Mr. Chan Meng Hui is one of Singapore’s oldest marathon runner and a patient of Dr. Kevin Yip.
The children in the Yip family seem to have patented scoring As in O-level examinations a little ahead of time.
Bryan Yip, 14, collected 10 As and pass grades in two other subjects, while his sister Michelle, 12, scored five As and pass grades in another two subjects.
O-level candidates are typically 16 years old.
Being advanced seems to run in the family: their mother, Dr Joanna Lin, 43, finished her O levels at 14 and her A levels at 17.
The siblings are among just 10 young people in the last three years – mainly international students – who have taken an O- or A-level exam earlier than usual at the British Council.
The council offers O- and A-level exams by Cambridge International Examinations and the London Edexcel Board, which administers educational qualifications in Britain.
The Ministry of Education here, which administers the Singapore-Cambridge O- and A-level exams, said that in the last five years, fewer than five students a year took its exam at a younger-than-usual age. The youngest for its O levels was 14, and for its A levels, 16.
Dr Lin, an oncologist from Malaysia, and her husband, Dr Kevin Yip, 45, an orthopaedic surgeon from Hong Kong, are permanent residents who moved here in 1996.
In June last year, the couple got Bryan to take Edexcel O-level papers in English, Chinese, Biology and Human Biology; they signed up Michelle for the Chinese paper ‘just to try it out’.
Dr Lin said: ‘Their work looked like it might be good enough for the O levels.’
Their results – two As and two Bs for Bryan, and a C for Michelle – encouraged the couple to sign them up for more papers.
Over the following year, Bryan took both Edexcel and Cambridge International exams in Geography, History and Chemistry, and Cambridge International papers in Maths and Physics – and scored As in all.
Michelle took both exam boards’ papers in Biology and Maths, an Edexcel paper in Human Biology and a Cambridge International one in Chinese. She scored As in all except Chinese.
Dr Yip said: ‘They’re just regular children who love playing computer games and SMS-ing their friends.’
His wife added that the general level of education here was of a high standard, and that ‘their classmates could probably do as well if they took the exams’.
To let the children focus on the exams, their parents took them out of school this year to be tutored at home.
Bryan was in Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), and Michelle, at Henry Park Primary School.
Bryan, who plans to become a doctor like his parents, said: ‘It feels quite good that what others are slogging over for four years, I’ve done in one and a half.’
Michelle said: ‘Not having homework is kind of nice, but I miss my friends.’
So their parents have placed them back in school, but in Britain.
Last month, they started lessons at Concord College in Shropshire. Bryan is preparing for four A-level subjects, while Michelle will do more O-level papers and start preparations for the A levels too.
Dr Yip plans on having them back here for their university studies.
In the Yip home here, the youngest of the brood seems likely to carry on the family tradition: Anthony, at five, is already reading encyclopaedias by himself.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MARIA ALMENOAR
Credits: Asia One