2022 O-level Success Stories
Bong Xin Ying Dione (S5N2)
Dione expressed a huge sense of satisfaction with her results. She scored 13 points, making her eligible for both the Polytechnic and Junior College route.
As the Vice Captain for Badminton, Dione exhibited the school value of Honour in the way she showed her commitment and inspired respect from her peers and juniors. Despite having been excused from CCA sessions due to her back injury, she continued to support the running of CCA in other less physically demanding areas. She was also humble in the way she worked to make personal improvements in managing the increased academic rigour at 5N.
Looking back, Dione shared how she had entered Sec 5 with a heavy heart, because she had missed the Polytechnic Foundation Course because she scored a B4 for English Language. She admitted to feeling some worry about not being able to manage the O levels because she has heard that there is a “big jump from N to O level”. But thanks to the people around her, like her friends, teachers and family, she came to see that the Sec 5 route is not a terrible journey. And along the way, her teachers like Ms Ng Poh Keow also did not give up on her when she scored F9 for Additional Mathematics.
“Ms Ng took time out to explain the questions to me,” she shared, grateful for all the support.
The experience of sitting for the GCE O levels also came with a surprising turn of events because nothing could have prepared her for the surreal experience of missing GCE O level papers. Dione had become unwell for a good number of days during the GCE O levels. She suddenly tested Covid positive, much to her shock and worry.
“The first day that I was down with Covid was bad. I had no energy. But I just wanted a quick recovery to move on,” she remembered. She vividly recalled missing three to four days of school at a go during the GCE O level examination period. “I missed my Biology and Social Studies paper,” she explained.
The Singapore Examination and Assessment Board called up her Preliminary Examination scores, along with those of several other candidates, in order to project her likely performance. But her Preliminary examinations results, taken before she had fully mastered all that she studied, were mediocre. She shared that she could not help feeling a deep sense of disappointment and frustration at losing the opportunity to know how she would have done, had she sat for the papers herself. In fact, she had studied even harder than she had done for the N levels the year before, and that must still have mattered much.
Looking back at her own journey, Dione’s message to students in the 4N course who worry that they may come back to 5N or those who do, is that the 5N journey can be memorable and bearable. What makes the difference that that one focuses on what one needs to do. And yes, time flies.
Dione, who enjoy the Sciences, is now considering courses in both the Polytechnic or the Junior College. Well, she has a happy problem now and we wish her all the best!
Jolin Xu Kai Qian (S4E1)
A dedicated member and the Principal player for liu qin in the Chinese Orchestra, Jolin achieved a commendable score of 7 points, which would open many doors for her post-secondary education. But she could not help but wish for that slight difference in results that would have been the “perfect” sum of the dedication with which she had applied herself.
“I feel disappointed with my Humanities. I scored an A2 but I really had expected an A1,” she stated matter-of-factly.
An all-rounded student, Jolin was described by her teachers as an individual who epitomized Honour in the way she carried out her duties. She constantly ensured that work assigned was done to the best of her ability. She also displayed compassion in the way she cared for her peers by looking out for them and providing support and encouragement to them whenever the need arose.
When asked how she managed to keep tabs on all areas of learning, Jolin was candid in pointing out that she was consistent and punctual in finishing her assignments – and always to the best of her abilities. Even so, there were moments when setbacks teach important messages.
Besides the value of high quality, diligence and time-management were twin lessons that she uncovered when she collected her Secondary 1 WA1 results. Underestimating the jump from four core subjects at the primary level to ten varied subjects and disciplinary modes at the secondary level, Jolin did not really study to master her learning and fell behind.
“To be honest, I never studied in primary school. And so, I was shocked that I didn’t do as well as I expected to do. It was a wakeup call!”
Jolin learnt that she would have to work hard to achieve the things that she wanted. The minor setback motivated her to developing better study habits like planning to learn in bite-size quantities and the importance of consistency in developing better working memory and deep understanding while reducing stress.
Jolin’s greatest challenge was managing her own performance anxiety. It caused much self-doubt and resulted in her studying till late at night or waking up rather early to study. These unhealthy habits affected her ability to focus during tests and also weakened her body. Fortunately, she learnt over time to sleep earlier to feel fresh the next day. Along with better focus consistent practices and good social support, she started developing confidence and results, moving into a positive cycle of effort and results.
