Introduction

Welcome! My name is Daniel Lim Jhao Jian. Here is where I share my experience, knowledge and ideas. You are welcome to leave comments and follow my blog. You are free to copy anything from this blog. Please recommend this blog to your friends.


Friday, 26 August 2016

The 4 eventful months after my 1st year of Medicine course

Looking back at year 2015, the most interesting period of time was the 4 months between 27 May 2015 which was the last day of my 1st year of Medicine course and 29 September 2015 which was the start of my 2nd year of Medicine. Several interesting incidents happened during that 4 months. Even though now it is year 2016, I still remember those incidents very well, and I am going to write about them here.


27 May 2015 (Wednesday):
- Had lunch with my house mates
- Sat for Paper 2 of Progress 3 examination
- Had dinner at Nandos in AEON Bukit Indah

30 May 2015 (Saturday):
- Went back to Subang Jaya

1 June 2015 (Sunday):
- Had dinner at Burger Factory in SS15 with my parents and grandparents

3 June 2015 (Wednesday):
- My Clash of Clans Town Hall upgraded to level 9

4 June 2015 (Thursday):
- Passed 1st year of MBBS course at NUMed Malaysia

6 June 2015 (Saturday):
- Went back to Kulim

7 June 2015 (Sunday):
- Collected my SPM 2013 certificate at Kedah State Education Department in Alor Star
- My cousins came to Kulim

8 June 2015 (Monday):
- Had a food trip to Penang with my family
- Visited Snake Temple in Penang
- Watched Fast and Furious 7 at home with my cousins

9 June 2015 (Tuesday):
- Watched The Avengers: Age of Ultron at home with my cousins

28 June 2015 (Sunday):
- Returned to Subang Jaya

29 June 2015 (Monday):
- Had dinner at Thai Thai Restaurant in Sunway Pyramid with my friends

4 July 2015 (Saturday):
- Watched Terminator Genisys at GSC Cinema in IOI Mall with my friends
- Had dinner at Sakae Sushi in IOI Mall with my friends

5 July 2015 (Sunday):
- Had dinner at Souled Out in Sri Hartamas with my parents

8 July 2015 (Wednesday):
- Spent time at Taylor’s College

9 July 2015 (Thursday):
- Attended my relative’s wedding

11 July 2015 (Saturday):
- Had a weird dream which seemed to remind me about the importance of my family

12 July 2015 (Sunday):
- Had lunch at Yut Kee Kopitiam with my parents
- My all Dragons strategy in Clash of Clans no longer effective
- Had dinner at Fatty Crab Restaurant with my parents

16 July 2015 (Thursday):
- Had lunch at Sri Ganapathy Mess with my friends
- Had desserts at Weng Kee with my friends

17 July 2015 (Friday):
- Had dinner at KLCC with my extended family

18 July 2015 (Saturday):
- Had lunch at KLCC with my extended family
- Watched Ant-Man at GSC Cinema in IOI Mall with my friends
- Started using new strategies in Clash of Clans: GoWiPe and GoWiWi

19 July 2015 (Sunday):
- Completed Escape Room challenge at Berjaya Times Square with my cousins
- Had lunch at Pavilion Mall with my extended family
- Had dinner in Sri Petaling with my extended family

24 July 2015 (Friday):
- Tested Windows 10 in virtual machine

25 July 2015 (Saturday):
- Upgraded my Acer laptop to Windows 10

26 July 2015 (Sunday):
- Went to Ipoh with my parents
- Had dinner at The Ship with my parents

30 July 2015 (Thursday):
- Spent time at Taylor’s College
- Met one of my friend at college

31 July 2015 (Friday):
- Obtained my Competent Driving License

6 August 2015 (Thursday):
- Spent time at Taylor’s College

9 August 2015 (Sunday):
- Went to Penang with my parents
- Went back to Kulim

12 August 2015 (Wednesday):
- My uncle came to Kulim

13 August 2015 (Thursday):
- Went to Sungai Petani with my grandparents and uncle

15 August 2015 (Saturday):
- My parents came to Kulim
- Attended my grandfather’s birthday dinner in Penang

23 August 2015 (Sunday):
- Returned to Subang Jaya

29 August 2015 (Saturday):
- Had lunch at Shukaku Shabu-Shabu with my friends
- Had desserts at Fruity Bakery with my friends
- Attended the 1st birthday celebration of my mother’s friend’s granddaughter

4 September 2015 (Friday):
- Had dinner at Tony Roma’s in Citta Mall with my parents

10 September 2015 (Thursday):
- Watched Apple Hey Siri event online

11 September 2015 (Friday):
- Joined my friend’s birthday celebration at Fa-Ying by Rama V in Paradigm Mall

13 September 2015 (Sunday):
- Bought 16GB SD card for my HTC One E8 phone
- Had dinner at Fatty Crab Restaurant with my parents

17 September 2015 (Thursday):
- Upgraded my iPad Air to iOS 9

19 September 2015 (Saturday):
- Had dinner at Souled Out in Sri Hartamas with my parents

20 September 2015 (Sunday):
- Had lunch at Face to Face Noodle House in SS15 with my friends
- Played board games at Meeples in SS15 with my friends

24 September 2015 (Thursday):
- Attended my father’s friend’s Hari Raya Haji open house

25 September 2015 (Friday):
- Had dinner at Bubba Gump in Sunway Pyramid with my parents

26 September 2015 (Saturday):
- Moved into Horizon Residences

27 September 2015 (Sunday):
- Had dinner with my house mates

29 September 2015 (Tuesday):
- Began 2nd year of MBBS course at NUMed Malaysia


If you find this interesting, you may want to read this too:
http://daniellimjj.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-4-eventful-months-after-my-a2-level.html

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Oncoming posts

Posts with the following titles will soon be available on this blog:

1. The 4 eventful months after my 1st year of Medicine course

The posts are listed in the order in which they will be posted.


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Friday, 5 August 2016

My Social Life

When I was in primary school, I and my classmates were in the same class from Standard 2 until Standard 6. During that 5 years, I was quite close to most of my classmates and they were the only friends I had. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, I organised my birthday party at my house and I invited my classmates. Many of them attended and we really enjoyed it. Sometimes, we played board games in school when we were free, but the strict rules at my school limited that.

After completing primary school in late 2007, most of my classmates chose to study in SMJK Chio Min. However, my family members preferred that I study in SMK Sultan Badlishah, because it had better results in public examinations and it was only open to students who obtained straight A in UPSR. At that time, I actually wanted to choose SMJK Chio Min as I wanted to continue studying together with my primary school friends, but I eventually chose SMK Sultan Badlishah because I did not want to disappoint my family members. I felt sad having to separate with my primary school friends.

In January 2008, I started studying at SMK Sultan Badlishah. Only about 5 of my primary school friends came to study at SMK Sultan Badlishah. All of them were girls and none of them were very close to me previously. I had problems with my social life in secondary school. I made a few friends in class since my first few days in school, but I did not go and be friends with my other classmates or students from other classes. Worst of all, I sometimes quarrelled with some of the girls in my class.

On 5 April 2008, I organised my 13th birthday party. I invited many of my primary school friends, but not my secondary school friends as I was not close to them. During the party, I could meet and talk to my primary school friends and I felt happy about that. They also thanked me for making this possible through my birthday party. I told myself that I must organise another party in the following year.

Over the following months, due to my excellent results in school examinations, my popularity in secondary school greatly increased and many students from all classes knew me. Everywhere I walked, there would be girls from other classes saying hi to me and that made me feel proud of myself. Despite that, I was still close to only a few friends. I was quite quiet and passive in school. In fact, my teacher complained about that to my parents twice during the Parents' Day.

Towards the end of 2008, there was some improvement in my relationship with the girls in my class. Then in early 2009, I started becoming friends with them. In February 2009, I became very close to one of my friend who was very popular in school. Through him, I knew more people from other classes and became friends with them. Meanwhile, my popularity in school continued to increase. I made it a point to be friends with every one who said hi to me. As a result, the number of friends I had increased greatly.

On 4 April 2009, I once again organised my birthday party. I again invited many of my primary school friends. This time, I also invited some of my secondary school friends. However, during the party I had the feeling that my primary school friends did not want to talk to me that much compared to previously and they seemed to be more interested in playing their mobile phones. I realised that we were not that close anymore after being separated for more than 1 year. Therefore, I decided that my most important friends should be my secondary school friends instead of my primary school friends. I also decided not to organise my birthday party in the following year.

By late 2009, I had many friends in secondary school and I was no longer quiet. I and my classmates remained in the same class from 2008 to 2010. In 2010, I became closer to more of my friends, including those that I was not very close to previously. As a result, I started talking to my friends a lot. I became quite talkative till my teacher wanted to change my seat on a few occasions. However, for some reason, my popularity in school had been declining at that time. On 15 November 2010, I and my classmates went to Kulim Landmark Central to celebrate our end of lower secondary. That was the first and only time I had an outing with them.

In January 2011, I entered Form 4 which is upper secondary. My school reallocated every student into different classes. I was changed to a new class and only a few of my lower secondary classmates were in the same class as me. I felt a bit sad about that, but not too sad since I was still in the same school as my other lower secondary classmates. I became friends with my upper secondary classmates quite easily because I had known many of them previously. I still stayed in touch with my lower secondary classmates. Compared to my lower secondary classmates, my upper secondary classmates were less active and more quiet.

On 16 April 2011, I organised my 16th birthday party, due to requests from a few of my primary school friends. I invited many of my primary school and secondary school friends. Sadly, not many of my primary school friends attended it. In addition, those who attended did not talk to me much, instead they preferred to talk among themselves. Worst of all, among those who did not attend, many of them stated that they 'most likely will attend' and a few stated that they 'definitely will attend' on the RSVP form I gave them. This party was not interesting and there was a lot of wasted food. I was very disappointed with my primary school friends. As a result, I decided to ditch most of them and only consider my secondary school friends to be my important friends from then on.

In June 2011, I set myself the target of getting straight A+ in SPM in order to get the JPA scholarship. Since then, I had been studying very hard and I focused a lot on my studies. Consequently, I did not pay much attention to my relationship with my upper secondary classmates, so I did not become very close to them. In fact, at that time I considered myself a nerd and I was proud about that. When I entered Form 5 in January 2012, I and my upper secondary classmates remained in the same class.

On 11 July 2012, an incident happened which made me realised that apart from my studies my friends are also important and I should make the most out of every moment I had with them since we would be separated in a few months time. After that incident, I became much closer to my upper secondary classmates. I often gave them help in the studies since the SPM examination was approaching. I treasured my every moment in school with them, but time seemed to pass so quickly. After the SPM in November 2012, we were separated. I felt very sad about that and I missed them very much. I wanted to have outings with them at that time, unfortunately, I did not make an effort to organise one, and none of them did either.

