Most students will prefer to read a concise, and to-the-point guidebook that really cuts off all the unnecessary stuff. Unfortunately, school notes are often the opposite, including tonnes of irrelevant information that at the end of the day is not tested. Though good for general knowledge, school notes are too long and wordy for a speedy and efficient revision session. When your exam is next week, you certainly don’t want to read through the history of Calculus, or all about the Galapagos Islands, for instance.
For example, reading the standard textbooks like “Halliday” (Fundamentals of Physics) for Physics or “Campbell” (Campbell Biology (11th Edition)) for Biology is very good when you are a year or two away from the A-levels, but absolute disaster if you are just months away from the A-levels.
The legendary guidebook series for A Level is by the author C.S. Toh. He has a knack of summarizing all you need to know into one book. His books are now available for sale on Qoo10, which means you can order it and get it delivered to your home without having to step out of the house. (Many people comment that sometimes bookstores do not have stock of this book.)
The store URL and the links are below. The subjects available are H2 Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics. (Click on the images for the URL link)
Step-by-Step International Pte Ltd
[S$20.90][Step by Step International]CS Toh A-Level Mathematics
[S$15.90][Step by Step International]CS Toh A-Level Chemistry
[S$15.90][Step by Step International]CS Toh A-Level Physics
C.S. Toh Book Reviews
The books of C.S. Toh are a well-known secret weapon for H2 students. Both forums Hardwarezone and Kiasuparents have good reviews on C.S. Toh books.
Hi, I am an ex-GEP student, who wish to share some tips about what books to read to prepare for GEP, or even for kids who are already in GEP. I strongly believe that IQ is not static, i.e. it is possible to increase IQ (to a certain extent of course) by reading books. (The Einstein Factor: A Proven New Method for Increasing Your Intelligence contains research that shows that IQ can be increased.)
The GEP test has 3 main sections: Logic, Math, English. This article will introduce books suitable for preparing for these 3 main sections.
Kids nowadays love electronic devices. However iPhone / iPad have too many games and thus are not ideal for educational purposes. The ideal electronic device is Amazon Kindle Ebook reader. Read more with Amazon!
I used to read a book by Mensa when I was a kid (just for interest, not for preparing for any tests), and found it to be interesting and challenging. The exact book is probably out of print already, but here are some bestsellers by Mensa on Amazon. Hope the recommendations are helpful! This list is not exhaustive, you may purchase other books you find on Amazon, they are equally likely to be as helpful.
GEP Logic Books
(Click on the image links to go to the Amazon.com page for more details)
These books are really helpful for the “Logic” part of the GEP selection test, which is not taught anywhere in the MOE syllabus and hence one of the most challenging to prepare for.
The above Logic Books are highly recommended by Amazon (4/5 stars and above)!
The following Puzzle Adventure books are also very useful for developing logical thinking and also English. Not to mention they are really fun to read for children. I have personally read the “2nd Puzzle Adventure Omnibus” book many times and enjoyed it very much. These kinds of books train both Logic and English skills.
Another good choice of books are encyclopedias. Although Encyclopedias like Britannica are almost extinct thanks to the internet, it is good to have a children’s Encyclopedia like The New Children’s Encyclopedia to have an all-round knowledge of the world and science.
Finally, you can check out the list of Recommended Math Books, which contains books useful for Math students.
Tips on How to Get Into GEP:
Based on my experience as a student, getting into GEP requires knowing and possessing skills more advanced than the age group. I.e., at the age of 9 (Primary 3), the student who gets into GEP is probably already at the level of Primary 4 and above in terms of Math and English. True genius is neither necessary nor sufficient to get into GEP, and it is not true that GEP students are smarter than others. There is a famous IMO World Number 1 in Singapore who wasn’t from the GEP. IMO (International Math Olympiad) is definitely harder than GEP Math. One can read this book 104 Number Theory Problems: From the Training of the USA IMO Team to get an idea of the IMO (International Math Olympiad).
To be honest, it is probably currently harder to get into GEP now than in the past (1990s). During my time, a Primary 6 student who knows the Gauss trick for adding a sum of an arithmetic progression (1+2+3+…+99+100) is really at the top of his/her cohort. During the 2000 PSLE, this question came out and few people could solve it. Nowadays (2015), an average Primary 3 student would know and be familiar with this technique. Hence the bar is set much higher nowadays. Math Olympiad is the way to go to get one’s Math skills honed at the highest level.
