Former gamer finds maths a bigger challenge
Anfernee Lo Chun-hong made history at his school recently when he became its first student to get 11 distinctions in an international exam. As the Year 12 student from Yew Chung International School outlines his study strategies, it's difficult to picture him as a couch potato whose primary exertion was pressing the buttons on a keyboard or games console. But that is exactly what he was like a few years ago.
Recalling his primary years, Anfernee says he spent as many as six or seven hours after school playing monster or role-play games.
'I loved the feeling of overcoming obstacles and surpassing myself by getting higher scores.'
His father was often away for business on the mainland so it fell to his mother to try and curb his obsession with gaming.
'I wouldn't do my homework. Although my mother scolded me and forbade me to play games, I just ignored her,' the 16-year-old says.
The youngster's gaming mania didn't much affect his academic performance, but it left a bad impression on his teachers.
'We didn't have to do much revision in primary school. While my academic scores were okay, I flunked homework assignments.
'In Primary Five when the class teacher read out everybody's scores for their homework assignment, he simply skipped my name. The grade was so bad that he didn't bother. I felt humiliated.'
However, a new passion - maths - transformed Anfernee from a games addict into a straight-A student. He discovered that algebra or other maths problems offered similar challenges to gaming, and was soon hooked on exploring this new frontier.
'Solving maths puzzles gives me a lot of satisfaction,' he says. 'I love reading maths textbooks for older students. I always go beyond the scope of the curriculum.'
It's this love for testing his abilities that has taken Anfernee to the top. While bright students at his school usually enrol for 10 subjects at most, he sat for the computer studies exam as a self-study candidate. 'I wanted to challenge myself,' he says. As a result, he's the first student from his school to receive 11 As for the International General Certificate Secondary Education (IGCSE).
He has also taken to extra-curricular activities with gusto, joining the school choir and theatre group and serving as a prefect.
That's not to say the net has become less important in Anfernee's life. 'I love reading posts in discussion forums, where people from different walks of life talk about their way of living. I have more than 400 friends on Facebook. And between study sessions, I chat with them through Skype,' he says.
'There are IGCSE chat rooms where you can discuss subjects with bright students. I go to those chat rooms and study at the same time. It helps me maintain attention; just doing revision is too boring.'