(3) Making better use of the November/December break
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’, he points out how statistically in America, students who get some academic activity done during the long summer break tend to do better than those who did not.
We do not have such a concept of a long summer here, but the learning point is : Do not sit on your hands and do nothing about your schoolwork during this December break
The question is what should you do ?
At this point, some people think ‘Let’s get tutored’.
But before you make this decision, consider why you need the help :
(i) Is it because you were asleep the entire year, and woke up in time to mess up this year’s final ?
– If this is the case, you might want to try consolidating all the notes that you have lost, misplaced or did not take down from your classmates. Your seniors may even give you their entire set for a MacDonald’s meal (or less!). This is way cheaper than getting a coach – but you need the will to do it.
– Can a tutor help make up for the time you lost ? Probably, and at a price, naturally. He is likely to put you through intensive/rigourous practice, which some students discover they can do on their own (just get your school teacher to supply the extra practice papers).
(ii) Is it because you have all the school materials, but you still cannot make sense of what the teacher/lecturer/tutor is saying ?
– Try getting hold of notes from other sources (online, published, printed etc). These are likely to corroborate and reinforce what was delivered in your own school. But do not get more reading materials than you are willing to process.
(iii) Is it because you understand what has been delivered in school, and you want to try more, but your teacher is unavailable to advise you or your review your work ?
– This could be a good reason to get added help. But note : A tutor should help you be independent as a thinker, reader, and writer, and not reliant on him or her indefinitely.
– If you did fairly well (or not too miserably) on this year’s final exam, you may instead want to focus on content-building (i.e. self-study) in December (the month goes by very quickly anyway). Then return to your school teachers next year for intensive writing practice and consultations