I’ve been going through the content of this blog post is my head for so long, and I’m still unsure how I should go about writing this.
Therefore, I will try to organise this a little bit so that it’s more tolerable to read.
I want to dedicate this post to the struggling students who are mugging insanely (and to those who still haven’t found the need to do so), but chances are, you probably don’t belong in that category, but ok I’m just putting it out there + this is to document formally (not really) in words my entire journey, in a more interesting form. I hope it reaches out to people who read need that burst of motivation to survive the rest of this gruelling robotic year.
I have a tendency to ramble on about irrelevant things… so this post may get pretty long. And nonsensical.
Ok wait I need to write a disclaimer first.
I am in no way trying to pretend like I’m all mighty and I walk got wind ok. This is really my honest reflection about the whole GCE ‘A’ Levels process for me (HC Edition) and what I’d really want to share with myself a year ago!! I am not qualified to provide professional advice but I really hope you’ll find this useful in some way or another!!!
Without further ado, let me get straight to this!!
Dear Struggling Student Going Through the GCE ‘A’ Levels This Year,
One year ago I was in your place.
I am not sure if I got my timeline right, but Block Test 1 results should be released by now? I don’t find a need to explicitly list my results, but this one, I have to share, to prove that I have an idea how you may feel. I got CDDU for my 4 H2s, and…
I think we can unanimously agree they are not good.
Here’s what people said to me:
“You had a lot of commitments to juggle la and you still have BT2/Prelims to improve”
“Eh HC standards v high so it doesn’t matter its not as bad as you think”
“Aiya BT1 it’s okay one la everyone does badly”
I’ve always been a pretty average student throughout – and this sense of mediocrity got amplified in HC because it felt like in every corner you turn, there’d be a sporty dude with 500 gold medals around his neck or a really intelligent + pretty + athletic + aiya-u-get-it girl around. Ya la I’m exaggerating, but I’m just saying its easy to feel like a plain prata (if JC were to be a prata restaurant) with all these pratas with bananas or cheese or mushrooms or abalones in them, and I get you. They don’t matter. Some people like their pratas plain. You’re cool.
But anyway nonsense aside I just want to once again remind you that nothing, absolutely NOTHING, in primary school or secondary school has a bearing on who you are, and what results you are about to achieve. Just need to put this out there. There is only correlation between PSLE/O Level Results/A Level Results if you are a metal prata, and I don’t think you are. I can’t be sure.
Okay back to crappy BT1 results. I hope that the less-than-ideal results above I’ve shared has allayed your concerns that I do not know how it feels like to fail a subject.
For everybody (or most people), there’s bound to be a subject that they don’t feel too good about. For many, it was GP.
But being the weird nut I am (I secretly dislike it when people relate me to hazelnuts and assume I like nutella….. I don’t), in the BCME combination, I’ve always done better in GP and Econs.
The killer subject was Chemistry.
And yes that’s the subject that I scored U for. I’ve always found it a little disconcerting because it’s not like I didn’t understand my concepts and all but somehow my efforts (or lack thereof??) didn’t reflect in my grades.
(By the way if you need help and love for Chemistry lemme know I know a magical teacher)
I am saying this like it’s a big fat joke but I’ll let you know I was completely distraught one year ago and alarms were starting to sound in my head, loud and clear. I wouldn’t say I had the most stellar grades throughout, but I did do well enough in J1 to be granted the opportunity to take up a H3 subject which I subsequently dropped. And I didn’t treat my academics like it’s a laughing matter. If you do, you should probably stop and get your head in the game. And I also hated disappointing my family, especially my mum.
You see, in this rat race, you tend to meet many… adults. I’ve broadly categorised them into 3 types:
1) The ones who are incredible and motivate and love you as much as they can
2) The ones who don’t really care… with varying degrees of aloofness
3) The ones who are really not nice at all and find ways to put you down
I sincerely hope you have nobody in mind for Type 3.
