2020 O-Level Success Stories
Ang Chee Siang [S5N1]
Chee Siang achieved three distinctions at the GCE O level examinations. His teachers described him as someone who was very consistent with his work, spending free time revising his studies since the start of Sec 4N. He would make notes and consult his teachers to clarify his doubts. He took part in Singapore Junior Biology Olympiad, exhibiting both passion and resilience.
In 2020, he bravely took up D&T when he entered Sec 5. He had just a year get ready for the O level assessment – for all papers related to D&T.
“I am satisfied and disappointed at the same time,” summed up Chee Siang. He explained that he was satisfied with his distinction for D&T – a subject that he had switched to only in 2020. “It was a risky switch but so worth it because the alternative, Principles of Accounting was not my cup of tea,” he recalled.
Nevertheless, he explained that what had motivated him to study hard was the support from his teachers and friends, whom he felt were always by his side. Whenever he had felt like giving up, they had encouraged him to persevere. His parents were always there for him too; they would remind him that he was capable of achieving what he wanted as long as he put in the required effort. He had a whole string of teachers that he wished to thank – Mr Ang, Mr Koh, Mrs Lim, Mdm Tee, Mr Tan, Mr Neo, Mdm Aishah and Miss Tan.
In 2019, Chee Siang underwent an eye surgery, which he felt, changed my personality – from a person who didn’t care about his studies to one that revised even when he was really feeling tired. He shared how he was diagnosed with cataract and how there was a period when he had to sit in front of the class. His eyesight was struggling eyesight and he found himself straining to see what was on the whiteboard. His condition scared him as the challenge surfaced during the N levels. He did not want to do badly for the examinations.
“It was a wake a call for me; my greatest fear was that I will disappoint my parents and teachers,” he recalled.
He advises his juniors to find their passion and work towards their goals – no matter how hard the journey seems to be. “Find your teachers whenever you need help because they are always there to help you if you want to put in the effort,” he remarked.
Chee Siang shared that he would like to take courses related to Medicine, as he would want to extend him to others the way his eye doctor supported him.
Mohammad Syafiq B Adnan [5N2]
Syafiq was an exemplary leader who juggled his multiple responsibilities well. He was the Head of Logistics, NCC (Air), and had a positive influence over his peers. He tutored his peers despite his tight schedule, and exhibited Honour and Resilience.
Syafiq achieved three distinctions at the GCE O levels.
“I am a very competitive person so I feel like I have to be the best in class. This actually made me challenge myself to do even better than my peers,” he said as a matter-of-fact.
He shared how when he could not go out during the circuit breaker, he found the studying at home almost impossible. He explained how he was used to studying outside of his home. Over time, he managed to adapt to the changes and took the home based learning situation in his stride.
He was grateful to the support of his teachers, especially the form teachers – Mr Neo and Mdm Redha. He felt that they were always providing the push and nudge when they noticed him slowing down. In addition, he felt that he did so every now and then.
As a senior, he advises his peers to strike a balance when it comes to studying. It is important to work hard. However, he also added that it was also important to take adequate breaks in order to keep going, to maintain your stamina. He explained the futility of cramming information at the last minute or becoming overly stressed and anxious.
“There is a healthy middle in everything that we do,” he added.
When asked about his future aspirations, Syafiq expressed a clear goal. He would like to explore Aerospace Engineering.
“I’ve always have a profound interest in how aircraft works so I guess it’s a pathway for me to pursue. It will be great to do what I enjoy.”
An Jin Bee
Jin Bee achieved an L1R5 of nine and six distinctions. She said that she was pleasantly shocked.
“I was dumbfounded when I saw my name on the screen. The first thing that came to my mind after that was gratitude towards everyone around me who had helped me along during this tough journey,” shared Jin Bee. Her teachers described her as a student who showed passion for learning. She was self-directed and took ownership of her own learning, often demonstrating high standards.
Jin Bee, in all humility shared how she was a ‘26-pointer’ in Sec 3. “I once scored the lowest for Chemistry in my class once. Moreover, I always failed A Math and Physics. The thought of dropping a subject crossed my mind countless times but I held on. I never expected myself to be where I am today,” she reminisced.
