Musings of a Straight A+ Student

Hey Seet! Would you mind introducing yourself to the readers?

Hello people!! My name is Seet Tzuhwan, I am 18 and a half years old (it’s already June 🙂 ) and I just completed SPM last year with pretty decent results. (10A+!!)

I believe in aiming to reach for the moon and should I fail, I would have at least touched the sky. This philosophy is very true to me because I face the constant fear of not achieving the goals I have set—fitness goals, study goals, relationship goals, you name it. Yet without these insurmountable goals, I would not be compelled to improve and move forward.

I also aim to devote my life to God by having Him at the centre and giving thanks in everything. Life philosophy aside, I cannot survive more than four days without a work out session, love drumming, do my best not to sing out of pitch during worship sessions and wish that I possess enough brain power to learn everything. I like parenthesis a lot by the way!       

I believe that most of the readers would want to know how you managed to obtain straight A+s in SPM. Would you mind sharing with us the process of how you prepared before the examination?

Step 1: study textbooks. Step 2: sit for examinations.

Nah that’s not how I prepared before the examination, but I do not rule out that someone really intelligent can score well using the steps above. I just wish to illustrate that no two persons’ preparation methods are the same. Some methods are more lax, while some are more intense. Here’s a good analogy: It does not matter whether you drive a Ferrari or ride a trishaw as long as you reach the destination on time.

I consider my preparation process pretty intense (hehe) because I’m just moderately intelligent. I would wake up as early as 3am to do revision on a consistent basis (or so I thought) and even sleep on the cold hard floor instead of my comfortable bed so that I would wake up from the body ache!

To some, this might be a little too much to ask, or even considered hard-core. But, I am no Ferrari and at best a Honda Civic. I was not ready to take the risk of falling short of my goals by putting in any less effort. Here are some practical pointers on how to prepare for an examination:

  1. Set clear goals. LIKE SERIOUSLY CLEAR. Play it in your mind a hundred times, a thousand times. Write it down. Tell people about it (don’t announce lah). Every day, make yourself more and more convicted of what you want to achieve.
  2. Have a concise study schedule. This covers the quality of time management and prioritization. Depending on your aptitude and study volume, it can be 2 months prior to exams, 3 months or 3 weeks (LOL, you must be Stephen Hawking). 
  3. Find awesome study buddies! I cannot emphasise enough how important this step is to me. I am really blessed to have friends who are not only smart, but work bloody hard as well. We complement, encourage and compete with each other. This is the kind of friendship that truly benefits you and makes you grow in stimulating ways. Friends who just wish to hang out and have fun? Sure, but make them secondary friends. Since this is really critical, I will give a bonus pointer on friends that will help you score in exams.

 

SPM FRIENDING GUIDE FOR DUMMIESTM

  • They make you feel insecure about yourself and want to work harder.
  • They are not afraid to share their learning outcomes or let you know their strength and weaknesses
  • They know your goals and are willing to help you achieve them
  • They are happy for you when you achieve your goals
  • They are ready to overcome hurdles and go through the difficult moments with you

 

Those 3 steps are pretty much it. Yet again, hatching strategies in your mind will not win you the battle.

JUST DO IT!!!!!!  

How did you manage your time as you prepared for the examination?

To manage my time well, the first thing I convinced myself was time is a zero-sum entity. I start my day with 24 hours. When I invest an hour in activity A, I have an hour less for activity B. If I spend an extra hour in my studies, I have an hour less to scroll through Facebook or watch Buzzfeed videos.

Hence, I was very sure of how much time I needed to invest in my daily activities, to the point that I set time intervals for my workouts, recreational, studies etc. If there’s any room for ambiguity, I would be very lax and that led to time wastage. Many students unknowingly waste time on procrastination because they think that time is somewhat stretchable. So, start to make serious commitment about conserving your ever dwindling time and do not short-change yourself. 

There are some students who work really hard but just can’t seem to do well during the examination. Do you have any advice to them on how to convert hard work into actual results?

It is very idealistic or even naive to think that hard work is directly proportional to results (only happens in the Physics paper!). In reality, many other factors will directly or indirectly influence the outcome of exams such as the difficulty of questions, flood (Malaysian students only), stomach-ache, and relationship break-ups on the day before exams. Well, how to go about it? I’m no expert, but I can give some pointers based on my experience:

  1. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Your attitude decides everything.
  2. Think of the possible ways things can go wrong and be prepared. For instance, make sure you have the necessary identification documents and stationery ready the day before and stay updated about the latest exam formats.
  3. Bear in mind that you can never be prepared enough and don’t be too harsh on yourself if things do not work out despite the best of your efforts. For the fact that you have done your best to achieve your goals, you can walk tall and proud. Cheer up!         

