2020 N-Level Success Stories
LOH TIAN HUA [4N1]
His teachers described him as a highly participative learner who would inject positivity during lessons to encourage peers to stay focused and learn well. He was empathetic towards his peers and often expressed care. He also exhibited integrity; he was honest with teachers when he discussed his issues or when he owned up to his own lapses, which helped him build trust with him and work towards self-improvement. He was a Sergeant in the Boys Brigade and contributed actively in mentoring his peers. Tian Hua achieved 3 distinctions and an EMB3 of 9 points.
“I am rather ‘shocked’! I never expected to have achieved a Band 1 for English Language. It is a huge leap from my Prelim results, and so I was really speechless when my results were flashed on the projector.”
After letting it all sink in, Tian Hua reasoned that it all came down to just a few simple steps to master a topic or skill. He explained what it took. “First, we need to understand the topic or skill; second, we have to practice to do it fast; and last but not least, we should revise it again – especially when we have already moved on to another topic. Keeping up with these seeming simple steps take time and planning. All of these measures cannot be done at the last minute.”
Tian Hua reflected on how deep study is different for everyone. “I prefer to study alone or with family – at home and when the sun sets,” he shared. He found the quiet time rather productive.
He also explained that for many of his friends, it was different. Some of his friends had felt that they worked best in groups, in cafes, and with music or ambience noise. “So, find what’s best for you.”
When asked who his inspiration was, Tian Hua picked out his father. “I always looked up to him. He is a retired professor. Some of my older siblings graduated from prestigious overseas universities and so, I have always felt small compared to all their achievements. My father’s health had also deteriorated and I somehow think that it is partly because of his worry for me. It became very important for me to make him proud of me, and to make him happy. I think I did! When I spoke to him just now, he told me that we are going to celebrate my results over tea together.”
Tian Hua expressed that he was grateful for the many other encouraging members of the school community, who had stood by him, especially all his subject teachers. “I can’t thank them enough.”
Tian Hua was not decided on the course to pursue. He said that he could not decide between accounting, game design and medical science. “I’ll have to ponder more,” he said.
CHLOE TAN SOK YEE [4N1]
Chloe was a student who was laterally transferred from the Normal Technical course to the Nornal Academic course at the end of Sec 1. A diligent and highly motivated student, she would actively seek consultations from her teachers in order to learn effectively. Besides being resilient learner, she was also a balanced individual who kept fit and also mentored others. She contributed actively in Badminton and as a senior in Badminton, she spent time to communicate with her juniors, helping to develop a sense of belonging to the team. At the GCE N levels, she achieved EMB3 of 11 and bagged 2 distinctions.
“I am amazed. I was expecting 14 to 19 points. You know, in my family, I was the first one to enter the Normal Technical course. Although that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I wanted to give myself another chance. I worked hard to make it to the Normal Academic course. Now, I’ve completed my N levels!”
Chloe attributed her success to the supportive friends that she made in school. She thanked Jia Qi and Gwyneth for always studying with her, for ‘pushing’ her to strive for higher goals and to never look down on herself. They would encourage her to persevere on – through day-to-day stresses and difficulties.
Chloe could not help but recall the challenges that 2020 brought along with the changes that the Covid 19 situation created. She remembered how she fell ill and was issued a medical certificate of rest for 5 days. Consequently she missed quite a number of classes, and found that catching up was quite trying. While the school facilitated her learning home with live streaming of lessons conducted using Zoom technology, it was not the same as being in class with other students. There was also unstable Wi-fi and the teacher’s attention was commanded by the more immediate needs of those physically present in class. As the catching up became more urgent, her mother found her a tutor for POA, and her uncle helped her with some of the other subjects.
It was during all the uncertainty, that Chloe felt that reaching out to friends, family and teachers especially mattered the most.
Chloe said that she hoped to pursue a course in event management.
MOHAMMAD AKASHA BIN ROHIMAN [4N1]
Akasha achieved 3 distinctions and an EMB3 of 11 points.
