Category Archives: Favorite

10 Things About The Physics Cafe

What comes to mind when people mention The Physics Cafe? Effective? Helpful? Perhaps reliable may even be considered to be an understatement. For years we have grown in size and in strength to become a premium tuition centre in Singapore, specialising in Physics and Maths education for Secondary and JC students. Below are 10 facts and achievements that we have accumulated over the years, we hope you have a good read!

1. Only 1 tutor is shortlisted out of 30 interviewed.

Each tutor is paid on average $350 per hour. That’s up to 3 times the pay of the average tutor in Singapore. What’s more, our tutors undergo months of training before they are allowed to lead classes, so you can be assured that our tutors are top-notch and top-quality 🙂

2. Our branch near Beauty World MRT is the 2nd branch open to the public.

As of May 2017, our new branch is opening at the penthouse level of Bukit Timah Shopping Centre. Good news for the westies!

3. Our main school next to Toa Payoh MRT is half a football field big, with our very own:

(1) lecture theatre,
(2) in-house cafe, and
(3) shuttle bus service

4.  We hire ex students as student councillors to assist in students matter. 

If you are keen on joining us, you’re welcome to drop us an email 🙂

5. Registration for our classes are done strictly online.

This is to facilitate the registration process, and to make it more convenient for you.

6.  Our Founder Principal Tutor, Mr Dave Sim, is the renowned physics super tutor in Singapore, with a teaching experience of 6 years at RI.

We’ll let Mr Sim speak for himself here:

“I am the director and the head of academic. This switch (from RI to The Physics Cafe) means I can control exactly what and how you learn. I can test you my way. I can then let the results speak for themselves. It does not matter who you are or where you are from. I know that if I cannot help you, no one can. But of course, it’s up to you to prove me wrong. Try to get a “C” or a “D” for your final paper!”

7. 70% of our students are from IP schools

Some of you may wonder if our lessons are suitable for students from the IP stream. Fear not! Our lessons here are catered to both IP and non-IP students as the syllabus is the same. In fact, we have a good mix of students from both IP and non-IP streams and no one gets left behind.

8. At least 80% of our students scored A in Physics and/or Maths in the A levels – doubling the national average!!!

We are very very proud of our students who have done well in the A levels and would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to the graduated batch of 2016. You have worked hard and gotten the grades you truly deserved. Good Job! Do visit our hall of fame to find out more.

9. 9 out of 10 students scored a distinction in the Physics and/or Maths in the O-level exam

Need we say more?

10. We have a 1000 student yearly enrollment!

Most of our students here are recommended by friends/family and we are very heartened by the support shown to us over the years. Read the reviews given to us by our ex-students and parents here.

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.”

Interview with Asiaone and Vulcan Post.

On The Golden Girls, there’s a scene where a teacher speaks fondly about her favourite student: “He gets this look in his eyes when he’s listening. You don’t see that very often. I think that look is the whole reason that teachers teach.”

Dave Sim is familiar with that look.

Having taught physics at RJC (now known as RI) for six years, he knows how life defining a career in education can be. For every teacher committed in their craft, nothing beats the triumph of knowing they’ve made an impact on a student’s life.

Dave is a legendary figure in his students’ eyes. Thanks to his engaging and concise techniques on the perplexing subject, many of his students evolve from being a mediocre Physics student to an exceptional one.

An Education Emporium

Dave is also unlike any other teacher.

For one thing, he wears a mic headphone while teaching. For another, he runs The Physics Cafe, a massive tuition centre where he serves as the director and head of academic.

Not only is his education centre half the size of a football field, but it also has its own cafe, digital library, scholarship programme, and shuttle bus service. The Physics Cafe is dubbed as a premium school — one look at the tutors’ tailor-made uniforms reflect that.

When Dave launched The Physics Cafe, he started small by enrolling only JC students. A big group of these students came from well-known schools like Hwa Chong Junior College and Anglo Chinese Junior College. At that time, there were about 200 of them.

Three years later, he decided to take the plunge by offering physics and maths tuition to both JC and secondary school students.

Dave shares he was mulling over opening the classes earlier, but he chose not to in the end. He had high standards and was determined to stand by it. Plus, he didn’t think the early launch would justify the amount of work he had put in.

The amount of work for the launch was colossal.

Dave and his team spent not a week, not a month, but a year to put together their lesson materials. Fortunately, their Herculean task paid off. Right now, The Physics Cafe has close to a thousand students.

Judging by the statistics alone, it’s clear having tuition as a kid is a norm in today’s world; yet for Dave’s schooling years, it was the exact opposite.

Never had tuition as a kid

Growing up, Dave was a studious kid. He had the habit of writing down his own set of notes, a practice that reaped the benefit in his career as an educator. “When I first started teaching, I was surprised how my ten-year-old JC notes helped my students understand the key concepts in physics,” he says.

A visual learner, Dave shares he finds it easier to study his own notes with his handwriting than pouring through his lecturer’s typewritten ones.

“I don’t like memorising individual equations and definitions. Instead, I remember the visual image of every page of my notes.”

Since he couldn’t afford tuition, Dave consistently kept his nose to the grindstone. He reminisces his life as a student and how he’d used to spend hours solving just one question.

Nevertheless, Dave’s school life wasn’t too shabby; with determination and hard work, he managed to sail through his exams.

“Now I’m happy to help my students to save [the] time, leaving [them] more time for other things.”

Making tutoring easier for his students

Not only did his techniques got his students out of a tight spot, but The Physics Cafe’s ambassador programme — an initiative that covers partial and full scholarship — has also lightened their load.

How does one qualify for the role of an honourable ambassador?

“The ambassador of the school should be a role model for these students. He or she will be responsible for collating the exam results from the students so that we can see how the student fare relatively, compared to their peers,” Dave shares.

Expanding the tuition centre was also a natural decision. The number of students were growing and the space couldn’t accommodate their needs. Currently, the school is nestled in Toa Payoh.

On top of that, The Physics Cafe is also taking a beat from MOOCs by offering video lessons for students who are unable to afford the tuition fees.

With this approach, students pay half the usual fee to attend the same lesson, with the same tutor, and the same materials in the comfort of The Physics Cafe’s very own digital library.

Different expectations

Dave also shares several insights about today’s tuition market. “We have to accept that the trend today is very different. Students who go for tuition are not weak academically or ‘kiasu’ in nature,” he adds.

“Most students in Singapore attend tuition classes to “stretch time”, so learning will be more effective.”

Back on 2014, The Straits Times reported that Singaporean families have spent $1.1 billion on tuition alone ; so much that even tutors are earning higher salaries now. Many cite competitive edge as one of the reasons. However, judging by what Dave has shared, it appears there’s more than it looks.

Smart learning is a trend and it’s sticking for good.