In January 2013, I started studying A Level at Taylor's College Subang Jaya (TCSJ). I actually preferred studying Matriculation, but I had to study A Level because I was not confident of getting the offer for Matriculation after I thought that I screwed up the SPM. None of my secondary school friends studied at TCSJ at that time. The environment at TCSJ is very different compared to secondary school and I did not like college life. I also felt different from my college classmates as they were from Subang Jaya while I was from Kulim. 

As a result, I made only a few friends in college and I was quite antisocial. I was only close to my few friends and I talked very little to my other classmates. I also often had lunch alone. For the group assignment of the MPW Moral Education subject, I was put in the same group with a few classmates whom I was not close to. Consequently, I refused to participate in the assignment, which later caused me to fail the subject.

As time went on, I began to enjoy college life, mainly due to the excellent facilities, lenient rules and low stress at TCSJ. In fact, I felt that A Level was a better choice for me compared to Matriculation. In April 2013, there had been some improvement to my social life in college. I became closer to my friends and I also talked to more of my classmates. Starting from May 2013, I often went for lunch with my few close friends instead of alone. On 7 June 2013, for the first time I had lunch with my college classmates in a large group.

I had the opportunity to meet up with my secondary school friends when I went back to my secondary school to get my SPM results in March 2013 and to receive the award for getting straight A in SPM in May 2013. I was hoping to continue meeting them in the future. During my college holidays in June 2013, I took the initiative to organise an outing with my upper secondary classmates. However, the response from them was not quite positive. Some did not respond at all while a few left the group conversation without responding. Eventually, only 3 of them turned up. We had lunch at Kulim Landmark Central. That was the last time we met.

In July 2013, a few of my secondary school friends joined the July intake of A Level at TCSJ and I was happy to see them. At that time, my relationship with my college classmates further improved. I talked more to many of them. I also went for lunch with them in a large group quite often. On 31 July 2013, an important incident happened. I confessed to many of my college classmates about my love story in secondary school which aroused their interest, causing our conversation to last very long. As a result, they knew about me much more and I realised that I could actually communicate with them quite well. That incident brought me became much closer to them compared to previously.

In August 2013, there was 1 week holiday, and then 3 weeks of college examination, followed by another 1 week of holiday. During the holidays, I wanted to meet up with my secondary school friends again, but none of them were free. By September 2013, I was very close to my college friends and I was no longer antisocial. Because of that, I felt that college life was even more interesting than before. Through my secondary school friends who were studying at TCSJ, I knew some of their classmates. However, apart from that, I did not know any student from other classes, because the environment at TCSJ did not foster much interaction between students from different classes.

On 11 November 2013, I had an outing with my college friends for the first time. We went to Secrets of Louisiana for lunch. Then on 9 December 2013, another incident happened. I helped one of my college friends to carry her books and she called me a gentleman. That incident made me realise that I still could give my college friends a good impression about me even though I was quite antisocial previously. After that incident, I started considering my college friends to be my most important friends, replacing my secondary school friends. It had been quite some time since I last contacted my secondary school friends as I was busy revising for my AS Level examination earlier.

From 16 to 18 December 2013, I and my college friends went on a holiday trip to Singapore. It was an interesting trip, even though some incidents happened. That trip made me value my friendship with them even more. During my holidays in late December 2013, some of my secondary school friends talked about meeting up. Again, very few responded to the conversation and this time I did not respond too.

In the first half of 2014, I treasured every moment I had with my friends in college and I made the most out of it, since we would be separated after a few months. I had lunch with my college friends almost every day, and we had outings occasionally. I also gave them help in their studies quite often. At that time, I had considered my secondary school friends who studied at TCSJ to be my college friends as well, so they were also my most important friends.

In May 2014 during my A2 Level examination, I felt sad that the exam was going to end because I would be separated with my college friends after that. It turned out that I was thinking too negatively. During the 4 months after the examination, I and my college friends had outings quite often, so we were not actually separated. We went on a holiday trip to Redang Island from 16 to 18 July 2014. That trip is one of the most interesting trips I had. We continued meeting up until September 2014 and those 4 months were very interesting for me.

In September 2014, I started studying MBBS at Newcastle University Medicine (NUMed) Malaysia. I felt sad that I would not be meeting my college friends for quite some time, but I was sure that we would continue meeting up in the future whenever there is break. At NUMed, I told myself that I should not repeat the same mistake of being antisocial. I made some effort to get to know the students in my seminar group as well as some students in other groups.

I chose not to attend the orientation events organised by the seniors because I was worried that the seniors might disturb me by asking me to do weird things. Despite that, I did not have problems getting to know other students because the environment at NUMed encourages interaction between students. One of my housemate was quite popular in university. Through him, I got to know his friends, some of them were also very popular. Soon, I became friends with every one in my seminar group and many students in other groups. During the Progress 1 exam in November 2014, I scored excellent results and was ranked 9 in my cohort. That helped make more students in my university know me.

On 26 November 2014, I and my group mates celebrated the birthday of someone in our group. During the celebration, we played the 'Truth and dare' game, where I confessed to my group mates about my love story. That incident brought us closer together. As a result, I started considering my university friends to be my most important friends along with my college friends. Meanwhile, I ditched most of my secondary school friends since I had not kept in touch with them for a long time, except for those few who studied at TCSJ.

On 11 December 2014, I had an outing with my university group mates for the first time. We had breakfast at Tea Garden in Bukit Indah. In the first half of 2015, I and my group mates had several outings. We also celebrated the birthdays of almost every one in our group including me. During the university breaks in December 2014 and April 2015, I met up with some of college friends. In June 2015, I completed Stage 1 of MBBS successfully. During my 4 month break at that time, I and my college friends met up several times.

In September 2015, I began Stage 2 of MBBS. In the previous years, there were some changes in the seminar groups, where 1 or 2 students in every group were moved to another group. At that time, I was quite worried of being moved to another group. In turned out that for my year, there was no change at all for every seminar group, thanks to the fact that very few students failed Stage 1. I was happy that I could remain in the same group with my group mates.

From late 2015 until the first half of 2016, I occasionally had outings with my university friends, just like in Stage 1. During my breaks in December 2015 and April 2016, I again met my college friends. Starting from April 2016, I often sat with my friends when I had lunch in my university's cafeteria and talked to them while eating. That brought me even closer to my university friends. In June 2016, I successfully completed Stage 2. Before going back for the break, I and my university friends went to watch movie together. During the 3 month break, I and my college friends met up many times. We were still very close even though we had separated for 2 years.

In late August 2016, I begin Stage 3 of MBBS which is the clinical year. My university completely reallocate every student into different seminar groups. As a result, I am no longer in the same group as my group mates during Stage 1 and 2, so I feel sad about that. However, we are still studying in the same university, so we continue to meet and keep in touch with each other. Meanwhile, I still keep in touch with my college friends.

Now, I consider my university friends and college friends to be my most important friends, and this will remain the same in the future. Unlike my primary school and secondary school friends previously, I will never ditch my college friends and university friends. Even though I was once quite close to my primary school and secondary school friends, we never had much interesting activities together and thus we had less memories, so our friendship couldn't last very long. In contrast, I have a lot of wonderful and remarkable memories with my college friends and university friends which will make our friendship long lasting.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

How I Feel About Assignments?

Assignment is a common form of assessment used in academics, just like examinations. In some cases, both assignment and examination are used together, while in other cases, only either one of examination or assignment is used. If you have the choice, do you prefer to be assessed through assignments or examinations? For me, I prefer assignments, but my feeling about assignments have changed from time to time in the past.

When I was in primary school, I never had any assignments. Examinations were the only form of assessment. Then, in lower secondary school, there were assignments for the History and Geography subjects. In Form 1, since that was my first time doing assignments, it was very daunting for me. I did not have any idea how to do the History assignment, so I had to ask my mother to do most of it for me. The Geography assignment was a bit easier because my teacher gave us samples of it, but I still had to do it under my mother's guidance. At that time, I hated assignments a lot. In Form 2, since I had the experience of doing the assignments in the previous year, I did not find them so difficult and I was able to do them without help from my mother. I also worked with my friends on some parts of the assignments. I no longer hated assignments, although I still did not enjoy doing them. In Form 3, I no longer felt that the assignments were difficult, due to the experience I had from the past 2 years. In fact, I began to enjoy doing the assignments. The reason was because at that time, my grandparents limited my usage of the Internet because they were concerned about my studies, but I could use the assignments as an excuse to go onto the Internet, since the assignments were done using computer.

In upper secondary school, there was no more assignment for History. Instead, there were assignments for ICT, Additional Mathematics and Moral Education. The ICT assignment was quite easy and I enjoyed doing it. However, it turned out that my teacher himself offered to do some parts of the assignment for every student. I preferred my own work, but unfortunately my teacher did not like my work and he insisted that I use the one provided by him. The Additional Mathematics assignment was also quite easy and I enjoyed doing it too. I eventually scored 8/10 in that assignment. The Moral Education assignment was not difficult, but I did not enjoy doing it because it involved writing essays which I disliked. Worst of all, unlike other assignments, the Moral Education assignment must be handwritten and cannot be done using computer.

After finishing my SPM examination, my parents took me to attend the Taylor's College open day in December 2012. There, the counsellor introduced Cambridge A Level and South Australian Matriculation (SAM) which were the pre-university programmes offered at Taylor's College. He explained to us that A Level is fully accessed by examinations while SAM is assessed by 30% examinations and 70% assignments. Thinking back at secondary school, even though I did enjoy doing some of the assignments, I was more accustomed to examinations compared to assignments as most of the subjects in secondary school were fully assessed by examination. So, I decided that A Level which is fully examination based is more suitable for me.

In January 2013, I started studying A Level at Taylor's College. There was no assignment at all for the A Level subjects. However, I had to study the MPW Moral Education and Malaysian Studies subjects which were made compulsory by the Ministry of Education. Both assignments and examinations were used in the assessment of the MPW subjects. Therefore, I still had assignments to do. The Moral Education assignment was a group assignment. At that time, I was quite antisocial in college and I was not close to any one in my assignment group. As a result, I refused to participate in that assignment and I thought I could pass by just scoring well in the examination. It turned out that I failed the MPW Moral Education because I had no mark for the assignment. After discussing with the lecturer, he gave me an alternative 20 page assignment with the title 'The Dumping of Babies in Malaysia'. I definitely did not enjoy that assignment, but I was able to do it reasonably well, so I managed to pass the Moral Education in the end. As for the MPW Malaysian Studies, there was also a group assignment. Unlike the Moral Education, the lecturer allowed us to choose our group members. I chose to be in the same group with my few close friends and I participated in the assignment. In this assignment, we had to do a drama about pickpockets and I acted as the victim. It was quite easy and interesting.