He was an active member of the Uniformed Group Council, and he contributed significantly to Scouts as a Troop Leader. Described as a person of integrity, his teachers shared how he was highly responsible and would do the right thing even when no one was watching. Expectedly, he became a positive influence to his peers and juniors.
“I’m happy with my results, but am disappointed that I do not qualify for the PFP. I scored a B4 for English Language,” he quipped. “It’s alright. I was expecting a B3 but I guess everything happens for a reason. God has better plans for me.”
A pious student, Akasha shared that he lived by the quote, “Work hard, Tawakkul harder”. He explained that in Arabic, the word “Tawakkal” means “trusting in God’s plan.” To him, outcomes are a result of the twin pillars of effort and prayer, a belief that will help him move on gracefully in 2021 as he sits for the O levels in Sec 5.
As a proponent of hard work, Akasha recalled the time when he saw his Mock Paper results after the Circuit Breaker period. He recalled being disappointed by his performance in a few subjects – scoring Grade 5 for Principles of Accounting, Grade 3 for Science and an F9 for O Level Mathematics.
“I was scared; the N Level preliminary examinations were a mere three weeks away!”
There was little time to worry, and Akasha launched into a plethora of means to catch up and study more effectively. He tried active recall, mind maps, use of flashcards, etc. The different methods helped him process important details and store them in his long-term memory. For the preliminary examinations, he scored Grade 1 for both POA and Science. He even scored a Grade 3 for O Level Mathematics – after conversion.
Optimistic about the future that awaits him, Akasha commented that he was determined to work even harder in 2021. He said with wisdom, “Good things comes to those who are patient.”
ANG JIA DONG [4N2]
Jia Dong achieved 3 distinctions and a total of 10 points for his EMB3. A ‘speechless’ Jia Dong was ecstatic that he has actually performed beyond his own expectations. “I am relieved, glad and satisfied with my results,” he revealed.
Not so confident of his ability to do well, Jia Dong reflected on how he had under-estimated himself. He had a tendency to think that he would not do well or that he would fail. This was especially acute when his results after a test or exam did not achieve the desired scores.
“I would be upset. This would cause a sensation to run through my veins, telling me to keep working – not only hard, but smart as well.”
In spite of this fear or perhaps fueled by his worry, Jia Dong continued to be diligent and strategic.
“I would spend time practicing or revising – going through his homework, textbooks and all the assessment books that he got from Popular Bookstore. I also summarised what I revised so that I had these critical notes to fall back on nearer the exams. When I needed more help, I’d seek my mum’s support,” he shared.
A key reason for his doing well in various areas, according to Jia Dong, was his determination not to let personal fears or difficult subjects get in the way. He recalled how he wrestled against his dislike for Geography – which was a subject he struggled with. From not looking forward to Geography classes, Jia Dong had managed to continue to persevere with pragmatism. Another challenge in 2020 were the radio and computer. Even here, he managed to tell himself to stop these distracting activities.
“It was especially hard for me because when I am at home, the mobile phone was the biggest distraction. What I finally did was to delete my Instagram accounts. I also reduced the time spent chatting online. Eventually this led me to stop anticipating these constant notifications.” Instead, he channeled the use of his mobile phone for education purposes like learning Math formulas.
Described by his teachers as a very quiet and shy person in Lower Secondary, Jia Dong had developed into someone who was able to interact well and lead his peers when the need arises. In fact, he contributed as a Sergeant in the Boys Brigade. He had also shown resilience by overcome personal challenges – both in the academic areas and CCA, especially in the Lower Secondary. A strength that he carried with him was his constant openness to learning so that he could do better.
Jia Dong shared that was ready to move on to do something related to his passion in Design and Technology and Engineering. Now that he was at the threshold of his future, he felt that he wanted to venture into something that would land him in a career where work merged with enjoyment. We wish him all the best!
QUIJANA ANGELA VENTIGAN [4N2]
In a state of disbelief, Angela received her results. She achieved an EMB3 of 8 and 1 distinction. “I felt overwhelmed. I actually found the N levels tough. So, I did not expect that I will score very well.”