I would say for the majority of the teachers I have growing up, some of them either love me or like me enough, so none were mean to me at all. All the way until J1, actually! And I really respect my teachers and am almost 100% quiet in lessons all the time. Almost. HAHAHA
There is however one lesson in JC that really had me getting excited and talkative… and that was Mathematics. The subject I usually did the best in and because our teacher was really a very sweet old man (Im not going to name him I hope you never find out who he is) and I still feel very sorry for the way I behaved. I wasnt rowdy at all (come on look at me) but I was really talkative. You would know by now that Mary, my deskmate of four years counting from Sec 3 to J2, received the brunt of the scoldings because she was just naturally loud hahaha.
Anyway, I’m sharing this because I got D for Math for BT1, and it was a huge punch in my face because as mentioned, it’s usually my best subject. And my Math teacher wrote me a note on top of my exam script, telling me how I’ve been talking a lot in class and how I could do way better… and he also drew sad faces in my script next to ridiculous mistakes. And then from that moment on I got my act together. Hahaha I also got tuition in J2 to push them higher and greater (again if you need love for Math let me know………… I won’t be the one tutoring no worries).
Back on the topic of teachers who didn’t believe in me and werent very nice at all… sometimes it’s hard to believe they exist but yes they do! They happen to be related to me in the same subject which was my favourite and one I did well in la. (And no, they were never my HC subject tutors.)
I had a semi-breakdown before my Econs paper for As, because I felt like I had neglected it too much for subjects like Chem + it was in the hardcore week with four papers back to back + my concepts were fuzzy…….. And I also got a Prelim scare because I didn’t do as well as I hoped.
But I say this breakdown is semi because I’m not the type to outwardly scream and pull my hair, or the type who cries and weeps herself to sleep… it was just me being crazy anxious because a teacher had mentioned that I was “emotionally unstable” and I quote, “didn’t even know the simple basic stuff”… And after saying that, he wiped his hands clean of the matter and walked away. If I were really to be borderline insane like he thought I think things would have turned out very differently. I have a fine grip on my emotions and I hope you do too because don’t let naysayers get to you. They may be your own family members or they may be teachers, or they may be elder siblings whose standards you hope to live up to, but know the distinction – some of them really care for you, but some of them don’t and are here to mess with your equilibrium. No matter who they are and what they say, know who you are and believe in yourself. I believe in you :-) This may come across as creepy because I don’t know you but gentle reminder: you are so much more than you believe. I tell myself that sometimes, but I’d like it for someone else to give me words of affirmation. From experience, such words tend to be useless but pls don’t be rude and soak it in. Tell yourself that.
Throughout the experience I had my mum by my side supporting me, and her idea of support includes insulting me with comments like “you are a fat pig” and physical touch (hugging, nothing more) and delicious home-cooked meals. She also used to blow my hair for me but now she really doesn’t bother. #truecolours Haha but jokes aside, she’s the one person I absolutely cannot live without because I’ve loved her for all my life.
This is not a Mother’s Day Special. HAHAHAHA BUT OKAY moving on.
Also, please do not let it get to your head that people don’t care about their grades okay. If you are in a group of friends who genuinely don’t care, please be the agent of change. HAHAHA I AM KIDDING but I am sure every student knows the importance of this examination (after you get your results it’s a different story, but I’ll let you see it for yourself after you get yours).
From this point on, you’ll see even more schoolmates mugging during breaks at the class benches. Some find more elusive places that I don’t know about, but most usually go to the Reading Room (which I loved for a good two months before deciding I was claustrophobic and relocated to classrooms) or the library (which I loved for a good two days before deciding there were too many people there). Some people go home after school, and thats me, because I gave up pretending to be mainstream and mugging in school. HAHAHA I am really kidding. I do study better at home at my dining table, alone. Sometimes I invite my food to join me. And I eat them.
