Mirror Magazine

We did it our way
Sachie Fernando talks to the students who shone at the A/L exam held this year
It is the most exigent barrier to overcome and the most nerve-racking time in life. Facing the A/L examination is a challenge. It’s a defining moment in a student’s life.

What is the secret of doing well in this exam? How do the students who succeed prepare for the exam? How do they overcome the stress? And is this the very best way of deciding one’s talent? These were the questions we put to the students whose names were blinking at the top of the A/Level exam list.

Madushanka Dinesh Soysa (Richmond College) who came first in the physical science stream says, “This is the most competitive exam in the country; it decides one’s future.” This achievement seems to be something Madushanka was expecting, having won prizes for every subject while in school, since grade five.

Students like Gayani Malsha Perera (Visakha Vidyalaya), ranked as the Island first in the bioscience stream, one exceptional. “I never attended those big classes but I still managed to cover everything,” said Malsha. This is where most of the students go wrong and for the best students in the country, this is secret of success. What every one of these students believe in is ‘working hard by yourself’. “You should have most of the time for yourself,” said Malsha. The meaning of ‘studying’ is not dragging yourself at the table till two’o clock in the morning, collecting hordes of notes or attending a number of tuition classes. It’s about learning with the heart and dedicating yourself to what you’re doing.

“You should work with desire and an urge to do well,” stressed Madu-shanka. And the rest agreed. It’s a matter of believing in yourself and finding the best in you. The A/L examination in Sri Lanka is tough. Not just because of the competition but also as a result of the weight of the recommended syllabus and the complicated sums and theories to understand. To complete everything on time there is a rhythm to follow, which only a few manage to grasp.

Anushka Dirukshi (Kiribathgoda Vihara Maha Devi BV) who topped the Commerce stream said that she made daily short notes and charts for each section. This is another thing one must do, she says, keep up with daily schoolwork and complete homework everyday. Even as a senior prefect, she had coped with schoolwork and the extracurricular activities she engaged in.

“I followed the work from the beginning and at the end I had nothing much to cover just before the exam” she said. She also said that this made her more confident of herself. The students who pass the O/Level examination without much sweat tend to think the same thing may continue at the A/Level exam too. By the time they realise it is not the same it is too late to cover up everything they’ve missed. This is how the syllabus becomes tedious and studying becomes a burden. The secret: there is no ending to this process of studying, “the more we apply ourselves the better we become.”

The best tip the top students have for students is to attend school daily. They believe the finest place to be inspired is school. Although the A/Levels are about an individual, group studying helps. “I worked with my friends and we always held discussions,” says Mohamad Alavudin (Mannar Central College), the student who topped the Arts stream.

Time management is another area to focus on. “Dividing one’s time is essential,” said Indika Ganga Kumari (Sujatha BMV, Matara) who came second in the Island in the Bioscience stream. The students should be able to balance their daily activities with the homework.

The system is different in Sri Lanka. Passing the A/Level exam does not necessarily mean that you can enter University. That is why the examination creates the environment for cutthroat competition. This year out of the 199,937 students who sat for the exam 108,357 students have qualified for University entrance. This is a favourable increase when compared with last year’s statistics. But it is sad that every one of these students won’t get the chance of entering university.

Madushanka believes, “There is not much of a difference between students; we are all the same.” Luck also plays a part in the scheme of things, but it isn’t everything. “You can rely on yourself to some extent,” said Mohamad Alavudeen. There is no time to look back or wonder what to do next. Give it everything you’ve got! These guys did just that.


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