Dr Karla Hylton explains a topic to Zoe.
Just a few years ago, a then 14-year-old Zoe Alberga had little interest in academics and was more focused on socialising with her friends. By grade 10, however, hit by the sudden realisation that Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams were fast approaching, Zoe decided to get serious about her studies. That shift in mindset, coupled with months of hard work, has led Zoe to CSEC success: earning seven distinctions in biology, chemistry, physics, accounts, mathematics, English language, and literature, and a two in French.
“To be honest, I was very surprised about my CSEC results,” shares an excited Zoe. “I thought the papers were very hard, so I wasn’t sure of how well I was going to do. I was particularly uncertain about accounts and literature, but I was always confident about my performance in the sciences,” she recalls.
THE FORMULA FOR SUCCESS
In the lead-up to her exams, Zoe, motivated by her innate love of the sciences, enrolled in Bio & Chem Tutoring, a private, Kingston-based tutoring programme. Boasting small class sizes, the sessions comprehensively revised each syllabus topic, highlighted students’ weak points and helped to strengthen those areas, while simultaneously improving their vocabulary and overall writing skills.
“When compared to a traditional classroom setting, the structure of our learning environment allows for more time to be spent with each student,” says Dr Karla Hylton, owner of Bio & Chem Tutoring. “This offers more of an opportunity to thoroughly explore a subject, to review questions in greater detail, and to assist students to improve the quality of their responses,” she explains.
In addition to attending tutoring sessions, Zoe also developed a strategic study plan. During school hours, she used her breaks to complete homework assignments, freeing her time at home to focus solely on studying. Furthermore, she attended study marathons with her peers, diligently going through past papers to get a better sense of what to expect on her tests.
"My recent exam experience has taught me to always give my very best. I’ve definitely learnt that you have to hit the ground running, and I always need to work hard."
Now with eight subjects under her belt, Zoe is gearing up for the next phase of her academic journey. She recently transitioned from St Andrew High School to Hillel Academy, where she will participate in the International Baccalaureate programme. Although she still has her secondary studies to complete, this aspiring science major has already set her sights on the illustrious Cambridge University or the esteemed Emory University, where she plans to pursue studies for a prospective career in genetics or medicine.
“My recent exam experience has taught me to always give my very best,” reveals Zoe. “I feel somewhat disappointed in my past self because I now realise if I had put in the work from the beginning of high school, my grades would have been so much better. I’ve definitely learnt that you have to hit the ground running, and I always need to work hard,” she shares.