You will also see a mysterious drop in your number of likes on Instagram, because one by one, your friends are deleting the app, to move on to the browser version and pretending they don’t see your posts (they do, they just don’t “like” it because they “deleted” the app) HAHHA OK JK some people really have amazing discipline but I’m one of the sneaky few who stupidly went to Safari. During the actual A Levels period, I had the app in my phone because I knew I was just wasting time going to browser/logging in/logging out. Since I’m saying this, I can also say I was crazily obsessed with the game “Smashy Road” because I have violent tendencies. Don’t bother downloading it. But I was truly hooked onto this silly game, and I realised it wasnt because it was fun, but because I needed something to distract me. I watched numerous advertisements to earn coins. I was that desperate. I no longer play the game, but I refuse to delete it because I have unlocked almost all of the cars. And I can’t throw them away. Haha basically you get to control a car, and you earn points when you wreck trees/bushes/shrubs and run away from the police cars. Eventually cannons will follow you and shoot bullets at you. It’s a cartoon game, no blood and gore involved.
I really have so much nonsense.
Theres one last thing I wish to share with you though (actually I have so many more, but I need to stop). I just want to reiterate the importance of believing in yourself!!!
Don’t track your progress against your peers. Don’t do it.
(HAHAHA it sounds like an anti-drugs campaign)
But it’s always so damn easy to discount your own efforts – just because your friends completed TYS before BT2 (they shouldn’t, and you shouldn’t, you should really keep those gems before As) doesn’t mean you’re losing out, and just because they mug in the library from 7am to 10pm doesn’t mean you’re lazy. You know what I’m trying to drive at… during this trying period, if whatever people do get to your head, steer clear of them and leave it alone. Unless you’re really a lazy butt who watches YouTube or plays CoC for 10 hours straight then you should seriously find yourself a chao mugger (hahaha) to get positively influenced. I speak this from personal experience, because I see how hard all these people in school work then I look at myself…. then this self-pity starts all over again. This advice is hard to dish out because I don’t know how hardcore you are but you should have a good idea if you’re working hard enough. BUT please do not go overboard if not you’ll really burn out quickly/combust. I don’t want that to happen to you!! At the end of the day, the only person you’re competing against is yourself, really!
Now’s a good time to set a steady pace because you still have BT2 and Prelims to go, don’t chiongggggggg all the way because if not all your fillings will fall out of your prata. And you wont even be a plain prata anymore. You’ll be a french-fries prata without french fries. You were filled with french fries for a reason. How deep am I? Im impressed with myself.
Just work hard ok, while keeping happy and healthy. I won’t tell you to live with no regrets because that’s really lame and you’ll eventually do things that you’ll regret (these are things you and I both cannot help) so just do things according to your own judgement. Please try not to fight with your friends because it’s a tough period and everyone needs love. I am willing to shower some love on you if you have no friends. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA but I’m serious, if you do have problems I’ll be here! If you feel comfortable confiding in me. I swear I value your privacy, and everything you tell me about will be secured with end-to-end encryption. HAHAHAHA but really I am more than willing to be your listening ear.
I hope you didn’t scroll all the way down to see my actual results to determine if my advice and love letter is worth reading. I didn’t get a perfect UAS of 90, but I’m more than happy (in fact I’m over the moon) with my actual results. I got B for GP (which was honestly a bummer, and to boost your confidence more than 50% got A for GP in my batch, and if you happen to fall below that percentile now don’t sweat it because we all aren’t metal pratas) and A for the rest of my subjects. This shows you that nothing is impossible. If you’re curious how I did for Prelims, I got Bs and Cs and a D for Chemistry. (By now many were getting As and Bs) Yes, up till the end, Chemistry played hard to get. But for As, it is surprising that I felt most confident about Chemistry and I’m glad my efforts finally paid off. I also want to share that I didn’t get HCI Diploma with Distinction with that sorta grades, and I also want to share that I didn’t get ANY early offers/admission from the big-shot universities in SG, and I also want to share that I worked hard for my grades and they didn’t fall from the sky. After Prelims, theres no time to act pitiful/wallow in self-pity… Move on!!!!
