You won’t believe the types of questions that came out in exam.

I submitted one of the exam papers only one minute before the cut-off time. Nearly got a heart attack! Just one more minute, and I would have had to resit the paper. That would mean my foundation would be prolonged with the addition of an extra semester just to resit one paper. That, I tell you, is no small joke.

Click here to read part 1 of my final exam rush if you haven’t! 😛

Math and Physical Chemistry were a bit more challenging. As I completed the questions, I could see that my preparations were great, and helpful, but certainly not enough to meet the standards. Math and Chemistry both had seriously challenging questions. I needed more practice and more acquaintance with various question permutations. I was lacking in practice, and that is because I tend to cram for exams and not study consistently throughout the semester. However, it truly is not easy to keep studying consistently over a long period of time, not when your lectures also drain you of a significant amount of energy.

It would be good to build some stamina.

As for Biology, Physics and English, they were not easy, but relatively easy when compared to the previous two I mentioned. Biology is fun when it is an open book exam. This is because Biology cannot trick you all that much, and the concepts / ideas can be easily obtainable from the internet. When this is how it is, you are learning and discovering even as you sit for your exam. However, a strong understanding of the basics is required. I can only describe this arrangement as magical. It is simply magical to be able to search for the answers to your exam questions, using your understanding of what the question is looking for, and learning new, out-of-textbook scientific information in the same breath.

For Physics, I spent a day compiling and condensing a powerful 15 page summary of 12 lecture topics. In Physics, the ability to differentiate between the topics, and identify which topics can be applied to any random question in your exam paper is crucial. For example, knowledge from Lecture 2, Lecture 5 and Lecture 9 may be required to answer a specific question. In Physics One, the Physics course I took in my first semester, each topic has lots of overlapping concepts, and it can be difficult to answer a question when there is so much merging of topics being tested in one single question. Studying Physics is a bizarre experience, and the way the topics overlap are both a pain and a wonder.

When I told my Physics teacher about the cool overlapping, he said: “That’s not Physics. That’s science. Studying science is all about applying each science to each other; everything is correlated.”

My English paper, my final paper of the week, was a heart stopping one, and I am still worried. There were questions about the critical thinking skills and fallacies, and a comprehension piece, and finally an argumentative essay to write.

The problem lies in the essay. We had just two titles to choose from: one was about your stand on whether there was antibiotics available to treat Covid 19, and another was about your opinion on whether people should continue to work from home.

I chose the first one.

I saw the first essay title, the one about antibiotics, as a perfect opportunity for scientific learning. I wanted the same sense of fulfillment I got with Biology; I may never have many open book tests again, especially as a medical student. I saw this as a chance to learn WHILE sitting for my exam. So I did on-the-spot research, had about 10 tabs open, and devoured them at high speed, clinching on ideas that caught my attention and coming up with my own views (known as your “voice” in argumentative essay lingo) and backed them up by evidence I gleaned from various creditable sources.

By the end of it I was shaking and exhausted, but soon was struck by a major issue: our essays would be checked for plagiarism. I took elements from my research, from the internet. Was it considered plagiarizing or not? I should have been more mindful while writing the essay. I worried over it for a long time, even though my father came bounding down the stairs, expecting to see a smile on my face after the whole semester was done and my two week semester break commenced. But for a while after the exam, I worried greatly. The consequences of plagiarizing are not to be played with; we could be suspended if caught doing so. We were taught about plagiarism in our English course, but we were all still new to the topic and may not yet fully understand the boundaries of what is considered plagiarism and what isn’t. Perhaps I should have not been too reckless, in case I would accidently take too much from a particular source.

Anyway, after a while I decided it doesn’t help to worry, and I would know when the results were out. My essay, regardless, was still one of high quality, and I was delighted that I could synthesize an essay from various sources and arrange my ideas alongside other people’s so neatly like this. Plus, I learnt a bit about the controversy about whether antibiotics can treat Covid 19. Here’s a summary: scientifically, antibiotics is used to treat bacteria, not viruses, so it shouldn’t work. But some researchers have proven four antibiotics have the ability to inhibit SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid 19. What do you think?

