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IGCSE Achievement: Tran Le Ngoc Khanh (Cally) Achieves Top in Vietnam

When it comes to Combined Science, AIS Saigon’s Tran Le Ngoc Khanh (Cally) is not just best in class - she’s best in country.


Tran Le Ngoc Khanh (Cally) has topped Vietnam for IGCSE Combined Science in the June 2023 series, an achievement that has given her the courage to pursue a career in medicine.

Success breeds success
The Year 11 student has her sights set on studying anesthesiology and believes the solid background knowledge she has developed through studying for IGCSE Combined Science will stand her in excellent stead. 

“My Combined Science studies have helped me understand more complicated concepts in the biology and chemistry courses I’m currently taking, and my IGCSE success gives me confidence that I will be able to take on challenges in the medicine-related path ahead,” says Cally.

Love is in the air
Since falling in love with the science world in Year 7, Cally’s passion for the subject has continued to flourish.

“To me learning science is like discovering all the mysteries and magic in the world, and studying for IGCSE Combined Science is one of the ways I can immerse myself even more into the diverse science world.”

That’s not to say she was expecting to achieve top in Vietnam.

“I was very surprised to attain such a big achievement, but I was also very thankful that my hard work had paid off.”

The tools for success
In addition to Cally’s unbridled enthusiasm for all-things-science, dedication and discipline have been pivotal to her success. 

“Two or three months prior to the exam I made myself a daily study schedule, including what topics I would revise and how many past papers I would complete per day.  The past papers from 2019 – 2023 became my best friend, helping me to understand my IGCSE questions better. I also stayed up late every night for those last few months so I had more time for revision – although I went to sleep very early the day before the exam to ensure my optimum physical and mental health.”

Tutor support a secret weapon
Cally believes AIS Saigon’s supportive learning environment and top notch teachers also contributed to her outstanding results.

“I appreciate the teachers at AIS Saigon very much, because they have not only given me courage, love and support both physically and mentally, but they also provided me with a wide range of revision resources, enabling me to become familiar with a variety of questions and topics. This helped me to identify specific topics that I struggled with, in order to pay more attention to them when revising.”

The art of balance
Even for students who love their subjects as much as Cally does, there will always still be some challenges. Cally’s biggest hurdle?

“I would say that overcoming the pressure I put on myself to do well is the most challenging thing. Personally I am a person that sets goals quite high, and I force myself to be disciplined to make sure my goals are reached. Therefore, learning to find a balance between studying and relaxation so that I don’t get burnt out has been the hardest part of all.”

Navigating stress
In addition to her academic workload, Cally takes Chinese and piano classes and is a member of several NGOs and NPOs, and she admits that juggling multiple commitments is no easy task. How does she do it?

“I overcome my stress by listening to music and enjoying my favourite snacks, and I always plan out all my tasks in my bullet journal notebook. This allows me to not waste energy on organising tasks in my head, and not waste time procrastinating due to the uncertainty of deadlines. I also meditate or have some quiet time alone to calm myself down if I need to.”

Top tips from a top scholar
There’s no denying that preparing for exams can be stressful, but Cally has the following wise words for those keen to follow in her footsteps.

“Don’t stress out when things aren’t going how you want them to immediately, because good things take time. Sooner or later things will eventually come together nicely for you.”