The Beginning of STPM

This short essay was written around 3 months ago, in May. It existed in my phone and I should have posted it earlier, but better late than never.

Well, 3 months after I received my SPM results, I’m currently doing STPM in Malacca High School.

I had to face many questions, and I think they all boil down to these two, and so I am going to answer them here.

Why are you doing STPM instead of other pre-university courses?

I did not apply for matriculation and UPU. For matriculation, it is because that matriculation only allows you to enter certain local universities, so to me it would be like signing an agreement to do your degree in Malaysia, which is not I want. In fact I would not recommend anyone to go for matriculation unless you are aiming for a medical course. As for UPU, well it is just not what I want. How about A-Levels? As a matter of fact, I did seriously consider taking A-Levels before. However, after I received my SPM results, I did some thinking and decided that maybe I am not meant to go for A-Levels after all. I got 8A+ 2A, which means I missed the full scholarship for Sunway, but I am still eligible for full tuition fee at MCKL and TARC. The main deciding factor is because that I have decided that I am not going to the UK for my degree anymore. It is just too expensive and I prefer not to take scholarships because I do not want to be bonded. My first choice is now NUS. Which leads me to taking STPM, as according to my seniors and friends, NUS prefers STPM students over A-Levels.

Why are you at Malacca High School instead of Yok Bin?

First of all, it is not that I do not like Yok Bin. I think that it is time for me to change to an English/Malay environment. I also get the chance to meet new people as the form 6 community in high school is larger. In some ways, we have more freedom over what we can do at high school compared to Yok Bin.

So how is High School so far?

They have 6 science classes, 3 for physics and 3 for biology. They are Alpha, Delta, Epsilon, and Beta, Gamma, Zeta, respectively. I am in Alpha.

Somehow my class wants to elect me as monitor and I agree to be the “temporary” monitor. However after a few weeks it now seems that it is increasingly likely that I will be the permanent monitor after all.

Teachers are great. My physics teacher is the trainer of the national IPhO team, so that speaks for itself. My Chemistry and Maths T teacher are quite experienced too. And according to my cousin who just graduated from High School, my General Studies teacher is the best in Malacca. Maybe our class is lucky after all. Oh, and our MUET teacher, who is also our class teacher, is really affable. (However since we always go to Delta for MUET, our class teacher never enters our class.)

More stories on the way 🙂


A recent pic of (a subset of) Alpha and Beta, in late August


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!

Simple Ways to Make Money in College Without Capital


Oh well, you’re in college and you have some free time to spare. Your first thought on spending that free time would probably be to hang out with your buddies. However, that means you have to spend some money, right? (In most cases, yes) Now, why don’t you use that time to earn some money? Plus, it would a good experience for you too.

Without further ado, here are some of my thoughts on how to earn some money without any capital.

  1. Selling Reservations
    Come Saturday night, is there a restaurant around your college that is always full house and still has customers lining up outside to get seat? If there is such a restaurant, then you’re in luck! A business opportunity in this situation would be to reserve tables at that restaurant earlier beforehand, and sell your reservation at a reasonable price to those who would like to have dinner immediately.
  2. Pumping Bicycle Tyres (yes, literally)
    I’m sure that there are students who ride bicycles in almost every college to get around, be it during class or during their recreational time. Now, here’s the business opportunity you can take advantage of: Set up a bicycle station with a bicycle pump and air pressure meter. So, when someone passes by with a bicycle, you offer to check their tyre pressure for free. If its too low, you then help them to pump the tyre. After that, instead of charging a fixed fee, you can ask for donations. Usually people will be glad to give you something 😀
  3. Do A Presentation
    If your college is well known, I’m sure many students try their best to enter it. On the other hand, I’m sure companies want you, the graduates to work for them too. The business opportunity is to do a presentation for a company in class. It doesn’t have to be a long presentation, a short one will do. Just do the presentation in class like a normal presentation, and introduce your classmates to said company.

Well, that all the ideas I have for now! I’ll add more when I think of them. If you have a suggestion, feel free to leave a comment below 🙂

As a fellow student, I wish you all the best in your ventures!

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 😀

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 🙂

What It Takes to Become A Master


Skills are what define a master.

A good chef can not merely know how to cook. At the same time, he must also know how to appreciate food, in order to cook great food, don’t you agree?

I’m sure most of you have met a good teacher before. Besides knowing how to teach, he must had known how each student (including you) learns, in order to teach effectively, right?

This applies to every profession. We need to put ourselves in our audience’s shoes, to understand what they expect from us. Then, we should try our best to live up to their expectations.

Do you have the skills to become a master?

I Got Skills

A Walk In The Park


Sometimes, life is just too much. Too much confusion and deception. The hustle and bustle of city life can be overwhelming at times, and an escapade is required to regain ourselves.

An escapade? Yes, a visit to a sanctuary, where we relax our minds, and clear our meddled thoughts. When everything is albeit too much, I like to take a walk in the park.

The park is a special place to me, as it is where serenity can be found.

The breeze. It rustles the leaves, and soothes our skin gently.

The sun. It casts shadows on the ground that dance around playfully, and the rays of sunlight tingle our skin.

The birds. They chirp harmoniously, and hop around lively. Watching them is a simple pleasure itself.

All this teaches us to appreciate how beautiful nature is. No matter what hardship you’ve been through, I’m sure a walk in the park will be able to brighten up your day.

After a walk, with thoughts settled and mind calmed, I’m ready to venture out into the world again.


First Place In Class

I read an article in the paper today, and I found it quite interesting.

The gist of it is that parents put too much stress on their young children in academics. Well, at least that’s the case with the adults around me.

At a young age, children should allowed to enjoy their childhood. They should play, and learn things with their own inquisitiveness. Playing is quite an effective way of learning. Time flies, and before they know it, their childhood has passed by.

Unfortunately, children these days have to go to tuition classes, as young as the age of 7. This is really unnecessary. Let them study at their own pace, let them find their own rhythm. Each child is unique, and the most effective way to teach them may differ.

Personally, the most important thing in an exam is to do your best. If you have done that, you’ve succeeded. Success in the exam doesn’t mean topping the class.

Indeed, the first place isn’t something that matters a lot. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. If you have the ability to get it, why not?