Plan Z

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

I first learned this quote during a scouts camp during my secondary school years. "Be Prepared" was one of the inspiring mottoes in scouting. So, planning ahead to meet future goals was top priority too. And it is no different from planning to get your A's or passing your exam.

We had other plans.

Plan A

Plan B

Plan X

But what if things didn't go as planned? Well, here's the final plan..

It's times like these that students (like me..sometimes) think "If only I studied beforehand."
But it's not time for that. We've got an exam coming in a week or three to two days and we gotta act fast! Unless you don't care about it..but we do here so let's get started.

The Final Review

There are a few ways to know what you should study at this hour. Face it, you don't have that much time. Chances are you might not get to revise every single thing (especially if you've been neglecting the subject from the start). So, one way is to do the past year questions (if any) and probably "spot questions" or the sort (but I generally don't trust them). They've personally helped me a lot in many circumstances. However, that ONLY might not be enough unless stated otherwise. At times, the dept or lecturer realizes this fact that students do rely a lot on past year questions and so they change it. To counter that possibility, go to the exam review. In an exam review, most likely you'll get snippets of possible questions and topics. That should come in handy. At least if you can't answer all questions, you'll be able to answer a some. Another option is to see your lecturer personally and ask him/her something more detailed than "please tell me everything". You might get some hints in the process. The last resort? Ask the best person you know (you should have made some friends) for help.

The Final Stand

If you actually have a week to face the exam, I'd say you still have plenty of time for an A unless you know nothing at all. My greatest tip here is to study as if you're having the exam the next day. Through my own observation, many students gobble up more than half of their study materials the day before the exam. Why don't you do just that in a few days? Perhaps you might actually finish studying everything. Kudos to you!

On the other hand, if you have just well about one to two days, then the following might be useful.

1. Considering that you only have this one exam left or the other exams are far apart or less difficult, then you can try not sleeping at all for one night to gobble up everything you can. The adrenaline rush (or coffee) should be sufficient to keep you going. Just make sure you collapse on your bed after the exam. Note: No drugs please!

2. Go for a study group with your friends. It might seem distracting or not enough to study with friends at this time but it should help to calm you down (that's what friends are for) and help you know things you never knew. If you have someone who knows a lot, he/she can be the leader. But if everyone is at the same level, you can find things out together. Together, we can achieve more.

3. If you have a friend who has finished studying, this is the time to bug him/her..make sure you thank him enough!

4. If you had notes and slides from the first class or lecture, review them all.

5. If you don't have the basics, pick them up as soon as possible and get going with the advanced ones. Don't just storm through the advanced questions (this applies a lot to physics and math) as it may take longer for you to understand and remember. That's wasting time. And time is not on your side so stick to the plan.

Calm Down

At one point, you may consider this to be one of the worst times. But it's no reason to use that window over there or drugs of any sort. A good friend of mine always said, "Once you enter the exam hall/room, tell yourself, I'm ready. And do your best."

Don't Repeat 

Yes, you got it. This should never happen again and you should never have to use this plan again (but trust me..many people do).

Wrap Up

The last stand depends on where you stand. If you're far back, then to get that A is hard so the next thing is not to fail. Remember, basics first, friends help, past year questions, reviews and good luck!


Any form of effort you took from here (especially pushing yourself through the night) is entirely on your own risk. You know better whether you can handle it or not. Health comes first.

images from:,

Thank You Friends!

In this long journey of study, I have had numerous encounters with obstacles which also includes the almost-failing of subjects and the heart pounding moments of mental pressure. These are normal stuff that most people face (and to say that I'm normal too.hehe). Honestly enough, I did not face these things on my own plus the fact that I never really like walking alone (although I do that lots of times). The top of the list of great people I meet that helped me all the way is of course my parents, family members and teachers. No doubt about that. However, this time I'm going to talk about the next closest thing to FRIENDS!

     Before that, I'd like to point out that friends to me are not just the ones born on 1992. They also include seniors and juniors as well. OK, back to the topic, I have lots of friends and I make more of them lots of times. They say you should make as many friends as you can right? Yes, of course. Friends are mostly always helpful and encouraging. I can still remember a friend of mine that helped me out a lot in additional mathematics. He was so committed to help me that he even slept at my house for three nights to help me study. There was also once when he was watching a movie at school and I was pondering my way through an add maths question paper. At that time, I couldn't answer some questions and I asked him for help. Without hesitation, he eagerly helped me, which indirectly tells me that I am more important to him than a movie. A true friend he is. The weird part here is that I actually got higher marks than he did but then he beat me in modern maths which I was good at.  An exchange I guess.

