Signing up for various post-exams activities is a wonderful way to look forward to an enriching school holiday season after the exam season is done and dusted! With the holiday season starting, it is time to discover new ways to have fun with technology. Regardless of whether it’s with family or friends, the tech-activities for this month serve as a great way for us to kick back and relax!

Recycle N Save

A new initiative by the National Environment Agency and F&N, Singaporeans can now come together to adopt an eco-conscious lifestyle by disposing of their used plastic bottles and aluminium cans. For your consistent recycling efforts at the many Reverse Vending Machines across Singapore, you stand to receive several rewards such as NTUC coupons!

This reminds us of the Smart Bin that Vayun, our Silver Medallist (NOI 2020), invented when he was just 13 years old! Think about what goes into the making of such inventions and the lines of codes…

Read: Congratulations to our 8 Olympiad Medallists!

Details:
Multiple locations across Singapore
Price: Free
To find out more, click here.


Hello From The Wild Side

Go on a Zoom date with animals! As we are shifting to a new normal, Singaporeans have found new ways to bring our favourite destinations to us right in the comfort of our homes. The Singapore Zoo is now bringing their beloved animal ambassadors to virtual visitors from Singapore and beyond by giving them a chance to see them in their habitats, go behind-the-scenes, and chat with their keepers.

There are different ways to engage with the furry friends including personalised messages, backstage passes and interactive group sessions!

Details:
Mondays, Thursdays to Sundays
Online
Price: From $50
To find out more or book a slot, click here.


Year-End Holiday Coding Camps

Why not pick up a new skill or continue where you left off this holiday? There are many workshops and camps to attend that help inculcate useful skills in students while being immersed in a fun environment. We have several camps for students to enjoy coding, a useful skillset, to equip themselves as part of a technologically-savvy generation in a globalised world!

Details:
23 November to 30 December 2020
Parkway Parade, Bukit Timah (KAP Mall), Ang Mo Kio (The Grassroots’ Club), Online
Price: From $37.45
To find out more, click here.


Psst! Students who sign up together with their friends can get 12% OFF when you use our promo code SUPERCODER to purchase 2 or more classes!

If you haven’t seen our previous techtivity recommendations, check out our October #TechtivitiesOfTheMonth, which includes digital art, virtual runs and more!


Hop on board the Coding Lab train! Click here to get our monthly newsletters straight to your inbox.

Stressed about your upcoming O Level Computing papers? We’re right by your side in this final lap with analysis of past year papers, tips and guidance (and interactive questions to test your knowledge) straight from our Lead Educator Mona Tan, who conducts our O Level tuition programme.

Mona teaching Python
Our Lead Educator Mona imparting her knowledge to her student

As a subject that just began with 2017’s Secondary Three cohort, we know that there aren’t that many resources or information out there for you to tackle your Computing papers. Our team has therefore scoured the net (and much more – so you won’t have to) to compile this list of essential information to aid you in your Computing paper. With multiple subjects and other exams to manage, here’s how you can make the most of your time and be ready for the Computing exam on 2 November 2020! 

1. Know your papers!

As the old adage goes, “The man who is prepared has his battle half fought”. Do you know how the examination will happen and its detailed breakdown? Here’s your first question in our interactive quiz to test your knowledge!


There are ___ papers with a total duration of ___ hours.




Click the button below for the answer. The answer is B.
There are two papers in the GCE O Level Computing examination.
Paper One is 2 hours, while Paper Two is 2 hours 30 minutes.




Knowing what material is covered in the syllabus and the format of the different papers is crucial. For example, Paper 1 is a written exam while Paper 2 is a practical exam taken with the use of a computer, spreadsheet and programming software.

Here’s what else you need to know about your papers – expand the buttons below to view more – you don’t want to miss out on the information we have below!

Click Here for Overall Breakdown of Papers

Based on the format of the papers, different sections of content with higher weightage can be prioritised during revision. Moreover, knowing the different components of each paper helps to aid in time management during the examinations, giving you more time to check through your answers.


What exactly are your papers testing you for?




Click the button below for the answer. The answer is A, C and D.
The explanation is found below.




Overall, your knowledge and understanding are the most crucial components (40% overall), while the other two hold equal weightage (30% each) when it comes to the assessment objectives.

You can read the detailed breakdown of the assessment objectives from SEAB by clicking here (page 4).

