Tyle Tan just finished another Saturday tuition class at JC Economics.
It's a sunny afternoon in Singapore's upmarket Bukit Timah district, but the lights in the makeshift classroom glow a fluorescent white above dozens of empty school tables and chairs. The buzz of the shopping center outside can be heard through the sliding door.
"I was underperforming in school and it was hard to follow the school system and the notes," the 18-year-old admits.
"My parents, being Asians, want me to be competitive and they suggested I take tuition classes. I thought it makes sense, so of course I obliged," he laughs.
Tan has been taking tuition classes for the past two years and his crucial exams are just a few months away. He has ambitions to study law at one of Singapore's top universities, but he knows he needs straight As to be considered.
"With exams coming nearer, it's harder and harder to meet up with friends when you're using most of the time to study," he says. "The pressure is certainly there with everyone wanting to do well."
The one-man band
Enter Anthony Fok, one of the best-known faces of Singapore's booming private tuition scene. Just three years after he founded JC Economics, his one-man operation is bringing in more than $1 million dollars a year.
"That's for total revenue per year," he tells CNBC outside his shop-front-cum-classroom, which is covered in clippings from his press appearances.
"When I started in the year 2013, there were only about three to four students. It was a very small class size and I knew the students personally. Soon the word of mouth grew and now I teach about 200 to 300 students a year."
Fok is part of an elite group of Singaporean "super tutors," who charge top dollar for top grades. And parents are more than willing to pay, in the hope of giving their teenager a leg up in the city-state's highly competitive education system.