“Studying one week before the waited assessment will not help me achieve the results,” she quipped. “And not sleeping enough takes a toll on you.”
Jolin plans to study H3 Chemistry and Biology, and then work in the pharmaceutical industry or teaching field.
Leow Tze See (S4E1)
Having served as a dedicated member and President of the Swiss Publications and Media Club (PMC), Tze See exemplified the value of Honour through active participation and a genuine desire to learn and excel. She was also a caring and supportive friend to her peers. In her readiness to improve her competencies by being receptive to feedback, she also displayed humility.
Tze See realized excellent results which saw her achieving a raw score of 6 points for her L1R5. With her two CCA bonus points, Tze See would enjoy many post-secondary options.
“I feel so relieved. I was originally uncertain and nervous that I may not be able to meet my expectations!”
Tze See pointed out that the factors that helped her achieve her goals were discipline and resilience. She explained that the path she took was not always easy. For example, at the end of Secondary 3, her results were far from ideal and she was afraid that she would not be able to catch up in in her graduating year.
“During my sec 4 year there were also times when I felt disappointed in myself and instances when I felt like I wanted to give up on a subject,” she shared. “There were even times when I felt burnt out.”
However, the encouraging words from the people around her kept her going and allowed her to develop the resilience to weather through the academic storms she had to face – her struggles with Additional Mathematics and Higher Chinese.
“In Sec 3, I had a lot of trouble with A Math. I could barely pass. I even wanted to give up on that subject, but my teachers, parents and friends persuaded me to continue trying. I managed to get a B3 for my A Math during the mid-year exams,” she recalled with relief.
Her effort paid off and her triumph gave her newfound motivation and hope for areas in her other subjects that she found difficult, such as Higher Chinese. It was another subject that she found herself not meeting her expectations, and she was getting Grade C from Sec 1 to 3. In Sec 4, she felt that the difficulty of Higher Chinese seemed to have only increased. She worried that she may not pass Higher Chinese and that her four years of effort would be in vain. But knowing that the only way forward was to get down to action, she sought help.
“I would meet with my Chinese teacher Mdm Loh Yuhui regularly for consultations,” she shared. “I would also do extra writing and reading practices consistently to get the exposure to different types of questions.”
Tze See also expressed her utmost gratitude to her parents, friends and other teachers like Ms Faith and Mr Christopher Lim who supported and motivated her throughout her academic journey.
Her parting advice to her peers was, “It is never too late to turn the tables. Often time, when we think that all hope is lost, but we can make a comeback. We just have to take that first step forward and start.”
She has plans to take the Junior College route and looks forward to the next lap of her journey.
Samuel Leong Yin Qin (4E2)
A jubilant and disbelieving Samuel was stunned at the excellent results he scored at the GCE O levels. He scored an impressive L1R5 score of 9 and 7 distinctions – a testament to the hard work and dedication he had put in.
According to Samuel, his good results were almost unexpected, considering his history of academic struggles and lacklustre achievements. In fact, Samuel’s gifting was in sports, and he was one of our students who had enrolled in school through the Direct School Admission (DSA) route. Being an active contributor at Basketball, he rose to become the boys’ team’s Vice-Captain. By 2022, he achieved the EAGLES Award, having exhibited the school value of honour by demonstrating steady progress in sports and leadership over his four years in school.
The humble and realistic aspect of Samuel’s personality remained cognizant that when he first entered Swiss Cottage Secondary School, he was scoring grades of largely F9 and E8; and he was even one of the students at the bottom of his cohort. His dismal performance led to a meeting between his parents and the then Vice Principal, Mr. Hoi when he was in the Lower Secondary. Samuel recounted the dreadful results and the resultant soul-searching moments in the school leader’s office. The discussions helped him take stock of his aims and what he needs to do.
“From then on, I believed that I must and can really do well in my studies, if I worked hard.”
In Secondary 3, he took his academic studies more seriously and did well for his school-based assessments. In his final year, he again had to take stock of poor mid-year and preliminary examination results. But Samuel never lost faith in himself. By then, Samuel understood that academic success was not about having some lofty goal, but rather about taking the opportunity to learn and discover more. After all, there was much to consolidate and master.