In September 2014, I started studying MBBS at NUMed. On my first day at NUMed, the lecturer explained to us about the assessment system. For the Stage 1 and 2, there are 3 forms of assessment which are Progress (written) examinations, OSCE (practical) examinations and assignments. In order pass a year, students need to pass all 3 forms of assessments; a good performance in one cannot compensate for a poor performance in another. At that time, I thought that examinations would be much easier than assignments because the examinations are multiple choice, while assignments require doing research and writing long essays. In addition, I previously studied A Level which is fully examination based. I also knew that university assignments would be very different and much more difficult than assignments in secondary school. Therefore, I wished that there would be only examinations but not assignments.

There were 3 assignments in Stage 1. The 1st assignment was distributed just 2 weeks after the start of the course. In this assignment, I had to write a newspaper report about Folic acid supplementation and spina bifida, and a reflection about my first 4 weeks at NUMed. I found this assignment very difficult, as I had never written a reflection before and to write the newspaper report I had to do research which I was not good at. Worst of all, its deadline was just 3 days after the Progress 1 examination. I had to do half of the assignment during my revision period before the examination, and I left the other half for the 3 days after the exam. I was able to finish and submit the assignment on time, but I had no idea whether or not I had done the assignment correctly. I eventually got borderline pass for that assignment.

The 2nd assignment was about critical appraisal and literature review. This assignment was more difficult than the 1st so I decided to get a sample of the assignment from one of my seniors and use it as a guide. With the guide, I had the idea on how it should be done. However, this assignment was extremely tedious, because I had to read several long journal articles in detail, and that made me feel very stressed. Worst of all, for my batch, a new instruction was introduced for the first time, where the journal articles should be reviewed in an integrated manner rather than 'one after another'. Reviewing them 'one after another' is definitely easier and that was what my senior did because there was no such instruction for his batch. Amid the stress, I took the risk and ignored that instruction. I also did not make any citation which was required because I hated doing that. In the end, I once again got borderline pass for the 2nd assignment, but my score improved slightly compared to the 1st assignment. I was not deducted any marks for not following that instruction, but I loss several marks for not making citations. The difficulty of the 1st and 2nd assignments made me hate assignments even more.

Then, the 3rd assignment was the Family Study. I was required to write a detailed report after visiting a pregnant mother 4 times with my study partner. This assignment was the longest and it contributed the most marks compared to the others, so it was given particular attention by the lecturers. However, unlike the 1st and 2nd assignments, I felt this assignment was easier and more interesting. I was able to complete it without much stress and difficulties, and I didn't even get any sample from my seniors. I also learnt how to use EndNote at that time which made citations much easier. I was very confident that I would pass it. At last, I scored 85% for the 3rd assignment. It was an excellent score and was a very huge improvement compared to my 2nd assignment, and I was very proud of it. Because of that, I no longer hated assignments that much.

After completing the 3rd assignment, I was relieved that there would be no more assignments for Stage 1. Since assignments were the most difficult for me, I thought that the remaining of Stage 1 should be easy. However, I soon realised that I was too naive to think that way. It turned out that my revision for the Progress 3 examination was very stressful as there were a lot to revise and I started the revision too late. At that time, I no longer felt that examinations are easier than assignments.

In September 2015, I began Stage 2 of MBBS at NUMed. Unlike Stage 1, there were only 2 assignments in Stage 2. The 1st assignment was the Patient Study. In this assignment, I had to visit a patient with a chronic illness 4 times with my study partners and then produce a report about the patient. It is quite similar to the Family Study in Stage 1. Before I started doing this assignment, I had expected that it would not be too difficult since I did not find the Family Study difficult previously. This assignment turned out to be a little more difficult than the Family Study because it required more knowledge. Still, I did not feel stressed doing it. In fact, I completed and submitted it one week before the deadline. I eventually scored 75% in this assignment. Even though not as good as the Family Study, it is still a very good score.

The 2nd assignment was the Student Selected Component 1 (SSC1). This assignment had 2 parts, Literature review and Oral presentation. For the 1st part, I had to choose any topic that I am interested in and do a literature review about the topic. It is similar to the 2nd assignment in Stage 1. I chose the topic 'Is mirror therapy an effective treatment option for phantom limb?'. I first heard about phantom limb through one of the lectures in my university and I was interested to explore further about it. Before I started doing this assignment, I had expected it would be quite difficult since the 2nd assignment in Stage 1 was quite difficult for me. However, it turned out that this assignment was not that difficult after all. Even though I had to read several journal articles, I did not feel too stressed this time, probably because I had the experience gained from Stage 1 and the topic which I selected myself is more interesting. For the 2nd part, I had to present to an audience about my topic using PowerPoint. I considered this to be the easiest among all assessments in university. Back in Stage 1, when I first knew about the existence of this oral presentation, I thought that it would be quite difficult for me, but my thoughts on that had since changed. I felt that I performed quite well during the oral presentation. I scored 75% for the SSC1 in the end, which is the same score as the Patient Study.

After completing the 2nd assignment, I started revising for the Progress 2 examination. Just like what I had expected earlier, the revision was extremely stressful because there were a lot to revise and the topics were quite difficult. Since then, I feel that examinations are actually much more difficult than assignments. Doing research and writing essays for the assignments may not be easy, but is definitely not as difficult as having to understand and remember a lot of information to revise for the examinations. This is the direct opposite to what I thought in the beginning of Stage 1.

However, there is no assignment in Stage 3 and the 1st semester of Stage 4. Stage 3 is assessed by Progress examination, OSCE and MOSLER, while the 1st semester of Stage 4 is assessed only by Progress examination. My next assignment will be the Student Selected Component 2 (SSC2) in the 2nd semester of Stage 4.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

My Lost Glory in Academics

In the past before I entered university, I used to get excellent results in examinations. I obtained 9A+ 1A in SPM and 4A* in A Level. I also achieved straight A's in every single school and college exams from October 2009 until August 2014, a 5 year record. In September 2014, I started studying Medicine at NUMed Malaysia. At that time, I was hoping that I could continue my academic excellence in university.

On 22 September 2014 which is my first day at NUMed, the lecturer explained to us about the assessment system. For Stage 1 and 2, there are 3 forms of assessment which are Progress examination, OSCE and assignment. Every assessment is given 3 grades which are Green (Safe pass), Amber (Borderline pass) and Red (Fail). In order pass a Stage, students need to pass all 3 forms of assessments. A good performance in one cannot compensate for a poor performance in another. At that time, I felt that Progress examinations would be my strong point while assignments would be my weak point since I previously studied A Level which is fully examination based. The pass mark for Progress examinations is usually around 52%. I aimed to score 80% or above in every Progress examination because that feels like getting grade A, even though there is actually no special grade for 80%. As for the OSCE and assignments, I was just aiming for pass.

Things went well in the beginning. On 3 November 2014, it was the Stage 1 Progress 1 examination which is the first exam in university. I felt that the exam was more difficult compared to A Level, as many of the questions require a lot of thinking. I also found the questions on anatomy very difficult, but there were only a few of them. Despite that, I successfully scored 84% in that exam which is a very good result and I was ranked 9 in the whole cohort. I was very happy about my results and that greatly boosted my confidence in studying Medicine. I wanted to maintain the same results for the next examination. In early December 2014, I started my revision for the Stage 1 Progress 2 examination. While revising, I did not put in any effort to improve my knowledge on anatomy which I had identified as my weak point, because I thought that anatomy is not important since only a few questions on it appeared in Progress 1.

On 12 and 13 January 2015, it was the Stage 1 Progress 2 examination. Unlike the Progress 1, this exam had 2 papers. For Progress 2 Paper 1, I felt that it was about as difficult as Progress 1. Once again, there were a few anatomy questions and I could not answer most of them. After Paper 1 ended, I went back to the university accommodation together with a few friends. During the journey, I discussed with them about the exam questions. They said that they felt the anatomy questions were not difficult. Also, there were a few questions which I was already very confident that I answered correctly, but my friends had different answers, and they were also very sure that they were correct. That affected my confidence on Paper 1, and I felt I did not answer it that well compared to the Progress 1. I was hoping that I could do better in Paper 2 to compensate for that. What's more annoying is that one of my housemate proudly said that the anatomy questions were easy and that he felt his "love on anatomy is beginning to grow".

It turned out that Paper 2 was much more difficult than Paper 1. Out of my expectation, there were many questions on anatomy, most of which I could not answer. After taking Paper 2, I knew I had no chance of getting 80% in the Progress 2 anymore. Worst of all, when my housemate (who said the anatomy questions were easy) knew about that, he mocked me by saying "How are you going to be a doctor when you don't know anatomy?" I was quite annoyed with him over that incident. Eventually, I scored 73% for the exam. I was disappointed that my score had dropped a lot compared to the Progress 1, and as a result I hated the Progress 2. The timing of the Progress 2 exam was also bad. It was scheduled immediately after the winter break, therefore I could not relax and was forced to study during the break. In addition, the deadline for the 2nd assignment was just 2 weeks after the exam, so I had to start doing the assignment immediately after the exam and thus could not relax.

On 11 March 2015, I finally completed the 3rd and last assignment in Stage 1. After all those assignments, I decided to relax for one whole month. In mid April 2015, I started studying for the Stage 1 Progress 3 examination. Initially, I aimed to get back 80% in the Progress 3. However, I soon realised that I had started my revision too late. There were a lot to revise for the Progress 3 since it would test on everything learnt in both Semester 1 and 2 and that made me feel very stressed. I knew I could no longer get 80% so I gave up on it. The Progress 3 exam was on 26 and 27 May 2015. Progress 3 Paper 1 again had many anatomy questions and I could not answer many of them. Paper 2 also had many questions on anatomy, but somehow I was able to answer some of them. Still, I knew that I had no chance of getting 80% in the exam. On 4 June 2015, the overall results for Stage 1 was released. I obtained 68% for the Progress 3 and I passed Stage 1 successfully. At that time, I was having 4 month summer break. Since I had passed Stage 1, I did not think much about my examination results. Instead, I fully relaxed and enjoyed myself throughout the break.