Mental strength also plays a big part in doing well in exams. In other words, mind over body. To maintain consistent performance from the 1st day to the last of the examination, train your mind to block out negative thoughts such as fatigue, low self-esteem, and other external factors and keep your spirit soaring high. At the same time, having sufficient rest and taking supplements such as Brand’s Chicken Essence (free advertising!) is important if not crucial.    

What is your motivation in striving for academic excellence?

Personally, in the past, my sense of achievement came from the number of A+’s and A’s, but not from learning something new. This is sad because if grades were removed, I no longer felt the need to learn or challenge myself with new things. Studying was once boring to me, knowledge uninteresting to me; because grades blinded me. If whatever I write resonates with you, it’s time to change!

 Learn for the sake of learning. Put grades aside and learn with a simple, sincere and pure pursuit of knowledge and a desire to explore the unknown.

“Learning is the greatest gift you can give to yourself” (my favorite quote from Ngim Da Ruey!).

Possess that mentality and you will soon find a new sense of enthusiasm to study even the most boring subjects (yes, I’m talking about you SEJARAH) and grades will come easy.         

How did you live life as a Christian amidst the hectic schedule of preparing for SPM?

There were truly moments when I overworked myself because I had to juggle between studies, a bunch of co-curriculum activities and other school commitments. How did I fit God in the picture?

To be honest, it was tough and often I didn’t. I’m talking about personal devotion time, prayer, youth meetings and other fellowship meetings. These affairs seemed less important compared with academics and deadline assignments. Yet, I started to achieve more when I put Matthew 6:33 into practice: but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Here is the reality: to achieve my goals, I need God—Seet Tzuhwan

I had far too many limitations and weaknesses to overcome the hurdles that were ahead of me. How would I be able to maintain the discipline to study, the strength to resist procrastination and wisdom to prioritise my responsibilities?

I sought help from God. I sought His blessings. I believed with my whole heart that when I honour Him in my life, He will honour me as well.    

Guess what happened? When I started to be mindful of the things of God, my mind became more lucid and I was no longer drifting in confusion. I woke up in the morning with a sense of purpose as I know in everything I do, I want my Heavenly Father’s name to be glorified.

I would work hard for God’s glory. I would remain humble for God’s glory. I would score straight A+ for God’s glory. I pray that you will find an anchor in your life like I found mine in Jesus Christ.

Most students believe that after SPM would be the best time of their lives. Do you have any advice to these students?

If any of you are yet to complete SPM, just remember that upon your freedom from secondary school, you will have plenty of time at your disposal and it is up to you to make the best out of it. Go on a road trip with your friends. Learn the drums (the coolest instrument ever!). Set new fitness goals and get ready for transformation! The months might seem long, but trust me, before you realise it, they pass like loose sand slipping through your fingers.

Personally, schooling life in St Francis Institution (SFI) was a transformative period where I learnt to be responsible and accountable and to uphold personal integrity in all aspects of my life. It was in the classroom, hallways, canteen and school lab where I shared incredible and unforgettable moments with my bros and where my boundaries were challenged.

The low moments that came between successes were pivotal in moulding me to persevere and to strive. Looking back, it was truly an amazing journey that I would not trade for anything else. I am thankful for all the opportunities that God has blessed me with. 

If you are still studying in secondary school, I urge you to be open and willing to experience a transformative schooling life as well. 

*Follow Seet Tzuhwan’s life on Facebook by clicking HERE*

*this article marks the accomplishment of achieving one of the 5 goals I set myself about a month back (see the story here). I just would like to say thank you to all of you for making this possible. Love you all 🙂 *

If you liked this article, do me a favor by sharing it on Facebook so that more people would be able to read this please. You could also leave a comment or message on my Facebook page:Ngim Da Ruey or follow me on Instagram: @daruey or Snapchat (daruey).

Thank you for reading.

MORE

  1. The Secret Behind My SPM Success and How You Can Do It Too! by Da Ruey

  2. Friendships are choices by Da Ruey
  3. Which is more painful, the pain of trying or the pain of regret?  by Da Ruey
  4. The SPM results do not REALLY matter… by Da Ruey

 

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