Updated: Aug 14, 2019
By Cheng Wen Qi (19J06) and Yuan Chenxin (18J15)
Your mother was pestering you to get that senior’s notes (90 rank points), this is it.
What’s the secret sauce?
Obviously, you prepare by mugging. No pain no gain, no mugging no As. Throw away any semblance of your social life and divide your life finely among your subjects – they pretty much own you during your entire JC life.
Now that you’ve decided which subjects will own your waking hours, it’s time to evenly split your time between your new masters. How? A schedule planner.
For Yijun, having a physical account of the neverending work gave her a better picture of what to do with her time.
Don’t believe it works? Try noting down a day’s homework list on a post it. Having a physical reminder of what exactly to do is a much better alternative to leaving things up to memory.
For Yijun, she found writing in bullet points specifying her exact tasks at hand to be handy. Even if she didn’t manage to complete all her tasks, a written plan saved her of the anxiety of thinking about what’s due next.
In case anyone wonders if such a top-scorer ever had a life, Yijun certainly managed to carve out time to have one (if pursuing Pipa, regular exercise, volunteering and naps is counted as a life). Her secret? Over-planning -- an advanced technique used by those who already have mastered the disciplines of “Basic Time Management” and “Sticking to your plans”.
It’s not to say that Yijun coasted past her two years of JC through the magic of good planning. In JC, consults are a must-have lifeline, being especially crucial at the last leg of J2 journey so as to clarify doubts and consolidate revision. Of course, dont be like those who scramble at the last minute for help. As the famous Chinese saying goes, “last minute grabbing Buddha’s legs” may be effective for some, squeezing help out of your teachers is not as effective as it sounds.
Eventually, your life will come to be ruled by the holy trinity -- CCA-life-study. Just like most things in life, the holy trinity can be modified to suit one’s personal preferences. So maybe Study-Sleep-Youtube. Or even CCA-Council-Study-Volunteer for the overachievers.
That said, tough choices have to be made during JC. To watch Youtube at 2 AM or to sleep for a clearer tomorrow?
If there’s a holy cow never to slaughter, one ought to never sacrifice sleep so to at least attend school with a semi-functioning brain.
On a similar note, another holy cow never to slaughter would be your physical health. Your body is the one and only vessel that sits with you through multiple three-hour long papers, so at least take care of it to function when you need it to. Remember, while test scores can be disregarded in the grand scheme of “Only your A level results matter (mostly)”, your body accumulates injuries and insults from misuse (and disuse), so please take care of yourself (and your sleep cycle)!
After all, the A Levels always include having to deal with uncertainty and being demoralised, especially when you know you’re trying to battle against the godly bell curve. And of course, balancing life in whole becomes a pretty stressful endeavour when you have to cope with a lot of other things, such as CCA and volunteering activities.
To end off, a few wise words from Yijun:
“I was definitely stressed during the process because I knew that no matter how hard I worked, there would always be someone better than me out there. Hence, to put it crudely, there’s no other way but to just suck it up, I mean, push through this. I coped with knowing that even if I might not have done well for my A Levels, it was not the end of the world. An occasional dose of nihilism also helped. Getting good grades is pretty much an express ticket to a lot of things, but that’s it. At the end of the day, life moves on and the sun still sets. If A Levels doesn’t work out for you, you just have to find other ways to achieve your goals. Life’s not as linear as we think it is.”