Singapore (and Asian in general) students are very academically smart. Even the average Singapore student is likely to be 2 to 3 years ahead of their American/UK/Australian counterparts in terms of Math and Science. And to get in the GEP, it is common sense that one has to perform better than the average Singapore student in the GEP selection test at least. Hence, it is not an easy task. However, one weakness of Singaporean students is that they are not a big fan of reading, to the extent that even Borders bookstore (and others) can close down in Singapore. Hence, if your child even read a few extra books you have an advantage over the rest. Check out this book by Moshe Kai Cavelin, a truly gifted kid who entered college at 8.
Ideally, only students who are genuinely interested in learning should be prepped for GEP. As the Chinese proverb 拔苗助长 tells us, there is no point pushing a child artificially beyond what he/she wishes to learn. But for those children who have curiosity to learn, books like Match Wits With Mensa: The Complete Quiz Book will be a good brainteaser for them. If one is looking for books to help prepare for GEP, the average assessment books sold in bookstores would not be of much help since they are catered to the mass market, not gifted children.
Amazon actually has a long list of books for gifted children and their parents: Books for Gifted Children. Gifted children are like raw unpolished diamonds. As the Chinese proverb 玉不琢，不成器 goes, even jade needs to be polished and cut before it can become a piece of jewellery, hence even gifted children need guidance to unlock their full potential. There is no single book that after reading it can get into the GEP. The GEP tests for a wide range of knowledge in the Math and English subjects and hence students need to read widely to acquire a broad spectrum of knowledge.
The above 3 GEP English Literature books are fun to read, and contain a lot of useful and advanced vocabulary and idioms. It is a good idea to read these books to get a hang of what GEP English is about (very different from normal mainstream English). One important technique to improve English by reading is to highlight any new words, and then record it in a notebook, followed by copying down the dictionary definition. From time to time, revise the notebook to refresh your memory. Soon, as the notebook grows, so will your vocabulary.
Remember to use the above technique of using the dictionary and recording in a notebook; simply skimming and flipping the pages is not likely to improve English! As Singapore follows British English, it is important to get a British English dictionary like Paperback Oxford English Dictionary. Try not to use Webster / Google as those are American English, which can be quite different.
Gifted students have the potential to learn material earlier and faster, to handle more complexity and abstraction, and to solve complex problems better. This potential, however, needs stimulating experiences from home and school or it will not unfold. These books are designed to help teachers provide the stimulating curricula that will nurture this potential in school. The units presented in this series are based on research into how these students actually think differently from their peers and how they use their learning styles and potential not merely to develop intellectual expertise, but to move beyond expertise to the production of new ideas.
The Math book includes units that ask students to develop a financial portfolio that includes high- and low-risk stocks, options and margins, AAA and junk bonds, mutual funds, and money markets; use math, science, engineering, technology, and art to design and build a miniature golf course; develop games based on probability; and run a real-life small business.
GEP Psychology Book
Mindset is the key to success. I highly recommend this book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success to students and parents. A psychologist has written this book, and it has many new insights. For instance, praising your child “intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success.” This is new psychological research supported by evidence. The correct way is actually to praise the child’s effort. Find out more tips and stories by reading this book.
Rubik’s Cube (Dayan Zhanchi)
For parents, buying a Rubik’s cube for your child is a great investment. Playing with the Rubik’s cube is a major intellectual challenge (it has 43 quintillion permutations, only 1 of which is correct), which will develop the child’s brain for logical thinking, which is especially useful for Math and Science. Most importantly, it is fun!
Special note for buying Dayan Zhanchi from Singapore:
If you are buying the Dayan Zhanchi from Singapore, at first it seems like the Dayan ZhanChi does not ship to Singapore. It actually does! We just have to choose the correct seller, Cube Puzl, which ships to Singapore.
Even though the GEP Screening/Selection Test does not test science, it is a good idea to get acquainted with science from a young age since the Sciences (Chemistry, Physics, Biology) form the bulk of the Singapore education system from upper primary school onwards till university. For example in Junior College, 3 out of 4 subjects will be sciences, for those in the Science Stream.