On 29 September 2015, I began Stage 2. At that time, I felt that the 4 month break seemed to pass so quickly and I was still in holiday mood, so I could not get myself back to study. Then, one day in October 2015, I was thinking back of Stage 1. I realised that in the beginning of Stage 1, I was an excellent student, just like before I entered university, but starting from the Stage 1 Progress 2 exam onwards, my exam results dropped a lot and thus I had lost my excellence in academics. The Stage 1 Progress 1 exam was the last time I ever obtained excellent results. I felt sad thinking about that. I told myself that I must make a comeback by regaining my excellence in academics. I set myself the target of getting 80% or above in my next examination which was the Stage 2 Progress 1. That got me out of my holiday mood and back to study. I started revising for the Progress 1 examination in late October 2015 which was quite early. This time, I put in my effort to revise anatomy in more detail, since my weak point was anatomy. The revision made me feel quite stressed, but I persevered in order to achieve my aim.

The Stage 2 Progress 1 examination was on 11 and 12 January 2016. It turned out that this exam was very difficult as it tested on a lot of fine details, many of which I did not pay much attention during my revision. So, despite having done a lot of revision, I still could not answer very well in this exam. On 18 January 2016, the results of the Progress 1 exam was released and my score was 72%. I did not reach my target of 80% and I felt quite sad and disappointed over that. Later on the same day, I heard of the news that the JPA scholarship for leavers of the KPM Bursary had been suspended. It affected students who would be entering university from January 2016 onwards, and would not affect me and other students who were already offered the scholarship. I felt sad and pity for those students, and I gave them words of encouragement through the Facebook group for Bursary students. Then, thinking of myself, I realised how lucky I am to be sponsored by the JPA scholarship to study Medicine at NUMed. Even though I did not get 80% in the exam, I still passed and thus would be able to continue my course under the scholarship. Actually, my disappointment of not getting 80% in the exam is nothing if compared to the disappointment of those students who might be unable to further their studies due to the suspension of the JPA scholarship. Therefore, I should be grateful with my score in the exam, as long as it is a pass. Because of that, I was no longer disappointed about not getting 80% in the exam.

In late April 2016, after completing the last assignment for Stage 2, I started revising for the Stage 2 Progress 2 examination. Many students and even the lecturers claimed that this exam is the 2nd most difficult exam in our entire Medicine course. Therefore, even before I started the revision, I already expected that it would be very stressful. My expectation was true. I experienced extreme stress throughout May 2016 where I was busy revising. Amid the stress, I was worried that I might even fail the exam because I felt that I could not finish the revision in time. I was just hoping to pass and nothing more than that. I dared not even think about getting 80% as I knew that would be impossible. On 31 May and 1 June 2016, it was the Stage 2 Progress 2 exam. After all the hard work, I was able to answer reasonably well in the exam. The overall results for Stage 2 was released on 8 June 2016. I scored 64% in the Progress 2 and I passed Stage 2 successfully. Even though my results was worse compared to the previous examinations, I was grateful about it because I still passed.

From Stage 3 onwards, it is the clinical years. Compared to pre-clinical years, the learning process for clinical years is quite different, where there is a great emphasis on self-directed learning. As a result, clinical years is much more difficult and stressful. Therefore, I am definitely just aiming for a pass. I do not aim for better results as that will add to my stress. My attempt to regain my excellence in academics during Stage 2 had failed, and it looks like I will never be able to regain it again, but that doesn't matter to me anymore. Now, I have realised that whether I scored just a pass or 100% or anywhere in between, I am still graduating with the same MBBS degree, since my performance in exams will not be stated on the degree certificate at all, so regaining my academics excellence serves no real purpose. Medicine is a difficult degree course, so it is not reasonable to aim for the same level of performance in exams like A Level previously.

Friday, 11 March 2016

My 3 remarkable dreams in 1 night

One night in February 2016, when I was sleeping, I had 3 different dreams, one after another. They were not interconnected and were unrelated to each other. I can remember the dreams very well because I rarely have more than 1 dreams in 1 night, so they were quite remarkable.

On that night, I fell asleep at about 12:30AM which is quite early compared to usual because I was quite tired. Then, I had the 1st dream.

1st dream:

I was eating with my grandparents at a restaurant in SS2, Petaling Jaya. When eating, I thought of MyBurgerLab which I thought is located not far away. I walked around to have a look at MyBurgerLab, but I was unable to find it. My grandparents then came to call me and said that I should not simply walk around without telling them. They took me to find MyBurgerLab after we finished eating, but we still couldn't find it. Later, as we were leaving SS2, I searched on Google Maps and realised that I was at the wrong place because MyBurgerLab was in another part of SS2.

(MyBurgerLab is a burger shop in SS2. I went there once on 4 June 2014 with my college friends and that was a very interesting experience.)

I woke up from the 1st dream at about 4AM. I continued to sleep. Then, I had the 2nd dream.

2nd dream:

I and my cousins went on a holiday trip to Pakistan (not sure which city) for just 1 day. At the airport in Pakistan, there was an education fair. There, a few students were promoting NUMed Malaysia, and they stated that they have received offers to study Medicine at NUMed. I was happy that NUMed is gaining popularity internationally. Then, I brought an SD card from a computer shop at the airport as souvenir. We had lunch at a restaurant and stayed in a hotel near the airport for a few hours. After that, we boarded the flight back to Malaysia.

(In reality, I have never been to Pakistan before.)

I woke up from the 2nd dream at about 7AM. Since I usually wake up around 8:30AM, I continued sleeping. I had the 3rd dream at that time.

3rd dream:

I and my parents were in Penang. My father decided that we take a submarine ride. I did not oppose his decision, but I was actually worried of a submarine accident. As the submarine descends rapidly into the sea, I experienced extreme ear pain due to change in pressure. For some reason, I was unable to swallow my saliva to relieve the ear pain and I almost fainted. Finally, the submarine reached the bottom of the sea and I did not faint.

(In reality, there is no submarine ride for tourists in Penang, and I have never taken a submarine before. In the past, I used to experience severe ear pain whenever I take a flight during take-off and landing, but it is not so bad now.)

I then woke up from the 3rd dream at about 8:15AM. I got up from bed to get ready to go to university.

Thinking back the dreams, I came up with possible explanations for each of them, although I do not know exactly why I had them.

Possible explanations for the 1st dream:

- Now I am living in the hostel away from my family. Therefore, I do not have my family members, particularly my grandparents, guiding me in my daily life. Sometimes, I feel lost and do not know what is the right thing to do. Just like in the dream, I was looking for MyBurgerLab without realising that I was in the wrong place.
- I miss my college friends very much. Ever since I entered university in September 2014, I couldn't meet up with them very often. I particularly miss the time where I went to MyBurgerLab with them on 4 June 2014 and I hope that I can go there with them again in the future. This is probably why I thought of MyBurgerLab in the dream.

Possible explanations for the 2nd dream:

- In the past year, I became closer to my cousins compared to previously. We often have some interesting activities together whenever we meet. The dream about going on a holiday trip with them could be a representation of this fact.
- There are many students from Pakistan who read this blog. Some of them have contacted me personally for advice about education. I have even recommended NUMed Malaysia to those who are interested in studying Medicine. This may be why I had the dream about Pakistan.

Possible explanations for the 3rd dream:

Medicine course which I am currently studying is very challenging. I need to go through a lot of hard work and high levels of stress before I can successfully complete the course. I am also worried of failing the course. In the dream, the bottom of the sea represents success while the ear pain in the journey down the sea represents hard work and stress.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Movies and life lessons

Think about this, what are the characteristics of a good movie? Of course, a good movie should have good action and good storyline. But other than that, in my opinion, a good movie should also teach us a good lesson in life.

In January 2001, my grandparents installed Astro in our house. At that time, a weird thing happened. I like the colour blue, and the 'Star Movies' channel (now known as 'Fox Movies Premium') in Astro had a blue logo at that time, so I became interested in that channel. As a result, I started watching English movies. I find many of the movies quite interesting. I can still remember that the 1st movie I watched was Terminator 2: Judgment Day. However, a few years later, I lost interest in English movies, and I preferred watching Chinese drama series instead. The reason is that English movies often have settings that are very different from my daily life, so watching them gave me the feeling that 'I am in another world', a feeling which I dislike. On the other hand, Chinese drama series much more closely reflect my daily life.

In April 2014, for some reason, I suddenly thought about the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day which I watched several years ago. Even though I watched it several times in the past, I never really understood it. I searched for it on Google, and I found its plot on Wikipedia. After reading the plot, for the 1st time I fully understand the movie. I wanted to watch it again. Later, I decided to buy the DVD for Terminator 2: Judgment Day and I watched the movie on my laptop. One month later, on 22 May 2014, after my A2 final examination, my friends wanted to go to the cinema to watch X-Men: Days of Future Past. I was still not interested in English movies at that time, so I persuaded my friends to change their plans. However, my friends went on with the plan. I decided to join my friends and try watching the movie. That was the 1st time where I went to a cinema. It turned out that X-Men: Days of Future Past is a very good movie and I liked it very much. Interestingly, the plot of X-Men: Days of Future Past is similar to that of Terminator 2: Judgment Day in some aspects.

Since then, I regained my interest in watching English movies. Periodically, I would go to the cinema with my friends to watch new movies. Sometimes, I also watch both new and old movies online. For the past 2 years, I have watched several movies. I like all those movies, because they all have good action, good storyline and also good life lesson.

Here are the movies that I watched in the past 2 years and the lessons brought by these movies.


1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Watched: 29 April 2014
Life lesson:
There is no such thing as fate in our life. If we work for it, we will be able to live the life that we want.


2. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Watched: 22 May 2014
Life lesson:
Do not discriminate against others who are different from us.


3. Step Up: All In

Watched: 3 August 2014
Life lesson:
When doing something, the outcome is not always the most important. What's more important is that we enjoy and gain valuable experience from the process.


4. Guardians of the Galaxy

Watched: 10 August 2014
Life lesson:
Sometimes, we have to sacrifice ourselves in order to achieve something and for the common good of others.


5. Lucy

Watched: 2 September 2014
Life lesson:
In life, we should be willing to share our knowledge with others.


6. Taken (2008)

Watched: February 2015
Life lesson:
A father's love towards his daughter so deep that he is willing to do anything to protect and save her.


7. Fast and Furious 7

Watched: 8 June 2015
Life lesson:
We have to take risk in order to achieve our missions.


8. The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Watched: 9 June 2015
Life lesson:
Sometimes, we have to sacrifice ourselves for the common good of others.


