07 Mar Interview with The Straits Times
By Michelle Chin The Straits Times
Expect nothing less than focused and effective lessons when you attend the highly sought-after secondary and JC physics and mathematics lessons at The Physics Cafe.
Founder Dave Sim, 37, taught physics at one of Singapore’s top junior colleges for six years before setting up the learning centre in 2010. Mr Sim is now so sought after that the physics classes he teaches have a total enrolment of about 500 students spread out across eight classes this year. The learning centre specializes in Physics and Mathematics in the newly expanded premise next to Toa Payoh MRT. It has its own café, library and even shuttle buses to ferry students home.
Offering high-quality lessons consistently over the years has earned Mr Sim great popularity and countless positive reviews. The Physics Café website and facebook page have a total of more than 500 testimonials from students and ex-students who benefited from his guidance. Those on the webpage are categorised by schools the students come from.
Miss Pang Shi Hui, 18, who will be taking her A-level examinations this year said: “I remember being blown away after my first lesson at The Physics Cafe. Mr Sim answered every possible lingering question we might have. From then on, I started gaining confidence and interest in the subject.”
Igniting students’ love for physics
She recalled the anxiety of needing to improve her grades after scoring around 35 out of 100 marks for her physics test papers six months before her GCE A-level examinations. Two years ago, undergraduate Kelly Chong, 20, went from failing the subject to scoring an A for her GCE A levels in 2014.
She was then a second-year junior college student struggling in physics until a schoolmate recommended The Physics Cafe’s June holiday crash course.
Miss Chong continued attending the lessons after the crash course ended. Six months later, she went from failing the subject to scoring an A for her GCE A levels in 2014.
Now pursuing National University of Singapore’s double degree programme in accountancy and communications, she credits The Physics Cafe’s teaching methodologies that honed her ability to grasp physics concepts better and tackle questions with greater confidence.
Miss Chong said: “Mr Sim’s lessons saved me a lot of time as I could understand the subject more quickly compared to self-study without tuition. His notes and mindmaps were well-designed and aided my understanding of principles.
“Frequent timed practices that mimicked examination conditions trained me to work swiftly and accurately when answering questions. I discovered my weaknesses and learnt better when Mr Sim explained the solutions.”
On top of the game
Mr Sim said that he has come across parents questioning why students attend tuition even if they are doing well academically.
He explained that this current trend may differ from that in the past when most students who attend tuition are struggling in the subject. These days, students who may not be academically weak attend tuition classes not to pass examinations, but to save time as learning can be more effective under the guidance of a good tutor.
Mr Sim said: “Students attending tuition lessons in today’s context have a certain attitude in life that brings them to where they are today. They constantly seek to better themselves and this is the attitude that motivates them to attend tuition classes. Tuition will not replace school lessons, but ensures every minute spent on learning is effective and targeted compared to self-study.
“Tuition is not for students to pass examinations, but to get excellent grades in a more effective way. Without tuition, they may achieve an A too on their own, but perhaps with more effort and time.”