Another MUET Band 6 Essay

This may be my highest score yet for extended writing.

It is always beneficial to know other languages. Discuss.


MUET Band 6 Essay

Here’s my essay for my MUET trials. According to my teacher, it is a Band 6 essay.

I lost my question paper, but the question is something as below.

Credit cards can bring a lot of hardship to the user. Discuss.

Good Academic Achievements are Essential for A Student

Sean Gee Zhing 5Sc1 余靖

“We cannot prepare the future for our youth, but we can prepare our youth for the future.” Those are the wise words of Franklin Roosevelt, former U.S. president, which imply that a youth needs to be well-prepared for the future. In this ever-changing world where everyone strives to achieve their definition of preordained success, I do believe that good academic achievement is vital for students. As youths who cannot escape from the reality of entering society, good academic qualifications are a component that cannot be compromised for students’ future success.

In modern times, regardless whether you are in an interview for a scholarship or applying for a job, the first question interviewers usually ask is: “What do you do?” In other words, the interviewers first look at your academic achievements. Indeed, no biodata or curriculum vitae is complete without academic achievements. This clearly emphasises the importance of academic achievements in a student’s quest for future success. In reality, it is an unannounced rule in society that a man’s acquisition of academic achievement is a great leap towards any opportunity that life can offer.

From another perspective, having good academic achievement ensures that the student has mastered the basics of learning. By having a firm grounding in subjects such as the languages and the sciences, a student will have sharpened and refined his skills in communicating, calculating and innovating. All these are essential skills that are instrumental for achieving success in modern times. They will help to pave future roads for the student, ensuring a smooth and safe journey.

On the other hand, there might be some people who claim that there exist famous figures such as Bill Gates who have managed to achieve massive success, despite being a college dropout and having a lack of academic achievements. However, how many people are there like Bill Gates? Does the fact that Bill Gates is able to achieve success without academic achievements imply that we do not need to focus on our studies? Definitely not. A few exceptions cannot be made into a general rule. As for the people who are like Bill Gates, if we look through a global directory of successful people, we might find around 100 of them. However, what about the millions of professionals such as lawyers, doctors, engineers, architects, scientists, mathematicians and teachers that rely on academic achievements to be successful? Could we run a country without them? An even more interesting question to ask would be: “Could people like Bill Gates even be successful without them?” No man is an island.

Imagine that you have spent more than 10 years in school, and several more years of your precious life in college. You have been working hard all these years, striving to achieve your best in academics. Then, suddenly, one fine morning, someone walks along and tells you that good academic achievement is actually not important at all for success in life. When asked for proof, he replies “Bill Gates”. Actually, that is not the case! If success is defined as starting a business from scratch and making billions of dollars, then only a handful of people would be successful today. Success is truly about being able to make the best out of your talents and abilities, and studying is required to do that. In order to do so, you will need to study to stretch your mind intellectually.

Frankly speaking, good academic achievement alone is not enough to guarantee success. In spite of that, it does indicate that the student has the potential and caliber to be successful. Imagine a new world order in studying where students do not have to sit for any examinations, and they apply for jobs when they are still studying. If you were the employer, how would you determine which student is more prospective? Is it not hard to decide? That is why we need good academic achievements. A student who has good academic achievements has surely mastered a great deal of specialist knowledge and has also been through hard times. As such, this student must be someone who is hard-working, determined, responsible, and mentally strong. These are all valuable attitudes that can lead to success in any future endeavours. In fact, just being in a top college like Harvard or Cambridge will indicate that you are an outstanding student.

In a nutshell, good academic achievement is indeed important for students as it is usually accompanied by a wealth of benefits. If a student is brilliant academically, wonderful opportunities are not far away and will soon present themselves to him. Besides, good academic achievement signals a good education, and the possessor will surely be able to succeed in any endeavour he chooses to partake. As George Washington once said, education is the key to open the golden door of freedom and success.

IMO Diary 2016 Entry 4, 17 – 19 June

I arrive at the dorm to find Ivan, Zi Song and Li Xuan waiting in one of our rooms. I had the other key, so they couldn’t enter the room with air con yet. I had agreed to switch rooms with Zi Song as I was not feeling well.

So, in the few hours before dinner, I took out my pencil and paper to write out my solutions to the mock tests. (I had been sick for the whole week so I didn’t have time to write them during the weekdays).

Soon, we are at dinner. We have a table for ourselves(!) and Ivan decided to play the piano before dinner.


Navi at the piano

The menu for dinner is relatively good. Even Ivan liked it too. He said it was the first time he completely finished a piece of chicken in PermataPintar.

Shortly thereafter, we headed to class… and there was a marker on the table. Apparently Ivan is so excited to see it and he uncapped it and used it to write on the glassboard. He didn’t realise it was a paint marker.