Paper 1 Analysis

We’ve broken down the O Level papers from 2018 and 2019 to give you the detailed categories involved in Paper 1. In the table below, we’ve also arranged the categories in descending order based on its proportion of the paper. 

2018 vs 2019 Papers Breakdown by Category
2018 vs 2019 Paper 1s Breakdown by Category

Even though memory work takes up around 30% of Paper 1, it is essential that you understand what you’ve memorised so that you can put it into practice in the other components of your paper – remember, the huge chunk of more than 70% involves understanding and application of your knowledge! Ensure that you have a complete understanding of all your modules so that you are able to tackle ALL questions efficiently and maximise your score! 

Note: As there have only been two O Level papers, we do not encourage predicting the percentages of the next O Level papers. It’s essential that you fully understand what has been taught to be able to apply it throughout your papers!

Paper 2 Analysis

There are four tasks in Paper 2, which tested for the same things the past two years. Here’s the breakdown in the pie chart below.

Breakdown of Paper 2 - Pie Chart

While having knowledge and understanding are essential, the key thing is knowing how to apply it in Paper 2 when it comes to the development, testing and refinement. 

Did you know? One mark in Paper 1 is worth more than one mark in Paper 2.

We compare the equivalence of one mark in the different papers across various subjects. The breakdown in the table below is useful for Computing and your Math subjects too! 

O Level Computing Marks Comparison Table
O Level Computing Marks Comparison Table

One mark in Paper 1 is worth 0.875% while one mark in Paper 2 is 0.6%. These marks weigh more than that of A Math papers. Your Paper 1 marks are more valuable – losing between 5 and 6 marks could cause a grade difference – but Paper 2 marks are also as valuable – losing 8 to 9 marks could result in that grade difference too. 

Note: O Level papers are currently graded on a bell curve, so while grading in school has a 5-mark difference, this is not the case when it comes to O Level papers. Every mark is essential in scoring that A1!

The Rules of Flowcharting

Revise the rules involved when constructing the program flowcharts! 


What are the four common symbols in flowcharting?




Click the button below for the answer. The answer is all of the above.



What are the other rules of constructing flowcharts? Read more here (on pages 32 and 33).

2. Revise and practice consistently

“Start early by breaking down content into manageable chunks,” Mona advises. “It is important to remember and assess your understanding of all the important concepts required for the paper.”

She also suggests getting familiar with the formula sheet attached in your O Level paper. You can find it here (pages 30 and 31).

With a formula sheet provided, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to remember what’s on it at all. Here’s the thing: you should know that formula sheet like the back of your hand – save precious exam time to ponder over questions instead. Leave the referring for emergency mind blocks! (Psst, this is the same for Mathematics.)

How do you remember your formula sheet?

There’s this thing called Retrieval Practice, which involves remembering information repeatedly – which results in it coming to mind more quickly in the future [1].

You can better remember it with these suggestions [1, 2]: 


    Space out your retrieval practice throughout your study sessions.
    Self-test and retest yourself repeatedly in the days or months leading up to your exam.
    Actively engage with your material, such as by making notes or doing questions that require applying what you’ve memorised.

Tracking Your Progress

Creating a detailed checklist with all the topics and sub-topics covered would help create a systematic method to track your progress during the last lap. You can even personalise your checklist, perhaps by breaking down the sub-modules, chapters and/or learning outcomes*.

*Note: certain learning outcomes in Module 2 are exempted in 2020’s O Levels

Don’t forget to place extra emphasis on Modules 1 and 4, since these are specifically assessed in Paper 2.

Keep track of your revision and practice sessions with our free A4 timetable that you can download here. Blocks of time can be made to ensure good exposure to both practical and theoretical concepts. You can also record the level of your understanding before and after studying each topic to track your progress.


Modules covered so far and Level of Understanding:
    Module 1. Data and Information
    Module 2. Systems and Communications*
    Module 3. Abstraction and Algorithms
    Module 4. Programming

We all know that practice makes perfect! However, practice questions are scarce when it comes to the O Level Computing papers. As this year is the third year of the O Level papers, the best option would be to request and rely on the resources from your teachers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if needed! And practice, practice, practice… and more practice.

3. Analysing Questions

While understanding the content is important, knowing how to apply it is equally as – if not more – essential. Here at Coding Lab, we create the questions for our O Level Computing Tuition classes, drawing on the O Level paper questions and our extensive experience in Computing education. We also put together revision papers for Secondary 4 students to have mock papers under exam-like conditions.

