AAA #22

Designed by: Jo Yeoul (19-A2)

Do you have questions to ask Agony Aunt Agatha? Hit her up right here!


How do I keep myself motivated during this home-based learning period?


Hello there! I am glad that you are keen to stay motivated during this home-based learning period! Even though HBL has ended, we don’t know when it’ll be back should the COVID-19 situation worsen. So, here are some tips, and I hope you’ll find them useful for future HBL sessions or for the rest of the circuit breaker!

Firstly, I feel that you can consider having study calls with your friends. I understand that some of us are extroverts who cannot stand being cooped up at home for more than a month. Many of us also need to have friends around to push us to study. As such, study calls will be the perfect mode of motivation for you! By setting study goals with your friends to aim to achieve them together, you will also be driven to study when you see your friends mugging away while you are lazing around. What’s more, when you study with your friends, you can also take this opportunity to catch up with them during your study breaks.

Staying on task is surely another way to keep you motivated! With home-based learning, it is not easy to stay focused and on task, especially with distractions, such as your mobile phones. To do so, all you need to do is to put your mobile phones away. If possible, leave it outside of your room where you are studying, especially during lesson time (not that you should be using your phones anyway). 

Another problem that we all face during home-based learning is the imbalance in how we spend our time. Our work-life balance may be thrown off by the fact that we are now doing all our work at home, and the line between work and rest is now blurred. However, do not let this get you down! Try and set a time for yourself to relax and do the things you like. With that time to rest, it will allow you to be less stressed and more refreshed for studying and help you be more motivated to carry on, helping you to avoid burnout.

One last suggestion I have for you is to do some goal planning. This helps you to stay more optimistic and re-energises you, as instead of aiming to finish a large amount of work, you can set small goalposts for yourself, and provide yourself with an incentive for completing each goal – for example, each time you complete a goal, you can take a short break or watch a video. Don’t be afraid to reward yourself for completing your goals! By keeping track of your short-term and long-term goals, you can help to push yourself to complete your work. 

Another unique aspect of goal setting is to set up a study tracker. I personally use study trackers which track the number of hours I have studied. One study app I recommend is “Forest”, where you will be able to plant more virtual trees as a reward when you put your phone away for a longer period of time. However, do note that Forest is not a free app and a free alternative for planting trees would be “Plantie”. These suggestions are especially helpful for those people out there who love to challenge themselves. Every day, you can push yourself to do a few more minutes of work as compared to the previous day, but remember, do not overexert yourself! For bujo lovers, a study tracker is a wonderful addition to your list of trackers in your bullet journal. Alternatively, you can also track the number of tasks you have completed every day.

I hope that these tips can inspire you to better motivate yourself during this extended home-based learning. Stay safe, stay healthy, and remember to keep smiling! 🙂


I am starting to regret the subject combination I chose but I am definitely not interested in retaining. Are there any tips for staying motivated? 

It really depends on you and your circumstances! If I were you, I would try to tackle this problem by firstly asking myself why this subject combination makes me regretful. Indeed, A-Level subjects really take content learning up a notch from the good old days of secondary school. However, it is often important to check why these feelings exist. If the problem is that you feel you are drowning in the massive bulk of content across your subject combination, it would be beneficial to make a study plan where you allocate time for each subject. For the more content-heavy subjects that you might struggle with processing, another good tip is to find a classification system that suits your studying style. It would put everything into perspective and might help you digest the information better. 

This may sound cliche and like a response from a piece of situational writing, but crafting a timetable so you can revise and reexamine the content is really effective! Studies have also shown that reexamining your notes for a second time increases the amount of content that is entering your brain, and like how our tutors have always emphasised, do not let your doubts snowball and clarify them immediately! For example, when studying flooding in Geography, you can try to relate to the content in the notes by picturing yourself in such scenarios and empathising with the victims. 

What we study goes beyond the textbook and the classroom! By consciously looking for connections between our lives and what we study, we can relate to the content better. Sometimes, it takes a little imagination to compare what we study with what we experience. For example, when we learn about flooding in Geography, we could compare that with the inconvenient ‘ponding’ in Singapore. Adding a little empathy to our studies helps us form connections across subjects. You may discover other aspects of the subject that strengthen your interest in it through research and even inspire some of us to embark on social service projects!  

Lastly, I would like to reassure you that these feelings are normal, and it is important to take a step back once in a while to see how we can better optimise our learning. Do try to utilise some of the tips above, or reach out to your helpful tutors and friends for help! In addition, remember to take ample breaks and not overwork yourself, especially during this extended home-based learning period where the line between work and rest can be easily blurred. 


I believe I’m in a toxic friendship. What are some signs and what should I do?

You might be feeling a little lost in a situation like this, but fret not! Everyone faces issues in their friendships at times; learning how to deal with these issues is part of growth in life. We’d like you to consider the impact and signs of this toxicity we presume you’ve picked up on – how do they make you feel, and why? By reflecting on these things, you can understand your relationship with your friend and also yourself better! Also, this reflection can help you decide on what possible further steps you can take to ameliorate the situation.

It is important to be aware of the different types of toxic friendships that you may experience. In manipulative friendships, these  friends use your kindness and goodwill to take advantage of you. They may try to shape your decision-making in a bid to benefit themselves. This can be done through simple actions, like convincing you relentlessly to ‘share your homework’ with them, even when you are strongly against it. They take advantage of you, and when you are in need of help, they are nowhere to be found. There are also friends with a possessive streak who cross your personal boundaries. They do not like you socializing with your other friends, and will find means to monopolise your time. More concerningly, there are those who get physically, emotionally and verbally abusive in a friendship. 

Toxic friendships come in many forms – each one is different in its own way, and there are no clear guidelines to check. It all comes down to one root factor: whether you feel safe, happy, appreciated, loved and accepted wholly in this friendship.  

Now that we’ve delved into different types of toxicity in this ask, go forth and make use of this knowledge by gently alerting your friend of their behaviour, or maybe recognising it in yourself (though we’re sure you’re a lovely person). The key is to understand and rationalise reasons for such behaviour, and then engage in the panacea known as ‘open communication’. Even though open communication may be intimidating for some of you as it may lead to open conflict, it is a way for us to define our own boundaries in our relationships and clarify misunderstandings that stem from the absence of such communication. This can help detoxify this friendship. We wish you all the best.

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