New to Owl Order? Click here for 2009's best posts! 00:00:00

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Math Story

Mathematics has always been one of my favourite subjects. Possibly the favourite too.

I remember when, one fine day, my primary school teacher surprised us with a mathematics competition, where we had to answer 100 questions, totally out of the primary school syllabus. I remember getting some 60 questions correct, and was 6th overall in school. That impressed me and my family.

Some time in secondary school, I even managed to score a distinction in the Australian Mathematics Competition (AMC), along with the Prudence Award, given to the student with the highest number of consecutive right answers in every school.

Maths was never much of a problem to me, until I was 15. I went through Form 4 without taking additional mathematics tuition class (which was what almost everybody else in my class did), and I have to say, I did quite terribly in my finals, scoring a sad 56%.

I immediately called a tuition teacher, Mr James Tan, and got myself enrolled in his tuition class the very next month. My mum had to drive me quite a bit of distance each week for his class, but she didn't complain.

Within a year, my performance in maths improved in leaps and bounds. For SPM trial, I managed to score a satisfying 89%, which was good enough to land me on the 10th spot of my school. Seems like the weekly drive was paying off.

Soon, I left secondary school after getting A1 for my SPM additional mathematics. Upon entering college, I find myself learning even more things on mathematics, but thanks to Mr James, I managed to scrap past college life, with A's for all six of my mathematics subjects.

So, consequently, I left college without a grudge.

Upon entering the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, I was greeted by Dr Natanael Karjanto during my Mathematical Techniques for Electrical and Electronic Engineering lessons. Although falling short of Mr James' standards, he was exceptionally good, feeding us with Laplace and Fourier transforms, Ordinary and Partial Differential Equations, probability, vector calculus, multiple integrals, and such.

I finished two semesters of classes under him without much problems (except on vector calculus), and before too long, it was the final exam for his module. I prepared for this exam, doing example sheets, trying out past year questions, looking through the notes (which includes my college notes as well), memorising identities...

Exam morning. The front page of the exam paper asked us to answer 6/7 questions. I flipped the question paper open, and was awfully shocked.

I had no idea how to answer 3 questions. At all.

The other four questions, I could only answer parts of them, getting stuck at others, with rather lame excuses like, "I don't know how to integrate this!" and "why am I getting so many zeroes?" or "this answer is illogical!".

Before I handed in my answer sheet, out of a full marks of 120, I had only written about 45 marks worth of answer. And that includes wrong answers too.

I'm deeply sorry. I disappointed so many people. I disappointed Dr Karjanto, who had high hopes on me for this exam. I disappointed Mr James, who brought me back from the brink of (mathematical) death, only to see me dying again. I disappointed my mum, for her great efforts to get me the best teachers to ensure my success was, afterall, somewhat wasted.

I disappointed myself. I can't even do my final maths paper properly, and what's the use of getting good scores in earlier papers?

Nevertheless, maths is still one of my favourite subjects.

Besides, maths can still be taken as elective subjects over the next two years.

It's not over yet.


  1. eh so how did u do for ur math paper? results not out yet?

  2. out. the teacher pushed the marks up. i got 73% XD. i should have deserved something closer to 50 instead.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.