Studies

How can I still be a good student if I’ve messed up my exams?

Samuel Wan // June 25, 2020, 6:05 pm

Chinese exam paper

For those unaware of this 杯 (cup) or 海 (ocean) business, you should consider yourself blessed as one who isn’t part of the graduating batch of 2020.

The O-Level Chinese mid-year exam was a terrible one for me. In what felt like the hardest paper of the decade, it was filled with tricky questions that possibly killed off the hopes and dreams of many students who were planning on including Chinese in their L1R5 (the O-Level grading system).

Prior to the exam, I had all my hopes up for an easy paper like in the past years. At the same time, I had entrusted my near future to Jesus.

How could they have set such a difficult paper?

I entered the exam room hopeful, only to leave shocked at how I had messed up the first paper. I could only pray for a better second paper. 

However, that day I left the exam hall yet again shocked and mildly upset. How could they have set such a difficult paper? It was incredibly difficult, far more than anything else I had ever done during my preparation.

As I reminded myself to trust in God and the plan He had for me, these thoughts below came to mind. I felt that they would be helpful for students just like me, so allow me to share them.

3 QUESTIONS TO ENCOURAGE THOSE TAKING EXAMS

1. What if “good results” does not necessarily mean “safe and secure”?

It’s easy to say: “Lord, I trust You with my future. Your plans are far better than mine.” It’s harder to actually trust Him with your future.

It’s another thing to know what surrender really means. If God’s plan for me included going to a school that I would never have wanted to enroll in, would I still trust in Him?

Yet the truth is this: In God’s hands, your future is safe and secure. It is safe and secure – but not necessarily as the world would define it.

Grades don’t define your future

To this world, “safe and secure” means scoring stellar grades, working a high salary job and living stably with a lot of money to spare.

But “safe and secure” in God’s eyes does not necessarily mean this. His plan for me may not need to include me having good results.

While this is true, it is important that we don’t take this as an excuse to stop working hard and putting in the best effort we can in everything we do.

God has still called us to be students in this season, and that means we ought to work with excellence unto His glory.

2. Whose approval are you looking for?

We often hear that we should seek God’s validation and not the validation of our friends or parents.

While many would nod at that sentiment, again, it is another thing to actually seek only God’s validation. How many of us can truly say that of our studies?

The truth about Singaporean culture is that expectations are usually high. Satisfaction is commonly found where academic results, grades and goals are being met and exceeded.

Satisfaction is found when our parents or friends are impressed and happy with our results, when they approve of them.

Study and work in a way that God would approve.

But whose validation or approval are we supposed to be looking for? Sounds cold, but it’s not your parents or your friends. It’s Jesus. We ought to seek approval and validation from Him first!

So know that God doesn’t need top-of-the-class results from you. Instead He wants your trust, faith and love.

And, again, don’t use this as an excuse to not study. Instead, study and work in a way that God would approve.

3. Are you studying with God?

You might have heard of this concept. But what does it actually mean to study with God?

Before we get to that, God isn’t some faraway being, as you might’ve heard. He is our Father and we are His children. And like any good father on this planet, He wants to help you with your journey as a student.

God cares more about your studies than you do. He is omnipotent and in control. There is no shadow He can’t light up, no mountain He can’t move, and certainly no integration question He cannot help you solve.

It’s not about praying for the magical ability to solve every physics question ever. You still need to work.

But what about praying before you start the day? It can be as simple as: “Dear Lord, would You be with me as I study now, would you bless my productivity and would You just be here in this place.”

A letter to you, the student overwhelmed by life

God wants to help you with your day-to-day studies, like your productivity. But you have to put in your part.

Excellence means putting your best effort in everything you do – even if it’s just a 2-mark question!

Ultimately, I pray that what I’ve shared would have helped you in one way or another.

And I also pray that all of us who are graduating this year will be able to sincerely and wholehearted trust Him with our future.

THINK + TALK

  1. What does trusting in God look like in the Bible?
  2. What might it look like in your life right now?
  3. Know someone who’s taking an examination right now? Reach out to encourage him or her this week.