Alan Soh

I am my own columnist, sharing my own thoughts and recent experiences!

Leave a comment

Quick thoughts – Exams


For someone like me, a young working adult who is back at textbooks after a good 10-year+ hiatus, it is definitely not easy. I believe this happens to many of us who are in similar circumstances. Familiar?

I had my first paper yesterday.

Yes, I do pay attention in class and do my assignments diligently but somehow the anxiety sets in during moments before entering the examination room. The mind may go half blank. A sentiment shared by a few of my course-mates in our Whatsapp group chat.

Tackling 4 out of 7 essay questions are quite a challenge.

You should be able to write fluently if you understand the lesson concepts well.

Keep cool and calm. Use pencil to scribble quick notes on question paper to remember facts.

Have sufficient rest the day before.

Oh yes, I think it is advisable to have a half-full meal before the exam paper. You would not want to have that heavy urge to go toilet halfway during the exam time-slot right?

Good luck to all those of us who are having exams during this year-end period! Fight on! Don’t give up! 🙂


Leave a comment

Still looking at academic grades?

Kids in Singapore schools

A thought which I’ve shared with a friend earlier few days ago.
Note: Disagree if you must. Everyone is entitled to his own viewpoints.

People develop individual intelligences at different paces through learning experiences. Most of us grow older and wiser as we age, for we slowly gain a better understanding of how things work when we grow up.
Growing older, we then understand how certain concepts work.
We start to understand the world which we are living in, better.

Most of us embark on a slow steady journey of self-discovery where we realise what we can do and what we can’t do. That is also where we develop our own learning methodologies, thus finding a way of how we work best individually and with other people.

I now come to a realisation that school or national exam grades are outcomes arising from a combination of different factors such as:

1) the learning method which you adopted at that age (does it work for you?),
2) the level of understanding a particular subject at that age,
3) the communication skills you possess at that age to explain your answers,
4) how attentive you are during normal lessons,
5) home environment (is it conducive for studying and any family problems etc),
6) the strategy you have for school exams, and finally and MOST IMPORTANTLY,
7) the state of mind and health when you sit for your exam papers that day (did you get enough sleep, did you check your answers before submitting test paper etc.)

For example, Geography was one of my lousy subjects during secondary school days because at that teenager age, I don’t see why I must study how mountains or river meanders are formed, or understand why people living near sea coastlines have to be aware of tsunamis when major earthquakes occur.
I thought: “Singapore does not encounter tsunami at all, so why must I study this subject??”

It is only when I grew older and start reading up on current news and worldly issues, I began to understand and thus, appreciate the subject better. That’s when I would become more knowledgeable about it.

Therefore as said many times previously, I feel strongly that exam grades on record are “past tense”. It just shows the extent of how good this person can understand the subject, AT THAT AGE.
It is already over!

Exams grades = proven capability or abilities? No, I disagree.
The most, I probably say this person is exam smart.
At that age, he knows how to study for the subject paper.
He knows what works best for him. Period.

On the other hand, I believe character-building and how one develops his personal capabilities better in later years matter more. School academic grades are just a reference.
How he or she overcame life challenges.
Most of the time, many people can change for the better.
They become wiser.
It is more about the present, not about the past.
And let’s be forward-looking, anticipate how far this person can go if given sufficient opportunities to unleash his or her inner potential.

So it’s best we get over with the heavy emphasis on academic grades and whatsoever school brands. (Why must some Singaporeans still differentiate between public and private universities?!) *faint*

Call me superficial and callous if I one day as a parent or employer anyhow condemn anyone as stupid or good-for-nothing because I see his/her past school results are sub-standard.

Anything is possible.
Who knows, this person make me go “wow!” after an in-depth conversation with him/her?

At the end of the day, I would choose to understand the individual first, and judge him for who he is right now.

‪#‎normalacademic‬ ‪#‎ITE‬ ‪#‎hearingimpaired‬ ‪#‎selfawareness‬
‪#‎icanjumpoutofthebox‬ ‪#‎empathy‬ ‪#‎seekfirsttounderstandtheperson‬

Ed note – 15 Dec 2014:

Students may go into different educational paths but I hope all students think it this way – all routes lead to Rome.

With perseverance, an ITE student can also succeed one day.

Like it or not, I believe no stream should be superior above one another. In other words, pardon me for saying this – unversity graduates cannot be seen as “the most superior ones”. Elitism is a dirty word, which can cause conflicts in our society.

Why? Because as individuals, we always must bear in mind that: there will be someone out there who could be better than me. Be humble.

It is about appreciating and acknowledging different abilities/talents among us, and that willingness to complement one another to do a group project well.

In addition, physical handicaps should never be seen as a barrier or problem if an individual knows how to leverage on his strengths or knowledge to do his job well.

What’s really important, is self-awareness.

Everyone is born with different talents. For most of us, it is a matter of time to find out our strengths…and understand who we really are.

Strengths can be further enhanced, provided if one is lucky enough to have a mentor in life who is willing to guide him/her, giving that extra push.

And so in my opinion, academic grades are just 1 way of measuring a person’s ability or knowledgeability, NOT how clever he or she is.