Life Stories, Youth & Kids

A Second Shot at the A-Levels: An Interview with Our Most Improved Student3 min read

By: S. Zhen Wei

Major examinations are one of the biggest events in a Singaporean student’s life. These exams put years of studies to the test and determine the next phase of our educational journey. Preparing for these papers–especially at the Junior College’s A-Levels standard–is no mean feat. That’s why it came to a surprise to many that Nicholas would attempt to do it a SECOND TIME.

Intrigued, I caught up with him for a quick chat to find out more! 

What made you attempt the A-Levels a second time?

When I first received my results in 2015, I was disappointed. I knew I could have done better. I remember feeling really lost, I didn’t know what other options I had back then.

I had heard of people retaking the A-Levels before — but I looked at my situation and thought it would be almost impossible. I was due to serve my 2 years of National Service too, so I didn’t give it much consideration and pushed the thought to the back of my mind.

2 years after I first took my A-Levels, a message on Academic Excellence by Pastor How inspired me. The thought of retaking my A-Level returned. I was determined to be someone with a spirit of excellence. I started to have faith. 

It was a scary decision. I knew if I didn’t do well a second time around, I would have wasted another year. But as I prayed, I felt an assurance in my heart that things were going to turn out differently. 

I knew it was the road less travelled, but with God, I found the courage to kick-start my journey. I also made a decision that I would not compromise on my serving in church.

Nicholas_02 Nicholas serving in the Media Department

How has the Academic Excellence programme helped you in your studies?

After that decision to retake my A-Levels, I listened to almost all the Academic Excellence messages preached in church through the years. Those messages gave me a new perspective and changed the way I approached studying.

One principle I learnt was ‘Create winning habits’. Pastor How taught us that “Success does not come in a day, it comes daily.” As I evaluated, I realised I hadn’t set any winning habits in my life the first time around, and mostly left studying to the last minute.

With that in mind, I would deliberately set aside time every day to study specific topics & set realistic goals to motivate myself. As I applied the Academic Excellence principles, I realised that studying became easier. In fact, it became enjoyable! 

Also, when I was stressed, I prayed to God and He would give me peace. When things got tiring, I found the strength to keep going. I had faith that I could excel in my studies once again.

So, the most important question: How did you do?!

After a year of studying and applying the Academic Excellence principles, my grades improved from C, E, S to straight As!

I know it’s only possible because of Academic Excellence and God. I was also awarded the A-Level Most Improved Student award in church.

Beyond the grades, I learnt to value education. When we study, we are training our minds to develop discipline, discernment and make better decisions. This goes beyond our years in the education system. These are principles we can carry with us as we enter the workforce in the future!


That’s incredible! Lastly, what are you looking forward to this Academic Excellence weekend?

This Academic Excellence is right before I start my freshman year at university. I can’t wait to have my mindset renewed again and gain new insights that would set me up for a great start in my university life! I believe it will help many others just like me, too!

Interested in the Academic Excellence Programme? For more information, visit