     Another group of friends I am very grateful of are the ones who kept waking me up every morning (I lived in a hostel for 5 years and now stay in an apartment). Yes, I have a nag for waking up a bit late. That's where these friends of mine are very helpful. They wake me up everyday despite the effort they have to put in to do that. Or else, I might always be late to class or even get a long rattan kissing my bottom in the mornings. Thankfully, I have friends by my side.

      I also owe a lot to my study group members that helped a lot in the commitment and support they gave, especially the 2 great guys in form 3. They were persistent enough even though at first it didn't give the desired results. Eventually, my 2 friends here and I got straight A's in the PMR (lower secondary assessment). Here's also a hint that study group does work effectively in small groups and also with great effort and commitment. 

      Friends encourage me a lot. When I'm under the weather, they'd always be ready to lend a hand or give an advice. Messages like "I believe in you" and "I know you can do it" are always heartwarming. They help recharge my confidence to continue on with persistence and passion, knowing that my friends are always by my side. No matter how far they are to the naked eye, they are still always close to my heart. Thanks friends! I owe you guys a lot.

     In conclusion,  friends are a great source of heartfelt encouragement and super strong support. They can help us a lot in our daily lives (especially if you live with them) and we should also, in turn, help them and other friends as well. As the saying goes, one good deed deserves another.

The Everlasting Journey of Study

I was in my class at secondary school. At that time, I was in Form 5. It was a year of struggle. The struggle to get straight A-ones, which later changed into A-pluses, in SPM. Well, back to the class, my friends and I were getting a lecture regarding the SPM. About how important it was, etc, and I heard this very clear statement: "You just have to do all this studying until SPM and then everything will be over!" Most probably, this strong influential statement was successfully buried into the hearts and minds of almost every student present. To think that SPM is the final destination in the struggle of facts and concepts memorization. It's never was and never will be that simple. In fact, the journey is still far from finished...

     After the passing of SPM, then comes college and university life. Here, the game is still the same but harder than before. You have quizzes. You have tests. You also have assignments. Then, there are also the final exams. All of these require studying and of course much more than SPM. The normal situation that usually happen is when you forget EVERYTHING you learn in secondary school and the best part is most of what you learn in college or university is a repetition of those things you poured away on the SPM test papers. So, you'll study again everything and usually, the same thing is done as in secondary school, memorization without full understanding or the favorite word I here a lot nowadays, passion.

     Most students just don't get it why they actually study Biology or Additional Mathematics. Nevertheless, because they don't want to do badly in the exams and not let parents' and teachers' hopes down. In relation to that, they cook up ways to pass the exams with flying colors or some may even just hope for a pass. This then becomes a habit where students don't learn for wholehearted knowledge acquisition and implementation but just for the sake of A's. This will go to the extent of students when questioned of something different giving reasons to like, "This will not be asked in the exams." Their intellectual curiosity is bordered and hindered by the boundaries of black and white test papers.

      Students like me and you (if this applies) must realize firstly that studying is not just about exams. Life is not all about exams! Secondly, we have to really look into our hearts..why am I studying? I don't like this and I'm supposed to be doing that rather than this.. Thoughts like that always occur. We are always going with the flow where actually, we're supposed to be riding it. We're supposed to do things because we have the passion to do it. For example, I have a friend that spent RM3000 for comic books ONLY since he was standard 3 until now. He was so passionate about comic books and drawing them that he won some competitions and is also at the same time was a top student in his secondary school. Another friend of mine loves magic tricks so much that he actually bought CDs and book on how to perform them and once had the chance of performing magic tricks in front of a Minister. Both of them were passionate in their interests that they are able to make sacrifices and learn by themselves until they become experts in their fields.

