On December 16, our hearts were broken. My younger brother, J, tested for the international admissions test here in Singapore -- and we were all hoping and rooting for him to pass the exams so he could study and stay with us. We were all preparing to welcome a new addition to our home -- someone both Roo and Red enjoy immensely. "I'm going to be a middle child," Roo squealed excitedly, every time we talked about J coming over.
After 12 weeks of intensive reviews, going through 3 Math and 2 English review kits, hours upon hours of web chats, and countless sleepless nights spent learning about effective teaching methods and checking test papers, we found out that our efforts were NOT enough.
He does enough to get by in the Philippine system, but the education standards are not the same. Primary school Maths in Singapore boggles even working adults, and there is high expectation on the quality of compositions kids are able to write.
Coming into the decision to try for the admission test, the grown-ups knew the challenges. However, I'm not certain J fully understood the gravity of it all.
I take this result not as a "No" but more of a "Not Now. Not Yet." I just hope he takes it the same way, and learns from the experience.
|Roo's interpretation of how I look like during my review webchats with J.|
When we started the review, he scored 23% on the first test. It helped crystalize how much work needed to be done. It also identified his weak spots, and there were plenty. His fundamentals on decimals, fractions, and division were weak. He didn't have an analytical toolkit to manage problem solving, aside from guesswork. Beyond the lesson, he didn't have the discipline to stick to timelines he had personally set and agreed to, and would try to wiggle as little time for the review as possible. We set to target a score of at least 88% by the end of the reviews -- but he never got there. The highest he ever scored was 66%, and his scores were inconsistent, swinging from passing to failing from one week to the next.
As the test date drew closer, I was hoping he would be worried. Worrying meant he cared enough about the results, and perhaps will compel him to do more to get ready. But instead, he became even more careless and complacent, and didn't even complete the final 2 papers I asked him to work on the day before the exam.
I heard of heaps of time he spent in Minecraft. I heard excuses, where he blamed other people, other things, other factors -- all except himself. This was the most disappointing thing of all. Perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised he didn't pass at all.
I have much to thank H for -- for being supportive of the decision to try to bring J over, for making room in his life not just for me, but also for the people I love, and for the many quirks that come with my person.
H gamely brought J to the testing hall in my absence, and shared with me stories about how the other kids were still studying, trying to squeeze the most of their time to hone their knowledge, even in the minutes before the exam. They were flipping through books and reviewers in the waiting areas. To J, it seemed like just another day. To the rest of the examinees, they recognized the importance of doing well, and committed their time and actions to that objective.
When J stepped out of the testing hall, I was there to meet him, having just arrived straight from a flight. He cockily bragged that he thought he did well on the test. With a dismissive tone, he shared that the tests I gave him were a lot harder. With sheer baseless arrogance, he sneered that the other students looked like they didn't know what they were doing. I told him it didn't matter to me how the other kids did -- but I cared a lot if he did well.
|Waiting for the young examinees to come out|