S’pore students achieve record A-level pass rate of 93.9%, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

S’pore students achieve record A-level pass rate of 93.9%

Ms Shannon Chong was having a mathematics class in Jurong Pioneer Junior College when her mother called and told her that her older sister had died.

“I didn’t have time to process my grief, because I was just in disbelief,” she said. Her sister Sherwin, 21, was one of three Singaporeans killed in a camper van crash in New Zealand in April 2023. They were all National University of Singapore undergraduates.

Following that devastating phone call, Ms Chong took a three-week-long break from school to help her distraught parents with administrative matters, including liaising with the authorities and managing her sister’s funeral arrangements. 

“I believed that this was the only thing I could do for my parents at that point in time to support and comfort them,” she said.

“All the administrative matters I had to handle, as well as preparing for my A levels, distracted me from confronting my feelings,” said Ms Chong, who was speaking to The Straits Times on Feb 23, ahead of collecting her A-level results.

The 18-year-old was one of 10,899 students who sat the A levels in 2023 and achieved a record passing rate.

The number of students who attained at least three H2 passes, with a pass in General Paper or Knowledge and Inquiry, was 10,238 – a 93.9 per cent pass rate, the Ministry of Education and the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board said in a statement on Feb 23.

This is the highest pass rate since 2006, and slightly better than the 93.4 per cent achieved in 2023.

Ms Chong received Bs for H2 economics and H2 computing, her favourite subjects.

“I feel happy and very satisfied with my results, seeing how I had made leaps and bounds in terms of improvement.”

During her absence from school, Ms Chong received the help of her teachers, who volunteered to conduct lessons for her over Zoom, and friends who offered to take notes for her.

Her teachers and friends also went to the funeral wake to check on her and her family. Her father is a taxi driver and mother is a housewife.

“I had a good support system around me, and my friends and I shared resources, so I felt confident going into the exams,” she said. “Even during the exam itself, I felt like I was not alone because I went through this journey with my friends.”

She hopes to pursue further studies related to computer science at Nanyang Technological University, after having found a love for the subject in JC.

Her sister had been her role model since she was young. “We were very close, and because she was four years older than me and experienced life before me, she taught me a lot of things,” said Ms Chong, who does not have any other siblings.

“When I miss my sister, I will take out my family photos and look at them,” she said, adding that she continues to use her sister’s things like her hair ties, and also wears her clothes sometimes.

Through this journey of coming to terms with her sister’s death while preparing for the A-level exams, Ms Chong has become more motivated to live life to the fullest, and to do everything that she can and wants to.

For her, this means spending quality time with her friends and family, and obtaining a stable job in the future. She dreams of becoming a computer scientist.

“I really do not want to have any regrets, because I realised death is very close to us, and you really never know,” she said.