From a survey of all the friends I have with ‘A’ level scores, I noticed a common piece of advice they always give: get at least 7 hours of sleep.
Here’s a sample of how these guys did at their ‘A’ levels in 2005:
Anglo Chinese Junior College, 9 Distinctions, Receives Prestigious Medical PSC Scholarship
Hwa Chong Institute, 9 Distinctions, A*Star Scholarship
Victoria Junior College, 7th Honours, Second Tier Overseas Police Scholarship
For the record, students who earn 9 distinctions in their A-levels rank in the top 10 students in Singapore for that cohort. I had the privilege of meeting these outstanding scholars during my time in the military while undergoing officer training.
The first student, Loh Wei Liang, entered the medical school in Singapore and received the first PSC scholarship for medicine. He is a very friendly guy who played rugby in college. He wasn’t a big ‘heist’ or someone who studied extraordinarily hard. He enjoyed his rugby sessions and made it a point to sleep at 10pm every day.
The second student, Wu Sheng Rong, is currently studying science at Cambridge University. He doesn’t seem to have any problems there, applying the regular sleep schedule he kept in Singapore during his Junior College and Army days. He always came across as a calm thinker to all of his fellow students, and even to my officer of the course, Captain Clarence. As with the first student, Wei Liang, I was also Sheng Rong’s roommate. I had a lot of time to chat with them and slowly discover the secret of his academic success.
The third student, Zhi Yang, was a bunkmate from the Basic Military Training Center (Army, of course). He also strongly advocates proper sleep over working mentally during a day at school.
These people slept and still sleep at least 7 hours a day before their lessons the next day. This is so that they can fully concentrate in class and gain a complete understanding of the topic in the lesson. The complete and uninterrupted break obviously gave them the ability to focus so intensely in class.
As for me, it’s a pretty sad story. As much as I stormed (studyed my brain) at JC, I was only able to produce 4 distinctions on my A levels. I realized what a huge mistake I made by staying up until 2 or 3 am every day and falling asleep in class. It is not a good strategy. If only I had the opportunity to learn from these successful academics sooner.