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Social Studies Tuition



Social Studies: a Necessary Subject for a Student’s Holistic Development

Social Studies is essential in a student’s personal and academic development as there is a need to inculcate in students the ability to understand societies of their own in Singapore and of others in different countries. As such, students learn to recognise the importance of different perspectives, are educated on the need for critical thinking skills and gain the ability to draw reasoned conclusions of their own. Furthermore, not only do these skills apply to other subjects such as History, Literature in English and etc, they fundamentally shape the student into a holistic and value-driven citizen of Singapore.


Thus, this importance of Social Studies is evident with its implementation as a compulsory subject, by the Ministry of Education (MOE), in students’ curriculums starting in Primary School. While non-examinable in Primary School, in Upper Secondary School, it is examinable and made mandatory to take Social Studies as a core component in the Humanities subject for GCE O-Levels along with either Literature, History or Geography. Furthermore, the skills required for the Social Studies examination is applicable in many other Humanities subjects.


Struggles of Studying and Scoring in Social Studies

  1. Lack of mastery over the content

A poor grasp of the Social Studies syllabus content reinforces the lack of nuanced understanding and knowledge of the studied materials’ context, background and history.  This reflects the complexities of the subject and may cause a backlog of content that has been misunderstood if the student continues without guidance, resulting in a lack of precision in answering questions and thus confusing the student during examinations especially when all the topics are accumulated together.


  1. Comprehension difficulties

With a large percentage being graded on the student’s abilities to answer source-based questions in the case study presented during the examination, comprehension skills are necessary for the student to score well. Analysing and evaluating sources along with the ability to pick out different point of views, recognise source biases and point out implicit ulterior motives are skills of utmost importance. The failure to do so will result in penalisations during the examination as examiners are testing students on the above skills.


  1. Poor answering approaches

Question breakdown skills, drawing conclusions and forming original arguments are needed to show examiners how much the student knows according to the question. These question answering skills are absolutely essential to have as knowing only content is not enough when examiners are looking out for students’ abilities to apply what they have learnt. Hence, despite knowing the content well, some students tend to feel demoralised when they are unable to present their knowledge accordingly during examinations and thereafter not getting the credit as seen through poor grades.


Benefits of Social Studies Tuition

  1. Extensive and thorough explanations

In-depth explanations with a Social Studies tutor according to the unique pace of the student will allow the student to more deeply understand content complexities that may have been skimmed over in school due to time constraints. The student’s questions will be immediately answered leaving no room for doubt to grow and collect over time. Hence, with queries clarified and content more thoroughly addressed, the student will be able to approach examinations with confidence and precision that reflect their knowledge.


  1. Practice makes perfect

Having private tuition for Social Studies allows for students to have more experience with the subject material outside normal school hours which, therefore, increases their familiarity with the material studied. With the guidance of the private tutor, extra practice can be targeted at improving comprehension skills when tutors spend more time on source analysis which encourages the exploration of understanding source biases, agendas and the recognition of different point of views within the source. Furthermore, the Social Studies tutor is able to reiterate, emphasise and inculcate skills that the particular student is lacking for the examination.


  1. Step-by-step answering techniques

With a qualified tutor by their side, the student is guided to answer practice questions directly and precisely. Furthermore, tutors can check the validity of the student’s conclusions and arguments through the explanations given in their work, teaching them to make the necessary tweaks to fulfil question requirements more effectively while improving the student’s skills in those areas. Thus, by pointing out to the student what the questions demand, the student is then able to gain the skills needed to present the content learned according to the questions asked.

Secondary School Social Studies

Source: MOE's Philosophy of Social Studies (page 3)

Employing the Philosophy of Social Studies as mentioned above, MOE shapes the development of students into “informed, concerned and participative citizens” of Singapore through the Social Studies curriculum. Briefly, the subject serves to instil an appreciation of the diversity in Singapore, encourage an understanding of the Singaporean identity, teach students of social awareness and empower students through the values learnt in this subject.


GCE O-Level Social Studies

Source: GCE O-Level Social Studies Syllabus (page 6)


Humanities subject (Social Studies and History/ Literature in English/ Geography):

Comprising of 50% each of the Humanities subject grade and separated evenly between 2 papers (Paper 1: Social Studies, Paper 2: History/ Literature in English/ Geography), both papers are greatly dependent on each other for the student to do well in the Humanities subject as a whole. While Paper 2’s content is dependent on the student’s choice of subject material, Paper 1’s Social Studies curriculum is compulsory for all GCE O-Level Students.


Paper 1 is separated into 2 sections- Section A and Section B.


Section A: Source-Based Case Study



Source: GCE O-Level Social Studies Syllabus (Section A) (page 7)


As according to the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB), the source-based case study will be on one of the following topics- “Exploring Citizenship and Governance”, “Living in a Diverse Society” and “Being Part of a Globalised World.” Hence, comprising of 35 marks, students will not only need to be familiar with all the content in the Social Studies curriculum, they would also need to apply comprehension, analytical and evaluation skills onto the source-based questions. In order to be confident in one’s known content and skillset, a private Social Studies tutor can help students with any of these concerns when more time is spent outside school hours studying with their guidance.


Section B: Structured-Response Question


Source: GCE O-Level Social Studies Syllabus (Section B) (page 7)


In Section B, the question is set on any one of the 3 above mentioned topics but will not be the same as the topic selected for the examination in Section A. Thus, this section requires a breadth of knowledge and in-depth knowledge of the subject in order to construct reasoned arguments and conclusions. As such, a Social Studies tutor can help cater to these academic needs through private home tuition classes that can help students develop better argumentative skills and critical thinking skills.


Nanyang Academics is Here to Help!

In conclusion, in order for students to develop into socially knowledgeable citizens in Singapore, the Social Studies curriculum requires extensive knowledge of the content along with comprehension skills, analytical skills, evaluation skills and argumentative skills for one to do well in the examinations. At Nanyang Academics, we recognise the personal and academic benefits of being well versed in Social Studies. Therefore, in order to prime students for the GCE O-Level Social Studies examination, our qualified and professional Social Studies tutors are here to help!