Oh yes, there was also a really un-nice man from an external company that asked for my Prelim grades when I told him I really wanted to do Medicine, and this was before A Levels commenced. And when he heard what I got, he told me in my face – “Uhh…. you know you need straight As to get into medicine right? Just making sure you know.” For the record, you don’t, and I understand where he’s coming from, but can you hear the sound of my heart breaking? At a point where I wasn’t confident and was feeling downright crappy, it didn’t help to have an adult to rub it in my face. I once again implore you to tune out the words of awful people because they don’t know you for who you are, okay!!!!
Post A Levels, I was full of regrets because of stupid mistakes I made in the actual papers. I also fought an enraged NYH who tried to stop me from checking my answers online on this website (I’m not going to share it but you’ll find it if you want to, it’s really not hard to find) right after my Math/Chem papers. I am not going to lie, I thought I was a really strong independent young woman but when I saw the CRAZY amount of mistakes I made in Math Paper 1 my heart really broke a lot and it probably affected me a little. This swings both ways – if you do well, it’ll make you more confident and if you see you didn’t, you’ll just feel bummed and disappointed. It’s important to channel the energy correctly and no matter how gungho you (think you) are, I’ll really advise you against doing that because it serves no purpose at all, but if you have hands as itchy as mine or if you are very clever and you believe in it, then by all means go ahead. Teachers think that it is completely ridiculous and silly to check/release these answers online after the paper, but it’s entirely your choice if you want to check it, so you bear with the consequences HAHAHA. Be the responsible young adult you are, and make mature decisions!
But A Levels is still pretty far away, and life isn’t completely about A Levels. Remember to always treat the people around you with the love and respect they deserve, and never let your bad temper get to them no matter how stressed out you feel. Treasure these friends and classmates and schoolmates because you have one year left in this and you don’t want to spend all the time mugging your head off. Take suitable breaks and unwind whenever necessary!!
Ok this ends my letter to the struggling student. I hope I helped you a little bit and I am a living example of how bad grades in HC doesn’t determine your actual results as long as you work hard and do your best!!!!!! Miracles do happen. My elder cousin told me, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” I can’t emphasise how important it is to put in your best, because I know for a fact I didn’t from J1-J2 and I really regretted it before my actual A Level examinations. I want to save you the feeling of knowing you could have done something better, so yes. Its easy to say, and I know how hard it is to consistently feel motivated – had I known how liberated I’d feel post As, I would have worked much harder. And some of my friends felt the same!! Don’t give up!!!!
Basically three main points from me:
1) Put in your very best now so that you’ll minimise your regrets at the end
2) Your only competition is YOU (spread the love)
3) YOU ARE GOOD!!!!!!!! Don’t let anyone/anything tell you otherwise.
P.S. Listen to your seniors/adults who nag, because usually they know what they’re saying. Except those who are un-nice. Keep them at bay.
P.P.S. Grades really do not define you as a person, this is VERY important.
University admissions are officially done for me, and I’m really happy to share with you I managed to get into my dream course in my dream university. :-) I am truly eternally grateful for all the love and support I received and I am beyond excited for what lies ahead. I know it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows, but I know it will definitely be worthwhile.
If you have any questions you’d like to ask me please feel free to!! I’ve also applied to UK Med schools – thank you so much Ange for your love and help throughout the process!!!
Okay that’s about all I want to share, but I’ll publish this tomorrow instead because I want to read it again to make sure the things I say aren’t too crazy
Good night and I hope everything is going well!!
I will also update my blog a little more, for it has been neglected the past two months since I was also living in overwhelming anxiety prior due to uni admissions.
P.S. I’m really happy at the moment, but I really, really want to share my happiness with you. Don’t give up <3 :-)
Hi! Can I get the details of the Chem teacher you mentioned? :)
Hazel Post author
Hello :-) can you reply to this with your contact details? (I won’t publish the comment!)