Jin Bee explained that she in the past shrugged off her lack of excellence academic results as a natural consequence of her busyness. She had multiple leadership roles and in a way, that became her excuse for poor academic grades. She shared how in one life-changing moment, her teacher had told her, “You’re a student before you are a leader.” It struck her that her primary responsibility should be to learn well and not simply to perform leadership roles. If she wanted to be a good leader, she would indeed need strike a better balance.
Jin Bee had an impressive leadership portfolio so she was not just academically focused. She was Head of the Sports Leaders, and the Assistant Company Leader for Girl Guides. As a committed individual, she exhibited resilience and ensured that she was exemplary in discharging her many duties well.
Her motivation to be an all-rounder came from her classmates, who were generally ahead of her academically. Yet, they always helped her and with their help, she realized that she was actually just one-step away from learning new things. Her grades improved and tasting the success became ‘addictive’. Teachers and friends were also important pillars of strength in her journey. They sacrificed time and put in effort to help her at rather critical moments when she most needed their help.
“My teachers always told me the truth and reality. Their words were wake up calls for me, “she reflected. Her friends had given her motivational notes. They gave her strength whenever she felt lost. She shared a particular quote that she found encouraging: If your dreams are not scary, they are not big enough.
These supportive gestures from the people in Swiss anchored her because she had been studying in Singapore for years while her family lives in Korea. It was an important decision that her family made in order expose her to a learning environment that was internationally recognised and also, where the working language was English.
“The O levels taught me that if you dream, you can achieve. Always dream BIG,” she said happily.
Eri Yeo [S4E1]
Eri achieved an L1R5 of eight and seven distinctions. Besides doing well academically, Eri was also an active leader in CCA. She was a 2nd I/C of National Civil Defence Cadet Corps (NCDCC). Her teachers described her as a person of resilience and strength of character, persevering in the face of personal challenges.
Looking back at her whole school experience, Eri reflected, that she was very satisfied with her results. She added, “I did not expect some of my subjects to improve, especially English!” She shared that she had been consistently at a C grade throughout the 4 years for the subject. However, at the GCE O levels, she managed to achieve a B3. As a learner, she took ownership of her own learning to achieve excellence in her areas of work.
In fact, Eri’s struggles with the English language and her results as a whole is a lesson on perseverance. She explained that in the first half of the Upper secondary, her performance was generally average, but that she had kept reviewing her goals to stretch her efforts and achieve better results. She would not hesitate looking for help whenever she did not know how to solve a question.
“Mdm June was really helpful and she always made herself free for everyone to look for her for help. I went to look for her for help a few times after getting back my Prelim results and she helped me tremendously even the day before the English paper,” reminisced Eri.
Largely, she also felt that her motivation to excel was due to the care of her aunt and mother.
“My aunt took care of me since I was eight and she cared for me like her own daughter. She did not expect me to get very good grades at the start of the year, but she once ‘jokingly’ said she wished I could go on stage when I get back my O level results,” she remembered. She felt that she had made her aunt and mum proud.
Another group of people whom she was deeply grateful to are her friends. She especially recalled the final lap of their preparation. They had studied together in the two weeks study break – almost every day encouraging and helping each other. They answered all her questions even though they were, according to Eri, ‘ridiculous.
Eri revealed that she planned to go a JC after this on the road towards the medical industry in the future. “I was part of the St John Brigade and I was aspired to go into the medical field after learning about the industry through my CCA experiences,” she shared
Wong Kin Chong [S4E2]
Kin Chong was an exemplary leader. He contributed as Senior Patrol Leader with the Scouts. He had the ability to influence his peers with his positivity and would always push on and explore possibilities. His teachers described him as a resilient student who was proactive at improving his challenging subjects. He showed passion for learning beyond the curriculum.
In the GCE O levels, he achieved L1R5 of eight and seven distinctions.
“The results were gratifying. This is exciting because I had expected worse results,” he shared. He went, “They are the fruits of all my hard work and now I feel that all the hours I had spent studying are totally worthy.”
Teachers are doubtlessly the first reason why Kin Chong felt he had scored well in the O levels. As a returning Singaporean who had grown up in China, he had difficulty speaking English when he first entered Swiss Cottage – two years ago. Consequently, many subjects like Social Studies and English Language were extremely challenging for him.