After letting it all sink in, she reflected, “I am very satisfied. Very happy.”
All rounded in both leadership and studies, Angela was active and enjoyed an impressive school life. She contributed good management and leadership skills as the School Event Committee Head in Student Council. She was also the Swiss Choir Chairperson and Dance Captain.
An enthusiast in the Arts, she eexhibited the values of Passion and Resilience. She would be proactive in pursuing her goals and reflective in the way she humbly acknowledges and learns from mistakes. She carried herself well, had a pleasant demenaour and built positive relationship with people around her.
Angela reminisced how her family, friends and teachers supported her and encouraged her to keep going. For example, she mentioned how her teachers despite the need to help so many students, would always fit her in – somehow. She was especially grateful to Ms. Tan Mee Han who took her time patiently to help her with the English Language paper. The stoic help from everyone was infectious.
“I also kept pushing myself forward. I told myself not to give up.”
She recalled the time-intensive work that she had to complete for Art, for which a large component was assessed via coursework. As a coursework student, it was hard to be ‘ready’ without the school environment.
“Classes helped to keep us focused and on task. There was also more social support, and it is more ‘visible’ when in school. For example, we can see everyone working towards the same goals, and that’s reassuring in a way.”
Angela felt that the detailed timeline may be demanding but it also played a critical role in helping students work towards milestones in order to finish in time and well. She also shared how challenging it was to manage the coursework alongside the rest of her subjects.
To stay on top of things, and to distribute her commitment across the various subjects equally, she planned her days. “I had to fit everything in effectively. It was the only way. Seeing how little time we had because of the circuit-breaker, I realised that I just had to work harder and fast.”
Not surprisingly, Angela has set her heart on courses related to music or art. “I want to take something I am passionate about,” she quipped.
ETHAN EE [4N2]
“I’m happy and relieved,” Ethan declared openly.
Ethan was overjoyed that he could apply for the Polytechnic Foundation Programme. On hindsight, he wished he had done more practice papers as well as paid more attention in class. Even so, he had scored an EMB3 of 11 and bagged 4 distinctions.
“A key reason for my success was the fact that I found friends I could effectively study with. They motivated me to continue to study when I felt lazy. Some of these friends were stronger in some of the subjects I was weaker in. So, I found that studying in groups benefitted someone like me a lot.”
Having the right company and knowing his learning style helped. Being acquainted with stories from seniors about the increasing demands of the Sec 5 pathway alongside his preference for a hands-on education, Ethan felt it necessary to overcome his easygoing attitude and strive to make it for the PFP option. Knowing his goal early enough helped him find the resolve and determination to work harder.
“I found History especially difficult. There was so much content to remember, though the paper requirement may be largely skills-based. I overcame the challenge by seeking help from my teachers. They knew what strategies I could use to do better.”
Besides being academically driven, Ethan also worked hard at exploring other aspects of his personal development. He was a Sports Leader and supported the school’s health and culture building efforts as the Game Planning Committee Head. As a leader, he exhibited the value of Humility; he was mindful of his purpose of service and was consistent in his character. His unassuming demenaour extended to his positive learning attitude, showing a willingness to receive feedback and make the effort to do better. He also built good relationships with his peers and teachers by being very open-minded. As such, he had contributed to the school in many realms.
Ethan was by nature a quiet student who had gradually stepped up to lead others. Through this timely personal and social development, he exhibited the value of Dare to Try, by stepping out of his comfort zone to mentor junior sports leaders and manage sports activities.
A rather satisfied Ethan revealed that he was now thinking about taking a course related to business. His aspiration is to become an entrepreneur. His desire is to buy his parents things, such as an enjoyable holiday trip, to express his gratitude for all that they had done for him.
LOH GUAN JIA [4N2]
Guan Jia achieved an EMB3 of 12 and 2 distinctions. He contributed as a House EXCO Member and often showed resilience by being reflective and displaying the determination to learn from mistakes.
“Honestly, I feel like I could have done better. I could have been more disciplined and less distracted.”
