How I raised myself to an A for Statistics from a C at Math

During my time in the Junior College, I was convinced that I would suck at math forever. I had to practice much harder and more frequently than everyone else. For my A Levels maths, I was expecting to achieve at least a B for my efforts. It was the only subject that I forced myself to take tuition on, and I worked at it harder than any other subjects. Alas, I got a C. This made me conclude that there will always be some people who are doomed to bomb at math, and I was one of them.

Sounds familiar to you?

Fast-forward 2.5 years later, I joined Nanyang Business School. Every student is required to take a module called statistics, which is the cause of despair and sorrow for many students in the faculty. After taking some advice from seniors and the books that I have read, along with putting in a consistent amount of effort throughout the semester rather than working myself to death, I managed to score an A for Statistics! Somehow, I proved myself wrong. There is a way to score for such a complicated subject after all!

While this post is dedicated specially for my current and future juniors from NBS, this post is really for any student who believes that they are unable to score for any particular module. Here is some of the advice that I have used so far:

1) Download the examination papers and work on them ASAP.


Screw learning. For those who hate math, leave the “explore your mind” and “expanding your horizon” for other modules such as marketing. For such detestable subjects, just focus on what can help you score, period. Once you learn a certain topic(s) and finish the tutorials with the tutor, look through past examination papers to gauge the level of difficulty of the questions. I finished the examination papers for the relevant topics even before taking the quizzes. This was to ensure I would possess a strong foundation of knowledge and information to tackle my questions.

For slow learners like me, what I suggest is to look at the answers first, and then try to understand how the concepts work. While some tutors/students might discourage this technique, it allowed me to understand the concepts much clearer than the lectures have ever did, for Statistics at least. Just ask your seniors. It might be tempting to merely look at the solutions, memorize them, and recall the answers when you practice the question again and/or is faced with a similar question during the finals. Don’t do that. Instead, use it as a tool to fully understand the concepts.

2) Ask for help.

Of course, it is almost impossible to figure out the concepts behind the solutions alone, being mere mortals. However, for every batch of students; there are always some that are naturally gifted at such subjects. Instead of whining about how lucky these people are, use this to your advantage! What I recommend is to ask a friend that is naturally proficient at such topics to mentor you. Get permission to ask many questions as you want at any point of time. Of course, don’t look to just take and not give. Offer to help your friend in other modules that he/she might be weak in, or offer to treat your friend to a good meal at the end of the semester.

Of course, your friend might not have revised or studied the topic that you are asking about. This is when having a naturally proficient student really comes in handy; he/she is able to answer your question just by looking through the topic briefly, as compared to a student that does well through hard work and effort. At the same time, you are helping your friend to revise the topic as well.

Last case scenario:  Just bug your tutor. They are obligated to help you out, be it through email, appointment etc. What I would suggest is to ask for help once you have the doubt/question. Should you leave it for another time, you would probably forget and never clarify that doubt forever.

3) Teach someone else.

Sounds cuckoo perhaps, being able to teach someone else a module that you hate and probably will suck at? This is precisely the reason why you should do it. By being able to teach someone else, not only will you get to internalize whatever you have learnt, you also get to verify that you have mastered the topic, rather than just understanding the surface of it.


Personally, what I did was to ask my friends to message me once they have any doubts or questions. By being able to answer these queries, I would be internalizing these concepts and boosting my confidence for the examinations at the same time. If I was unable to answer them, it means that I have not fully understood the concepts of the topic, and that is when #2 comes in.

Also, you get good karma points too! J

4) Get extra notes!

From my experience, the only notes that the modules provide were the lecture slides that consisted of a lot of useless information. Try to get seniors’ notes that are compiled and contain only the most essential material for the examinations.

 This is when joining a FOC or CCA in university can be really beneficial. You can assume that majority of the students in NBS will have at least 1 contact that they are able to obtain senior notes from, which is a huge advantage. Don’t lose out!

Ask any NBS senior about statistics, and most of the time you will hear complaints about how it pulled them down, how the examinations are difficult and tricky, etc. This doesn’t have to happen to you! You don’t have to be a genius to score well for this subject; you just need to apply some simple steps that you are probably not used to. Apply consistent amounts of effort, and it is definitely very possible. All the best!

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Zi Jie
Zi Jie is a Business Development at Community Engagement Manager at the Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE), a national led private sector organisation driving the entrepreneurship scene in Singapore. Besides exploring the topics of entrepreneurship, personal productivity and value investing, Zi Jie is passionate about the world of personal development and helping to improve people's lives. His biggest virtual mentors include Tony Robbins, who he hopes to take a photo with one day.


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