Agony Aunt Agatha #7

Hello Aunt Agatha, I am writing in to consult you on a difficult situation. One of my friends has recently enrolled herself in a difficult subject combination. Unfortunately, she is not aware that she does not have the attitude or aptitude to do well in it. To add fuel to the fire, she is also dating a guy who has dubious intentions. I am very worried that this will impact her already poor grades. I fear that she is on the verge or retaining now. Should I do anything to help her? What can I do?

It is really heartwarming to see you going the extra mile in trying to help your friend, but before you do anything give the whole situation some thought. There must be some reason she made this choice, and some reason why she was also allowed to enrol into such a subject combination as approved by the school. Consider that you might not have the best gauge of her actual attitude or aptitude – different people have different methods of carrying themselves and you can’t always assume to understand a person and their entire life and choices in entirety.

That in mind, also remember that there is a chance that even if you do try to help her, she might not take well to it. Nobody likes to be doubted or told they are doing something wrong, so remember to approach the situation gently and carefully, or you could easily make things worse by adding tension to your friendship, making her more adamant to stick to what she’s doing, or cause her to be more walled up against the idea of help if it just feels like criticism. Ask her about her choices and help her work through her thought processes in that decision to help her review why she made this choice and if it’s what she really wants, if it’s what will really work out for her, and if you can, advise her to consult a teacher about it. In the end, at the same time respect the choices she makes for herself, and if you can simply help her in any way you can, such as by engaging her in study groups with you and helping her adopt a better, more positive learning attitude.

Next, about the dubious boyfriend. Why is she still dating him? Is she even aware of the suspicious intentions he might have? Don’t be a constant nagger or it may put her on edge, but gently sit her down and try to discuss the situation with her. Remember, and remind her, that it is her life and her choices, but ensure that she keeps in mind what she has at risk. Even if she chooses to continue the relationship, remind her to always be on her guard and remember what is most important to her. Try not to bring in external interference though, as this ‘meddlesome behaviour’ breeds hatred, distrust, and can make her even more determined to continue with what she wants to do even if it is not the wisest – but worse comes to worst, you can always discuss this with a trusted mutual or adult, such as a teacher. You can also try speaking to her boyfriend, or her boyfriend’s friends, to gauge the situation.

In the end, remember that while she is your friend and it is in your right to care for her, she is her own person. She will make her own choices, reap all of their consequences, and learn from them. You do not have any responsibilities over her. Try to keep your role as a reminder, a supporter, someone to help her keep things in perspective and be there when she needs help, and remind her that you’re there for her – but don’t be an ‘interferer’. That said, best of luck to you and your friend!


Hypothetically speaking, if i like a guy that im close to and he show signs of liking me back, should i confess? I’m afraid that this will ruin our friendship. Should I wait for him to confess? Should i confess? I stay up nearly every night thinking about him. My feelings fluctuate and sometimes they overwhelm me. I don’t know what to do. But we do both give each other mixed signals…

First thing’s first, be sure of what you want. Do you really want a relationship out of this? Would it be better than the friendship you have now? Can you afford to have a relationship at this time? I know it may sound critical, but you show signs of strong infatuation, and while it may feel like a good idea to get carried away, try to step back and give yourself a little time to cool down so you can think more clearly about what you might be jumping into. Because it always feels like a good idea in the moment, but sometimes, in retrospect, it might not have been. Infatuation often also makes us see things that might not really be there. Either way, it’s easy to get carried away by feelings, so don’t feel bad about that – the important thing is remembering and respecting yourself in the long run.

In the end, however, the choice is always yours. If you do want what that could offer, if you are willing to take the risk, and accept any consequence it may have, by all means confess.

An easier way to do it, however, would be to avoid confessing explicitly, but rather instead of mixed signals make the conscious effort to let him know you like him. That way he will not be pressured to give an immediate explicit response, but can in his own way show if he reciprocates or not, or may even prompt him to actually confess as well if he feels confident about it.

Besides, when all else fails, this is what we have friends for – employ a mutual or subtly probe around to try to figure out from a third party if there is any truth in the signals you’re getting from him. At the same time, though, do remember that just because both parties are interested and committed in a relationship, there is no guarantee it will succeed. Everything, including the friendship, just like in any other way this could happen, is still at risk. But in the end as always the choice is yours, whether or not you’re ready to take those chances for what you want.

Lastly, remember that there is no need to put a label to the kind of relationship you have with someone. Whatever it is, is. Embrace it.


How does one effectively memorise huge chunks of work (for eg. bio)?

First things first, you should always understand your work, that way memorising may be done more efficiently and effectively. For example, blatantly trying to memorise how DNA replication works and trying to force all the enzyme names into your brain is not a good idea. Making use of word mnemonics, such as Helen Saw Two Dogs Practicing Dog Language, may stand for Helicase, Single strand binding protein, Topoisomerase, DNA polymerase, Primase, DNA polymerase, Ligase. Such a method may be deemed useful for memorising long chains of information or sub-headings (factors affecting Demand and Supply for example). As recommended by a senior,  you can look up this app called “Anki” which is a flashcard app that is a Spaced Repetition Software (SRS).

In addition, the environment at which you are memorizing is important. The amount of content that your brain retains depends on the amount of disruption and distractions in your surroundings. Avoid studying in crowded and noisy places, and do not multitask. When it comes to memorizing information, it is best to focus on that one thing.

Making summaries and mindmaps are also a good way to allow your brain to easily summarise and retain information from your last study session. You should relook and refresh your memory according to the Spaced Repetition chart by studying the mindmaps.

Lastly, ask yourself what kind of a learner are you, are you more of a kinesthetic, auditory or visual learner? Different learners have different ways of memorising information. For example, visual learners may colour code their notes or mindmaps by associating the colours with the words, while auditory learners may look for more musical ways to memorise their work. Good Luck!

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