Nevertheless, Guan Jia felt he owed his ‘happy’ results to his teachers. “Though they had so much work to do, they still made time for me. They offered consultation time after school to help me clear my last-minute doubts on certain topics or chapters,” he recalled.
Guan Jia also felt that his friends and family re-directed him when he did not believe in himself. They motivated him, and sometimes this comes at the end of a shake-up. He shared a particular moment in class, when they were particularly off-task. Their English teacher, Mdm June, gave them a good ‘lecture’ on how critical a positive attitude is for effective and timely learning. She painted a picture of the likely scenarios when attitude is poor. She wanted us to ‘buck up’ before it was too late. That lesson and her words had a deep impact on him.
Determined to do better, Guan Jia was concerned when the ‘circuit breaker’ kicked in. “As a person who gets distracted easily, studying at home via online learning mode was a great challenge for me,” he shared. If the quiet of his room and his bed or laptop was not a distraction, his friends who were contactable via technology were. Eventually, he removed the games and sidetracking apps that he had pinned onto taskbar, etc.
Guan Jia could not help being reflective as he shared his experiences. He observed how different people reacted differently to the same stimulus, something he found profoundly interesting. He understood that he had to take responsibility for his own learning. To catch up, like some others, he had resorted to consultations with his teachers when school re-opened.
Over the year, Guan Jia displayed much humility and developed the ability to focus on his goals. He was prepared to be accountable for his actions, and went on to also help his peers in their academic studies.
“I plan to take psychology in Ngee Ann Polytechnic,” remarked Guan Jia, who has developed a keen interest in human behaviour. We wish him all the best!
BERNAL TIZIANA PARINAS[4N2]
Zia was the Committee Head for Sports Leader Game Planning team. As a leader she was known to be empathetic because she actively took care of her friends, and stood up for others when needed. Additionally, she showed a deep passion for learning; she would be proactive in her studies and showed much motivation to do well. What was even more commendable was her positive outlook and her attempts to spread her positivity to the people around her.
She achieved EMB3 of 10 and 4 distinctions. She shared joyfully, “Honestly, I am really proud of myself. I passed Mathematics, a subject that I really struggled with – throughout my four years in secondary school!”
Zia explained that she managed because of the mind-set, “The tough gets going when the going gets tough.” She had to remind herself constantly that she should not ‘sulk’ over a paper that was done badly. It was better to move on to doing more important things, like doing better for the next paper, the next day because, she said, “if it doesn’t matter in the next five years, then don’t take more than 5 minutes to let it bother you.”
So, Zia focussed on the positive, for example, on the learning that needs to be done. She kept her eyes on things that motivated her like the graduation of her brother, who was studying abroad in senior high school. She did her best but was secretly afraid that it was not good enough.
“What if I don’t make the cut-off?”
She was still awaiting the results of her Art subject, which she had taken at the O levels. Catching her fears and negative thoughts, she would stop over-thinking and focus on what she has to get done. She knows that she will carry on regardless of her results.
“I plan to take Interior Design in the future. I want to reflect my Art into everything I do. I feel that I was gifted with the skill to do Art, and I have to use it.”
For her juniors out there, Zia has this to say: keep fighting for your dreams; it is really worth it in the end.
NUR ARTIKHA INSYIRHA BINTE MOHAMAD SHAIRANI [4T1]
Artikha achieved 4 points and 3 distinctions.
“I did not even expect to get distinctions. I was just expecting to pass and hope it was enough for me to get into the course I wanted to go to,” she expressed modestly.
When prompted to think about the secret of her success, Artikha felt that her mum was the key factor for her determination to do well.
“I wanted my mum to be proud of me. I was not thinking of doing all this for myself.”
She shared that during the home-based learning period, her father and elder sister struggled at work. Eventually, her sister was retrenched.
“When I saw that everyone around me at home was working hard to bring home income during the global pandemic, I felt the need to work hard too,” she explained.
She added that initially, she was concerned that ‘others’ would look down on her because of the stream she came from. But she refused to let the stream ‘define her’. Instead, it was important to overcome this mental hurdle. Fortunately for Arthika and her classmates, this was a battle they triumphed over through positivity and diligence.