“I grew up in China for 15 years before returning to Singapore. After being in a culturally and linguistically homogenous environment, I had lost much opportunity to speak in English. I also did not understand the local culture and governance issues. You can imagine how tough the transition was,” he explained.
However, Kin Chong found his teachers very approachable and willing to offer consultation time throughout his two years in Swiss. The extra support led to a good understanding of the textbook content and the ability to apply his knowledge to achieve excellence. He improved from a grade of C6 in the Humanities to a B3 and from D7 or E8 in English Language to B3 at the O levels.
“Social Studies and English Language are subjects that challenging even for Singaporeans who have been in touch with the happenings in Singapore and who want to excel in English. My struggle was real. I forced myself to speak in English in all kinds of situations. I had to spend a lot of effort to build up on my vocabulary to be able to use it spontaneously and fluently,” Kin Chong shared
The larger challenge came with the uncertainties during the circuit breaker. “I know that some people slackened and started playing games. Thankfully, I managed to focus and instead made a detailed schedule for myself. I made sure I studied and that I also had time for entertainment and exercise.”
Moving on, Kin Ching has decided to go to the Junior College because he has yet to figure out his aspirations. “In the JC, I’d probably do Science, Math and Chinese Literature since these are my stronger subjects and I love these disciplines. I expect that GP would be a challenge and so, I will be trying to polish up on my language skills while waiting for admission. Reasonable command in English is important but Chines will remain my comfort and go-to language,” he expressed.
Angelina Tan Wan Teng [S4E4]
Angelina achieved L1R5 of seven and eight distinctions. When asked how she felt, she had one word to sum up her feelings. Happy.
“My main motivation was to work hard is to make my parents proud. They have supported me in whatever I wanted to do, including funding my overseas competition trips or paying for extra classes outside.”
Angelina described her mother as inspiring. She was in her forties when she decided to pursue a degree in psychology. She worked in the day and studied at night. She described how her mother shared that it was hard for her to meet deadlines with such a hectic arrangement. Nevertheless, Angelina witnessed that her mother still put in her 100% into everything that she did. Her mother taught her that regardless of the final scores of her results, what mattered was that she did her best by putting in effort to learn. Her mother eventually got her degree in psychology in 2020. This sincerity exhibited by her own mother became a personal motivation for Angelina to want to do the same.
Not surprisingly, Angela’s contributions were far from lacklustre. She contributed as the President of the Student Council, which was the key student leadership body of the school. She was also the Senior Quartermaster in Swiss Winds. Through her drive and commendable ability to manage the multiple demands in the academics, CCA and student leadership, she showed up her resilience. Her pursuit of excellence in all these areas of work also exhibited her a deep sense of passion for learning and commitment to distinction.
Understandably, with a tight schedule, her greatest fear was that she might not do well enough academically. There was the worry that she may let people down. Ironically, doing well in the Year End examinations in Sec 3 added some pressure to maintain grades and meet the well-meaning expectations of people around her. Fortunately, she was able to pull herself together, and maintain a balance between work and relaxation.
Angelina has her heart set on accountancy and hopes to get into Nanyang Business School in the future.
“I already have a place in NP Accountancy.” Having been interested in numbers and calculations from young, she was glad that she could try Principles of Accounts in the Upper Secondary. Her sister, who is just a year older than her was a pillar of support during the examination period. She answered her questions, and made time for her. More importantly, she gave her the courage to choose a different pathway, polytechnic in order to follow her own passion in nursing – despite having scored an L1R5 of 9 points.
“Regardless of results, O levels is a new starting point for your future ahead,” Angelina reflected. She hopes that her juniors will be motivated to work for their desires, make decisions without regret and cherish the friendships and bonds from Swiss Cottage. J
Janelle Tan Shuen Yeen [S4E4]
A jubilant Janelle shared, “I did not expect myself to do this well, and it certainly exceeded my expectations, especially for English. My English result was a B4 for the prelims, but I got an A1 for now!” and hence the surprise.
Janelle had achieved an L1R5 of 6 and 8 distinctions at the GCE O level examinations.
The captain of the Swiss Badminton Club and Chairperson for her class for two consecutive years worked hard to ensure that she kept up with all her tasks and assignments. She was unafraid of challenges and being independent worker, always aimed for excellence in all tasks. On top of getting her own work done, she often took the initiative to help organise study group for her friends, and displayed an attitude of daring; she was game enough to take on any challenge.
