Setting the curve: An ordinary student’s guide to excellence

The tips and tricks to progress in academics at a faster pace beyond expectations

Time is a huge problem that students encounter during examinations; a bigger problem they encounter is their own insecurity and self-doubt which becomes an unnecessary barrier to success.

The most struggling lot of students are admittedly junior college students who are often googling up terms like “Tips to study for A level General Paper exam” ( and “What should you do if you failed A-levels?” (

Such fear and self-doubt have infiltrated deep into students’ minds and they struggle to get a grip on their education and take complete control of it all.

So, here are some pragmatic tips and tricks to take a leap in your grades!


A lack of focus and is a reflection of a lack of discipline, and that is a huge drawback to anyone who wants to succeed. Commitment is absolutely essential and students need to take ownership for their mistakes and shortcomings as they go along.

Students become over-dependant on their private tuition teachers or online tuition teachers; this habit will become addictive and students come to the realisation only when tutors point that out and condemn them for it.


How can this be solved?

Focus and discipline does not grow over night; it has to be cultivated with practice over a period of time. The best way to start is to first of all admit that there is a lack of focus and that you could be more efficient with getting work done. Admitting that there is a problem is half the battle!

Thereafter, following some methods to keep track of work that has to be done will bring in a structure to a typical day. For example, the things that students can do are,

  • Making a timetable
  • Making a practical to-do list which is not too ambitious
  • Following certain study techniques like the Pomodoro technique
  • Arranging study sessions with peers (setting a target is important for such meet-ups)


Yes, staying in the pink of health is of paramount importance. Many parents wonder how has Singapore education system changed in past few years (; it is no doubt that the rigour and complexity for all subject have been cranked up and that has resulted in many students stressing out and spoiling their health.

Photo by Gabby K from Pexels

Studying late nights is only going to give diminishing returns and in the long run, the damage to health will manifest itself in ways beyond expectations. Sleep is the most important factor that contributes to cognitive function; unfortunately, that is what students don’t get enough of.

Why is this important?

Recently, a study (Xie L, Kang H, Xu Q, Chen MJ, Liao Y, Thiyagarajan M, et al. Sleep drives metabolite clearance from the adult brain. Science. 2013;342:373–7. doi: 10.1126/science.1241224.) stated that during sleep, cellular waste by-products in the brain cells is removed, which means one of the biggest functions of sleep is to act like a “garbage disposal” for the brain.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Apart from sleep, a lack of nutritious food coupled with stress damages the body and causes it to lose its ability to gain immunity and maintain strength. This is a major reason why many become sluggish and easily exhausted when they hit their 30s; an age when they should be active and vibrant.


Students need to arrive at the mindset that practicing with purpose will bring them a step closer to success; completing one mock paper after another will not give the results.

Problem-solving is not just for mathematics; this is a skill that has to be applied for all areas of life. When students encounter hurdles, they need to find ways to craft a solution to get out of the problem, instead of wasting time away by sulking and complaining.

The best tuition agencies in Singapore have the best tuition teachers on board to give students the best guidance. It is always never too late to seek help and if it takes a tutor to help with the process of “practice and problem-solving”, then so be it! There is no shame in asking for help.

ALL IN ALL, it is never too late to take charge of the situation, seek the necessary help when needed and put in the extra effort with discipline to succeed!