A B C D E S U

To: whomever it may concern

One year has passed since As (doesn’t time fly) but I’ll never forget the feeling I had the week before all the papers started. I remember thinking that this was finally it, all the time and effort spent slaving away at tutorials, making notes, doing revision booklets, TYS, other schools’ prelim papers was going to culminate in a series of papers over the following month. If there was a time to pull it together and give it my best shot, this was it. All the past 1.5 years worth of grades was inconsequential, all that mattered was the performance on the day of the paper. Basically, it was go time.

But yet again, it was impossible to shake the feeling of anxiety, uneasiness, unpreparedness. Nearer to the papers, there would always be this little detail or topic that would suddenly crop up which I had not prepared properly for or did not comprehensively understand and I would panic a bit, then rush to resolve it. Of course, I understood the importance of mental preparation and I tried to replicate exam conditions by doing timed practices and assessing myself. But I never felt prepared for GP, and I remember asking a friend what would you do if you went into the exam hall and none of the topics you prepared for came out. That was a very real concern for me and thankfully something related came out, but it was a huge relief when GP was over. If it’s any consolation, just know that everyone has had the same anxious feelings, so you aren’t alone in facing this hurdle. We all need ways to release the bottled up stress, keeping it in ain’t healthy. The piano was my means of destressing but we all have our own ways.

Then again, if there is something that I have learnt so far, it is that grades are not the end-all. It is just an arbitrary way of ranking your efforts based on a fixed and rigid criteria that do not reflect wholesomely the level of intelligence, character, attitude or kind of person you are. As are barely a fair gauge of the work one puts in – perhaps it was a bad day, perhaps it was just exam jitters that threw you off. Yet the amount of weight we give to that letter on our certificate is immense. I have church friends who did not ‘do well’ and yet still went on to excel at their university course and careers. We should remember that our grades do not define us, nor are they an indicator of the level of success that we are at/will have in the future. At best, your grades get you into your university course/job. Whether or not you excel or flop is entirely up to yourself and your attitude, effort and interest.

If you think about it, education is a weird thing. We have always been taught that education is a social leveler and that families can climb out of the poverty cycle through sending their children to school, allowing them to take on secondary or tertiary level jobs which have higher pays. But if everyone in the world does that, who’s going to grow crops, rear animals for food? We all need these ‘primary’ level jobs to survive and it’s funny how the best-paying jobs in the finance industries that do not actually do anything for us are viewed with higher prestige (there’s a good article written on this topic right here). If a zombie apocalypse were to break out, I’d definitely rather survive with a farmer than a banker.

Anyway, my classmate sent me a link one day before As, which I found really helpful and I hope that it can benefit you too. Just wanted to say all the best for As and we’re always here to support you and if you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask.

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