9. Taken 2

Watched: June 2015
Life lesson:
When we encounter problems, instead of panicking, we should try to use our wisdom to solve them.


10. The Swimmers (Thai movie)

Watched: 2 July 2015
Life lesson:
We have to take responsibility for our own actions. Trying to cover up what we have done is not a solution and others will eventually find out.


11. Terminator Genisys

Watched: 4 July 2015
Life lesson:
Nothing in this world is absolute, things can change. We must be able to recognise the changes and react to them appropriately.


12. Ant-Man

Watched: 18 July 2015
Life lesson:
Sometimes, we inevitably make mistakes in our lives. But if we are willing to make up for our mistakes, we can still have another chance.


13. Terminator 3

Watched: August 2015
Life lesson:
Certain things in life are inevitable. We cannot avoid them, we have to learn to live with them.


14. Terminator Salvation

Watched: September 2015
Life lesson:
Do not have a negative judgement on someone just because of their origin.


15. Fantastic Four

Watched: November 2015
Life lesson:
Do not forget our origin after we have become someone special.


16. Anniversary 纪念日

Watched: 7 January 2016
Life lesson:
We should always value our relationship with our wife or husband and do not take them for granted, otherwise we will regret when we lose them.


17. The 5th Wave

Watched: 31 January 2016
Life lesson:
We should be careful in trusting other people at times of desperation.


18. The Interview

Watched: 10 February 2016
Life lesson:
There is no way for us to fake something, others will still know the truth.


19. Interstellar

Watched: 2 April 2016
Life lesson:
We can't undo a mistake done in the past, but we can still create a better future.


20. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Watched: 5 April 2016
Life lesson:
We should not act simply based on our thoughts, instead we should find out the truth first.


21. X-Men: Apocalypse 

Watched: 2 June 2016
Life lesson:
Do not let an unfortunate incident affect our rationality, instead, we should remember that we can still do the better for the future.


22. Bad Neighbors (2014)

Watched: 21 July 2016
Life lesson:
We should ensure that the activities we carry out in our house do not adversely affect our neighbours.


23. Captain America: Civil War

Watched: 17 August 2016
Life lesson:
We should respect the differences in opinion within a group.

Friday, 11 September 2015

My 1st year of Medicine course at NUMed Malaysia

The 1st year of my Medicine course at Newcastle University Medicine (NUMed) Malaysia lasted for about 9 months from September 2014 to May 2015. In my university, 1st year is known as Stage 1. For me, Stage 1 was very interesting and I enjoyed it very much. During Stage 1, I lived in Horizon Residences, Bukit Indah which is university-managed accommodation. Even though now I have completed Stage 1, I can still remember it very well. Here, I am writing about the 9 months when I was in Stage 1.

I applied to NUMed Malaysia in June 2014, which was rather late. The reason is that a personal statement is required for the application, which I started writing only after my A2 Level examination in May 2014. Before I applied to NUMed, I already received the offer to study Medicine at International Medical University (IMU). Later, I was offered a place by NUMed after attending the interview. I decided to choose NUMed over IMU because NUMed is the branch of a UK university while IMU is a local university.


22 September 2014 - 2 October 2014:

I started studying Medicine at NUMed Malaysia on 22 September. From 22 September to 24 September, there were induction programmes where Stage 1 students were introduced to the course and university. On 22 September, there was an English Language proficiency test which tested on writing. Those who did not pass it would have to attended English Language classes. I did not write the essay very well so I thought that I would not pass the test. Then on 23 September, Stage 1 students were introduced to the seminar groups. My seminar group is Group 7. My university began the teaching on 24 September. There was a Freshers' Fair on 26 September where Stage 1 students were introduced to the clubs and societies in the university. I joined the Chinese Society and Buddhist Society during the fair. On the same day, the results of the English Language proficiency test was released. Out of my expectation, I passed it and would not need to attend English classes. Only 18 students in the entire Stage 1 passed the test. On 27 and 28 September, there were a few orientation events organised by the seniors. I did not attend any of them since the attendance was optional and because of my bad experience during the orientation event when I entered Taylor's College previously. The university distributed the Assignment 3 which is the Family Study project to all Stage 1 students on 29 September. During that period of time, I was still getting to know how university life is like. Every night, I read the textbooks to prepare for the lectures on the next day. Although this could help me understand the lectures better, it was very time-consuming and tiring.

3 October 2014 - 6 October 2014:

There was no class on 3 October. However, there was a 1 hour feedback session on that day. During the session, we were asked about our experience at NUMed Malaysia for the past 2 weeks. After that day, there was 3 day break from 4 October to 6 October due to Hari Raya Haji. All my housemates went back to their hometown, but I did not because I wanted to go back only when there is a longer break. I stayed alone in Horizon Residences during that time. On 5 October 2014, my parents came to visit me. They took me out for lunch and bought me dinner.

7 October 2014 - 23 October 2014:

On 7 October, it was the first clinical skills practical session, where students were taught hand-washing. During the session, I made an embarrassing mistake by going to the wrong group because I was confused with the names of my group members. On 11 October, I attended a BBQ party which was held at the ground floor of Horizon Residences. Many students staying in Horizon Residences and some students staying elsewhere attended it. Then, I and my study partner visited our study mother for the Family Study project on 12 October. On 14 October, the university distributed the Assignment 1 to all Stage 1 students. I and my group mates went to Columbia Asia Hospital on 17 October for a health check-up. During our journey to and back from the hospital, I had a close conversation with my group mates and we took a group photo for the 1st time. This brought me closer to my group mates. My parents visited me for the 2nd time on 22 October. I settled down in Johor at that time and got used to university life. I no longer read textbooks to prepare for lectures because I felt that it is much more efficient and easier to just revise the lecture notes after the lectures since the lecture notes are quite complete. I also started doing revision for my oncoming Progress 1 examination and doing a part of the Assignment 1.

24 October 2014 - 26 October 2014:

From 24 October to 26 October, there was 3 day break due to Awal Muharam. This time, only 2 of my housemates went back to their hometown, and I again did not go back. My parents did not visit me because they had visited me on 22 October.

27 October 2014 - 2 November 2014:

On 28 October, there was a session for basic calculations. It was very easy for me and most students since we have learnt Mathematics. During that time, I was very busy revising for the Progress 1 examination. I stopped doing the Assignment 1 because I wanted to continue doing it only after the Progress 1 examination.

3 November 2014 - 6 November 2014:

The Progress 1 examination was on 3 November. It consisted of 100 multiple-choice questions. It was quite easy and I answered it well. I was confident of passing it and getting Green. After the examination ended, I still could not relax because I had to complete the Assignment 1 before its submission deadline which was on 6 November. From 3 November to 5 November, I was very busy doing the remainder of the Assignment 1. I found Assignment 1 difficult, but I was able to complete it at night on 5 November. Then, I submitted it on 6 November itself. I was not too confident of getting a pass for Assignment 1. The results of the Progress 1 examination was also released on 6 November. I got 84.54% which was Green and I was very satisfied about that.

7 November 2014 - 20 November 2014:

During that period of time, I felt very relaxed because I have completed and submitted the Assignment 1. On 7 November, an incident happened in the university made me feel unhappy. On the same day, a company came to our university to sell stethoscopes and there was a promotion. I brought my stethoscope at that time. I and my study partner also carried out our 2nd visit to our study mother on that day. Later on that night, I telephoned my grandparents. I became very emotional when I told them about the unhappy incident. On 12 November, all Stage 1 students had a visit to Hospital Sultan Ismail for the 1st time. There, I and one of my friend communicated with a patient for some time. That was the 1st time where I met and communicated with real-life patients. At the end of the visit, we were late to go back to the auditorium because the senior in charge of us lost track of the time and we were too interested in looking around the hospital. However, the lecturers were understanding so it was not an issue. Then, I had the 1st wet practical session on 13 November. It was about reading and interpretation of ECG. I attended the 1st class for TITAS and Hubungan Etnik which are MPU subjects on 14 November. On 17 November, there was a debate on ethics and genetics which involved every student.

21 November 2014 - 23 November 2014:

There was 3 day break from 21 November to 23 November because it was the Sultan of Johor's birthday. I and all my housemates did not go back to our hometown. On 23 November, my parents came to visit me.

24 November 2014 - 27 November 2014:

On 24 November, it was the 1st session on history taking. During the session, there were a few volunteers acting as patients. Because I had never done it before, I panicked when the lecturer chose me to be the 2nd person in my group to do it. The lecturer then agreed to let me be the 4th person to do it instead. I was able to perform the history taking quite well. On 25 November, there was a clinical skills practical session on CPR. I performed the CPR quite well and I felt that CPR is the easiest among all clinical skills. One of my group mate's birthday is on 26 November. I and my group mates celebrated her birthday on that day. The celebration was held at the Student Recreation Centre of our university. During the celebration, we had a close conversation and this definitely brought us closer together. Then, the university distributed the Assignment 2 to all Stage 1 students on 27 November.

28 November 2014 - 1 December 2014:

From 28 November to 1 December, there was 4 day break because it was the Hol day of Johor. Only one of my housemates went back to his hometown this time and I did not go back as usual. My parents did not visit me because they had visited me in the previous week.

2 December 2014 - 11 December 2014:

At that time, I started revising for the oncoming Progress 2 examination. On 2 December, the results of the Assignment 1 was released. I got Green for Knowledge and Amber for Skills. I was satisfied because I managed to pass it. There was another debate about ethics and genetics on 4 December. On the same day, it was the birthday of another of my group mate. I and my group mates again celebrated his birthday at the Student Recreation Centre. Later on that day, a few kids were brought to the lecture theatre of my university. Every student was given the opportunity to communicate and interact with the kids. However, because I did not know how to interact with kids, I just stood by the side to observe. Some students interacted with the kids very well, while others had the same problem like me. On 10 December, there was another session for calculations. Then on 11 December, I and my group mates celebrated the birthday of my another group mate. We first went to Tea Garden in Bukit Indah and had breakfast together, then we continued the celebration at the Student Recreation Centre of the university. That was the 1st time where I and my group mates had an outing.

12 December 2014 - 11 January 2015:

My university had a Christmas break which lasted 4 weeks from 12 December to 11 January. On 13 December, my parents and grandparents came to Johor to fetch me back to Subang Jaya. Then, I went back to Kulim on 14 December and stayed 1 week there. On 21 December, I returned to Subang Jaya and stayed for 2 weeks. I met up with my Taylor's College friends on 23 December and 30 December. I went to Taylor's College on 29 December to collect my A Level certificate. Then, I came back to Johor on 3 January. Even though there was still 1 more week of break, I did not want to wait until the last minute to come back since it would be the Progress 2 examination when the university reopens. My housemates came back on 4 January. During that period of time, I was very busy doing revision for the Progress 2 examination, so I did not really enjoy the break.