After that, we settled down and waited for Mr Zafree to come. However, Mdm Sakinah soon came to inform us that Mr Zafree couldn’t make it and we had to conduct the session ourselves. Hence, Ivan suggested that we continue to finish the shortlist that we were working on last week. Meanwhile, I proceeded to print out the solutions for the mock tests that Mr Zafree had emailed to us. Around 2200, I decide to retire for the night and sleep early as my condition is not getting any better.

I wake up around 0700 the next day. After making sure everyone is ready, we head to the dining hall together. To our surprise, there is cereal and milk! (We used to have cereal for breakfast during the preliminary camps but it went extinct after that.) After breakfast, we headed to the classroom to take our mock test.

Fast forward and we are in the dining hall. There is still an exclusive table for us, and the cereal from morning is still there. The chicken was really good and we finished it.

Over the course of our lunch, we put some cereal into Ivan’s drink. We put one piece of cereal in his drink and challenged him to gulp down the cereal in one sip. Of course, it was trivial for Ivan. So we added another piece of cereal. And another… and another…


Glass full of cereals

After lunch, we headed back to class and spammed ISL. In the evening, we came back to our dorm. Some of us feel albeit hungry so we decided to order pizza. Again, we tried to create an account online so we could get free juice with the promotion, but alas PermataPintar has no address. In the end we gave up and resorted to the traditional way of ordering through the phone. Needless to say, when the pizza arrived, it didn’t last very long.

I then went to bathe and we headed to the dining hall. After a quick dinner we went back to class. During the night session, Mr Zafree discussed with us on the mock test we took in the morning. Mdm Sakinah joined us too. Around 2130, supper came and it was something that was new to us.


Noodles and sandwiches

It tasted quite good! Apparently it is too bland for Ivan so he decided to add some chilli flakes he’d saved from the evening’s pizza. 3 whole packets of chilli flakes.


Chilli x 3

After supper, we then headed back to the dorms to rest.

The next morning, we woke up as usual around 0700 and had breakfast. I had cereal and so did the others. After that, we went to the class to take our mock test. After the mock test, lunch was delivered to us in neat small boxes. There was fried rice, fried chicken and potato wedges. However, even though there was only 5 of us, there was 10 boxes. Hence, Mdm Sakinah said we could take more than one if we wanted to.

After that, we parted ways again. The final camp is just five days away.

IMO Diary 2016 Entry 3, 10 -12 June

As usual, I arrive at PermataPintar around 1600. Ivan, Zi Song and Li Xuan were already here. Upon opening my room’s door, I realise that our bedsheets are missing. So, my first thought is to ask Ivan where are our bedsheets, as Zi Song and Li Xuan have theirs. Ivan said he had no idea and the others also knew no better.

So, I walk back to the front office and ask for bedsheets. Surprisingly, the staff told me that they had given Zi Song all four bedsheets. Perplexed, I walk back to the dorm to question them. Apparently they kept saying no and asked Ivan and I to look around for it. Well, we eventually found it at the top of the wardrobe in their room (it was quite dusty). After cleaning and putting on the bedsheets, we then proceeded to do some math. In the meantime, Zi Song watched Google Codejam Finals (he’s going to IOI too!) and Li Xuan was watching badminton trolls.

Soon, it was dinner time and we headed to the dinner hall. It seemed as if all the staff there were having a feast, as it was Friday night and they had fasted since morning. There was even a live grill outside the hall! However, when we took our seats, most of the food had already been taken. The mushroom soup pot was empty till we could see the bottom. Nevertheless, we had to make do with what we had and enjoyed some simple dinner.

After that, we headed on to class. The class venue for this week is different from last week’s and we spent quite some time finding it. It was only after detouring back to the dinner hall to enquire Mdm Sakinah that we managed to find it. (Actually one of us had found it earlier, but he didn’t check both doors for the IMO sign) We settled down in class and waited for our trainers to come. There was a snake and ladders board pasted on the wall, and we were quite fascinated about it. Zi Song, Ivan and Li Xuan tried to deduce the minimal number of moves required to win.

After a while, Mr Iqbal and Mr Zafree arrived. Mr Zafree gave out the solutions to the mock tests during the week and suggested that we do some peer review. So, we passed our solutions around, checking for any grey areas or mistakes that we may have missed. After the peer review session, we proceeded to work on some problems. Around 2200, we had supper and retired to our dorms to rest. Before leaving, Zi Song scribbled some code on the whiteboard (I think glassboard would be a better term imho) as decoration for “test 7 0800-1230”


Zi Song what is this?


