Seventeen-year-old student at Campion College, Matthew Sinclair, was not surprised by his recent success in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.
He attained nine grade ones in Additional Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, French, Spanish, Information Technology, English A and English B. Overall, Mathew has 11 CSEC subjects, all with grade one, having done Mathematics and Principles of Accounts in fourth form.
“I was not surprised. I was praying for those results and I knew that my hard work would pay off. I knew that God would come through for me and he really did and I got the results that I was expecting,” he tells JIS News.
When school plants closed in March due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Matthew said he had to change his original preparation strategy.
“During the first few months of quarantine, there was a lot of uncertainty, so I really didn’t have a set plan or know how to really prepare for the exams. Like all of the students in the Caribbean, we had no idea what was really going on with CXC (Caribbean Examination Council), the mode the exams would take and when we would sit them. A lot of things were up in the air at the time,” Matthew says.
“I didn’t really get a set strategy per se, until when maybe CXC had given a set response and they informed us that the exams would take place in July and that it will be Paper One. So, I practised on many multiple choice papers, but I also ensured that I covered the entire syllabus, because I knew that I was going to apply for Sixth Form, so I would have to know the entire CSEC syllabus,” he adds.
He further notes that in practising on the multiple choice papers, he was able to become familiar with the format of the exam.
“Usually you know it’s Paper One and Paper Two and we rarely practised Paper One to be honest, so I had to get a lot of practice in that, but I also looked online for the CSEC syllabus and I tried to go through the different topics and revise my notes and use whatever added resource that I could find online to prepare,” Matthew explains.
The 17-year-old is now a Lower Sixth-Form student at Campion College and is currently doing Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Communication Studies. He is also doing Spanish, but is doing that outside of his regular curriculum.
“Sixth form has been a bit of a challenge, especially with virtual learning. I for one have been uncomfortable with virtual learning. I really feel like I learn better in the physical classroom, but I have to just learn to adapt. So, it’s a bit of a challenge and the work load is greater and we are already seeing that,” Matthew shared.
He is also active in several clubs at school, namely, Campionites for Youth Activism, Rhythm Nation (dance club) and Peer Counselling.
Matthew says that while it can be a bit of a challenge to balance schoolwork and club activities, he tries to maintain a strict schedule.
“I know that whatever task I have to do for a certain club, I dedicate time for that. I make sure that I have reasonable time towards that club or whatever task I have associated with that club,” he adds.
The Campion student also provides words of advice for students who will be doing their CSEC examinations in 2021.
“The best advice I could give you is to just start preparing from early, because you don’t know what could happen. Things are so uncertain, especially in these times, so do your best to get as much done from early, so that closer to exam time it is almost smooth sailing for you,” Matthew says.
“Even though you might not have completed the syllabus, do try to read ahead, make sure you study all the things you are learning now, so by the time study period or study break comes around, you are just going over and it’s just light review,” he tells JIS News.
Meanwhile, Matthew is dedicating much of his successes to God and the strong family support that he has.
“I know that many children do not have the kind of family that I have. They are always pushing and driving me, supporting and commending me whenever I do well, which is also a big part. Commendations do boost your self-esteem and allow you to get some self-confidence,” he says.
“I am just so thankful, and my grandmother, especially, was so instrumental… . I always did my best to make her proud and she passed just a couple weeks before my exam and I was distraught, but I knew that I had to go in and do exceptionally well, especially for her, so I have to dedicate my grades to her,” he adds.
Matthew’s parents are also very proud of his excellent performance, and his mother, Donets Williams-Sinclair, says they are extremely proud of him.
“As you heard him say, it’s a family effort. We never left him out an inch, we are really supportive, his dad and I. As he said, his grandmother was a big part, she would be there sometimes… if he is sleeping she would say, ‘Hold on. Matthew never tell me to wake him up at 10 o’clock to study’. So it was always a family structure, so we are very proud,” she says.
In the future, Matthew would like to become a neurosurgeon or pursue a career in the field of neuroscience.