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  • Writer's pictureStacey Chiew

Meet The High Achiever - Ng Shu Wen

Do something today that your future self will thank you for. - Sean Patrick Flanery

To become the best at what you do; there are two things you need to have: one is discipline, the other is commitment. Without them, it's impossible to achieve your goals. High-achieving students perform better academically because their goals are valuable to them. Having supportive parents help too. Parental involvement is one of the keys to student success.

I decided to interview Ng Shu Wen, a 2017 Sri KL International School graduate to find out how she managed to score 9 A*s and 1 A for the 2017 IGCSE exams. A 2017 IGCSE World Top Scholar winner for chemistry and math subjects, how did she excel in her studies? Here's what she said:

The two years of IGCSE had been a productive journey, to say the least. It was a leap forward with significant differences from the earlier years of high school especially when it came to the subjects that I had briefly heard of but never been exposed to. Despite the new challenges, it was satisfying to finally gain the knowledge of the subjects that have been the talk of society.

A plan is, without a doubt, the best way to start off any challenges faced. It gives a clear direction and allows priorities to be set straight. Personally, for me, it can be as simple as making a to-do list for the day to planning them for the week. Contrary to popular belief, I do not set myself a strict daily routine to carry out my day. Honestly, it can be frustrating to have the same activity being repeated every day. I believe that switching plans actually make my learning more effective.

The one part of learning that all of us do not escape from is studying. Studying has played an important role in refreshing my memory of the topics learnt. Honestly, it was impossible for me to recall the details of the first chapter of Biology when I was busy memorizing the terms of the internal structures of the heart. Besides that, choosing the right way to study is of greater importance than studying without a direction. For example, when your brain capacity has reached its limit after an hour of studying, close your book, take a break and come back better than before.

Aside from studying conditions, studying is basically to understand the fundamental concept behind the theory and not blindly memorizing facts. Once the underlying theory is grasped well enough, it is sufficient to answer any relating questions with the back of your hand without having to rummage through the memorized piles of information at the back of your mind.

For me, one method of acquiring that understanding is to clarify my doubts by asking questions. If pestering the teachers with ‘why’ questions are going to help me understand organic chemistry, so be it.

The work of studying is not enough to ensure a perfect score in an exam despite its importance. Another method that we, as students, always love is drilling ourselves with past year papers. Admittedly, it holds a significant role in learning but a balance between doing past year papers and studying must be achieved. The past year questions are perhaps the best way to predict and understand the way and format of answering the questions that have been nothing but repetitive every year.

Commonly, using the Internet for extra information on the topic of the subject has benefitted me in ways more than one. For example, Google has been an efficient search engine that answers all of my curiosity and sometimes abnormal questions that pop up in my mind once in a while.

Just like the rest of the student population, I do groan at the thought of studying, but the right kind of motivation keeps me from turning my back on the stack of books. My personal motivation to keep going is to think of the consequences of the outcome which would be the guilt of not trying my best when I could have done so. But aside from that, I strongly feel that motivation can arise from happiness and a positive mindset which will relieve me of the stress that comes with too much studying. This can be attained from doing sports which improves my mood after a long day in school.

Also, my family and friends have played a huge role in making me feel contented. Personally, I think that time should be given to them apart from using it to study or finish my homework. I tend to spend time with my family during dinners and my friends on Fridays by catching a movie at the mall or having lunch with them right after school.

Lastly, I focus on achieving progress and not perfection because instead of striving for perfection, progress is a much better pathway to eventually reach perfection in the future. Improvement is when you do better than you did before and not aiming to be the best when you have not overcome your limits.

List of subjects:

Mathematics A* (IGCSE World Top Scholar) Additional Mathematics A* First Language English A* Biology A* Chemistry A* (IGCSE World Top Scholar) Physics A* Accounting A* Business Studies A Chinese as a Second Language A* Foreign Language Malay A*

Article published in Dreamic Educational Magazine, 2018.

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