12 January 2015 - 29 January 2015:

That period of time was the most stressful throughout Stage 1. My university reopened on 12 January. The Progress 2 examination consisted of 2 papers where each paper had 100 multiple-choice questions. Paper 1 was on 12 January while Paper 2 was on 13 January. Paper 1 was quite easy and it was similar to the Progress 1 examination previously. However, Paper 2 was difficult as there were many questions on anatomy which I could not answer. Still, I was confident of passing the Progress 2. After the examination, I could not relax at all because I had to complete the Assignment 2 and prepare for the Mock OSCE. Assignment 2 was very difficult and boring, and I felt very stressed doing it. On 16 January, I and my study partner visited our study mother for the 3rd time. On 19 January, my university began the teaching for the 2nd semester of Stage 1. Two of my group mates have birthdays on 20 January. On that day, I and my group mates went to Hwa Mui Kopitiam in Skudai to celebrate their birthdays. The results of the Progress 2 examination was out on the same day. I obtained 72.86% which was Green. Even though my percentage was much lower than the Progress 1 examination, I still felt satisfied because I got a Green. On 22 January, it was the Mock OSCE. It consisted of 3 stations. I completed all stations without problems and I felt that they were not difficult. Then on 28 January, I finally completed the Assignment 2. I submitted it on 29 January which was the submission deadline. I was not very confident of passing it. On the same day, Stage 1 students were given assignments for TITAS and Hubungan Etnik.

30 January 2015 - 17 February 2015:

Although I still had to do the assignments for TITAS and Hubungan Etnik, I felt relaxed at that time because I did not consider those assignments to be very important. On 30 January, the results of the Mock OSCE was released. My percentage was 68.94% and I passed 2 out of the 3 stations. I got an overall pass for the Mock OSCE and I was satisfied about that. Then, my parents visited me on 1 February and took me to Johor Premium Outlets for shopping. I completed the TITAS and Hubungan Etnik assignments at night on 12 February. On 13 February, I and my group mates made a visit to Kiwanis Careheart Centre which was required for the Family Study project. After the visit, we had lunch together at Arabian Nights in Sutera Mall, Skudai. Later on that day, we went to the university to do a group presentation for TITAS and Hubungan Etnik. I submitted the assignments at that time. Then on 14 February, I and my study partner carried out our 4th and last visit to our study mother. My parents came to fetch me back to Subang Jaya on 17 February after class.

18 February 2015 - 22 February 2015:

The Chinese New Year for 2015 was on 19 February. My university had 4 days break from 19 February to 22 February. There was class on 18 February but I skipped it because it was the Chinese New Year's Eve. In the morning on 18 February, I and my parents went back to Kulim. We celebrated Chinese New Year there. My uncle, aunt and cousins also went to Kulim. On 22 February, my parents drove me all the way back to Johor. We arrived in Bukit Indah at midnight.

23 February 2015 - 11 March 2015:

My university reopened on 23 February. During that time, I was busy doing the Assignment 3 which is the Family Study project. Assignment 3 was lengthy compared to Assignments 1 and 2. However, Assignment 3 was more interesting and easier. Therefore, I did not feel very stressful doing it. On 3 March, the results of the Assignment 2 was out. I again got Green for Knowledge and Amber for Skills. I felt happy that I passed it. On 10 March, I finished doing the Assignment 3. Then, I submitted it on 11 March which again was the submission deadline. I was quite confident of getting a pass for it.

12 March 2015 - 27 March 2015:

I felt very relaxed at that time because I had completed the Assignment 3 and there was still quite a long time before the Progress 3 examination. On 15 March, my parents came to visit me. I drove from Horizon Residences to the university for the 1st time on 18 March. Previously, I either took the university's shuttle bus or followed my housemates. Then on 19 March, all Stage 1 students visited Hospital Sultan Ismail for the 2nd time. I and one of my friend had a long conversation with a patient there. We made sure that we would not go back to the auditorium late like the previous time. One of my group mate's birthday is on 22 March while my birthday is on 23 March. My group mates decided to celebrate our birthdays together on 24 March in AEON Bukit Indah. I drove 2 of my friends to AEON. That was the 1st time where my group mates sat my car. We initially planned to have dinner at Nando's, but we later changed our plan and we had dinner at Stonegrill instead. My group mates brought us a cake and made a birthday card for each of us.

28 March 2015 - 12 April 2015:

My university had 2 week Easter break from 28 March to 12 April. My parents came to Johor on 28 March and took me back to Subang Jaya. On 29 March, I went back to Kulim and stayed 1 week there. I returned to Subang Jaya on 5 April. During my 1 week stay in Subang Jaya, I met up with my Taylor's College friends on 7 April. Then on 11 April, I came back to Johor. During this break, I felt quite relaxed and did not study because I planned to start revising for the Progress 3 examination only after the break.

13 April 2015 - 20 May 2015:

On 13 April, my university reopened. The management of my university's cafeteria had been changed at that time. During that period of time, I was busy revising for the oncoming Progress 3 examination. I and my group mates had a visit to Klinik Kesihatan Sultan Ismail for the 1st time on 16 April. There, we observed the consultation between doctors and patients. After the visit, we initially planned to have lunch together at the Subway near our university, but it was closed. So, we decided to go to MH Beriani Tindih in Gelang Patah for lunch. I drove some of my group mates there. On 4 May, my parents came to visit me. The last lecture for Stage 1 was on 6 May. After class on that day, I and my group mates celebrated the birthdays of 2 of my group mates at Pizza Hut in AEON Bukit Indah. Again, I drove some of my friends there. From 7 May to 14 May, there were several revision sessions. Then on 19 May and 20 May, I practiced the OSCE with one of my housemate.

21 May 2015 - 27 May 2015:

The Progress OSCE was on 21 May. It consisted of 7 stations. I was able to complete all stations without difficulties and I was confident of passing it. There were 2 papers in the Progress 3 examination where each paper consisted of 100 multiple-choice questions. Paper 1 was on 26 May while Paper 2 was on 27 May. Paper 1 was difficult as I could not answer many of the questions on anatomy, while Paper 2 was easier. I was confident of getting a pass for Progress 3. On 27 May, I and my housemates had lunch together at the restaurant near Horizon Residences before the examination. After the Progress 3 examination, I had completed Stage 1.

28 May 2015 - 4 June 2015:

During that time, I felt a bit worried because the pass list for Stage 1 would be released soon. 28 May marked the beginning of the 4 month Summer break of my university. On 30 May, my parents and grandparents came to Johor to fetch me back to Subang Jaya. On 4 June, the pass list was released. I successfully passed Stage 1 and would progress to Stage 2. I was very happy and relieved about that. The results of the Assignment 3, Progress OSCE and Progress 3 examination were also out at the same time. For the Assignment 3, I got Green for both Skills and Knowledge. For the Progress OSCE, my percentage was 74.61% and I passed 6 out of the 7 stations. For the Progress 3 examination, I obtained 68.34% which was Green.


In conclusion, my 1st year of Medicine course at NUMed Malaysia had been very interesting. The course itself, as well as the time I spent with my university friends, made Stage 1 interesting. After completing Stage 1, I am certain that I made the right choice to study Medicine at NUMed Malaysia. Now, I really miss Stage 1 of Medicine very much.

If you find this story interesting, you may want to read this too:
http://daniellimjj.blogspot.com/2015/04/my-15-years-of-study-at-taylors-college.html

(THE END)

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

SPM is more stressful than A Level

If you ask any student who has taken both the SPM and A Level examinations this question "Between SPM and A Level, which one is more stressful?", it is highly likely that they will say that A Level is more stressful than SPM. I have also taken both SPM and A Level, but if you ask me the same question, I will say that SPM is definitely much more stressful than A Level. I am not joking about this, this is really what I think. Why is this the case?

I took 10 subjects for SPM, which are Malay Language, English Language, Mathematics, Additional Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Information And Communication Technology, History and Moral Education, while I took 4 subjects for A Level, which are Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Biology.

First, consider the 5 subjects that I took in SPM but not in A Level. One of them is History. I consider History to be the most difficult subject to study in SPM, because I did not have an effective way to study History. I had to memorise every single sentence for every topic in the reference book, and I also had to memorise the same thing again many times to ensure that I would not forget them. This was extremely tedious and time-consuming, which was the main reason why I had to study long hours every day. In fact, I spent more than half of my study time during Form 5 just to study Sejarah. Therefore, Sejarah is the most stressful subject in SPM.

The next one is Moral Education. I did not have any problem memorising the 36 Nilai and their definition and answer the Nilai questions, but I felt that the KBKK questions were difficult. Usually, about 60% of the examination questions are KBKK questions, while the remaining 40% are Nilai questions. Often, the KBKK questions look easy and we feel that we have given a good answer, but the examiner may think otherwise and therefore not give us marks. So, there is a lot of uncertainty in this subject because we cannot be sure whether our answers would be accepted by the examiner or not. To help answer the KBKK questions, I had to go through and memorise everything in my teacher's notes, which was tedious.

Malay Language and English Language are the next two subjects. Compared to other subjects, language subjects are difficult because it is not possible to actually study and prepare for them. The only part of these 2 subjects that we can actually prepare for is literature. However, these is a lot to study for literature, and I feel that studying literature is very boring. Essay is the most important part of these 2 subjects because it carries a lot of marks, but it is difficult because we can't predict what essay title will appear. We can only hope that we will have the idea to write on the essay title that appears. Also, before the examination, the thought having to write a long essay definitely causes stress.

Another subject that I took only in SPM is Information And Communication Technology (ICT). The workload for ICT is quite low compared to other subjects, because there is not much to study and the examination questions are easy to answer. But despite this, very few students obtained A+ for ICT in SPM every year, probably because the minimum mark to obtain A+ is very high. The difficulty to obtain A+ for this subject caused me to feel stressed.

I took these 5 subjects in SPM but not in A Level, so the stress of these subjects are only experienced in SPM. The combined stress for these subjects is already very high, and there is still 5 other SPM subjects.

Now, consider the subjects that I took in both SPM and A Level, which are Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Biology. These subjects are more difficult in A Level compared to SPM because in A Level, we learn these subjects in greater depth, and many of the examination questions require application of what we understand. However, we have access to the actual mark schemes and grade thresholds for A Level, unlike SPM where these are made secret. Therefore in A Level, we can certainly know the requirements of each question. It is also possible to learn the mark scheme for certain questions that appear commonly. Besides, we can just aim for the marks that is required for grade that we want to achieve.

