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1/9/2019 Writings

 Mathematics Writings Codings Music

My Writing Space
In the 2012 International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), I came across Brian Chen's (who
won a gold medal) blog post on the Art of Problem Solving portal, depicting the thought
process when solving the problems. "Oh my god this is so cool, " I thought. With the
influence (and motivation) by some other friends I started writing blog posts in December

I started off by narrating interesting events (like the Olympiad camps and scholarship
camps), and started writing about my thought process in the TOT, APMO and IMO. There
were also some posts coming in series, which are:

Experiences at Sunway College

IMO 2014

As I became more comfortable with writing, I also tried to write posts that are more
descriptive and reflect my thoughts. My topic of writing also turned from describing an
event to summarizing a few events happening to me:

Recap of my first year at the University of Waterloo

First four months at UW: parallel to description of weather
When the Malaysian government slashed the overseas scholarship :(

College Essays
In 2015, I applied to 6 universities in the United States for 2016 entry (class of 2020),
with the following outcome:

Accepted: Princeton University (early action), Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

University of Washington.
Denied: Stanford University, University of California (Los Angeles), University of
California (Berkeley).

Walking through some selected essay phrases

In general most of these essays involve my experiences in math Olympiad, but there are
much more beyond that!

A Time You Encountered Failure and What Did You Learn (The Common

Honestly speaking, I have already sensed something going wrong in the 2011 pre-IMO
training as teammates talked about some deep geometry theorems, with Justin saying
"it's in Plane Geometry". As it turned out, the IMO 2011 itself fell short of my own
expectation: to the point that I couldn't solve even the easiest question 4 on Day 2.

Notable phrases:

“ One hour, 30 minutes, 10 minute… I felt the heat spreading through my body with
heart pounding fast, impeding my mind from finding alternative solutions. ”
(Describing the anxiety as the time passed because I couldn't solve anything).
“ My paltry Honorable Mention humiliated me as the medalists ascended the stage
and waved their flags proudly. ” (Describing my depression as my performance fell
short of my expectation).
“ Suddenly, the solutions to some previously inscrutable problems were “unlocked”
magically with my enhanced mathematical knowledge, motivating me to strive even 1/2
1/9/2019 Writings

harder. ” (Showing how my problem solving skills really improved without my


How Does Culture Shape You? (Princeton)

Ethnics culture. How does Chinese / Buddhists work. But there isn't much to talk about
compared to academic culture that I deeply resonate with. Thus, I chose to compare the
differences between the academic environment in my high school (the competitive "kiasu"
culture) and in the IMO training camp.

Notable phrases:

“ We exhibited augmented joy or downcast expressions with yells and screams

abounding, even upon slight victory or defeat. ” (The extent to which we took our
rankings and scores seriously in class).
“ Paradoxically, “kiasu” culture was not evident in the International Mathematical
Olympiad (IMO) training camps, even though the intense elimination process shaped
a competitive environment. ” (People tend to be more generous in sharing knowledge
in the training camp).
“ While the competition from both sides rendered shirking and complacency
impossible, it was the selfless culture in the latter that enhanced my journey of
learning. ”

How Did You Make Others' Lives Better (MIT)

There were a few kind deeds that I could force myself onto the paper (come on, how can
a decent human being not helping some other individual at least once?). I chose to talk
about an experience of teaching piano to a girl 5 years younger than I am, how she
improved and how she started loving piano.

Notable phrases:

“ Every piano lesson was therefore a nightmare with profuse rebukes and hitting by
the teacher, till she developed a phobia of her home piano. ” (A little exaggeration
here, but that's how bad the situation was when I first taught her).
“ More heartening, however, was when she, who previously stayed away from piano,
eventually tapped different musical rhythms ardently while completing her
schoolwork and was eager to practice. ” (The tranformation done to her...TADAAA!)

How Does Your Community Shape You (MIT/Stanford)

Again the topic revolves around my exposure to mathematics. This time, I talked about
my experiences in the Math Olympiad Training Camp. That was one of the moments I
savoured the most: I was surrounded by people who shared the same passion as I did,
making it possible for us to converse on a diverse scope of topics.

“ Some humorous interjections like “Fermat’s postulate was useless compared to

Euler’s” made all discussion content ingrained more deeply in our hearts. ”
“ My diversified interaction with this mathematical community, therefore, honed my
aptitude and attitude to stretch myself to the limit and reach the very horizons in
mathematics. ” 2/2