Hello! :) I just stumbled upon this today, and I just want to thank you for sharing this :) (was searching more about Dr E. Tan after today’s NHMed sharing heh) Being someone who constantly compares myself to how hard others are working and feel inferior about myself, your advices really got me thinking, so thank you so much!! :) Congrats on getting into Medicine!!!!!!! You really really deserve it :) Studying medicine/being a doctor has always been my dream too, and i hope that I will be as delighted as you are one year from now :>
Oh and btw! Do you have any tips to share for interviews? I’m really bad at interviews although I really know that I genuinely want to study medicine, I think I just can’t express myself well enough? I’ll be really really grateful for your help!! And even if you don’t, I’m already very thankful :-)
ps. this may be kinda weird because you don’t know me hahahah but just wanted to tell you that I really really appreciate your kind words!! :-)
Hazel Post author
Hey there :-) Thank you for taking time out to write this, I’m glad my post managed to help you!
It sounds like you’re an NHMed participant, and I hope NHMed’16 has been eye-opening and very fulfilling for you!!
Regarding your question on interview tips… To be honest, I’m really not sure what exactly the interviewers look out for, but I think it is very important to demonstrate good communication skills + compassion + GENUINE passion, while being polite and smiley (I think smiles can do wonders). Think about what motivates you, and let that energy fuel you through the interview process. I think what is most important isn’t your answers per se, but your thinking process as well as the values you believe in. Don’t be afraid/shy, and be confident! Think of the interviews as the only opportunity you have to showcase yourself and don’t hold back.
Meanwhile, jiayou and work hard okay! I’m sure you’ll be able to conquer all odds. Let me know if you have anymore questions, I’ll be really happy to help! :-)
Hey! Random person reading your blog but so glad i stumbled on it!
Could i get the details of the amazzzzing chem teacher you shared about? Haha i swear cheMYSTERY is my arch nemesis and I’m kinda panicking a little about it now after my MYCTs ><lll
Hazel Post author
Hi there! Sorry for this incredibly late reply!
My teacher is Mr Pang Peng Cheong and you can check out his website over here: http://distinctioninchemistry.com
I completely understand the struggle with Chemistry – jiayou okay! You can do it :-) I hope all is well with you and let me know if you have any questions!
hello!! i read your blog and i loved it! btw im taking a levels this year and kinda panicking as my BT2s are coming so soon :(( may i know what you got for BT2? tq!!!
Hazel Post author
Hi Melissa! Hope all is going well :-) This sounds really lame but don’t panic, think of the bigger picture (As) – you still have time! I really have absolutely no idea what I got for BT2 (still not the most ideal I believe), and that really goes to show it’s not too important!! Im not sure if BT2 is over already, but just take note the grades don’t matter that much – use this opportunity find out what you don’t know and clarify all your misconceptions before the real deal. All the best! Your hard work will definitely pay off.
hey hazel! thanks for the reply!! i got a U for h2 chem for this BT2, i take pcme btw :(( im really stressed especially since time is not on my side :( any advice? :( also may i know around how many hours of sleep did u get after BT2 to A lvls? thanks!
Hazel Post author
Hey Melissa! Ahh I apologise for this extremely late reply :-( Hope you’ve been doing well! I can definitely relate because Chem has always been an uphill battle for me, and please persevere, don’t give up. Im a little curious… why do you think time is not on your side? You still have a couple of weeks left to sprint, make them count! Motivate yourself, think of the 8 MONTHS you have to do whatever you’d like, and don’t let yourself be distracted by things that do not matter. Let me know how you are doing!!
And regarding the sleep… I’ve always gotten a good night’s sleep, up till the exams themselves. I would say 7-8 hours is fine – please don’t burn midnight oil and keep yourself to a crazy schedule of say, sleeping from 3-7am. Sleep is VERY important and it’s not worth it to sacrifice your health like this! Do take care okay? Don’t feel pressured to stay up just because your peers are, and don’t compare yourself against other people. You know yourself best! <3 Jiayou.
Hello would it be possible that u sell your chem tuition notes to me as the tuition fees are quite expensive? Thanks
Hazel Post author
I understand! Unfortunately I don’t have those notes anymore – they’re also outdated since the syllabus has been changed!
If I’m not wrong, you can find Mr Pang’s handy little summary book on organic chemistry in bookstores – that’ll be a good place to start.
All the best for As :-)