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Holding History in High Regard

The word ‘history’ hails from the Ancient Greek word ‘historia’, meaning “knowledge from inquiry” or “judge”. In the History syllabus, the Ministry of Education (MOE) prizes the ability of discerning fact from fiction, and the judicious use of historical knowledge to judge the veracity of content. Having private History tuition helps students to draw connections between present and past situations, understanding why socio-political issues are framed in a particular way. History bestows a wealth of information about different cultures and origins, improving the student’s cross-cultural competencies. With these wordly sensibilities, students will be able to pursue a promising career in the humanities, social science or social work in Singapore. As such, private History tuition can help secure these promising prospects early on. 


Why Does Your Child Detests History? 


Different students have different inclinations – some may prefer the humanities and others lean towards the sciences. A key reason why students feel helpless is the overwhelming amount of information they need to retain, understand and analyse. History is a content-heavy subject that chronicles significant events, dates, political figures, wars and movements. Since there is voluminous information to remember, many try to retain as much information as they can within the shortest amount of time possible. However, memorizing information without properly understanding it does more harm than good. When memorizing content for History, it is important to have a clear understanding of the event, its context, concerns and consequences. These will help students gain a proper perspective and read history as it should be read – as a story! With proper understanding of the content, students will be less likely to thoughtlessly repeat essays that do not directly engage with the question. 


Additionally, students may also be hampered by their poor command of English. Since impeccable essay writing and comprehension skills are vital, students who do not have a good proficiency in English will be severely disadvantaged. They will eventually become despondent and have a deep-seated hate for the subject.  

Lower Secondary History 

History is formally introduced as a subject in secondary school. Prior to this, students have some experience with national history through Social Studies in Primary School. However, History examines world issues from multiple perspectives. According to MOE’s Lower Secondary History Syllabus, a history student becomes the ‘knowledge producer’ and ‘reflector’. In this capacity, they have to take on the role of asking good questions and actively constructing the answers themselves. 

Source: MOE Lower Secondary History Syllabus (Latest)   (Page 10)


The table above shows the 4 main stages of the inquiry-based approach for Historical Investigation (HI) in Secondary Schools. This is vital to understanding the syllabus’ new focus and how students can perform well under it. With the introduction of Subject-Based Banding (SBB), students must perform well in order to be promoted to or remain in the highest band. 


Upper Secondary History

At the Upper Secondary level, MOE offers History as one of the examinable disciplines in the Humanities. History is offered as a ‘pure’ (stand alone) or combined subject (with Social Studies),  at both the GCE-N Levels and GCE-O Levels. Assessing students’ level of inquiry and analytical ability is a key objective in all the History papers. As such, a higher weightage is uniformly given to Source-Based Questions (SBQs) compared to Structured-Essay Questions (SEQs) at the both N Levels and O Levels. The breakdown of marks is as noted below. 

GCE-O Level History Paper 1 

GCE-O Level History Paper 2 

Source: GCE-O Level History Syllabus 2020 (Page 6 - 7)


This further emphasizes the need for students to hone their analytical abilities. Memorising and regurgitation content will not be sufficient for your child to excel in O-Level History. As such, investing in a private History tutor is advantageous as tutors will be able to equip your children with these essential skills needed to perform well.  


Junior College History 

History in Junior College (JC) is offered at three levels – H1, H2, H3 with H3 being the most academically rigorous. A good History tutor can effectively teach your child how to interpret data sources, construct proper history essays, and much more. This alone can significantly improve your child’s History grades, restoring their confidence if they did not perform optimally prior to admission into JC. 


There are 6 broad themes covered in the History syllabus and some of these themes will be used as Source-Based Case Studies [SBCS] while the remaining topics will be used for Structured Essay Questions [SEQs]. 

Source: GCE-A LEVEL H2 History Paper 1 Syllabus 2020 (Page 4)


GCE-A LEVEL H2 History Paper 1, Section A:

  • Theme I: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991) 


For Theme I, students will examine the Cold War topic in chronology: beginning with its origins, followed by its internationalisation and finally its inevitable collapse. The Cold War is a broad theme that is essential for A Level since it is used as a Source-Based Case Study. However, given its far-reaching global effects of the war, knowledge from this chapter can also be applied to Paper 2. 


GCE-A LEVEL H2 History Paper 1 Section B:

  • Theme II: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000) OR
  • Theme III: Safeguarding International Peace and Security


For Theme II, students will examine the Global Economy as well as the Rise of Asian Tigers (South Korea and Taiwan). This topic can be analysed from an economic and political lens. A key objective is to understand the establishment of global multilateral financial institutions (IMF, World Bank & WTO) which still exists today. 


