The good student

Part of the reason I wrote about my scholarship bond is because the results for A Levels in Singapore is coming out this upcoming week. And lots of students would be overjoyed as well as disappointed, readying themselves for the new challenge and new phase of life. Being conscious about the story we tell ourselves about the A Level results is important.

It is important because that is the story we take with us to college, to social circles. The Singapore-Cambridge exam results appears to be so important that it is captured alongside all other details about your personal life including your full name, driving license, marriage certificate, within your Singpass app. That is how permanent it can be as part of our identity. Even when my A Levels was almost half of my lifetime ago, it comes back to remind me if I had been a good or mediocre student.

For some the story can be painful: it could be about how a parent passed on and affected examination preparation. Or the first time one suffers a nervous breakdown in an examination hall and had to seek psychiatric letter to appeal the exam results. For others, it could be extreme joy, as the subjects which they’ve been scoring E, S or U up to prelim actually turned up with an ‘A’. Never mind how that happened – perhaps the prelim exam papers were set artificially hard in order to create that psychological urgency; or that marking to match the rubric during prelims failed to set the precocious genius apart from the rebel.

What is the story behind your A level results? What do you tell yourself about them? Does your story make you work harder subsequently, or does it discourage you? At the end of the day, the story becomes part of your life, which is infinitely more important than the grades. Because the grades becomes artefacts; pieces of evidence that your story was true, and it was what took hold of you. And the story is what causes me to hold up those imperfect grades in my Singpass app and take pride in what I’ve been able to go through.