ‘copy-and-paste’ methods to get the answers.

So I would say, there is no magic formula of drilling here. We are teaching concepts. It is not “10 year” series type of learning the techniques and so one would be able to do well in the major competitions. The instructor is looking for understanding. We as instructors hasten the learning but there are lots of exploration and trying that the student must do on his own.

I will continue with part 2 in a later post.


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