For Theme III, students must become familiar with the establishment of the United Nations and its  Peacekeeping Operations. Given the wide-ranging functions of the United Nations, the A Level H2 History syllabus will only cover four organs: Security Council, General Assembly, Secretary-General and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Since this topic is for essay writing, tutors will give special time and attention to ensure that your child is adequately prepared. 


Source: GCE-A LEVEL H2 History Paper 2 Syllabus 2020 (Page 4)


GCE-A LEVEL H2 History Paper 2, Section A:

  • Theme III: Regional Conflicts and Cooperation


For Theme III, students have to be acquainted with Inter-state Tensions and Cooperation and the formation of ASEAN. This theme introduces political complexities of inter-state relations, given the challenges in the modern world (e.g. South China Sea dispute). Furthermore, students will learn how regional organisations strive to maintain regional peace and security. Since this is a designated theme for SBCS, students must be prepared to use analytical skills to assess various historical statements and documents. 


GCE-A LEVEL H2 History Paper 2, Section B:

  • Theme I: Search for Political Stability OR
  • Theme II: Economic Development after Independence


For Theme I, students will gain an understanding of the Approaches to Governance and the Approaches to National Unity. This theme also examines the post WWII independence of Southeast Asian colonies (as well as Thailand)  considering political structures, such as ‘Parliamentary Democracy’ and ‘Authoritarianism’.


For Theme II, students will learn about Paths to Economic Development and the Asian Financial Crisis. Similar to Paper 1 Theme II (Global Economy), the same economic concepts will be used to investigate how Southeast Asian nations gain economic prowess. Subsequently, students will also understand the causative factors and consequences of the 1997 financial crisis.


Forming Good History-Studying Habits 


Get into the habit of making mind maps, timelines and other creative notes that will add colour and interest to History! 


  1. Make Mind Maps or Plot a Timeline 

Having good quality notes are an effective tool for recalling and reviewing information at a glance. For visual learners, having eye-catching mind maps can help in the absorption of voluminous historical knowledge. To make mind maps effective, students can highlight certain dates and key points in a different colour or even create tables and diagrams. Students can also benefit from clever mnemonics. A timeline, chronicling the important sequence of events that took place in the respective case studies may also be useful!


  1. Seek to Understand Before Memorising

Understanding the historical event’s magnitude and significance will help students contextualise their learning. Once students have understood the content, they should memorise only the core fact and maximise the impact of each case study.


  1. Find the ‘Story’ in History  

The word history has the word ‘story’ in it. Students will be more interested in studying if they read history as it should be – a story!  Once the story has piqued your interest, students should question the perspective and other details that may make it a biased recollection of events. This will make  the memorisation of historical information easier and more worthwhile.


  1. Conduct Timed Practice

Exams come with a stipulated duration and managing time and stress is important! The ability to write multiple essays within a short 3-hour time frame requires skills, practice and guidance. With such a long-drawn and rigorous format, only students that are well-conditioned will excel!


Benefits from Private History Tuition

Given that the history paper heavily assesses analytical answering abilities and stellar essay writing skills, these are the benefits of having a private History home tutor:


  1. Masterful Answering Techniques

Source-Based Questions (SBQs) form a collective 60% of the ‘N’ and ‘O’ Level History paper. Answering techniques are crucial especially for SBQs which require students to delve into its intricacies. History Tuition covers critical areas, such as information extraction, source comparison, tone and purpose analysis. Students will have the opportunity to attempt past examination questions with their tutors, to detect areas for improvement. 


  1. Polished Essay-Writing Skills

Structured-Essay Questions (SEQs) form the remaining 40% of the N’ and ‘O’ Level History paper. Through private history tuition, students develop the ability to form cogent and cohesive arguments. 

Our history tutors adopt a step-by-step teaching approach to ensure that students develop the specific skills productively through the exposure of strong arguments with quality examples from their tutor. This will help them make the jump to the highest band/level descriptor by writing an essay that contains all the right elements. 


Nanyang Academics: Repeating Excellence in History

A dedicated History tutor knows how to pique interest in History while teaching crucial concepts, making mind maps and telling interesting history stories. These will improve the impression your child has with History and inspire them to do well. Academic excellence in History is repeatable through Nanyang Academics! 


Request for a private History tutor today!