When asked for the secret of her success, Janelle shared that it was all came down to three things – hard work, resilience and shaking off complacency. She recalled how at the end of Sec 3, she had started to feel the “O level pressure” and started making a study trip to the library a habitual thing.
“Studying in the library gives me motivation as I can see everyone else working hard too. I brought my friends along with me too, and one of them was Jin Bee. Having a study partner helped the revision process, as we could guide each other along, “she reminisced and added, “Another goal that I made for myself was to study 10 hours every day. I was inspired from all the study vlogs that I came across during the circuit breaker period. I understood that quality was more important than quantity, but this “10 hour goal” drove me to do as much revision as I could in between short breaks.”
She explained that keeping up being amongst the top in class was pressurizing. In a way, the unspoken positive expectations of peers and her own personal goals pushed her out of complacency to continue working hard.
Janelle was excited about the next phase of her journey. She planned to enter a junior college and continue studying in the science stream. Although she was not confident that she would strive studying biology, she was quite keen to study it in depth because she was passionate about it. She shared her intrigue and awe over the human anatomy and system and how the subject inspired a special respect for it.
As she contemplated the entire journey in her graduating year, she wanted to express her gratitude to her parents, who had never given her any pressure. Instead, they had congratulated her whatever her results turned out to be. Their support and unconditional love gave her just enough pressure to do well and make them proud. Another group of people she was thankful towards was her teachers who gave her unwavering guidance, marking her practice papers and offering countless consultations. Last but least in the list of people to acknowledge were her friends, who accompanied her and studied long hours with her. They also helped her clarify doubts, when they surfaced.
Ash she journeys on, this well-meaning senior has the following advice for her juniors in Swiss, “This period will pass by really fast, so study as hard. Never remain complacent, and remember to take breaks when you should!”
Nasyitha Binte Zamre [S4E5]
“I feel happy and very proud of myself,” shared an elated Nasyitha. She had achieved an L1R5 of eleven and four distinctions.
“I improved particularly in my self-discipline and time management which had helped me during my preparation for the GCE O level examinations. This led to my improvement in some subjects like the English Language and Higher Malay, from B3 to A1 and E8 to B3 respectively,” she recalled.
Nasyitha reflected on how she had watched her own seniors receive their GCE O Level results in 2019. She remembered feeling very inspired to do as well as the seniors that she had always looked up to since her lower secondary days.
“I also had a strong drive to do well because I wanted to make my friends and family proud of me but I was not very strong in my academic work. This gave me a greater sense of need and desire to work hard and achieve success in the ‘O’ Levels,” she shared.
The circuit breaker period was a turning point for her. “The stark contrast between attending school five days a week and being confined within the same four walls of my own house every other day was overwhelming. After thinking about my plans, I felt motivated to change my behaviour. I turned to self-care videos, which taught me about adapting to my new learning environment. I used a planner to design my daily schedule. I made sure I kept in close contact with my friends and teachers. I also tried many different ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle while studying hard for my exams. My supportive family also gave me the confidence to face these struggles upfront and to persevere through my hardships.”
Nasyitha was a student who enjoyed a holistic school experience. She contributed as Drum Major and Master Sergeant in Swiss Winds, and as Vice Head (Admin) of Sports Leaders. She was very passionate about learning beyond the academics and gave her best in all areas of her responsibilities. In an attempt to manage it all, she was determined to overcome personal challenges to meet her personal goals.
“I would like to thank Ms. Yong especially for helping me through my personal struggles. She was always very willing to spend some of her free time to give me encouragement and to advise me on how to maintain good mental health. It really helped me get through my hardships a little easier.”
Nasyitha would like to apply to ACJC or pursue getting a diploma in Mass Communications from Ngee Ann Polytechnic before proceeding on to a degree programme in Mass Communications in the NTU.
“I would like to start a career in the media industry because I am interested in producing films and creating online content. I also have a keen interest in human interactions. That was why I opted to study Literature in English or Malay. Literature lessons have helped me appreciate the complexities of human feelings and that the world is not just black and white. I would like to create films to share people’s stories and the taboo parts of society that more people should talk about.”
A more confident Nasyitha advises her juniors that struggles and hardships prepare us for success. So, lean into the discomfort and trust the process.