A dummy's guide on choosing your subjects and how to survive A-levels
PART I: A BRAND NEW CHAPTER
Venturing into the unknown
Congratulations! You’ve survived O levels and made it into a new chapter in your Singapore study journey. Perhaps you are tingling with excitement, or maybe you’re feeling apprehensive and slightly confused.
It is always good to align your inner compass with various subjects. Match your personality and strengths with your subject combination as far as possible. Otherwise, it would be arduous to seek motivation to study. Define your goals, or think about what kind of university course or potential careers you see yourself in, which usually narrows down to a few subject combinations. As Stephen Covey put it aptly, begin with the end in mind.
Learn more about the different subjects and subject combinations offered by your school. You may want to consult your seniors, approach respective subject tutors for valuable guidance, or search online forums to get a better overview. Some subjects (like computing and further
maths) may require a qualifying test, so be sure to show up!
What if I don’t like it along the way? It is okay to change your mind, though it’s best to be quick and submit your appeal to change your combination in the early months of the year.
PART II: REVVING UP YOUR ENGINES
Trial by fire
So you will be taking your first examination shortly after your term break. You are unsure if you can keep up with the never-ending lectures and tutorials slapped on your desks right after the first few days of orientation. Not to mention how PW deadlines make it increasingly challenging for you to focus on getting back on the academic running track.
As your common tests, mid-years — and then promotional and preliminary exams — draw near, you realise that time does not seem to be on your side. You’re barely catching your breath as you scurry to and from lectures and tutorials. To make it through, remember to do these:
1. Arrange for consultations and attend extra classes
Your tutors are your best available resources. Take the first step. Try to ask questions as soon as possible. Don’t let your doubts snowball! If you were selected to attend remedial classes, try to turn up for them. Use it as an opportunity to brush up on your weaker topics.
2. Form a study plan that suits your learning style best
Are you comfortable following a structure, or do you work best when given the freedom and flexibility to do what your heart desires? You may want to research or take a quiz to understand your preferred learning style. I recommend taking the SkillsFuture quiz or looking at different learning models to see which best suits you.
3. Optimise your time
Perhaps you are scrambling to juggle school, work, and other commitments. Consequently, you may end up sleeping past 11 pm and waking up with a tired mind. It’s a struggle that afflicts the vast majority. Approach a supportive tutor to help formulate your study plan or to-do list.
Last but not least,
4. Rest and recharge
You must have nourishment for optimal learning and performance! Take regular breaks between studying by indulging in healthy hobbies such as exercise or painting. Ensure you have at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
A vast majority of students will start experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions. No matter your current situation, believe that you’ll find hope at the end of the tunnel. We have faith in you!
By: Dora Tan
Dora identifies as an avid cat (and occasional dog) person and floral tea addict. She doesn’t mind sharing her experience repeating her JC1 year with a slightly different subject combination, on the condition that she gets to see your pet pics afterwards.