A critical factor in his eventful academic journey was the support of the people around him. He recalled the faith Mr Kenneth Neo extended to him, and the valuable feedback of that teachers like Mr. Lee De Yi, Ms. Faza and Mr. Tan Hong Cheong, provided. He was also grateful to Mr Toh for not only accepting via the DSA route but also for providing the extra Math classes during his lower secondary years, along with the other DSA students who needed to catch up. In fact, he shared that both Mr Toh and Mr Sherwin Cheng were supportive of Samuel’s well-being throughout his time at Swiss Cottage, until he graduated. Last but not least, he appreciated his parents for their special blessings like treating him to good food during his GCE O-level exams.
Ready for the next lap, Samuel shared that as someone who had always been fascinated by the intricacies of the human body and its various functions, he was determined to pursue a career in the medical field; his ultimate goal is to make a positive impact on the lives of others by becoming a skilled and compassionate doctor. To prepare for his Junior College education, Samuel has chosen a rigorous course load that includes Biology, Chemistry, Economics and Mathematics. Determined to work hard and make the most of this opportunity to learn and grow, his message to others is simple: “Just do it!”
Hannah Tan Shi Ting (4E2)
“I actually feel surprised by my results, because my confidence dipped, after taking a number of papers, that I thought were challenging,” she shared, and then added with happiness, “However, I’m glad that my hard work and hours of studying have paid off.”
Hannah has an impressive attainment of 8 distinctions in her GCE O-level results. And she also excelled at sports. Besides being an athlete, she was the Vice-Captain of the school’s floorball team (Girls) which came in National ‘B’ Division champions. As the leader of the team, she exhibited honour in the way she conducted herself as a role model for the team, taking training seriously and pushing her peers to do their best. Now, with her stellar GCE O level results, she shows us that hard work and determination can lead to great success, setting a great example for students who wish to enjoy holistic success. Her achievements showcase a remarkable ability to balance her time and effort in both the academics and sports.
However, during Hannah’s journey to success, she did face several challenges. For example, she had struggled with self-doubt and a lack of confidence. Even so, she would not let these innate hindrances hold her back. Instead, she channeled her energy rather concretely into studying and working hard to achieve her goals. For example, she kept up a positive attitude in learning the Chinese language despite not doing well during school assessments. Her humility led to a distinction at the GCE O Levels. Moments like this when she did not do well turned into deep motivation and resolve to do better, and another such moment was the Mid-Year examinations.
“I was shocked because I had failed two subjects. It served as a wake-up call to me because I suddenly realized that I would not be able to get into the JC that I wanted,” she shared. On top of the pressure of meeting her goals, Hannah also shared the fears of not being able to live up to her own expectations. She summed it all up, saying, “I did not want to be the one left behind.”
When asked about her reasons for her feats in both areas, she attributed them to effort and determination as well as the motivation from the previous batch of seniors.
“They did especially well in their O-levels, and I aspired to reach their level as well. With the encouragement of my family members and my peers, I was able to perform to the best of my abilities and have the strength to work harder,” she said.
She expressed a deep sense of gratitude to her form teachers and CCA teachers for their endless support and guidance. “Their patience and kindness definitely helped me to have more faith in myself and in turn, I found it possible to reach out to them for help,” she said.
Hannah plans to pursue the science stream with Biology, Chemistry, and Economics in Junior College. However, she is still unsure about her aspirations and what she wants to be in the future. “I do hope I figure it out in JC. For now, I think I want to be dentist or an optometrist in the future,” she said.
Emma Chee (4E3)
Swiss Cottage Secondary School’s first Sportswoman of the Year, Emma, is a shining example of resilience and perseverance. Her team came in as champions in the 2022 National Schools Games (NSG) 2022 ‘B’ Division floorball competition, showcasing her leadership skills and dedication to the sport. Her sense of honour was evident in the way she not only served as Captain of the school’s floorball team, but also gave her best in striving to better her academic achievements. Her teachers also described the way she made time to unassumingly offered to play the piano for School Open House even, having honed her own musical talent. Emma has a Diploma for Piano.
Emma admitted that distributing her time across so many areas of responsibilities and interests was not always easy. She recalled how while struggling to balance leading the B Division floorball team and studying for the Mid-Year Examinations, she faced a drop in results. But instead of giving up, Emma pushed herself even harder and put in more effort until the end of O Levels.
