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With one more exam paper to go, Sec 4 student contracts Covid-19 but pulls through

SINGAPORE — Less than a month before she was due to take her GCE O-Level examinations for Tamil language, 16-year-old Fatimah Saayimah Mohamed Amin tested positive for Covid-19.


With one more exam paper to go, Sec 4 student contracts Covid-19 but pulls through

Fatimah Saayimah Mohamed Amin collected her GCE N-Level examination results at Changkat Changi Secondary School on Dec 17, 2021.

  • Fatimah Saayimah Mohamed Amin, 16, had one more exam to sit for this year
  • But the Normal (Academic) pupil from Changkat Changi Secondary School contracted Covid-19 less than a month before her O-Level exam for Tamil
  • The symptoms made her feel tired and unable to focus on her notes for long stretches
  • However, she was able to recover ahead of her exam
  • She collected her N(A)-Level results on Dec 17 and will receive her results for her final exam in January

SINGAPORE — Less than a month before she was due to take her GCE O-Level examinations for Tamil language, 16-year-old Fatimah Saayimah Mohamed Amin tested positive for Covid-19.

At the time, the Changkat Changi Secondary School pupil was on her study break and had already completed her papers for the Normal (Academic) or N(A) examinations, which were held from Sept 15 to Oct 14 this year.

But she still had that sole O-Level paper for Tamil language to go. Scoring well would improve her chances of qualifying for her preferred course in polytechnic.

The symptoms of the coronavirus, however, threw off the Secondary 4 N(A) pupil’s preparation for her final exam.

She said: “Not having that energy to study was my biggest worry at that time because I was behind on a few things and I needed to catch up. I had forgotten certain (Tamil) words and terms, so I didn’t feel very prepared for the exams.”

During her 10-day home isolation, she found herself tiring easily and unable to focus on her studies, but she was able to recover fully two weeks before her exam on Nov 10.

On Friday (Dec 17), Fatimah was among the more than 13,600 candidates from the Sec 4 N(A) and Normal (Technical), or N(T), courses that collected their examination results.

Among them, 9,356 (99.5 per cent) of candidates from the N(A) course were awarded the GCE N(A)-Level certificate.

Close to 80 per cent of the school candidates from the N(A) course are also eligible to move on to the same course in Sec 5.

Half of the school candidates from the N(A) course also sat for subjects in the O-Level exams.

Schools will consider candidates’ scores for the N(A)-Level examinations and their school-based O-Level preliminary results when determining their progression to Sec 5 N(A) or post-secondary pathway.

Another 4,147 (98.1%) candidates from the N(T) course were awarded the GCE N(T)-Level certificate.


Speaking to TODAY shortly after collecting her results on Friday, Fatimah recollected how she had felt “very warm, tired and sweaty” two days after her 70-year-old father tested positive for Covid-19.

A trip to the doctor’s on Oct 18 confirmed that she had contracted the virus, too, and her 59-year-old mother tested positive the day after. Only her 33-year-old brother, who lives with them, remained uninfected.

“I didn’t really think any of us would get Covid-19 so I was a bit shocked,” Fatimah, who is fully vaccinated, said.

She was just thankful that her family members suffered only mild symptoms.

She herself felt better after two days, although she lost her sense of smell and taste shortly after and continued to experience mild headache and tiredness during her isolation period.

The bigger worry weighing on her mind was whether she would have enough time to prepare for the last leg of her examinations. She was also worried that she might not be able to recover in time for her paper on Nov 10.

Fatimah, who described herself as a “pretty focused” student, said that she could only pay attention to her notes for 30 minutes at most, instead of up to two hours like before.

“I couldn’t focus beyond that,” she said.

Her parents, teachers and family tried to assure her that she would recover in time for the examinations.

Her Tamil teacher also kept in constant touch, sending her the past year's exam papers to try on her own while she self-isolated.

Her friends would call almost every day to discuss the mock papers with her and give her morale support.

When she finally ended her home isolation on Oct 28, she was relieved.

“I felt quite happy and less worried because I had more time for my studies. I could do my O-Levels also because I was free from Covid-19,” she said.

Fatimah said that she is hoping to score B3 for her exam, higher than what she normally scores in school exams.

In the meantime, she achieved 12 aggregate points following her N(A)-Level results on Friday.

While she was “shocked, in a good way” that she managed to achieve those grades, she said that part of her still wishes that she had done better in certain subjects such as Food and Nutrition.

Results for her O-Level Tamil exam will be released next month.

Fatimah said that she is considering applying for the Direct-Entry Scheme to Polytechnic Programme (DPP) or the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) with her results.

Under the DPP, Sec 4 N(A) pupils can do a two-year Higher Nitec programme at the Institute of Technical Education. Those who attain the minimum qualifying Grade Point Average are guaranteed a place in a polytechnic diploma course mapped to their Higher Nitec course.

The PFP is a one-year foundation programme at the polytechnics that prepares students for entry into the relevant diploma courses. Students will progress to their pre-selected course upon passing all their modules in the PFP.

Fatimah, who wants to become a geologist and care for the environment, has her sights set on pursuing chemical engineering in polytechnic.

She is hoping that her eventual grades for her O-Level Tamil exam will improve her chances of getting into the course.

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