But in SPM, since the actual mark schemes are not available to the public, we can only refer to the mark schemes for the SPM trial examination. However, these may not necessarily be the same as as the actual mark scheme, and the mark scheme for the same type of question may differ depending on the state where the SPM trial examination is held. Therefore, we can't know for sure what are the requirements of each question. There is a lot of speculation about the grade thresholds for each SPM subject, but it is impossible to find out whether they are true or not. So, to be safe, we have to aim for as high marks as possible. As a result, even though A Level is more difficult for these subjects, SPM is still more stressful.

When I was in Form 5, during school days, I would study 7 hours, from 5PM to 6PM, from 7PM to 8PM, then from 9PM to 2AM; during holidays, I would study 10 hours, from 1PM to 3PM, from 4PM to 6PM, from 7PM to 8PM, then from 9PM to 2AM. During my study hours, I hardly took any break, even if I did, each break lasted for a few minutes only. I studied seriously throughout the year, except that I relaxed for one week after every school examination. However, when I was in A Level, during school days, I would study 5 hours from 9PM and 2AM; during holidays, I would study 7 hours, from 4PM to 6PM, then from 9PM to 2AM. During my study hours, I often took breaks whenever I finish revising each chapter. Depending on the situation, each break may be as short as 5 minutes, or as long as 1 hour or more. I studied seriously only one month before each examination.

During my SPM examination, I felt very stressful and did not answer very well for many of the papers, and I was only confident of getting 7A+ 3A. Although it turned out that I obtained 9A+ 1A, that was partly by luck. However, during my A Level examination, except for a few papers, I mostly had little stress and could answer quite well. I was confident of getting 3A* 1A, but it turned out that I obtained 4A*. Therefore, even though the amount of effort I put in studying for A Level was much lower compared to SPM, I still got better results for A Level.

Besides studies, there are some other factors which causes SPM to be more stressful than A Level. One of them is that the rules at my secondary school was much stricter compared to that at my college. For example, all students in my secondary school must attend the assembly on time every day, while there is no such rule at my college. Strict rules restrict freedom, so it also contributes to stress.

In addition, during secondary school, I almost never had any outings or interesting activities with my friends. This is mainly because my upper secondary class was very inactive and I was too focused on my studies. But during A Level, every day I had lunch with my friends at the restaurants near my college, and we had outings occasionally. Having activities with friends can help reduce stress.

With all these reasons, I can very surely say that SPM is much more stressful than A Level, and this is an undeniable fact. However, I also understand that different people have different opinion, study method and lifestyle, which is probably why many do not think the same way. So, I will just agree to disagree when others say that A Level is more stressful than SPM.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Difference between CIE A Level and UK A Level

For the A Level examination, there are many examination boards such as CIE, OCR, Edexcel, AQA and others. 'CIE A Level' refers to A Level by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), while 'UK A Level' collectively refers to A Level by Edexcel, AQA, OCR and all other UK examination boards except CIE. Actually, CIE is also an examination board in UK, and it is a department of the University of Cambridge. CIE A Level is also considered a UK qualification. However, CIE A Level is not considered to be the same as UK A Level. Why is this the case?

The fact is that, CIE is significantly different compared to the other examination boards. UK A Level is intended for students in the UK, while CIE A Level is intended for students outside the UK. Public schools in UK are not allowed to offer CIE A Level, although private schools in UK are allowed to. Colleges and schools outside the UK can offer UK A Level, but majority of them offer CIE A Level. There are several differences between CIE A Level and UK A Level.

One of the differences between CIE A Level and UK A Level is that CIE A Level uses Percentage Uniform Mark (PUM), while UK A Level uses Uniform Mark Scale (UMS). Actually, the concepts of PUM and UMS are the same. Contrary to popular belief, UMS or PUM is not the raw mark or percentage you scored in the examination. Instead, PUM or UMS shows the position of your raw mark relative to the grade boundaries. PUM/UMS of 80%, 70%, 60%, 50% and 40% are defined as the grade thresholds for grades A, B, C, D and E respectively. This definition will never change, even though the grade thresholds may change from one examination session to the next. If your PUM/UMS is 80%, it means that your raw mark is equal to the threshold for A. If your PUM/UMS is 75%, it means that your raw mark is right in between the thresholds for A and B. If your PUM/UMS is 68%, it means that after dividing the range of raw marks between the thresholds for B and C into 10 equal parts, your raw mark is 8 parts above the threshold for C and 2 parts below the threshold for B. PUM and UMS actually work in the same way, but there are also some differences between them.

Unlike PUM in CIE A Level, UMS in UK A Level is not in shown in the form of a percentage, instead UMS is shown as marks out of a total UMS where the total UMS may or may not be 100. For example, if your UMS is 90% and the total UMS is 120, your UMS will be shown as 108/120 rather than 90%. PUM and UMS are also different in their definitions of 100%. In UK A Level, to get a UMS of 100%, your raw marks must be higher than the threshold for grade A by twice the amount that the threshold for A is higher than the threshold for B (this can usually be achieved without having to get full marks). But in CIE A Level, to get a PUM of 100%, your raw marks must be full marks. Therefore, it is very difficult to get PUM of 100% in CIE A Level (much harder than getting UMS of 100% in UK A Level). Because of this difference, PUM and UMS have different meanings at above 90% (they are the same at 90% and below). If your UMS in UK A Level is 95%, it means that your raw mark is higher than the threshold for A by 1.5 times the amount that the A threshold is higher than the B threshold. But if your PUM in CIE A Level is 95%, it means that your raw mark is right in between full marks and the threshold for A*. Therefore, PUM of 95% usually indicates (and requires) a better performance than UMS of 95%.

Another great difference between CIE A Level and UK A Level is their definition of A* grade. To get A* in CIE A Level, you have to get a PUM of at least 90% for AS and A2 combined. However, to get A* in UK A Level, you have to get a UMS of at least 90% for A2 only, and also a UMS of at least 80% for AS and A2 combined. For both CIE A Level and UK A Level, to get a PUM or UMS of 90%, your raw marks must be higher than the threshold for A by the same amount that the threshold for A is higher than the threshold for B.

Therefore, for CIE A Level, if you obtain PUM of above 90% in AS, it is possible for you to get A* for overall A Level even if you obtain PUM of below 90% in A2, as long as your combined PUM for AS and A2 is 90% or above. For example, if your PUM is 94% in AS and 88% in A2, you will get A* for overall A Level. This means that excellent performance in AS can compensate for less excellent performance in A2. This is advantageous since AS is easier than A2. However, for UK A Level, regardless of the UMS you obtained in AS (as long as it is between 70% and 100%), you still need to obtain UMS of 90% in A2 in order to get A*. So, it is not possible for less excellent performance in A2 to be compensated by excellent performance in AS. As a result, it is definitely easier to obtain A* in CIE A Level compared to UK A Level.

However, this does not mean that UK A Level's A* is of greater value than CIE A Level's A*. Universities in UK and other countries consider A* in CIE A Level to be directly equivalent to A* in UK A Level. In my opinion, CIE A Level's definition of A* is more accurate compared to UK A Level, because CIE A Level emphasises on excellent performance for AS and A2 in overall, while UK A Level emphasises on excellent performance for A2 only. For UK A Level, a student who obtained UMS of 70% in AS and 90% in A2 (thus a combined UMS of 80%) will get A*, while another student who obtained UMS of 99% in AS and 89% in A2 (thus a combined UMS of 94%) will not get A*. This clearly shows that UK A Level's definition of A* is less accurate (and less fair).

Besides, there are individual units for each subject in UK A Level but not in CIE A Level. For every subject in UK A Level, there are 2 to 3 units in AS and another 2 to 3 units in A2. There are 2 examination sessions every year in June and in January, and students can take one or more units for each subject in each session, so it is possible to split the entire A Level into 4 separate sessions (2 for AS and 2 for A2). Students who wish to retake a subject can choose to retake only a single unit that they did not score well. For CIE A Level instead, there are also 2 examination sessions every year in June and in November, but since there are no individual units, students must take the entire AS or entire A2 for each subject in one examination session, so it is possible to split the entire A Level into only 2 separate sessions (1 for AS and 1 for A2). Students who wish to retake a subject must retake the entire AS or entire A2 (or both) of that subject.

Moreover, for science subjects in UK A Level, some of the marks are awarded for the quality of writing, which includes the ability to structure the answer logically, grammar, punctuation, spelling and others, while for science subjects in CIE A Level, no mark is given for the quality of writing. Therefore, students taking UK A Level have to take care of their quality of writing when answering the science subjects, otherwise they would lose marks. In my opinion, marks should not be given for quality of writing in science subjects because quality of writing should only be tested in language subjects.

Mathematics subjects in both CIE A Level and UK A Level require students to give their answers to 3 significant figures. In UK A Level, students are not penalised if their answers are given to 2 or 4 significant figures, but they are penalised if their answers are given to less than 2 or more than 4 significant figures, while in CIE A Level, students are not penalised if they give their answers to 4 significant figures or more, but they are penalised if they give their answers to 2 significant figures or less.

However, UK A Level has changed recently. One of the changes is that subjects in UK A Level no longer have individual units, so the entire AS or entire A2 for each subject must be taken in one examination session. Students wishing to retake a subject also have to retake the entire AS or entire A2 of that subject. In this aspect, UK A Level is actually becoming more similar to CIE A Level. One more change to UK A Level is that the January examination session has been abolished and there is only one examination session in June every year. Therefore, students can only take or retake examinations in June. CIE A Level is completely not affected by any of these changes and it will remain the same as it was. CIE A Level never had individual units in the first place, and both its June and November examination sessions will remain. Due to these changes to UK A Level, some colleges and schools outside the UK which previously offered UK A Level had made the switch to CIE A Level.

Another change to UK A Level that will be implemented in the near future is that AS Level will become a separate qualification from A Level. AS Level will have the same standard as before, but its results can no longer be carried forward to A Level. This means that students will have to take the entire A Level, which includes both AS and A2 topics, for each subject in one examination session. Students who wish to retake a subject must also retake the entire A Level content of that subject. For some subjects, AS Level can be taught together with the first half of A Level, and students can take AS Level after completing the first half of A Level, but their AS Level results will not have any influence on their A Level results, and at the end of the second half of A Level, they still have to take the entire A Level (not just A2). Again, this change will not affect CIE A Level in any way. Students will still be able to carry forward their CIE AS Level results to CIE A Level.