Paper 1 is more theoretical and ‘easier to score’ in the sense that memorisation can ‘give’ you some marks, but Paper 2 is more of demonstrating your knowledge and honing your time management by practising under time constraints. Do you know how to effectively break questions down into more digestible and easy-to-tackle questions? 

Here’s how we would break down the thought process for this pseudocode question from 2018’s O Level Paper 1.


Question: A check digit for an 8-digit number is calculated by:

  • multiplying each digit by 3 or 1 alternately as shown in the following table
  • adding together the result of each multiplication
  • dividing the total by 10 which gives a remainder
  • subtracting the remainder from 10 to give the check digit, unless the remainder is 0.

If the remainder is zero (0), the check digit is 0.

The calculation of the check digit for the number 19483725 is:

Sample Question table

Write an algorithm, using pseudo-code or a flowchart, to generate a check digit using the method given in the question.


We begin with defining the problem and identifying different parts of our program to write the pseudocode. 
Input: 8-digit number
Output: Check digit
Process: Multiply each digit in the input, alternating between 3 and 1. 

Sum up the results of multiplication. Divide the total sum by 10 and find the remainder.
Check if remainder is 0. If yes, output 0.
Else to find the check digit, take the result of 10 – remainder

Step 1

We know the number has 8 digits. In this case, we will write a loop to ask the user for the 8 numbers separately and then store the digits into a list.

Sample code:
FOR Count = 0 to 7
    OUTPUT "Enter the next digit"
    INPUT Numbers[Count]
NEXT Count
Step 2

We need to multiply each digit in the input, alternating between 3 and 1. We can do this by using % to check if the list index is odd or even. We will use a variable named total to store our result.

Sample code:
FOR Count = 0 to 7
    IF Count % 2 == 0:
        Total = Total + Numbers[Count] * 3
    ELSE:
        Total = Total + Numbers[Count]
    ENDIF
NEXT Count
Step 3

We now divide the total sum by 10 and find the remainder. Once again, we can use %.

Sample code:
Remainder = Total % 10
Step 4

Check if remainder is 0. If yes, output 0.
Else to find the check digit, take the result of 10 – remainder

Sample code:
IF Remainder == 0:
    OUTPUT 0
ELSE:
    OUTPUT 10 - Remainder
Full sample code
FOR Count = 0 to 7
    OUTPUT "Enter the next digit"
    INPUT Numbers[Count]
NEXT Count
Total = 0
FOR Count = 0 to 7
    IF Count % 2 == 0:
        Total = Total + Numbers[Count] * 3
    ELSE:
        Total = Total + Numbers[Count]
    ENDIF
NEXT Count
Remainder = Total % 10
IF Remainder == 0:
    OUTPUT 0
ELSE:
    OUTPUT 10 - Remainder  

That sums up our walkthrough of a sample O Level question. Pseudocode questions make up the majority of Paper 1, so understanding the steps to solve such questions is a key ingredient for that A1!

Bonus: Create a cheatsheet

It is undeniable that the Computing papers involve memory work. Hence, a common difficulty students face is remembering the fundamental blocks for the exam, such as logic gates, functions and formulae. Questions tend to ask a range of things, from identifying components and explaining what it does to the pros and cons.

The solution? Create a cheat sheet with all the functions and relevant information to create a personalised resource where the most important information is available at a glance. We get our Computing students to consolidate their learning via cheatsheets and instil the information through practising practical problems, which – as mentioned above – builds memory for programming in the process.

Your cheatsheet could be a black and white A4 one-page or you could use coloured pens and highlighters to facilitate your memory – it all depends on your preference and learning style!


It is normal to feel stressed and confused after practising various exercises. Although it is important to continuously practise, it is just as important to play hard as well.

“Sometimes when my codes don’t work, I would just do other things,” Mona laughs. “The solution will suddenly come to me out of nowhere, then I’ll go back and continue my codes.”

We would also suggest taking breaks throughout study sessions and not to forget having some time off, especially during this stressful period. Overall, it is important to achieve a balance between studying and taking breaks, while preparing for the examinations. This is especially so during these unprecedented times of the current Covid-19 pandemic. 

From all of us here at Coding Lab, we would like to wish everyone all the best for their upcoming examinations! 🙂

Taking the ‘O’ level Computing Paper this November 2020? Join our Bootcamps, where we share essential tips and tricks in achieving that A1 or get your burning questions answered by booking a semi-personalised consultation with us (Limited Slots available).

