Hi everyone, my name is Sonia. I have been in the teaching industry for almost 7 years now and I continue to be truly inspired by my students. I am proud of how they have become true dream-makers and how they make the impossible, possible. I hope one day I can share with you their stories.

But first, here’s mine. If you’re interested to know how a Normal Academic student managed to become one of the top students in the O level examinations in her secondary school, graduated with the second-highest GPA of her cohort in Polytechnic, entered her dream course AT the National University of Singapore, graduating with Honours with distinction, to become one of the youngest head tutors in Singapore, then please continue reading.

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Coming from a Normal Academic Stream in secondary school, I was disregarded and frowned upon by relatives, teachers and peers. This negative stigma associated with the Normal Academic stream greatly affected my self-confidence for a long time, turning me into a rebellious teenager who in turn disregarded her studies. Looking back, I am of the firm opinion that a good teacher must advocate not just academic excellence, but holistic personal and character development. Allow me to share my educational journey below.

Recalling back, a major turning point for me was when I tuned in to a series of documentaries one day on the television after school, which sparked in me a newfound passion in Environment, Human and Animal Rights. It was then that it dawned on me, the problems I faced were merely trivial and that many people out there going through much more. It would instead be more worthwhile dedicating my time and effort into creating change. Positive changes in Society, its values and ecosystem. At 16 years old, I set my heart on pursuing my dream course —The Environmental Studies Degree Program at the National University of Singapore. The course only admitted an ‘elite class’ of students, with a minimum cut off score of 3.81 out of 4. This meant I would have to score well in my N and O levels and excel in a related polytechnic course. My best bet was to concentrate on getting as many A’s as I could in my subjects.

With only a few months left to my N level examinations, I remember sleepless nights burning the midnight oil and pushing myself harder than I ever did before. I knew then my efforts were not in vain as it started to show in my results. That year I scored above 85% for all of my Additional and Elementary mathematics examinations, and eventually emerged with the highest results in my cohort for the N level examinations. The success I had with my N level examinations spurred me on further. The following year, I emerged as one of the top students for the O level examinations in Woodlands Ring Secondary School.

Knowing that I only had a few months to my N levels, I focused on my foundation (algebra), and instead of memorising the formulas, I understood them. Many may think that I’m naturally good at math. That is absolutely not true. It’s just that I don’t see mathematics as a subject, I see it as a skill. Thus, I did not study the subject, I master it.

MATHEMATICS IS NOT A SUBJECT, IT IS A SKILL.

With a better grounding in my foundation, I began to understand concepts at a faster pace and developing the ability to better solve a wide range of questions. This has ultimately been my secret to achieving distinctions in my ‘N‘ and ‘O‘ level examinations, and thereafter in every other examination taken in Polytechnic and University.

Transforming my experiences into the “FLAME Method

Throughout my education in Polytechnic and University, I developed a sense of accomplishment from my own achievements, but derived an even greater joy in the academic journey and progress my peers made as I helped them out along the way using this same method. Over the last 4 years, I have continued to improve the “Flame Method” so that students who once failed mathematics like myself could finally master the subject and achieve their desired results.

It was through the support and encouragement of my friends, family, and most importantly, my students that I set up The Sequoia Vision with a vision to help many more that struggle the same way I once did, with the hopes that they can have the guidance I wish I had.