Super Junior Member
Join Date: May 2008
Hi everyone, I just happened to pass by this forum surfing for posts to read, so decided to leave you guys a message.
I am SAM graduate from Taylor's College in year 2006, and currently studying Architecture in the National University of Singapore. I took Specialist Mathematics and Physics, so I guess I can answer some of your questions here.
Difficulty wise, I suppose SAM is relatively easier than STPM, but not much different from A-level because given the duration of study, SAM syllabus has lesser time to cover, and everything for SAM is just rush, hectic and intensive. For syllabus wise, I don't think much of SAM syllabus covers SPM syllabus, while A level they learn much about SPM syllabus in AS level. For SAM, it is more like directly going into the extension of SPM, and for Chemistry, Physics and Specialist Mathematics especially, much of it is of totall new syllabus I never learned in SPM before. For SAM, you will learn to cope better with deadlines and assignments than STPM/A level students, seriously, you will also learn about oral presentation which is essential in some courses in universities. One more thing, ESL is good, because it really taught me how to write essay, and it is really helpful in writing university level essays because the format is almost the same =)
For specialist mathematics, I would say it is quite difficult, and if to compare with A levels Further Maths, I guess it is still easier (not much though). It requires you to think, and it is more like " if you can do, then you can do; if you cannot do, then you really cannot do", meaning that if you can do, you can score high, if you cannot do, then you might get 0. So the variation in a class is quite large with some genius getting 90 plus, and some getting 6, 8, 15 etc. It happened in my class last time.
For TER, don't worry about it, because you can't predict, it is based on your cohort overall performance, and varies from year to year. Getting TER of 95 and above gets you admission into some good courses like medicine etc, but getting TER of 99 and above guarantees you quite many things. I am not too sure about that, but from what I know, this is what I can tell you - my friend got TER 95 got IMU medicine, and my friend got TER 99.6 got NUS medicine.
The bad things about SAM is that you really have to rush, not only study hard, for the syllabus if you want to do well, and you don't get to learn more things as you will do in STPM. AND, other people will think that SAM is very very easy and it is like:" oh, you took SAM ah, I heard that it is very easy and you all don't learn much" and " oh SAM... i thought you cannot get into NUS with SAM" as if SAM is really really easy. Ignore them =) they don't know how Australian students get into top universities in the world with Australian year 12, and how many SAM students got into top universities each year =)
Good luck everyone!