My name is Anh Duc Nguyen, Math instructor for students studying international program, and founder of HappyMath. Parents have visited my website having different purposes, thus I think that it will be useful to write an article about all the subjects that I am teaching, as well as my teaching method.
I started tutoring in 2008 while still pursuing a degree from Hanoi University of Science and Technology. In 2012, I started teaching Math (in English) for students from Singapore International School (SIS) following IGCSE program, and later extended to different programs such as A Level and IB.
With more than 4 years of experience and 5000 teaching hours for both Vietnamese and international students, I understand the differences among programs (strengths and weaknesses) and the students’ average learning abilities. What I teach is based on their school syllabus, together with my own practice exercise development, for students to achieve mathematical proficiency.
WHAT and WHO AM I TEACHING FOR?
After a period spent on syllabus development, from 2014, I added math classes for SSAT, SAT, GMAT, and GRE. Basically, these are test subjects used in college and university entrance exams; their contents are compiled from high school curriculum of the US, Singapore, or England.
- SSAT: high school entrance’s standardized test for students studying in the US, built on the knowledge of IGCSE, or other high school programs.
- SAT – ACT: university entrance’s standardized tests for students in the US, built on the foundation of high school, AP, IB, and A Level programs.
- GMAT – GRE: graduate school’s standardized tests for students studying in the US, built on international university programs like Calculus – AP – IB program. (last years)
Additionally, for students of international schools in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, I am also teaching Math for the following programs:
- IGCSE: is a 2-year program; first year is called GCSE and second IGCSE. This program shares the same knowledge as secondary education in Vietnam, but with more topics.
- A Level: is a 2-year program built on the skills acquired at IGCSE level; the first year is called AS Level and the second A LEVEL. This program has the equivalent knowledge of high school level in Vietnam.
- IB PROGRAM: very few international schools in Vietnam follow this program. IB is basically the same as A Level; however, it has a higher level of difficulty in all topics and final tests (in my opinion).
My students study at international schools in Vietnam, the US, England, and Australia. I can deliver lessons in English.
HOW AM I TEACHING?
I am currently living and working in Hanoi, thus I use Skype online teaching for students who live in Ho Chi Minh City, Australia, the US, and England. The main problems of online teaching are time zone differences and how to get your students to understand the method for online studying. Many students and parents are not used to this new method and therefore I offer one free trial lesson. Through this the students will understand how online teaching works, how to approach the lessons, and also reveal their abilities to acquire and absorb knowledge.
At the moment I am teaching students living in the aforementioned countries, and my method works.
DETAILS FOR MATH – HAPPYMATH
For each program is taught in a different format. Moreover, I adjust my syllabus according to each student’s study duration, test date, and their ability to absorb knowledge.
If the study duration is long (3 to 6 months before an official test date), the course will be less intense and spread over a longer period, and each topic can be discussed more thoroughly.
If the study duration is short (only 1 to 2 months before an official test date), the course will be intensive and there is high demand on student’s effort. In this case, I focus on strategies that help students gain points and strengthen their problem solving skills, instead of emphasizing on getting 100%.
I would like to share some of my classroom experience when teaching these programs and standardized tests.
IGCSE: My very first international student followed this program. According to my experience, IGCSE has many topics, and most of the time while studying at school, students will perceive these topics as being fairly simple. However, this mindset and the sheer number of questions in the real test will easily set students into a panic mode.
Students often lose points in the following topics:
Using graphs for solving equations
My advice: review the materials in your textbook and have a separate notebook for math theories. Go over these notes when studying for the test. IGCSE does not test your logical thinking; you can achieve A and A* simply by grasping the basic mathematics knowledge and skills.
A LEVEL: There is an increase in the level of difficulty going from IGCSE to A LEVEL that can easily give students a shock. Even though A LEVEL shares some similar topics with IGCSE, it requires a greater deal of logical reasoning. Besides, A LEVEL Mathematics includes Pure Mathematics, Statistics, and Mechanics. Each year students study two out of these three modules. It is essential that students focus right from the beginning of the school year to avoid being overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge presented. I am sure that some of your classmates are retaking A LEVEL due to their lack of concentration from the start.
There are quite a number of difficult topics in A LEVEL:
GEOMETRY (2D and 3D)
My advice: Just like IGCSE, have a separate notebook for theories and ‘DO NOT TRUST THE FORMULA SHEET’. Depending on the formula sheet only slows you down. Students only have approximately 10 minutes for each problem and there will not be enough time for formula checking. There is always a key word in each topic that helps you solve the problem. If you can find that key word, you will solve the problem very quickly.
SSAT: is the standardized test used for high school admission in the US. It is not difficult to get over 60% for the math sections; however, in order to achieve over 700, students usually need quite an amount of additional materials. When my students study for the UPPER SSAT, there will always be some topics that have not been covered at school. Besides, test taking skills is also one of their weaknesses.
If you are preparing for the SSAT, pay attention to the following topics:
WORD PROBLEM: Vietnamese students are often weak at reading comprehension and therefore make mistakes.
UNIT: many students are confused about unit conversion. Spending some time to practice will increase your score.
SEQUENCES: you rarely encounter this topic at school; but there are 2 to 4 questions concerning Sequences in the test. Have a good list of practice exercises for this part.
PROPORTIONAL – RATIOS
It is quite challenging to get the perfect score in SSAT Math; however, it is possible to achieve over 700. Go over the test structure, test score calculation method, and time management carefully; you will find at least 2 strategies to increase your score.
SAT: is the standardized test used for university and college admission in the US, and also the most frequently asked after subject at HappyMath. My first advice is setting a target SAT score: Which college/university are you applying for? What is their required SAT score? What is your score when you start studying for the SAT? How good is your English? Is there a gap between your MATH and VERBAL scores? And how long do you have for SAT preparation?
Many of my students are willing to spend a year preparing for the SAT, even if they have been studying in the US for 2 years. The test requires deep knowledge of both MATH and VERBAL. Students who already experienced IGCSE and A LEVEL have an advantage when studying for the SAT.
Just like any other test, to improve your score, how you study is as important as your actual test performance. I usually share with my students 3 ways to solve Math problems based on the test structure and time allotment. I firmly believe that if you really look into it, you will be able to figure out such strategies.
Common difficult topics in the SAT include:
RATIOS – PROPORTION
SCATTERPLOT : this topic is not included in Vietnam schools’ curriculum, but usually appears in graph questions.
My advice: have a separate notebook for theories; practice based on the order of difficulty; determine your target score; and spend time on topics that you know well before moving on to others (if your preparation time is short).
GMAT – GRE: are standardized tests used for graduate management programs. GMAT’s difficult topics are the same as the SAT’s. However, you should pay attention to DATA SUFFICIENCY, test taking strategies, and GMAT scoring algorithm. Interestingly, logical thinkers catch up very quickly with GMAT MATH. There are not many challenging question types; if you can solve it once, you are bound to do it quicker the next time.
IB PROGRAM: IB is essentially the same as A Level (please refer to the A Level above), but a bit more challenging. IB’s textbook is divided into many topics and subtopics, and thus easily confuses students when it comes to revision. My advice is to concentrate and have a clear set of strategies from the very beginning.
I hope that this article has helped you gain a better understanding of the courses offered on HappyMath and find an appropriate study plan.
If you have any questions concerning HappyMath’s courses, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Thank you very much for your time and have a nice day.