Click here to find out more about our O Level Computing tuition programme.


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Did you know that our students learn a smorgasbord of fun and interesting things in the wide variety of courses available right here at Coding Lab? We want to share the joy of learning with you too! 

Our Young Computer Scientists graduates holding their certificates
Our YCS students happily receiving their certificates!

With 12 different badges for students to collect and advance their coding abilities, it’s no wonder our P11S Young Computer Scientists (YCS) students always have a whale of a time learning and exploring the diverse fields that coding can be applied to (like Animation and Movies, Augmented Reality, Music, Robotics, etc) in our classes! 

Our YCS course – which is suitable for ages 7 to 9 – covers a good mix of 3 groups of classes (hardware-based learning, applied learning and subject-based learning) which will broaden students’ exposure and understanding of the power of computational thinking. 

Our hardware-based learning classes involve the use of unique tools like Micro:bit, the pocket-sized computer transforming how kids learn digital skills. Our applied learning classes teach students how coding can be applied – like artificial intelligence and machine learning! We’ve also got subject-based learning classes involving Maths, Physics and Biology, which will also pique students’ interests in coding as they get to reinforce what they’ve learnt in school! 

Check out these 3 ‘Did You Know’ facts that we share with our YCS students across their different classes – and make sure to pass on the knowledge to others! You know what they say, sharing is caring. 😉

1. Augmented Reality:

Augmented reality is a technology that overlays a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a blended image. 

In 1968, Ivan Sutherland, with the help of his student Bob Sproull, created what is widely considered to be the first virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) head-mounted display (HMD) system at Harvard University [1]. Now, there are numerous applications of AR – like in the military, navigation, sightseeing, medical, entertainment, advertising and gaming! 

This advancement in technology has brought numerous benefits in education, one of them being further enhancing students’ visual and auditory skills as they immerse in a digital construction of their surrounding [2]. It makes learning so much more fun! In YCS’s Augmented Reality class, students learn to create AR games – just like this Piano one! 😎

2. Physics:

We all know that what goes up must come down. Gravity is the force that keeps us grounded on earth, and it is also this force that makes things fall to the ground. The bigger (and heavier) an object is, the stronger its gravity. The moon is 1/6 the size of the earth and thus the moon’s gravity is 1/6 of that of earth’s. This means that you can jump six times as high on the moon than on earth [3]!

In YCS’s Physics classes, students learn to create fidget spinners, spinning wheels and projectile motion games, among others… As they get acquainted with Physics by seeing how matter interacts with energy and forces, they’ll start to do higher-level thinking that enables them to see the big picture in the world around them [4]!

3. Artificial Intelligence:

Some of us are better at face recognition than others. In the last decade or so, it’s become apparent that around 2% of the population is born with a severe face-recognition impairment (known as congenital prosopagnosia) [5]. There is a similar proportion of ‘super-recognisers’ with unusually exceptional face-recognition skills, and the rest of us are on a spectrum in between.

In YCS’s Artificial Intelligence class, students get to dabble in machine learning to create a ‘face unlock’ system. It’s almost like they’re recreating Face ID! With an early understanding of this technology faucet, students will get to breed their creativity and develop their imaginations as they take a step closer to becoming a technology innovator.


Now that you’ve learned some cool information, make sure to spread the joy of learning by sharing this post with your close friends and family! 

Hop on board the Young Computer Scientists’ train – where we help to build your child’s aspiration of becoming the next future leader in technology!


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A record number of our students achieved medals in this year’s prestigious 23rd National Olympiad in Informatics (NOI) and we celebrate their achievements! The NOI is modelled after the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI), one of the most highly-distinguished annual informatics competitions for high school students in the world.

This year’s bumper crop of medallists includes 1 Silver and 7 Bronze winners who are between 13 and 17 years old! Our winning students have been learning C++ and growing with us after being spotted in their Python classes for their programming prowesses. It is truly a great sight to see them flourish and become phenomenal medallists!

NOI spots are reserved for every school’s top students to participate, so only few can represent their school, and only the best can attain medals in the Olympiad. We’re even more proud of the fact that many of our medallists came to us as complete beginners in programming (some started at the age of 10!), and were carefully nurtured in our classes right under the noses of our eagle-eyed tutors to achieve their results. Well done!