It’s 0700 and we just woke up. After coming back from the toilet, the air conditioner in our room apparently decided to start working! We had left the power switch on for the aircon as the dorm had cut electricity supply for the aircons. Well, it was a pleasant surprise. After that, we made haste to the dining hall, not wanting to be late for our mock test. Breakfast was simple as usual. 4 and a half hours later, we are again on the way to the dining hall, while discussing problems at the same time. Ivan and Zi Song didn’t like the lunch very much and resorted to eating cookies they had brought. Needless to say, the cookies quickly ran out. I then tried to play the piano while referring to YouTube tutorials. It was a fruitless attempt haha

In the afternoon session, Ivan came up with the idea of choosing one year’s ISL and spending the whole day on solving the problems. We randomly chose 2008. To our surprise, Ivan could write out the shortlist index on the whiteboard without having to refer anything. (Well, you can see how well he knows the ISLs) I started working on Combinatorics while Ivan and Zi Song did N6. Apparently they came to the conclusion that N6 is a troll. On the other hand, it took me around 1+ hour to solve C1. Oh well, there goes our afternoon session.

During the evening, we all gathered in my room as there was aircon. The other room’s aircon had power too, but alas there was no remote. Water droplets formed outside the window above our door so you could tell that it was really cold. After watching some short summaries of movies on YouTube, we decided to order some pizza. We found out that there was a promotion going on that would entitle us to get a free drink if we ordered online, and the deal made us all hyped up. We soon discovered that the free drink was only 350ml and so we decided to forget about it and resort to ordering as usual through phone.

Pizza came around 30 minutes later, but it didn’t survive in our room for more than 10 minutes if I remember correctly. Ivan then took a nap while Zi Song and Li Xuan continued to watch YouTube. Around 1920, we headed to the dining hall. Mdm Sakinah and Hanissa were already there having dinner when we arrived, so we shared a table with them.

During the night session, we continued our work on the 2008 ISL. I worked on C2 and finished it around an hour later. I then sat beside Ivan and watched how he instakills the geometry shortlist, not forgetting to ask him to guide me at the same time. (Thanks Ivan!) We kept discussing and doing problems until 2200.

After that, we proceeded to play Spyfall. It’s an interesting game in which we have to work as a team to investigate and find out who is the spy among us. We had lots of fun and it was around the stroke of midnight that we decided to go back to our dorms and sleep.

Time flies, and daylight soon fills our room. As usual, we get ready and go to the dining hall. After a short breakfast, we then proceed to the classroom, to face another mock test. Somehow the aircon felt exceptionally cold on that morning. It didn’t help much in my thinking haha

At 1230, Mr Zafree announces the end of the mock test and it is soon time to part ways. Mdm Sakinah had brought lunch for us, conveniently packed in containers and plastic bags.


Pasta is always tasty 😀


And while all the Permata students check back into PermataPintar, we’re all on our way home!

IMO Diary 2016 Entry 2, 3 -5 June

It has been one month since the team last gathered and today we meet again. The camp this weekend will be the first of 3 weekend camps.

We arrived at PermataPintar around 1600 and proceeded to discuss some problems. Ivan was my roommate while Zi Song, Li Xuan, and Kin Aun were in the other room. However, Kin Aun would not be joining us for the first 2 weekend camps.

As dinner was one or two hours away, we had some discussion to pass the time. Ivan used GeoGebra to explain some common geometrical configurations to us. It became quite complex after awhile.

Anyway, it was soon dinner time, and we headed to the canteen. Hanissa met up with us there. We settled down to some simple dinner. PermataPintar was a having a holiday camp and so other students had dinner in the same hall as us. Apparently there was someone playing the piano quite fluently, articulating the emotions vividly. We then asked Ivan to play a song or two but he politely refused.

We made our way to class after that. After some 5 minutes of searching, we found it. Mr. Loke arrived shortly thereafter, and proceeded to discuss with us on how we should prepare for the following month. Mr Zafree and Mdm Sakinah were also present that night. We were given the solutions to our daily tests we took at home during the week. After some short discussion, we all retired for the night.

As usual, I did not wake up so early. After changing, we headed to the canteen for breakfast. It was around 0750 when we finished breakfast and we headed to class as we had nothing to do at the canteen anyways. The mock test was supposed to start at 0830 but Zafree let us take it at 800 as we were there.

Okay, fast forward 270 minutes and we on our way to lunch. The food was not much to Ivan and Zi Song’s liking so they didn’t eat much. On Ivan’s suggestion, we headed back to class, to spam FE’s.

Well, time flies and it is soon 1430, which marks the start of our afternoon session. Mr Suhaimi arrived around that time, and proceeded to talk to us about action plans for the following one month. Mr Iqbal and Mdm Sakinah were also present. He mainly focused on two points. The first being about the psychological part. He said that each and every one of us needed to find our own method to calm ourselves down. I do agree with this as at the IMO, the pressure really can kill. It is just different. The other point being about the math preparations. In conclusion, we had to 1) sharpen individual skills with Problem Solving Strategies by A. Engel, 2) work on the ISLs, and 3) work on the mock tests and discuss the solutions to understand the motivation behind them. It was quite a long session but we were all ears. The session ended at 1730.

