A levels

Petra Chiang and her father, Wen-Wei, believe that “everything has already been planned by God" and that what is important is to value the process as much as the outcome. All photos courtesy of Chiang Wen-Wei.

The last time Petra Chiang waited in anticipation for the results of a national exam, she was 12. It was her PSLE and she recalls little of how she felt.

With her ‘A’ level results, things are a little different. The youngest of three daughters, Petra has older sisters who are academically successful.

“I’ve seen what my sisters have accomplished and I feel like I should be better or as accomplished too. I give myself pressure.

“Whether I got five out of 30 or 29 out of 30, my dad would always be happy in some sort of way.”

“From my parents’ side, there is no additional pressure,” said Petra with a wry smile.

Her father, Wen-Wei, 54, chimed in: “Results don’t define her.”

Petra recalled how, as a child, her father would be proud of her whatever results she brought home.

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“Whether I got five out of 30 or 29 out of 30, it wouldn’t be a different response from him. He would always be happy in some sort of way. It just reminded me not to take things too hard.

“Because of that, even when I am deeply disappointed, I know I can go to him for comfort.”

Ahead of the release of her ‘A’ level results today (February 17), Salt&Light spoke to father and daughter about how they will be embracing Petra’s results. Here is some wisdom they have to share:

1. Keep calm and carry on

Preparing for her ‘A’ levels made Petra lean into her faith. One thing she did to calm her nerves before every exam was to pray.

“Everything has been planned, whether it will go well or go another way.”

“When I sit at my seat and I can see the clock showing one minute before the exam starts, I pray. I pray for God to calm me and to help me remember what I had studied.

“Because you only have yourself then. You can’t talk to people, you can’t go outside. In that moment, it is you and God. And God really strengthens you and really gives you the peace of mind.”

It is with this steadiness that she hopes to approach her results.

“When I first get my results, I’ll probably be in a very emotional state. So I will let the results sink in, embrace whatever emotions come my way.

“Everything has been planned, whether it will go well or go another way.”

2. Every disappointment is a stepping stone

Even if the results are disappointing, Wen-Wei believes that no exam, no matter how major, is ever critical.

“Every result and every stage of life is a progression of faith. It’s no bigger or smaller than any other you will face. So don’t make it bigger than it needs to be.

“Every test is an opportunity to exercise faith. So that is my prayer for the children, that faith grows with every test.”

The lessons learnt from a small test become the foundation for trusting God in bigger tests.

When the children were young, preparing for Chinese spelling was a test of their faith. Over time, they learnt to trust in God for that.

The lessons learnt from a small test become the foundation for trusting God in bigger tests.

Petra has applied this to the preparation of her ‘A’ levels. Throughout the whole of her second year in junior college, she was disappointed by her results.

“But I learnt not to be discouraged by what the results showed. Instead I looked at it as checkpoints leading up to the ‘A’ levels.

“It showed me that I didn’t know this topic very well and that that was something that I could work on. Or I would reflect on the process of preparing for examinations and see what has helped me and what hasn’t.”

“Move on, don’t dwell,” she said of what she intends to do if she does not fare as well as she has hoped.

3. It’s the process that counts

Asked why he would celebrate Petra’s ‘A’ level results whatever they may be, Wen-Wei said: “I’m proud of how diligent and conscientious she has been. So whatever happens is fine. The process is more important than the outcome.”

“I’m proud of how diligent and conscientious she has been. The process is more important than the outcome.”

While waiting for her ‘A’ level results, Petra has been working at her father’s consultancy firm. Seeing her level-headedness and resolve at work has been heartening for Wen-Wei.

“We were working on a project that required us to deal with a product nobody in-house knew about. There was just an entire stack of material we had to go through and figure out.

“Others asked, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ Petra just went ahead to read through the material and came back to me with some patterns she noticed. She processed everything with no guidance.”

This has affirmed for Wen-Wei that – whatever Petra’s results – she will be alright.

4. Think through your options

Petra has no expectation of her results. But she has plans.

“I’ll look at the options, check out websites, talk to people. I do have a lot of people I can talk to like my sisters, school seniors, church friends.”

Petra (right) with her parents Wen-Wei and Bee Lan (front) has two older sister, Charis (left) and Hannah (standing), with whom she can discuss her future and her university options.

Wen-Wei has encouraged Petra to take every opportunity to explore her interests. Apart from interning with her father, Petra is also taking an online course on Food Science. This will give her an opportunity to find out if she truly enjoys the course.

5. It’s not just about you

Wen-Wei has reminded Petra to be mindful of her friends’ feelings when the results are released.

“I encouraged her not to get so caught up in herself so that she feels like that it is all about her and how well she does, to the exclusion of everyone else.

“My hope and prayer for her is to not get too absorbed with self. I tell her, ‘Others may not have the same support you have. They may be counting on the results to a much greater degree than you. Keep an eye out for them.’”


When PSLE tests us in more ways than one

A prayer for all children who’ve received PSLE results

To the ‘O’ level cohort: “God will use your A’s and your F’s”

About the author

Christine Leow

Christine believes there is always a story waiting to be told, which led to a career in MediaCorp News. Her idea of a perfect day involves a big mug of tea, a bigger muffin and a good book.