     Bottom line, we have to have interest in what we do, we have to have passion in our interests. We must have an objective in the sense that we know why we do something and have a goal other than just plain A's. Life is a journey which includes to keep studying and attaining knowledge - an everlasting journey of study. But I always like to stress out that you should never make excuses for not doing your best in an exam. And for that exam scoring part, I am glad to help you in any way I can. So, feel free to ask and good luck!

What should be STRESSED in secondary school...

"You need to ace your exams and in the same time pile up as many certificates as you can." This used to be a statement usually emphasized when I was in secondary school and that's what I practically did. So, what's the hiccup (problem) here? Well, if you're going for an interview or a selection process for a really great place (an Ivy League University for instance) then there's the problem. Let's get into the details.

     This is a challenge that is directly related to me. I am currently studying with a Public Service Department (JPA) scholarship, in preparation for study in the United States in Computer Science. In relation to that, I am going to go through an application process to Ivy League Standard Universities (please wish me luck!). This requires me to submit a full spec of details - academics, co-curricular, and the like. The part which I am very concerned of is the Co-Curricular (besides the Entrance Essay..and that's a different topic).

     When reviewing an application, the admissions officers of these universities want to find a holistic idea of oneself and they have to filter out a number of super lucky students from a batch of 30000+ applications. One of the things that make a big difference in applicants is the co-curricular part. In reviewing ones co-curricular participation, these officers search for 4 things:
Passion - showing interest in participation
Initiative - showing effort in participation
Intellectual Curiosity - the spirit of learning new things
Individuality - being own self.
These are the qualities that are needed and what most students lack of (this is mostly an assumption based on experience).

     If you read the first sentence of this article, you can see what I mean. My mistake was that I somehow participated in some things with the certificates as the main goal while what's most important was passion. Nevertheless, I thankfully had my own principle of "liking what you do and doing what you like" which paved my way to the numerous scouts activities and my wholehearted commitment to the school resource center (simply called librarian) in school. Unfortunately enough, I didn't participate much in sports besides being a runner (not that good too) in the Sports Days at school. Then again, there were others much more unfortunate.

     Some students were reluctant in participating in activities that required a lot of work, a lot of commitment and a lot of time. In short, a bit lazy. They believed that there was no point in doing so. Some others participated in a lot of stuff but they were not focused. For example, going for different clubs every year or becoming the head of a society without doing anything. This is going to be a challenge because admissions officers want to see how much passion you had for the clubs or activities. Did you do anything significant or big in the society? Did you try to learn as much as you can? What made you different in the group? All of these questions should be answered well enough.

     Getting back to the topic, in school nowadays, participation in co-curricular activities has been widely encouraged. That's great! Then, they say, the more certificates you have, the better you are. This is in most cases not true. The main thing here is that quality wins over quantity. It's what we do rather than what we're in. A president of the Photography club with project management experience is much better than a member of the Mathematics club, English club, History club, and Culture club. Schools should be stressing on the commitment and passion of a student rather than having them get "papers with writing" only. Students should be aware that the experience they have can be crucial to their resume and henceforth, their application to universities.

     Besides that, another unfortunate batch of students are the "study only" ones. This is a trait that's mostly planted in by some parents and teachers. I've always held on to the perspective that life is not all about exams (though they do determine some part of our future). These students maybe do not realize that their chances to their dream college can get slimmer as they will have a hard time proving to the admissions officers of their significance and well-rounded aptitude as they only scored exams; believe me, anyone can really do that. Taking on sports and societies or participating in competitions shows that you've committed yourself to something worthwhile and you've challenged yourself to a certain level. With that, it makes you a whole lot better and different from the average straight A's student (but it still doesn't mean you can forget about those A's).

     Basically, students don't give a care about this issue because they don't realize what lies ahead of them, what they actually need to have in the future and the reasons behind the difficulties that they should face. Therefore, the responsibility of letting these prospective candidates of universities and careers be aware of these things should be taken by schools, secondary schools. I have to say that even I didn't know anything in detail about Ivy Leagues, overseas studies application, the importance of my interests, and lots of stuff! The main objective was to get straight A's for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia and get going from there, which proved to be very challenging.

     In conclusion, being a student is not just about passing exams (isn't it ironic of me saying this as I blog about study?haha) or even just playing around in jerseys. It's about building a holistic, well-rounded true self. To be a successful person in academics and co-curricular, and later on in career and life. And..getting into that university..