ENTRY INTO NUS HIGH – BY TAN TAG HAN

This is a speech written by my student Tan Tag Han. It is about his personal achievement in gaining entry into NUS High via DSA.  I am greatly humbled by this speech because it is very inspiring. The message in this speech is that dreams can come true if you work hard to achieve it. Most importantly, one needs to believe in oneself.  Tag Han was a student in my Trinity College Communication Skills Grade 5 class.

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Have you ever achieved something that you feel really proud of?

I am sure many of you have. Everybody love achievements. They are hard to accomplish but  the feeling you get when you succeed is a really sweet taste.

One year ago, I was a primary 6 student, studying hard to achieve good grades in order to get into a good secondary school.  I was under a lot of stress; the grades I was going to get could determine my future and what type of education I would receive. I had my eyes on this school, NUS High. It was love at first sight, the moment I heard about this school – I knew it was meant for me. Its name “School of Mathematics and Science” suggested that it was strong in the areas of Math and science.

The only obstacle in my way was that I didn’t believe I had the ability to pass the entry test. Students all over Singapore flock  to take the entry test every year.

I have never thought for the whole of my life that I would gain entry to such a prestigious school. It was a dream to me.  I did not even know what to do.  Then what destroyed my confidence was that I didn’t do well in the Semester Assessment 1. I achieved low marks for the subjects and had very low morale. I did not understand why? I had studied so hard yet achieved so low marks. I was very sad and did not talk much for a few days. My teacher was curious to see the drastic change in behaviour and talked to me. One of them told me a phrase I would never ever forget: ‘failure is the mother of success’.

With sound advice from my parents and teachers, I decided to put all my effort in trying my best. I read secondary school textbooks in order to prepare myself.

I signed up for the NUS High Direct School Admission or DSA test without much confidence. I did not really understand the topics in the secondary school syllabus and spent more time studying it.  I had to sacrifice time for homework to study for the test. I was really in a dilemma. Eating times became studying time and I ended up not doing my homework at all at home. I rushed through homework during other lessons in school. But for some miraculous reason, I managed to complete  my homework in time.

My parents searched the internet for ways to help me gain  confidence and learn how to succeed in DSA interviews. They chanced upon a training centre called J Carter centre for Public Speaking.

I signed up for DSA interview coaching sessions. The teacher was very friendly and my first impression was that she was very professional. She spoke with a warm smile and encouraged me to study harder.  Her name was Ms. Jackeline and she inspired me to become more of a confident speaker. After a few sessions, I knew exactly how to talk better and I thought it was really worth it attending her lessons. I went for the DSA test with a lot of confidence. I told myself, “I will not let myself down. I came here to achieve something; I’m not going to leave empty handed.”

After what seemed like years of waiting, I received the invitation to the second stage of the DSA process.

During one of my sessions with Ms. Jackeline, she taught me some motivation quotes. One advice she said was “Situation + Action = Result”. For example, if you meet with a tough situation, you have to change your reaction to it and hence change the result. Thus there was no such thing as ‘impossible’ or ‘cannot be achieved’.  This advice inspired me and I learned a lot from it. I just had to change my actions and thinking. That was what I had to do in order to achieve a wonderful result.

During all the  testing and the interviews, these words and advice went through my mind. In the end I was accepted into NUS High because Ms. Jackeline helped me to believe in myself.

Nothing is impossible! If you wish to achieve something, just do it. You don’t let your dreams stay as dreams. Some people dream of success, when they should actually wake up and try for success. If you’re tired of redoing or starting over, stop giving up and put in your very best. You just have to help yourself up. If you fail, it’s okay. Everybody fails in something, but I’m sure if you really wish to achieve something, just put in a lot of effort, you will succeed.

Luck is one thing, hard work is another, but the attitude is really what’s important. 

A bad attitude is like a flat tire, you can’t go anywhere till you change it. You have to have a good attitude to achieve something. Once you change your attitude to a better one, I’m sure you will start achieving a lot of things.

Thank you for listening to my speech

Tan Tag Han, Secondary 1, NUS High School of Math and Science

Copyright J Carter Centre for Public Speaking PL, 28/12/2015. Please do not reprint this speech without permission.

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