Arthika’s determination and commitment are also evident in other areas of school life. She contributed as Student Councillor and was an instrumental leader in the Bonding Committee and as Welfare Head in Malay Dance. She exhibited resilience by having clear goals and the determination to achieve them. She also showed empathy through maturity and care for others. Often, she was able to influence her peers positively. Her sense of integrity was also evident whenever she stood up for what was right.
“I plan to take up nursing as a profession. I have seen how nurses took good care of my grandmother when she was hospitalised. Being in an unfamiliar space can be daunting, but thanks to these nurses, she was comforted. I am inspired by their work, and want to do the same,” says Arthika.
MUHAMMAD JAMSYIR IZZALDIN [4T1]
Happy. Excited. Proud. Three words summed up his joy. Jamsyir had achieved 4 points and 3 distinctions, and is ready for the next lap.
Jamsyir had started tasting some success at the mid-year examinations in Sec 3 – for some subjects while he passed the rest of them. Some of his friends also did well in the examinations. He shared that the situation prompted him to start setting personal goals and targets, so that he could do as well as those who had done better than him in that instance. He decided to let them be pace-setters to stretch his own performance.
He also recalled how his seniors had done well and wanted to be like them. As he reflected on his experience, he felt that it is important to take concrete measures to be like those you aspire to be like. There is much to learn from the way they manage their time and the steps they take to do well.
His plan worked. He experienced his personal best early this year, which in turn, motivated him further. And so, he decided to push himself a little harder.
Jamsyir wanted to put on record his thanks to his parents who had continued to encourage him, by talking to him regularly. His friends, Taufik and Haziq were also people he was grateful to – for helping him with the subjects that he was weak in. He also prayed more and was more religious on the whole, which helped him turn into a better person overall.
Jamsyir also showed the willingness to try and approach challenging situations confidently. At the same time, he was respectful towards his teachers and peers at all times, displaying maturity in thought and deed. He honed his leadership when he contributed as B Division Team Manager in Football, which he was highly passionate about. He also showed initiative and sought help from his teachers. He also displayed determination and clarity in pursuing his goals, which indicated how resilient he was.
Jamsyir plans to take up culinary courses. He has an interest in cooking and is hoping to enhance his cooking skills.
“I want to open up a restaurant, and help poor people by cooking food and giving them money,” revealed a thoughtful Jamsyir.
KOH RUI XUAN [4T1]
Rui Xuan could not have been more thrilled. She achieved 4 points and 3 distinctions. Now, she can move on to pursue bigger dreams.
In her years in Swiss Cottage, she had contributed much of her leadership as IC for Publicity in the National Civil Defence Cadet Corps (NCDCC). She was known as a thoughtful student who would display empathy for others by expressing care. Always be willing to share, she was often seen helping her classmates with their revision after school. She also showed maturity in decision-making and took the needs of others into account. An all-rounded student, she was active in Taekwondo and participated in tournaments both locally and overseas.
As she reflected, Rui Xuan shared how the teachers were so dedicated that they offered help even when it spilled over into their personal time. The use of WhatsApp and Zoom technology blurred the times closer towards the examinations. She remembered how she and her classmates would sometimes send screenshots of the questions they had trouble with via WhatsApp to their teachers. There were also consultations that happened after school. She expressed her gratitude to these teachers, without whom she would not have done as well.
A second group of people who helped her succeed was friends.
“We would meet up before the circuit breaker to study together. When I didn’t understand something, they would be more than willing to help me. During the circuit breaker, we resorted to video calls and WhatsApp messages. We especially got together to prepare for Oral examinations,” Rui Xuan reminisced.
She explained the power and influence of seeing people come together to work and do well. It was infectious. “I saw my friends studying in the canteen and it motivated me to study as well. It was also more fun to study together,” she opined.
Rui Xuan plans to pursue courses on business service in ITE.
“I think business service is a very important part of society and I know I would like to learn how to treat a customer better.”