Disregard the prelims and just focus on the 'A' Levels? (Response B)

This query comes from a student:

Hello, I am a J2 student taking my 'A' Levels this year. However, I am feeling extremely exhausted even though the 'A's are still like 2 months away.

Why? Because my JC is making us sit for 2 sets of prelims!!!! We had the first round in June, and the second round will happen in a couple of days. The teachers hold so many after school remedial lessons, and before I finish an assigned problem set, I am given yet another!!!

I didn't do well in prelims round 1, and I am not confident of doing any much better in round 2. There's so much stuff to internalize, and everything feels like a mess right now.

A senior told me to just focus on preparing for the As, and not care about whether I fail or pass for the upcoming prelims. It's too rushed and many students will also be struggling like mad, which is pointless.

Should I listen to my senior and take a can't be bothered approach to prelims round 2? It will certainly make me feel less stressed. I will still be studying hard for the As in the meanwhile of course. Please help. Thanks. :(

The Response:


Certainly the 'A' levels is about the biggest academic hurdle that you are going to cross to date, and having two prelims to prepare for is certainly stressful.

I would say that you should take preliminary exams with the right mindset. They are there to help you figure out where your weaknesses are. Use them as tools to provide clues as to where your weak areas are. Once you see them as tools and not some measure of your academic worth, the stress should gradually reduce.

Of course, if the preliminary exam results are not to your expectation, there might certainly be a feeling of doom. However, even if you did well and let complacency set in, you might not do so well in the actual 'A' level examination.

What is important is not to lose sight of the final goal, which is the 'A' level exam itself. That doesn't mean that you should ignore your preliminary exams, though. You should be making good use of this tool to troubleshoot your academic progress.

Long story short: try your best for the second preliminary exam, but tell yourself that the results there are not the most important; what is important is to discover what your mistakes and issues are through the preliminary exam and correct those before the actual 'A' level examination.


Aaron Ng

(Councilor: December 2014-December 2015)

Aaron Ng has since returned to NUS as a full time lecturer and is no longer active tutoring.

Answered On 23 August 2015