Small Fish in a Big Pond: how to deal with the year ahead

3 bulletproof tips students can arm themselves with

In a blink of an eye, we are more than halfway through the first month of the school year.

For all students, every new year is a frightening prospect: not only will there be a brand new curriculum, but also a fresh set of challenges. The questions of “how to handle the more difficult/increased workload?” and “how to juggle my academic and extracurricular commitments?” frequently recur.

Feelings of stress run especially high in the milestone years, where students have to take their national exams (P6, secondary 4) or enter a completely new school (primary 1, secondary 1, junior college/polytechnic/other institutions).

During these important years, we may feel like ‘small fish in a big pond’, unsure of where and how to start the year right. Here are some tips on getting the headstart you need:

  • Have a Trusted Circle of Confidantes

The importance of social ties cannot be understated. A close friend, or
group of friends, is not only a good emotional support system; they are
also your go-tos for academic or administrative concerns!

Have a question about transferring CCAs? Ask a friend for advice! Have a question about your math or mother tongue homework? Ask a classmate! Feeling blue? Talk to a friend!

Here’s a pro tip: Include your teacher in this circle of friends. Due to their position in school and teaching knowledge, teachers can often give you advice or help that your peers cannot.

  • Be Organised
    There are few things worse than realising that you have misplaced your revision notes on the day before an exam. How do you prevent that situation from happening? ORGANISE! Some quick and easy actions you can take right now include:
  • For languages, use a notebook to compile new vocabulary or grammar pointers. Writing information down has been proven to help memory recall. Moreover, you will have a consolidated source of key knowledge at the end of the year.
  • Get file dividers for subjects that are tested topically, e.g. science, geography. Remember to file your worksheets promptly!
  • Declutter weekly! Take already-marked worksheets and old notes OUT of your school bag, and file/place them neatly in a location that you can access at a later date (for review and revision).
  • Don’t allow homework or corrections to pile up!
  • Don’t Overdo It

In a busy school schedule, time is precious. More often than not, we have more things than we can fit on our plate!

There are typical “crunch times” in which you can expect yourself to feel overwhelmed by the amount of things you have to do (e.g. before exams, before major CCA events). For these periods, my succinct advice is to do your best (and talk to your support system)!

However – just like an Olympic athlete peaks right before their event, a student should peak at the times that matter most – exams and CCA events.

If you want to maximise your mental and physical well-being, as well as maintain good performance during exams/competitions, try not to jampack your whole year with activities.

Since we are currently at the start of the year, simply focus on easing yourself into the hustle and bustle of the year ahead.

Wishing you all the best!

About The Author

Miss Fiona Tan is a Teacher Associate at Creative Campus. As a Hwa Chong Institution and NUS alumna, she is particularly familiar with what it takes to excel in demanding exam conditions.