We then proceeded to play badminton. Alas, the badminton court was occupied so we had no choice but to go to the car park to play. Hopefully next time it will be available for us to use. One hour of messing around with freestyle badminton later (there was no net, no court lines whatsoever), we decided to return the racquets and bathe.

After bathing, we went to dinner. Well, I went by myself actually. Ivan had disappeared and so had Zi Song and Li Xuan. Dinner was curry chicken and white rice. It was one of the better menus we could get at PermataPintar and it was tasty. So, I had 3 servings. Which turned out to be quite stupid later. Halfway through dinner, Ivan magically appeared and went to play the piano. He later then joined me for dinner. Like me, he also found dinner tasty. Well, we then headed back to class…

just to find that Mdm Sakinah, Mr Iqbal and Mr Zafree were having pizza and they had ordered our share too. So, we had pizza while doing problems. Pizza and geometry probably sums up our Saturday night session.

The next morning, we woke up and had breakfast as usual, before proceeding to take the scheduled mock test. As the test was nearing its end, Mdm Sakinah walked in with KFC. What a generous person she is! After the test, we enjoyed lunch and parted ways. We did not need to check out as we would be using the same rooms for the following camps.

So, it’s another week of exploring math problems till we meet again!

*note to self: I need to remember to take pictures next camp 😀

IMO Diary 2016 Entry 1, 6 May


After the recent announcement of the Malaysian IMO team, today marks the first day the 2016 team gathers together.

Today’s event is ExxonMobil’s annual contribution to STEM initiatives, i.e. the IMO program and the NSC program. The event was held at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, which is within walking distance from KLCC.

We all came on our own. Kin Aun came from Sunway college, Ivan arrived by plane from Penang yesterday, Zi Song came from UTAR (he’s currently at an IOI camp), Hanissa came from home and so did Li Xuan, whereas I came by bus from Malacca.

Hanissa was the first to arrive at the Mandarin Oriental, while Kin Aun, Zi Song, Ivan and I on the other hand were at Suria KLCC having lunch. Hanissa later on joined us. After lunch, we put on our suits, and made our way to the hotel.

Hanissa was our guide, and we took the underground pathway from Suria KLCC directly to the hotel.

The hotel was quite grand indeed. Once inside, we made our way to the Topaz room where the function was held. Surprisingly, we were asked to changed into t-shirts provided by ExxonMobil (but wasn’t the dress code formal?). We only managed to take a few photos before the organisers asked us to change into their T-shirts with ‘ExxonMobil’ and the IMO 2016 logo printed on it, as the ceremony was starting soon. Ah, there goes our chance of taking badass photos. Interestingly, the T-shirt had the hashtag BeAnEngineer on it.

Around 1430 we were seated and the other guests started arriving. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd runner up teams of the 2015 NSC were present too as they were invited to a Sakura Science Exchange Program in Japan. (Fun fact: a member of last year’s NSC champion team, Tan Bing Chieh, was also a finalist in the IMO selection process). Dr Sakinah, Mr Suhaimi and Mr Iqbal were there too, along with some of our trainers such as Mr Tan and Mr Loke. This year, Mr Suhaimi will not be our leader, instead Mr Iqbal will be leading us.

The ceremony started after the arrival of the deputy minister of MOSTI. Following the opening remarks by the emcee, the executive officer of ExxonMobil Malaysia, Mr See Kok Yew, gave a speech. He mainly touched on the economy gravitating towards a knowledge based economy instead of the old resource based economy. The deputy minister of MOSTI gave a speech after that. He talked about how innovation is vital to the national economy and we should nurture young students to become innovators.

After that came the mock cheque presentation session. Dr Noriah, the director of PermataPintar received the mock cheque for the IMO program from Mr See Kok Yew.

A photography session ensued, where the six of us were on stage with the deputy minister of MOSTI and we had a banner!

The end of the photography session marked the end of the function, and high-tea was served.

There was a plethora of choices to choose from, ranging from delectable desserts to fulfilling small bites. The waiter’s service was good too. And.. There were lots of cutleries.

At the table, Mr Suhaimi gave us a short briefing on the following IMO program schedule. It was soon time to leave. I had to make a move first as I had to catch the bus back to Malacca at BTS that was leaving at 1815.

Although being selected to the IMO is fun, a certain responsibility comes along with that privilege. There is not much time to celebrate now. It is around 2 more months to IMO, and we have to start our preparations without further ado.

And so our journey begins.

Why Me?

“Why me?” you curiously ask
Answering that is no easy task

Naive and cute, as you are always
You never fail to make my heart sway

Even if the blue skies all turn grey
Enjoying your smile would make my day 🙂