One of the most exciting moments when wrapping up the year at King’s College is the much-anticipated announcement of the Dux.
Students who achieve the Dux award are outstanding scholars and students who are remembered fondly. They are rattled
off by staff for years to come (“I taught them!”, “Such a lovely kid.”, “What House were they again?”) and this year, it was awarded to Boarder, Wells Yuan (Year 13, Selwyn). Anyone who has met Wells can attest to his gentle manner and diligent and committed approach to his studies.
On the eve of junior exams and the Study Sunday for Year 9 and 10 Boarders, I asked Wells what he thought of the culture of academics in Boarding:
How has Boarding supported your academic studies while at King’s?
I think Boarding has had a lot of positive influence on my academics. The most obvious one is that it saves on commuting, and you can spend much more time at school than a day student. Instead of travelling on the train for half an hour, I get to spend the afternoon talking to my teachers, about academics or otherwise (say, Doctor Who). After that, I usually study in the study room for the entire afternoon. Then I go straight to dinner at about 5:20. The idea is that I don’t need to go back to the House when school finishes. Instead, I can stay in the learning centre with an academic ambience. Plus, the staff at the learning centre or my teachers can help me out immediately if I encounter a problem.
The routine evening prep is a great system to formalise the study time. It encourages the students to concentrate and work productively for two hours. And then you can relax after all the work is finished. It is far more effective than three or four hours of unproductive work you might get by studying at home. And it can solve the problem of procrastination. I think Boarding at King’s gives me a mindset of ‘I am at school. And school is a place to study.’ Conversely, being at home with my parents usually gives me a mindset of ‘I am at home. And home is a place to relax.’ So, Boarding allows me to develop an efficient system and healthy mindset on which I can base my academic work.
Would you recommend boarding for students wanting to do well?
I would definitely recommend boarding for some students aiming high. Being at school provides you with more opportunities to get better at things, whether academics, culture, sports, or doing some service. But Boarding is not for everyone. From getting along with others to living in an environment without parents, Boarding can bechallenging. But there is also an upside to this, I think students will get better social skills and become more independent than day students. It helps students to do well in life after school. And you are almost guaranteed to have a tighter bond with your dorm. So, while everyone has a unique case, I’d say Boarding provides a positive and beneficial environment for those with ambitions.
What advice do you have for our junior students for their upcoming exams?
Before anything, learn and understand your course. Look at the learning outcomes. Do you understand the entire syllabus? If not, then don’t start doing practice questions or papers. Learning by practising is very ineffective and time-consuming unless you have the knowledge and skills necessary. If you don’t understand something or face a question you cannot solve, big or small, ask for help. A senior student, teachers, the internet, the means don’t matter, as long as it solves the problem.
Being knowledgeable and skilful can get you higher marks if you know some exam techniques. Simple ones like time management, for example - don’t spend all your time on a question you don’t know how to solve or isn’t worth the mark. Advanced ones like considering what the examiner or the marker wants to see, for example - searching if there’s a deeper meaning within the text, maybe there’s a hint or guidance on how you should answer the question. Also, should you finish early, go back and check. You are likely to find and correct your mistakes if you are patient and thorough enough.
And finally: don’t stress! Walk into the exam room with a smile; keep a positive mood even when faced with adversity; stay calm and don’t panic even when there’s time pressure. Indeed, a positive mindset may not get you higher marks,
but it ensures that you get the mark you deserve.
Wells’s advice comes at a great time as this Sunday continued the tradition of gathering our Year 9 and 10 Boarders in for an exam prep afternoon. The theme this year was an Exam Bootcamp with ration packs made for the participating students, and spot prizes for those doing well throughout the study sessions. Who knows, one of these juniors could be our next Dux in the years to come!