Rumour Has It: The Horrors of Y5 Common Test 1

Reading Time: 6 minutes

By Lee Chin Wee (14A01B), Allison Choong (14S05B), Law May Ning (14S03O), Tan Jun Xiang (14S06C), Bryan Chua (14A01A); Image retrieved from Dailymail


Remember the time when getting less than 90% for your Math exam was a disaster, and when you could actually understand the Science syllabus? Relax, neither can we. Academic complexity intensifies the higher up you climb the educational stepladder, and grades inevitably start falling.

Depressing, yet darkly humourous anecdotes about the aftermath of the Year 5 CT1 exams have already began to emerge – SEAhist essays which barely filled up a single page of writing paper; distressed students who didn’t even answer enough questions during the Math exams to theoretically be able to pass; brave souls who elected not to draw any graphs for their Economics paper. Little wonder, then, that avoiding the dreaded ‘U’ or its nasty cousin the ‘S’ has quickly become a cause for celebration in and of itself. Come next week, we entirely expect to see adrenaline-filled guys with goggly eyes running up and down the corridors of Block A, holding their ‘E’s and ‘D’s aloft as if they were acceptance letters to Hogwarts.

In an unabashed attempt to ramp up the stress before the CT1 results are fully released, student journalists from Raffles Press have actually been compiling exam-related rumours from teachers and peers over the past week, trying to figure out the amount of damage inflicted. This may be the first in a short series of articles published – depending on the quantity and quality of rumours which reach our ears, we will consider putting up updated rumours every few days.

We considered sorting the subjects in order of the intensity of the horror story, but since they all scare us out of our wits, the subjects have been sorted in order of convenience according to how many people study them. If you do not see a particular subject listed below, it is because we have not heard any substantial rumours about the results. At this juncture, it is important to point out that these are simply rumours, a heady mixture of fact, fiction and romance which should never be taken as gospel truth. Continue reading at your own peril.

1. Mathematics

The subject taken by (almost) every single Rafflesian, Mathematics is the greatest nightmare for the average Arts student. Yet, it seems the subject has claimed more victims than just them: rumour has it that even the Math RA class has fallen short of expectations!

Yes, as our sources inform us, it seems that instead of getting the grades in the range of 80-85% as expected, the maths whizzes have just barely scraped ‘A’s with a miserable 70% on average. So much for the stories of prodigies finishing half an hour before time was up – and without the magic math wand, also known as the graphic calculator. But then again, the aforementioned mastermind probably remains unafraid: averages presumably don’t apply to wizards.

(Here’s the part where we begin to fear for our fate. If the Math RA classes performed below expectations…)

2. General Paper

What’s that saying again? Writing is as easy as ABC? Well, apparently not.

“Out of sight, out of mind”, but the paper which we’ve pushed out of our heads for a month will come back to haunt us precisely next Thursday (if you take our word for it). Even the standard technology question which most students take refuge in did not guarantee a decent grade – students were labelled as slightly “complacent” and may not have done as they expected.

Here are some of the other rumors we’ve heard about the dreaded subject:

  • 75% of the cohort failed
  • The lowest score in the cohort is 16/50 (the student wrote about the importance of conservation instead of the importance of conversation)
  • Students who did the ‘technology/social media is a platform for change’ question did not do well. Apparently, they did not address how social media served as a platform for change, and only launched into a discussion about social media in general. It is rumoured that essays tended to be example driven and grouped by examples rather than argument points.
  • A very high proportion of HP students attempted the ‘religion is a force for good’ question, to dramatically different results. One teacher commented that this question, in general, was “very hit and miss”. Some students tended to give superficial answers like “religion is good because it gives people hope”.
  • The comprehension paper was not much better: one entire class was rumored to have two ‘C’s as the highest grades and plenty of ‘U’s. “It was tragic,” as one teacher dramatically announced.
  • In the words of a teacher with a slightly more acerbic tongue, “the whole level was pathetic”.

3. Chemistry

One of the few papers that have actually started getting round to the students, even the supposedly foolproof “put all ‘C’s for MCQ” doesn’t seem to have worked this time round, as some people reportedly scored zeros on MCQs.

Thanks to the remarkable marking speed of the Chemistry department, we bring you these bite-sized nibbles for those who have yet to see their papers.

