How to truly survive 2 years of Junior College

The posting results for the 2014 Joint Admissions Exercise will be made known next week on February 5, and it is almost certain many will start the next stage of their education in a JC with fearful, measured anticipation. A young individual who prefers to be known by her online moniker Purplekitten has been there and done that; given her exceptionally stellar 'A' Level results, she is well placed to dispense personal tips on enduring the next two years properly (all right perhaps excluding tackling GP):

"I scored the grades AAA/A CB for my PCME (H1 Economics), GP and PW respectively at the 'A' Levels previously and I'm currently pursuing a degree in Materials Science and Engineering in NUS. The following might help, it might not.

Okay, I think everyone knows that I'm a perfectionist. It's a doubled-edge sword. On one hand, I give my all in everything I do. On the other, I put in too much unnecessary effort sometimes and give myself a lot of redundant stress. Meh. :l Which brings us to

Lesson #1: NO SLOPPY WORK.

No matter how much you don't like the topic/subject, just try to do and complete whatever assignments that you do with QUALITY. It may be something that the teacher doesn't check, but do it to the best of your ability anyways. Maintain self discipline. It would be wise to re-read the lecture notes before attempting all tutorials to obtain a gist of what's going on in the first place. If you still don't know how to do after much trying, just write down what you think is right or leave it blank and wait for the teacher to go through.

I know that a lot of people struggle during lectures because sometimes the lectures are too fast-paced and the content is too heavy. For me (I am super kiasu), if I receive the lecture notes in advance, I would try to read the guidelines/summary first (if I have the time) to at least know what I'm going to be learning.


Maybe it's been a long day and you're utterly exhausted. But press on anyway and try to absorb as much as you can. Once you return home and start your revision, re-read the lecture notes again; in so doing the information would be partially registered in your brain so that you wouldn't be so blur on subsequent re-reads. Familiarity is important. If you have any questions during lecture/tutorials, write them down so you can ask the lecturer/tutor later. Don't turn around to quiz your friend about your doubts because you will distract him/her as well and both of you will miss out on whatever the lecturer/tutor is saying at that point in time.


Okay I admit that personally I don't really like consultations because I prefer to figure out challenging questions on my own (even if it takes 3 days of thinking in the shower/train), and usually when I do consult, I only have like 1-2 questions which may seem rather stupid and a waste of the teacher's time. And yes, the teachers would roll their eyes at me when I throw basic questions at him and I'll feel even dumber. :l But anyway consultation = free tuition (don't quote me), so just go consult the teachers if you need to understand stuff. They're getting paid for it anyway. Obviously you need to know what you're asking about too. If there are already model answers, try to read them and understand. That said, book a consultation should you remain dumbfounded.

Lesson #4: HARD WORK.

I never did like statistics thrown all over the place; however I don't let them discourage or define me. So what if the distinction rate is only 10%? Or 50%? Heck it. All I know is that I need to work hard to get what I want. Even if the rate is only 1%, I will work my butt off to make sure that i get into that 1% and not the 99%. This means having the discipline to go home and revise religiously every single day. I mean, not hardcore no-life studying at all times, but yep, just studying in general. I have my computer time, TV time and dinner time too.

How to study/revise:

1) Re-read lecture notes (with understanding)

2) Redo tutorials/past year papers (with understanding)

3) Make mindmaps/flash cards to help you remember concepts (this doesn't work for me, but you can try hahaha)

4) Make your own summary notes (comprehensive 'magic book')

5) For definitions, memorize chapter by chapter as you go through your notes instead of desperately glancing through the sheet with all 60++ definitions for Physics at the very last minute. Last minute memorization efforts are usually unhelpful.

Draw up a study schedule if you must and adhere to it and plan your time wisely. Time management is crucial. DON'T PROCRASTINATE. There is a time for play and also a time to be serious.

I have mentioned that I study only 1subject/day. For example if I choose to focus on Physics, I will just spend the entire day doing nothing but Physics. (maybe chapter 1-10 or something). But as I have also mentioned, it doesn't work with everyone since some people (like my elder sister) prefer to review material in a broader, more general manner. For her, she does 2 subjects/day. Like Organic Chemistry and Statistics for Maths. But at the end of the week you must be able to cover all 4+1 subjects (inclusive of some general reading for GP if you can).

Physics is generally about understanding. Remembering formulas and knowing when to apply the right formulas are extremely important. Chemistry learning involves a little more memory work than Physics (Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, various other fomulas etc), but you need to understand the stuff too. Cambridge is super evil and I feel that their science papers really test your understanding and application skills to the limits. Which means that if you just memorize everything you will "die a horrible death."

Maths requires PRACTICE. Flood yourself with papers and expose yourself to all kinds of questions. Keep doing because you'll forget how to do certain topics/questions once you stop practicing them. It definitely helps to re-read your notes to recap on concepts/techniques before attempting papers if you're blur about any topic though.

Economics is all about knowledge, understanding and application. Question analysis (what the question demands) and application skills are required. Interpret the question wrongly/don't fully understand question = die. Exposure is important because the questions can only play around the same few concepts, even if they're kind of weirdly phrased. But it being a humanities subject also requires you to memorize a fair bit of content. (again, READ lecture notes and memorize the definitions!) You can't apply anything if you don't know what your main points are yeah? That's for CSQ. For essay it's more memory work (but your essay also needs be complete with examples, theories and concepts).

GP.. uhhh. I am afraid you will have to turn to someone else for advice hahaha. I suck at languages. Readings would help?

Lesson #5: HAVE FAITH.

(and hope and love). I'm a Christian, but if you have your Buddha, cow God, bell-curve God, whatever God, that works too. You can overcome the odds eventually. Don't give up even when everything seems to be falling apart. God is always watching and He's with ya every single step of the way. He's in control. Know that He's not out to kill you or anything because He loves you to bits. Trust His plans for you. Do your best and let God do the rest yeah?


Okay maybe this is not applicable to you since I like to acquire knowledge through serious studying (I know I'm weird). Science amazes me to no end and I'm quite happy to learn about how our glorious world and nature (the one that God created) works. But if possible try to enjoy the process of learning. Come on, it's a privilege. (:

Anyway, striking a balance in all aspects is super important. Academic excellence is something that I constantly strive for, which is not a good thing because you need to find the right balance in life. Spend time with your family and friends, continue to love others, yep. Don't spend the whole day mugging at home and declining invitations to go on class outings. Go out and enjoy from time to time (: Grades are important, but remember good 'A' Level results merely provide an entrance pass to University. Grades aren't everything. It is pointless getting yourself so deeply buried in books/studying and neglecting everything else around you (you will regret it to no end soon enough). Grades do not define your success in life because ultimately it's your character and tenacity that will get you there. Yep, keep striving for greater heights but don't stress yourself out.



The Czar (Site Founder)

Dated 1 February 2014


Finding the right balance for homework

The Ugly Truth About Life As A JC Student

Unfair Comparison of 'O' Level Results