When it comes to studying, Singaporeans are probably the world's best. Our students came out tops in the recent Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) international benchmarking test, a study to measure how well students use their knowledge and skills to solve real-world problems.
But how we got there is a myriad of factors and among them, is certainly the availability of conducive spaces for studying.
Pay-per-use study areas such as Desk Next Door and The Study Area have sprung up, with entrepreneurs tapping on the increasing competition among students here for good study spaces.
But here are some other sites you could head to to join in the academic hustle:
Libraries these days are getting pretty swanky. The venues are well-designed and aesthetically pleasing. If you can fight the urge to stop and pose for fancy Instagram photos, then they are really conducive spaces to get lost in your notes and readings. Don't tell me you've never been to the Library@Orchard in Orchard Gateway and been awed by the white winding shelves at the bottom floor.
Libraries have electrical plugs and comfortable seats - too comfortable in fact, as they induce sleep.
Some libraries even have cafes in them so you can easily get a cuppa as you mug, such as Cafe Galilee outlets at Ang Mo Kio Public Library and Woodlands Regional Library.
2. Community clubs
No, community clubs (CCs) are not just places for senior citizens to go and learn sewing or do taichi, neither are they just places for you to meet your MPs at community events such as during mooncake festival.
Most community clubs have conducive, well-equipped study rooms for residents in nearby areas to use.
For example, at Nee Soon South Community Club, there's an air-conditioned study room with about 20 seats opened from 9am to 10pm daily. However, this comes at a price. Nee Soon South CC charges a membership fee of $12 per year.
Over in Sengkang CC, there's a study room with about 15 tables, open from 9am to 10pm daily. No registration is required here. During exam periods, it opens 24 hours, with snacks and drinks available for free.
So, it might be best to check first whether the CC you intend to head to requires membership, before sauntering in with your thick stacks of notes and textbooks.
3. Educational institutions
These are, safe to say, the most apt locations, because they are literally meant for education. Many people do not know this, but some parts of the grounds of tertiary institutions here are open to public access.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) has numerous study spots. There's even a Starbucks that isn't a Starbucks! Hear me out. The area in front of the Starbucks at basement one of the Education Resource Centre is not technically owned by Starbucks, so you don't really have to buy a drink from them to sit at the tables, although honestly who wouldn't like a cuppa?
Another favourite, and possibly much more convenient location since it's situated in the heart of town, is Singapore Management University (SMU). Empty chairs and tables are all around the public access areas at ground level and basement level. There are also electrical plugs and Wi-Fi. So find a table and study away. You'll blend right in, since SMU students mug like crazy anyway.
4. Cafes and F&B outlets
As you can't study with a hungry tummy, cafes are always amazing places to do your reading. Most cafes come with nice background music, providing the soundtrack to your dramatic pursuit of academic excellence.
Apart from the usual suspects like Starbucks and McDonald's, the other more unique and less mainstream "hipster" types, are also a draw, such as Drury Lane in Tanjong Pagar and The Book Cafe.
They have delicious cakes, which is comfort food when you're miserable after studying for so long and still not understanding what you're reading.
Electrical plugs and Wi-Fi mean you can do your work and research on your electronic devices without running out of juice.
Admit it, I'm sure you have gone to a cafe, bought a drink, then sat there for six odd hours trying to study. Even as your drink became more and more diluted as the ice melted, you still insisted on taking only tiny sips from the cup to make the drink last longer.
I have seen students studying at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Yishun. They mostly hang around the first floor where there are available tables. While there's no convenient access to plugs, there's a sense of calm and serenity because, well, a hospital is a place where people go and get healed.
My editor asked me: "Aren't they afraid of catching a virus?" But I guess with the flora and fauna, wide food and beverage options, and the beautiful view of Yishun Pond stretching into the distance, people find the hospital an inviting place where they can focus their minds on their books and notes, and where their tired souls get respite.
6. Changi Airport
One of the world's best airports, it is also a popular study haunt in Singapore.
It's open 24 hours, has free air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi.
There are multiple eateries for you to find comfort food - a necessity to beat exam stress.
Just remember, never to leave your belongings unattended because people might call the police if they feel your belongings are suspicious. Wouldn't want to lose that laptop two days before an exam, would you?
Also, whatever you do, don't outstay your welcome and repeat the act of that guy who entered the departure hall and stayed in there for 18 days last year.