So, I went to play some piano to calm myself down. Until my exams were over, I had not touched the piano in ages. Now I’m learning a new song, though, so I’m practicing a few hours a day. With a new song, you’ve got to commit a lot of hours in the beginning. With an average of 3 hours a day, I’ve been perfecting my craft. I’m still nowhere near perfect yet, especially a part where there are lots of octave chords and my small hands can’t quite reach for the notes. It’s quite a strain to your wrist!

And now I will end this blog post on a happy note, and with more to come!

There are A TON of interesting small turning points in my life coming up! Hang on tight. Here they are:

  1. Blogpost #1: My English and Biology presentation (trust me, these are not boring at all.)
  2. Blogpost #2: My final exam results (OF COURSE! IT’S COMING SOON! Maybe in a few days. I am just — so — nervous for this.)
  3. Blogpost #3: Commencement of semester 2 and returning to campus for “mixed learning” (mixture of online learning + physical classes)

UPDATE: Blogpost #3 is CANCELLED due to announcement by the highest education ministry that all university lessons will continue online until further notice. 😦 Hopefully the COVID-19 situation improves soon!!

Yep, we call it returning to campus, but due to Covid 19 I haven’t even studied on campus before. Besides, I don’t even know where my classrooms are.

Exciting times are coming! 😀

Final Assessment + Semester 1 OVER!

Yippee!! My big final exam of the first semester is over!

I’m so sorry guys. It’s taken me over a week AFTER my exam actually ended to finally get back to you all. Even then, I prefer to binge watch medical documentaries on Youtube now, but it’s been one week since my final assessment actually ended and I do owe it you to all to update you on my current situation. I also owe it to myself – the completion of my very first semester of university foundation.

It’s a cool milestone.

So, this was basically how my first semester went: firstly, we tried to adapt to online learning and had fun with all the perks of e-learning. We also improved greatly on our software and technological skills, which online learning inevitably requires. Then it soon became a routine. Lecturers would teach quickly, with the constant excuse of “you can replay this video later, so I’ll move on first!” much to my frustration. Certain study resources were online, most were printable and so I printed them.

Then, in chronological order: Test 1 for all the courses I took in semester 1, which earned me great results; then comes Test 2, which got me a little stressed out due to the increasing level of difficulty, but which I still did well in. Scattered throughout the semester were tons of little different types of projects and coursework for each course we are taking, each of which contributes to our eventual Grade Point Average (GPA) for the semester.

In the last few weeks leading up to our big exams, we STIILL had to deal with two formal presentations, English and Biology formal GROUP presentations, which put our nerves under fire. Both the English and Biology presentations took a lot of hard work, and so much commitment was required and so much learnt that I think I shall write another blog post specifically to talk about them! For the English presentation, my group members and I had chosen a medical topic, and the research I did on it was supremely interesting, and the Biology presentation involved designing your very own experiment, which was pretty fun, too. Click here to read all about the two presentations! I had scored high marks for both and am happy with the results.

After the two presentations were done, I threw it behind my back and began studying full force. Our exam would be an open book exam, since we are studying from home due to the Covid crisis, but a big deal of studying is still required. Hours of reviewing lectures, curating comprehensive notes and summaries using colourful pens, and doing or reading the answers to past year papers that our lecturers gave us. I also did my tutorial questions, or any other practice or revision questions that were available through our online learning platform. I rearranged my course files to make old notes easily accessible. I made To-Do Lists that aimed really high, and tried my best to do tick off most of the boxes.

It was one heck of a ride.

Throughout the week before the exam and the exam week itself, I would constantly check the time, the one at the bottom right hand corner of my computer. I looked and looked and looked, whether it be to see if I have been taking too much time understanding a particular question, or if I have been daydreaming / taking a break for too long, or if I was going to submit my freaking exam papers in time. If I don’t manage to hand it in, I would have to resit the ENTIRE course, which means taking an extra semester. And did I manage to submit the exam papers?

Click here to find out….!!

Survival Comes First: This is how Malaysia’s education system should be improved.

Survival comes first.

This phrase above is one many of you have heard of. I believe Malaysia’s education system should be improved based on these three defining words.

Lately, our government has been coming up with many changes in the KSSM syllabus, which, although fortunately has nothing to do with me as I have just started university, is having a great impact on my younger brother. He is quite unluckily studying Form 4 this year – the year subject to much excited experimentation ever since he was in his primary school years. This batch were always freshmen when it came to their studies; they would struggle to familiarize themselves with the new implementations, and whoops, new changes to your syllabus again, sorry about that. You’ve just got to deal with it.

