Reflection 01 – Fallen Angel in Emath

Reflection 01 – Fallen Angel in Emath


I was walking towards the carpark on 25 July 2021. The weather was drizzling with the cool wind flicked at my bare arms. Not far ahead stood a tall young man in his early twenties calling out to me, “Hey Mr Lim! Long time no see!”

It was a pleasant surprise to see my former student, Harris (not his real name). He is now an undergraduate in NUS, studying IT-finance related course. I hurried to him after a warm greeting and both of us continued our path to the market, chattering enthusiastically.

I remembered that his sister, Karra (not her real name), was also attending the O level E Math tuition class at the tuition centre two years ago. Out of concern, I asked Harris how she was doing in the poly. To my astonishment, he told me that she could not enrol into the poly because she failed her E Math in the O level. As she did not meet the minimum requirement, she was not offered a placing in the diploma course for nursing.

I took a long pause, reeling from the unexpected reply. Oblivious to the sudden silence, Harris added on, “she is going to retake her O level Emath exam as a private candidate next year. She has been studying on her own and I can see that she is more confident in her E Math now.”

I mustered a smile, relieved that she found strength in her setback. She was determined to realise her goal of pursuing the diploma in nursing. I replied with a nod in support,” She definitely can make it into the poly with the hardwork and effort she is putting in now.”

We continued our talk with more updates of our latest happenings. A chanced but enjoyable encounter brightened up our afternoon. We parted ways at the market, bidding each other farewell. Not forgetting, I sincerely wish both Harris and Karra success in their education.


I remember that when Karra started her Normal Academic Math tuition in Sec 1, her performance was above average. She was in fact offered Sec2 Express Math the following year. However, the express syllabus proved to be a challenge for her. She struggled in Sec2 and Sec3 with the express syllabus though she passed. We highlighted the problems to her parents and recommended the Math focus program to address the difficulties she faced. Unfortunately, we were not given the green light to do so.

In Sec4, Karra’s performance deteriorated sharply. We could sense an imminent risk in her O level that her E Math would be a major stumbling block to her education beyond the O level. We expressed our worries consistently to the parents, Harris and even Karra herself, throughout the months in Sec 4, trying our very best to provide the critical help with the Math focus or Math intensive program that she greatly needed. However, time and time again, they were not inclined to the arrangements.

Not to be outdone by the rejections, we even shared with Karra to engage a private tutor to clarify all her doubts as much as possible. She mentioned that she would do so and we eventually breathed a sigh of relief after hearing the assurance from her.

My thoughts

Having rejected from your choice course in poly or JC because of a disappointing E Math score is the last that any student or parents wish to see. That crushes the efforts that students put on other subjects and dashes their dreams and hopes of making their mark in their favourite course after the O level.

E Math is a subject that plays huge significance in the application criteria for poly and JC admission. This is a subject that the students can score regardless of their past results, only with the right help provided.

Right help does not necessarily entail lots of self revision by the student especially if they have a history of poor results in Math from Sec1 to Sec3. What turns their grades around is the guided learning that will effectively right their wrong approach in solving Math which they develop over the years.

Be positive of the help that is offered to the student. Be willing to go the extra mile in Sec4 for the core subjects with professional help if the parents can afford. The effects are more significant and reflective in the O level results.

If the students never try to accept help, chances to improve will slip by. Grab these chances and give the students the support and resources they need to pull through the O level without regrets.

Contact me now if you are worried for your child’s O level and whether he or she is on the right track. I will share with you more insights about your child’s situation and how it will impact his or her course of study beyond the O level.

Written by
Eric Lim
Chief Educator
Einstein Education Hub