True Story: I Failed My “O” Levels

I sat, nervous, in the tiny meeting room of my secondary school’s office. It was the day of my ‘O’ Level Examination results release and the room was uncomfortably silent. I opened the envelope containing my result slip as my form teacher eagerly looked on.

“How is it? How do you feel about your grades?”

A simple “I am okay,” was all I could muster.

Yet, when I left that office, my head was still whirling in shock.

32 points. 


It took two days for the news to set in before I could even text a close friend with the news. What is perceived as a place for only the weakest students, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), seemed like the only option I had. This was going to be my life for the next two years.

One week into school, my pastor dropped me a text checking to see if I was okay. I guess the people around me were just as shocked as I was at my ending up in ITE. The reality of being on campus made things even harder. The people in ITE were different from those in my secondary school. The new school environment and the difficulty I had with making new friends quickly made the experience even tougher. I was struggling.

After a month in ITE, the Lord impressed upon me to do a 40-day fast — one meal a day. The first few days weren’t easy. I had to be intentional in setting aside time every day to seek God and to read His word. To be honest, I was super self-conscious at the start. I was embarrassed and didn’t want others to know what I was doing. However, I grew more confident of my faith, bit by bit, and I started to be rooted in my identity in Christ.

I wasn’t afraid to read the bible or to pray in the open anymore.

It was during that 40-day fast that I grew closer to the Lord. It is this irreplaceable, intimate relationship with my Heavenly Father that got me through that torrential season of life. On hindsight, I could have chosen to go the private education route, or even retake my O levels, but I guess God had other, better, plans for me.

During those two years, I learnt what it meant to trust God. To remember that God holds my everything and that He knows what He is doing.

When I first received my results, I doubted God’s sovereignty in my life. Whenever someone shared how God saw them through major examinations, I would ask God, “What about me? If You saw them through, why didn’t You do the same for me?”

Yet, I realised that God has used the two years in ITE to mould my heart and shape my character.

It was only when I was stripped of all I wanted that I saw that God was all I actually needed.

I am thankful that I have God to journey with me through life’s challenges, and Whom I can call upon any time of the day. When things are going well, when I have friends supporting me and cheering me on— God is there. When I feel all alone— God is there too. While things may change, God remains the same yesterday, today and forever.

Sometimes I wonder why those numbers were so important to me. Today, people rarely ask me about my ‘O’ Level results. More importantly, I have grown so much closer to the Lord. I have blossomed from that girl filled with doubts to one with an authentic relationship with God.

I can now say that I truly enjoyed my two years in ITE. It has been a privilege and I look forward to the greater things that God has in store for me!

Sarah Han
Sarah loves soft toys. She has 13 medium-sized soft toys on her bed. Every Friday, she looks forward to “me-time” at a random cafe.