Community & Service 17 Jul 2020

From "C" to "A": Aman M (Class of 2018)'s success story

By CIS Communications
Photograph by CIS Communications

How does a student reach their highest academic potential? That is the question that Aman M (Class of 2018) answered in his book "Start winning in school". In his book, he revealed how he built up his academic potential over one summer vacation without any tuition. What inspired Aman to write a book about his experiences and what brought about his dramatic change? We catch up with the inspiring young man to find out more. 

Tell us a little about yourself. What did you do after you graduated from CIS?
As I’m a permanent resident, I enlisted in the Singapore military in October 2018. I finish my service in August and will be going to UCLA.

How did you increase your predicted grade from a 34 to 44?
First, I eliminated all distractions. I quit video games, and avoided watching movies and YouTube. This gave me more time for studying - I studied 10 hours every day (5 subjects x 2 hours each) during the summer before grade 12. I read my textbooks and took notes, watched videos on the subject for a better understanding, and reflected on my past exam papers to find out how I could improve. But instead of just studying to prepare for my exams, I chose to focus on learning the material in depth. This period taught me how much I can achieve if I didn't waste time. I started studying after every school day too (4 subjects x 40 minutes each). In short, I changed my attitude and created success habits that allowed me to work more efficiently and thoroughly. Nevertheless, I still think I have a lot to learn and more to achieve.   

Who are the people at CIS who inspired or helped you the most?
My math teacher, Mr. Wood, inspired me to reach my potential. I made silly errors, didn’t read questions properly, and produced messy work. He implored me to put in more effort because he knew I wasn’t proud of myself. I finally did, and I can never forget the day he came to my Spanish class after marking my test to congratulate me.

What were some challenges you encountered and how did you overcome them with the help of your teachers? 
My English Oral Assessment grade was quite low. We’re allowed to do two Further Oral Assessments (FOA) over the two years of IB (International Baccalaureate), so I had to achieve a perfect or near-perfect score on my second one to bump my Oral Assessment grade to a 7. 

My English teacher, Ms Ray, supported me through the process of crafting an insightful FOA. Having done poorly on the previous one, I reflected on my weaknesses and decided to address it by asking numerous questions after class and via emails. Ms Ray, like all teachers, has a wealth of knowledge and she was always happy to share with those who ask for her help. Thanks to her guidance, I was able to adopt a more critical approach to the text I was analysing. In the end, I managed to score a 7 - just one mark off the perfect score. 

Why did you choose to publish a book about your experience?
I wrote the book because it’s a resource I wish I had when I was in high school. I hope it inspires students to achieve what they never thought was possible for them.

What advice would you give juniors as they graduate into a world that is no longer the same due to the pandemic?
This challenging new world is an opportunity to strive against our impatience. We’re privileged with lives of convenience and ease. It’s when we give up these things—when we change our way of life from indulging in leisure to solving problems— that we can achieve our goals. It’s an arduous journey, but it’s fulfilling and worth it.

Aman’s book is now available on Amazon.

Note: These photos were taken pre-COVID, when masks and social distancing were not required.