Presenting to you Coding Lab’s 23rd NOI medallists:

Vayun Mathur, 15Silver Medallist
Kushaan Mishra, 17Bronze Medallist (First Attempt)
James Pearman, 14Bronze Medallist (First Attempt)
Caleb Chia, 13Bronze Medallist (First Attempt)
David Walton, 15Bronze Medallist
Faiz Ali Shoaib, 17Bronze Medallist
Bobis Franc Ivan Lorenzo, 16Bronze Medallist
Elijah Yong, 14Bronze Medallist

Silver Medallist

Vayun Mathur, 15

Singapore American School
Coding Lab Vayun Silver Medallist
Vayun (left) won a Silver Medal at the NOI

The Olympiad is one of Computing’s biggest annual competitions in Singapore and the Silver Medal is awarded to the top 20% of participants. We’re so proud of our young innovator for being 1 of the 32 Silver Medallists this year! An Olympiad medal is highly recognised for admissions to top universities around the world. During the competition, contestants are given five hours to work out solutions to algorithmic tasks. This does not only require skills such as programming and testing, but also Mathematics and in-depth knowledge of designing algorithms, data structures and information theory.

Our bright student Vayun has been in the news before, with features on Google and international news network CGTN. He has performed well once again and we congratulate Vayun on getting the Silver Medal!

Read: Coding Lab CGTN feature


3 Bronze Medallists (First Attempt)

Kushaan Mishra, 17

Singapore American School

James Pearman, 14

Dulwich College Singapore

Caleb Chia, 13

Anglo-Chinese School Independent

Coding Lab’s Bronze Medallists made up 7 of the 49 Bronze Medallists in this year’s NOI. As one of the most prestigious computer science competitions, it’s not an easy feat to attain medals and our 3 students did Coding Lab and their schools proud when they emerged as bronze medallists on their first attempts! Our youngest medallist, Caleb Chia (just 13 years old!), has been with us since he was in primary school and we’re proud of his growth! All participants had to undergo a Preliminary Round to qualify for the NOI. Despite being new to the competition, our students ranked well and went on to clinch medals at the NOI.

Coding Lab NOI Bronze First Attempt
(from left) Kushaan, James, Coach Guangxuan, Jun Ray and Caleb

We are proud of our students’ remarkable achievements and commend their hard work to overcome the odds, especially during this pandemic. A round of applause for Kushaan, James and Caleb!


4 Bronze Medallists

National Olympiad in Informatics (NOI) 2019 Medallists
Elijah (left) and David at NOI 2019

David Walton, 15

United World College SEA Dover Campus

Faiz Ali Shoaib, 17

United World College SEA Dover Campus

Elijah Yong, 14

Anglo-Chinese School Independent

Bobis Franc Ivan Lorenzo, 16

Gan Eng Seng School

These 4 students were able to pit their computing skills against talented coders from more than 30 other schools and gain invaluable experiences in the Olympiad. Their consistent effort and hard work paid off as they took on programming tasks and made their mark at the reputable NOI.

This year’s medallists include Elijah Yong, who was awarded Youngest Medallist in last year’s NOI. The 14-year-old has been with us since he was a Primary Five student, when we spotted his potential and invited him to join our NOI programme. The Coding Lab team is proud to have seen him grow over the years into a confident teenager with medals under his belt and we commend him for his consistent hard work!

Read: Elijah Yong, Youngest Medallist at NOI 2019

Image of Elijah receiving award for youngest medalist, NOI 2019
Elijah receiving award for Youngest Medallist, NOI 2019

The Coding Lab team is proud of our students for clinching the Bronze Medals, and we celebrate their achievements. Great job David, Faiz, Bobis and Elijah!

Congratulations to our outstanding students! We’re proud of our 8 students for coding their way to the top with their tenacity and hours of training, even overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic. They had been training once a week since the beginning of the year to prepare for the NOI and it was heartening to see their hard work pay off! We also thank Coach Guangxuan for his dedication, training and guidance of our students.

Whilst we celebrate our students’ success in this arena, we recognise that competitive programming is merely a subset of the full scope of programming. Many of our students have achieved success in wider aspects; whether it’s creating a Stock Rating Algorithm, a Real-Time Carpark Tracker, a prize-winning app or attaining an overseas scholarship to read Computer Science at University, we’re here to support our students every step of the way.

Interested to find out more? Check out the Python Programming and Elective courses we offer for Secondary school and Junior College students.


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