The Bad:

  • 47% of the cohort failed
  • One chemistry teacher says that the average level score is a ‘D’ – but hey, at least ‘D’ is a subpass!
  • One of the S07 classes only managed 1 ‘A’, and a number of failures, and 4 ‘U’s
  • Even one Chem genius “didn’t finish the paper” – though how much he didn’t finish is left to the reader’s imagination

The Good:

  • On the contrary, not all hope is lost: there have been reports of some of the S03 classes getting 10-12 ‘A’s per class! In the Biology RA class, most people got at least a ‘B’, with the top in class being 83%.
  • Contrary to popular belief, chem RA classes did not flunk the paper – one chem RA’s class average for MCQ is rumored to be 12/15, a whopping 80%

4. Economics

For the large majority of the 1200 over students taking the subject, things are not looking good. As one teacher put it, “The prognosis is that your class has terminal cancer.”

The supposed facts:

  • The average student scored 40%
  • The average for case study question is 13/30, and “the essay question was even worse”
  • Even HP students were not spared – “[A particular HP Econs teacher] walks around with the look of a condemned man, so don’t expect much in term of marks”
  • Students reportedly scored on extreme ends of the grade spectrum – some students received 0/25

Alas, all good bad things come to those who wait. Given the sheer volume of essays for the teachers to mark, it will probably be a couple more weeks before the papers come streaming back (we hear it is Week 5). Till then, happy panicking!

5. Geography

One of the few other subjects where papers have started to come back, the teachers of the Geography department (who’ve been marking at the speed of light) bring us these facts:

  • The median score for the Physical Geog paper is 10/25
  • Human Geog teachers were supposedly more lenient; some students reportedly scored 8 marks higher for Human Geog than Physical Geog
  • Some students wrote about limestone features in the temperate region though the question specified landforms in the tropics – hence failing

6. Physics

  • According to an unnamed Physics teacher, “less than half the batch passed”.
  • One student apparently left the entire Section A MCQ blank, scoring 0/15.

Unfortunately, for all the Newtons out there, given how teachers are rumored to still be in the process of marking, that’s just about all we have for your eager ears.

7. Biology

Rumored to be coming back late next week at the earliest, the open ended questions seem to be way more daunting than the MCQ section which students have gotten the answers for in class already. Some classes have reported an average of 18-20/30. Don’t rejoice too early! Even though more than one student seems to have gotten full marks for the MCQ section, the open ended section is said to be so poor that, perhaps mercifully, teachers are rumored to be considering increasing the MCQ weightage. Not so lucky for those who didn’t even do well to do that…

8. History

SEA History essays have started coming back! The IHist essay question on the outbreak of the Cold War was apparently much better done than the other question requiring students to compare the Korean War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Almost everyone attempted Question 3, but to mixed and scattered results. For the brave souls that ventured onto Question 4, it was supposedly the more difficult choice. Well no risk, no returns? Right?


Once again, your friendly journalists from Raffles Press would like to remind everyone that these rumours have been sourced from off-the-cuff remarks by teachers, as well as distilled from popular stories which are currently circulating. As we all sally forth next Monday to collect the bulk of our results, we would like to wish all Rafflesians the best of luck. If you did not perform to your expectations, do try to pick up the pieces and move on. After all, promos are only 9 weeks away!

Have you heard anything else? Share it in the comments below!

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7 thoughts on “Rumour Has It: The Horrors of Y5 Common Test 1”

  1. The Math RA class failed to meet expectations because of carelessness and over-confidence(to a degree). I know because I’m one of them and I didn’t really bother to check. As long as you weren’t careless, your marks won’t suffer like ours.

  2. Physical Geography tends to be one of those subjects where you either ‘get it’ or no, and during the early stages the latter tends to be more likely than the former, so to those taking geog, don’t be too discouraged. My batch didn’t ‘get it’ very well until A-Levels, performing relatively poorly for physical geog during prelims, but still managed to catch up with previous batches in the end after mugging hard and understanding what the question was actually asking.

    Remember, answer what the question is asking for, not what you think the question is or should be asking. Don’t give irrelevant information that does not answer the question … it just wastes your time – the physical geog teachers are far too smart to be fooled by attempts at smoking your way through the exam. Which is why often people do better for human geog at first – you can sort of ‘smoke’ your way through if you know the basics.

    I’m surprised for math and physics though. Most people tend to score pretty well for them during Y5 CTs … unless the teachers decided to up their game and bombard everyone at the early stages as well.

  3. Lol only 47% of cohort failed Chem? Could be worse (us). Get used to Chem being hard, it’ll always be like that :)

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