One of Emma’s biggest fears was not passing her Chemistry. “At the start of Secondary 3, I was getting A1s. However, as the year progressed, my grades started to fall. By the time I was in Secondary 4, I was constantly failing, and I was very worried for my prelims,” she revealed.
But Emma was able to improve by 7 grades by O Levels. Despite her initial struggles with Chemistry, Emma was able to achieve a distinction in the GCE O Levels examination.
“I think my resilience and perseverance was a key reason for this success,” Emma shared. “As an athlete myself, I know the importance of not giving up.”
Emma also knew that having concrete goals and planning was important. She set aside the time to apply for a spot through the Direct Schools Admission to Nanyang Junior College (NYJC) and was successful in her endeavor. This was an important move in enhancing her confidence.
“Knowing that I had already secured a spot in NYJC gave me a sense of security. It allowed me to focus on the learning itself without worrying about what course I would be eligible for.”
Another key reason for Emma’s success was the support of her friends who gave her had a strong community to study with. They helped each other in the subjects they were stronger at. She also expressed deep gratitude to all her subject teachers who guided her throughout her school journey. She specifically thanked Mr Irfan, her floorball Teacher in charge, who had always been a source of encouragement for her since she entered Swiss cottage.
Emma hopes to pursue a degree in the medical field or in the music industry, both of which align with her passion and interests. In the field of medicine, she is drawn to pediatrics, as she has a deep love for working with young children. Similarly, because music has been her constant companion throughout her academic journey, she hopes to continue to nurture it in the future as well. The athletic leader in Emma believes that with grit and determination, everyone can reach the summit of success.
Vedamurthy Sridar (4E4)
Vedamurthy Sridar, or Sridar as he is known to his peers, is an unassuming student. When he was highlighted by the Principal in her Special Mention address to the cohort, he expressed surprise. A picture of humility, his teacher remembered him as sone who constantly strove to make personal improvements by seeking new and concrete ways to do better. He had also served actively as an Assistant Troop Leader for Swiss Falcon Scouts; he honoured his CCA commitments – which in turn made his peers respect him. Recognised for his contributions as a leader even at the primary level, he was offered a place in Swiss Cottage Secondary School through the Direct School Admission route.
Sridar shared that he faced a difficult journey when it came to his academic performance. He struggled in subjects like the English Language, among others. Eventually, having not meeting the promotional criteria in Sec 3 in 2021, he was invited for a meeting with school leaders to discuss and chart his future learning route, to determine if he should be retained or advanced to the higher level. The meeting was an important turning point and gave him an honest appraisal of his choices throughout the year.
“I was spending too much time on non-academic pursuits. I realised that I couldn’t disappoint myself and the people around me anymore,” he said recalling the sense of regret he had experienced. He knew he was easily distracted and tended to hang out with friends instead of studying.
Sridar did not look back. His sincerity was evident in the way he quietly worked hard and persevered, never expecting to be rewarded or celebrated for his efforts. Despite initial struggles in subjects like the English Language and the hesitation caused by his shy nature, he never gave up. What he could not do because he was not as expressive or extroverted as some others, he made up for in dedication and resolution. He was willing to put in the time and effort to improve and reach his goals, having learnt to ask for help or guidance when needed.
In fact, Sridar’s determination to improve his grades and even to keep going in the face of adversity became truly inspiring. For example, when he was feeling unwell on the day of a major examination, he pushed himself to perform his best and achieved an A2 grade for science.
“After the release of my preliminary examination results for subjects like Geography and Mother Tongue, I was very proud of myself because my hard work had paid off. This motivated me to put in more effort in my weaker subjects like mathematics and science,” he shared.
Sridar’s experience serves as a reminder that failure is indeed a stepping-stone to success; success follows when we learn from mistakes and push through difficult times. Sridar has big plans for his future. He hopes to pursue a Diploma in Accountancy in the Polytechnic. He believes that this field of study will be useful for him in the future when he sets up his own business.
Looking back with satisfaction, Sridar remembered to express his gratitude for the support and guidance he had received from his teachers. He specifically thanked his English teacher, Madam June, Geography teacher Miss Anita Sin and his form teacher Madam Hidaya.