Surviving JC: finding purpose, having perspective, being grounded

Daniel Ching
6 min readJan 20, 2023


To all the students entering JC in less than a months’ time: this is something that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. This piece is mainly for Singaporean students who’ve just finished secondary school and are on their way to JC (Junior College / Junior and Senior High). Even if you don’t fit that demographic, feel free to read on — hopefully the insights here would be meaningful and value adding, wherever you are.

This isn’t going to be a practical, 10-tips-on-how-to-survive-JC piece, because you can find a lot of resources out there on Reddit, and simply by Googling. While all these are great, when you are in the thick of it, grinding your way through, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Hopefully this will give you some insight on how to find purpose and direction behind what you’re about to experience.

There are three main points I have in mind: intention, perspective, and groundedness.



Two years is not a lot of time. And it doesn’t help that you have to master around 20 topics per (science) subject in 1.5 years, while balancing CCA, sleep, your role in the family, friendships, etc. So I think if I were to redo the two years of JC again (hopefully not) and with an overarching guiding principle — it would be having intention about where my time is spent. This means spending time on things that actually and absolutely matter.

It’s easy to agree with this on paper, but it’s an entirely different ball game when it comes to putting this to practice. One reason is because of the pressure to fit in, to give into a mob mentality even though it may not necessarily be the most beneficial to them.

In addition, the pace of lectures and tutorials don’t help, because you will feel swept along and overwhelmed in the moment. In this aspect, practising intentionality gives you the opportunity to check back against the goals that you have set for yourself.

Moreover, being mindful of your actions and their relation to the bigger picture of where you will be headed after JC (college life, NS, work and so on) gives you some context on the meta-habits you are building in the here and now. Small actions like giving yourself a hard cut-off time with your friends can form the basis of habits that you’ll practice later on in life.


So, before you commit to or begin any activity, ask yourself: Is this what I really want to do? Is it congruent to what I want to achieve, or am I just doing it because it feels good in the moment? Or is it because my friends / classmates are doing it?

One method that worked for me was the practice of timeblocking, scheduling activities in my calendar. This has a couple of benefits — it allows me to be fully present in the moment when engaging in that activity (be it running, studying, or hanging out with friends) because you know that you have already accounted for the time you have spent. It also gives you a rough gauge of the amount of time that you spend on a single activity, especially if you use this and this, and combining that across 1.5 years of work, you can have a good idea of how you allocated time leading up to important exams, and how you would change your time allocation in the future, for instance.

Here’s my breakdown of work over two years (since I’ve started using BeFocused)

Be intentional about the study and stress-management systems that you build — be ready to experiment, fail, and iterate, ultimately finding the methods that work for you. Here’s mine. This goes the same for entertainment / stress-relieving activities. Don’t play Brawl Stars just because your friends are playing. Only do it if it is high-quality in nature.

What else beyond JC?

I firmly believe in being intentional about setting aside time for exploration (be it during the [long, free] weekends) — seeing what is possible outside of junior college, about knowing the real world impact that you can achieve beyond JC.

I encourage you to connect with teenagers from across the world (if you want some connections and have read this far, shoot me an email) — to share your experiences with them, to understand their culture, how different / similar they are, the problems they are facing, the things that they are passionate about, because you’ll realise that there really is a whole world out there to explore.

While grades are definitely important (because you’ll be sitting for the As at the end of the day), there are many alternatives to how your time is spent. There are many other games to be played, and there’s no need to pigeonhole yourself to just studying. Take the time to explore, to build your range.

I would be so bold as to say that even the friends that you have in JC can shape you for the better or for the worse, so be intentional about that too.


Personally, despite coming from an alright academic background in Sec 1–4, I still struggled at the start of JC — the step-up in terms of content mastery difficulty and rigour was real. I had never failed major examinations before, but JC was the first time that I had done so.

But there’s a catch — what grade you get doesn’t matter so much. What matters are the lessons that you learn from each setback, and how you move forward, iterate and improve beyond your initial failure. Setbacks are inevitable. How you deal with them is a totally different matter, and that is what will set you apart. I believe that ultimately, the toughest setbacks and challenges will present you with opportunities of unprecedented growth.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.~Haruki Murakami

One practice that I did after every major examination would be to write down how I felt after every paper that I sat for, and match my feelings and thoughts with the results that would be released a month or so later. So while the grades themselves might not be great, taking them into context (e.g. knowing that the paper was hard for everyone, not just you) and looking back at your revision schedule (as mentioned above), you would know which variables to tweak. For instance, it could be reviewing more Anki cards for this particular topic, practising more intently for that topic, or completing more full-length timed practices. Hence, reflection, coupled with a balanced perspective, is key.


Having a community to keep you grounded, to rely on the most, especially when you need strength to get through a tough week is by far the most crucial piece of the puzzle to tide you through JC. This could be your family, your close seniors (who have just gone through the process and would know how it is like), your faith (if any), and a couple of very close friends from your secondary school.

Attach and fully devote yourself to these tried and tested, true constants in your life. These constants that have seen you through for the last 16–17 years of your life will be the ones that give you strength to push through even the toughest of periods in JC. While new friends are great, I personally drew the most energy and assurance from my family, because they have always been there for me.

Here’s a little bit more on The Practice Of Groundedness (beyond building deep communities).

Resource Hub

Down to something more tangible! For the last part of this piece, I’ve tried collating resources that I wished I knew existed when I was starting my JC journey. This will be updated regularly.

Tools for capturing and memorising information:

  1. Anki +Tutorial
  2. Feynman Technique (personally I just write everything I know in a mind-map style to backtest what I’m not sure about before exams)
  3. Notion (for notes, tracking progress, you can view my study log here)

Cheers! I hope you have enjoyed reading this piece, do feel free to reach out at if you have any queries, and want additional resources :).