For my SPM last year, the second last year of the old syllabus KBSM (I am two years older than my brother), already had had a few unnecessary subjects. I took 10 subjects, which includes Mandarin in my case. But there were a few subjects such as Moral, Sejarah (history), and certain elements in the Malay and Chinese subjects such as KOMSAS and “ancient Chinese” (Malay and Chinese literature) that… when I have ascended to university and look back at, now, I find it difficult to understand why we ever had to study those subjects. Now, there is apparently a new addition to the KSSM syllabus, which is the translation of classical Malay to modern Malay.

Sure, it’s important to learn good morals and values. Indeed, education about the body is imperative. Yes, learning languages and its evolution is always useful, may even be interesting. True, if history is not taught and remembered, how will we learn from past mistakes? How can we effectively culture in our children curiosity about the future if we have zero knowledge of the past?

However, as I do more reading and exploration in this unique time of Covid-19, I see less and less purpose in keeping ourselves learned scholars of ancient text and reading textbook graphics on how to do gymnastics with balls and ribbons. Is it more important that we memorize our riddled past until we can recite it off the tops of our heads, or that we learn what will help us survive now?

What are our priorities now, right NOW?


You are taking a walk with your child and they are going to step into a hole that might twist their ankle badly. It’s happening now! Any moment now! One more inch! Will you warn your child of the hole and how to avoid it in the future, or begin telling the story of when their great-grandfather stepped into a similar hole many decades ago?

Your child steps into the hole and sprains their ankle. You chastise them furiously. Next time, read more stories about your great-grandfather! You demand, and thrust a great book into their hands filled with his ancestor’s mishaps. A heavy book, too big for the child to see where they are going.

“And of course,” you go on, ignoring your exhausted young son or daughter, weighed down by the enormous book, “it will also be highly useful if you could learn ancient Greek, the language your great-grandfather happened to be using when calling for a lady nearby, when he cried for her help, to get him out of the hole he fell into – “

Your child steps into another hole and breaks their leg.


This is why, chase the future first before you pursue the past. It’s difficult to live without past memories, but impossible to survive without future plans.

It is now the hype of our era, with Covid-19 impeding life activities, the worst global warming in the last five years, and far too many of the trouble human beings bring upon themselves are due to not knowing or not realizing basic things. Yet our politicians now bite and snap at each other while the children of our future cramp their tired minds with our ancestors glories and mistakes.

Instead, teach our new generation how to avoid the online and phone call scams that are so easy to fall for. Teach them how to fight for their own entitlements, and the rights of others. Educate them on the importance of personal and medical insurance. Allow them ample opportunity for observations of anything and everything (of good nature), and let them take away the lessons. Teach them the perils of the “real life out there”. If the situation leaves us no choice but be “quanranteens” in primary and secondary school education until our syllabus finally becomes what really matters at university, by which time most of our youth is lost, then show us what real life is, in the confines of your home. Instead of implying that “real life” is a curtain that only opens when we leave high school or even beyond university, tear down the drapes and guide us in imagining real life. It is, in fact, the very age of global digitalization.

Answer our questions on why things happen. When your child, teenage son / daughter, or young student asks questions, don’t brush them aside. Understanding why is the key to improving tolerance of strange environments, tolerance of people who look and sound different, tolerance of complex issues that are difficult to solve. It is also the key to setting curiosity and motivation on fire.

Most of all, teach our new generation how to make their own choices. The right choices. And they will be able to do that, based on their understanding of why it is the right or wrong thing to do.

We will then automatically culture good moral values, exercise more for our own health and learn from past mistakes based on critical judgment.

Humans need not and should not be constantly only told what to do – it may very well have the opposite effect. They need to be taught how to know what to do.

Although this write up is also an object of my frustration with the education system, but here is the real message I want you to take away: learning anything of good nature is beneficial, to some extent. However, it is not about which are the correct subjects to learn, but about which subjects are more important.

Especially in this very moment, we don’t have time for marginally useful things. We need the cure, now.

Survival comes first.

~Rachel Tan Hui Xin, 11 September 2020.