Tutorials may tip the balance
It is no longer considered shameful for students to attend tutorial classes when they make up their minds that they must seek extra help with their studies.
Tuition centres seem to many families to be the most efficient way to ensure students attain good grades.
The HKCEE is the 'passport' to Form Six which is why the majority of students seek extra help in a bid to upgrade their knowledge; they must demonstrate a high level of learning on the tests in order to achieve good results.
Without good results their chances are slim of entering higher forms, and ultimately of continuing their education to tertiary level.
Most tutorial teachers have wide experience in teaching, and some even help students to analyse past exam papers.
Students who attend tutorial classes also have the opportunity to experience what it's like to sit for lengthy tests by the practise they receive in using past examination papers.
Classroom teachers usually emphasise the theory, and as a result they don't have enough time to teach students how to answer questions they will encounter in examination papers.
In tuition class, the tutors provide students with concise notes to help them grasp the main content, which makes tuition centres quite different from the average school.
Also, many students lack self-motivation, and do not have the will to study on their own.
If they are going to learn how to focus on their subjects, and prepare for the pressures of higher learning, they must be supervised or they will be unlikely to know how to study effectively.
Most parents have high hopes for their children; they believe their children are facing unequal competition if others attend tutorial classes and their children do not.
Their interest in closing this perceived 'training gap' tips the balance in favour of parents sending their children to tutorial classes to give them a better chance to match the competition.
There are a few disadvantages to the tutorial approach, however. Some tuition centres usually take in as many students as they are able to accommodate, and it is common to see one teacher handling a class of more than 45 students. This runs counter to the theory of tutorial classes giving students 'individual attention'.
Some even use educational videotapes which are recorded beforehand by the tutor, so it is impossible to ask questions.
Although tutors provide notes and supplementary exercises, they do not explain in detail, so students may not understand.
Students may be very tired after a full day of schooling and may be unable to pay full attention in tutorial classes which wastes time and money. In addition, some students attend two to three tutorial classes per week, so they have no time for revision.
Tutorial fees are expensive, and not everyone can afford it.
If you really want to join a tutorial centre, you should check it out carefully.
On-ting is a student at St Margaret's Girls' College in Kowloon.