There are other differences between CIE A Level and UK A Level, but I will not be writing about them here. Despite these differences, CIE A Level and UK A Level are considered to be of equivalent standard by universities throughout the world. For me, I definitely preferred CIE A Level instead of UK A Level, mainly because it is easier to obtain A* in CIE A Level. Previously, I took CIE A Level and I got 4A*. Thinking back, I am glad that my college offered CIE A Level.

P/S: All the notes and tips that I provide on this blog is for CIE A Level, not UK A Level.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Why I took the SPM examination twice?

Most students take the SPM examination only once when they are 17 years old. However, I took it twice, once in 2012 when I was 17 years old and once more in 2013 when I was 18 years old. Why is this the case?

Way back in 2010 when I was in Form 3, I had been looking at the past year SPM papers for every subject so that I could have an idea on how the questions would be like. I observed that for the Chinese Language subject, the questions seemed very difficult, especially the Comprehension questions in Paper 2. Even for PMR, I felt that Chinese Language was one of the most difficult subjects. Therefore, I wondered whether or not I should take Chinese Language in SPM. Later, I heard about the Chinese Literature subject in SPM. At that time, for the Malay Language and English Language subjects in PMR, I felt that the easiest part of these 2 subjects is literature, because literature is the only part of language subjects that is possible to make full preparations for. Therefore, I thought that in the same way, Chinese Literature might me easier than Chinese Language. As a result, I thought of taking Chinese Literature instead of Chinese Language in SPM.

On 14 October 2010 after my PMR examination ended, all Form 3 students in my school were asked to choose the subjects that we wanted to take in Form 4, and we were told of the subjects that my school offered. Chinese Language was offered at my school, but Chinese Literature was not, so I could not take Chinese Literature. I decided to take Chinese Language, because I felt that as a Chinese I should do so. I also thought that if it turns out to be too difficult for me, I could still drop it later.

In the beginning of Form 4, I did not face problems with the Chinese Language subject. During the Form 4 1st Mid-term Examination in March 2011, I unexpectedly obtained 97 marks (A+) for Chinese Language. However, for this examination, the Chinese Language paper was not set according to the SPM examination format so it included only Summary, Continuous Writing and Idioms which are easier sections. My teacher also marked our papers quite leniently since it was the first examination in Form 4. Therefore, I did not feel overconfident about the Chinese Language subject. Later in that month, the SPM 2010 results was released. My teacher then told us that for that year, no one in my school obtained A+ in Chinese Language and very few obtained A. My friends and I were worried about that. Despite that, my teacher strongly advised us not to drop Chinese Language because Chinese Language will be useful in the future.

Then in May 2011, it was the Form 4 1st Term Examination. In this examination, the Chinese Language paper was set according to the SPM examination format. I expected that Paper 2 would be quite difficult, but it turned out that the Comprehension questions in Paper 2 were far more difficult than what I had expected. For most of the questions, the answers could not be directly found in the passage given, instead we had to fully understand the passage and then answer based on our understanding. I tried my best to answer every question by writing down everything that I understood, but I was not sure whether I answered correctly or not. Consequently, I was not even confident of getting B for Chinese Language in that examination.

That examination made me realised how difficult SPM Chinese Language actually is. I thought that I might be dropping Chinese Language in Form 5, because I did not want my overall SPM results to be affected by my poor result in Chinese Language. Later, during the 2011 mid-year school holidays, I saw on the newspaper that for that year, students who obtained straight A+ in SPM would be guaranteed the JPA scholarship. JPA had also made it clear that straight A+ meant A+ in all subjects taken, so taking 11 subjects and getting 10A+ 1A would not be considered as getting straight A+. Therefore, if I take Chinese Language but do not get A+, I would be disadvantaged in this. Since it was so difficult to get A+ in Chinese Language and I was aiming to get the JPA scholarship, I decided to drop Chinese Language in Form 5.

In June 2011, my teacher gave back the Chinese Language paper for the Form 4 1st Term Examination. Out of my expectation, my answers for many of the Comprehension questions were correct. I obtained 84 marks (A) for Chinese Language and my marks was the highest in the whole Form 4. However, I felt that I was just lucky in getting my answers right, so I did not regain my confidence to score well in this subject. Shortly after that, my teacher started conducting the oral test for Chinese Language which would contribute marks to the actual SPM examination. At that time, I heard from my friends that after taking the oral test, it would not be possible to drop Chinese Language later and we must take it in SPM, because we would be considered to have taken part of the examination. I asked the teacher in charge of examinations in my school about that, and she confirmed that it was indeed true.

I decided that I must drop Chinese Language straight away and not take the oral test. However, I was afraid to tell my Chinese Language teacher about that because she had previously reminded us several times not to drop Chinese Language. I told my friends that I wanted to drop Chinese Language and the news soon spread to my teacher. She asked me about that and I explained to her that I wanted to drop it only because I was aiming for straight A+ in SPM to get the JPA scholarship. Then, she agreed to not let me take the oral test, but she also advised me not to drop Chinese Language officially until Form 5. I promised her that I would continue to attend her classes and take Chinese Language in the next school examination.

At that time, some of my friends told me that JPA had announced that starting from the following year, the JPA scholarship would no longer be awarded to SPM leavers, instead it would only be awarded to leavers of STPM and other pre-university programmes. I did not know about that because I seldom read newspapers, and I did not believe what my friends said because I thought that they were just trying to persuade me not to drop Chinese Language.

I continued taking Chinese Language during the Form 4 2nd Mid-term Examination in August 2011. The Chinese Language paper was not set according to the SPM examination format in this examination, so it was not difficult and I managed to get 90 marks (A+). At that time, the SAPS (Sistem Analisis Peperiksaan Sekolah) was introduced for the first time and starting from that examination onwards, my school used the SAPS grading instead of the previous grading. As a result, the minimum mark for A- was increased from 70 to 75, although the minimum mark for A and A+ remained at 80 and 90 respectively.

Soon after that, it was the Form 4 2nd Term Examination. I knew that for that examination, Chinese Language Paper 2 would be very difficult since it would be set according to the SPM examination format. Because of this, in addition to the increase in the minimum A- mark, I was not even confident of getting A-, so I did not want to take Chinese Language in that examination. I told my Chinese teacher about that, but she advised me to continue taking it. She also said that she would make the Chinese Language paper easier in that examination, because at that time my school achieved the status of Cluster School for the first time and consequently there were rumours that students who did not obtain excellent results could be kicked out of the school. Despite that, I still decided not to take Chinese Language in that examination. I told the teacher in charge of examinations in my school that I wanted to drop Chinese Language officially and she agreed.

I still continued to attend Chinese Language classes after that, but I would no longer take Chinese Language in school examinations. After the Form 4 2nd Term Examination ended, my teacher gave back the Chinese Language paper and discussed the answers with us. I looked at the Chinese Language paper and I found out that it was not very difficult. I felt a little regret for not taking Chinese Language in that examination, but it was already too late. In November 2011, my school gave us the SPM 2012 registration form and we had to choose the subjects that we wanted to take in SPM. I maintained my decision not to take Chinese Language in SPM. It was still possible to change the subjects after that until May 2012.

When I started Form 5 in January 2012, I still wanted to attend Chinese Language classes. When my Chinese Language teacher knew about that, she spoke to me and gave me a suggestion. She suggested that I register for SPM 2013 as a private candidate and take only Chinese Language. By doing so, I would get an SPM certificate for Chinese Language which is useful in the future, and my SPM 2012 results would not be affected by my Chinese Language results, so it is a win-win situation. I felt that my teacher's suggestion was good so I agreed. Since then, I planned that I would be taking Chinese Language in SPM 2013 as a private candidate. Initially, I thought of taking it in June 2013. Later, I found out that only Malay Language and Mathematics are available in the June examination session, so I had to take Chinese Language in November 2013 instead. I would also take Chinese Language for every school examination in Form 5 as a practice, but since I had officially dropped Chinese Language, my results for Chinese Language would not be included in the SAPS system.

During the Form 5 1st Mid-term Examination in March 2012, I took Chinese Language, but I did not make any preparation for it because I did not take it too important. At that time, because it had been more than 6 months since the last examination where I took Chinese Language, I had forgotten how to write certain Chinese characters. However, the Chinese Language paper was not difficult since it was not set according to the SPM examination format, so I still managed to get 87 marks (A). In April 2012, the Ministry of Education announced that starting from that year onwards, students who obtained at least 9A+ in SPM would be offered the KPM Bursary. This meant that even if I take Chinese Language in SPM 2012 but do not get A+, I would still qualify for the KPM Bursary as long as I get A+ in 9 of the other subjects that I take. However, I still decided not to take Chinese Language in SPM 2012, because I felt that studying for the other SPM subjects was already very stressful so I did not want to further increase my stress by taking Chinese Language.

Then in May 2012, it was the Form 5 1st Term Examination. I again did not prepare for Chinese Language at all. For that examination, the Chinese Language paper was set according to the SPM examination format so Paper 2 was quite difficult, except that my teacher made it slightly easier by removing the Poems section from Paper 2. I still tried my best to answer the questions. Eventually, I got 78 marks (A-). During the SPM Trial Examination in August 2012, all papers including Chinese Language were set by the Kedah State Education Department according to the SPM examination format, so I expected that Chinese Language Paper 2 would be difficult. I did some revision for Chinese Language on the day before the test since no other subject was tested on the same day as Chinese Language. Paper 2 turned out to be easier than what I had expected. I managed to get 90 marks (A+) for Chinese Language, which was the highest mark in the entire Form 5.

After completing SPM 2012, I started studying A Level at Taylor’s College Subang Jaya on 14 January 2013. On 21 March 2013, the SPM 2012 results was released and I obtained 9A+ 1A. On 24 March 2013, I went to the Kulim Education Office to register for SPM 2013 as a private candidate. Initially, I wanted to take the examination either at SMK Sultan Badlishah or SMJK Chio Min, but both of them were not available for private candidates, so I chose SMK Kulim.

In June 2013, the Kedah State Education Department sent me a letter to inform me that my oral test for SPM Chinese Language would be held at Hotel Seri Malaysia, Alor Star on 3 August 2013. Luckily, my college had one week of holidays at that time so I could take the oral test. The oral test consisted of individual test and group test. The individual test was difficult, but the group test was quite easy. The examiners did not tell me my marks but I accidentally saw that they gave me 26/30 for the individual test. Since the group test was much easier, I assumed that I got higher marks for the group test. Only the higher of the marks for the individual test or group test would be taken into consideration.

In October 2013, I wanted apply to study Medicine at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). I found out that HKU requires all applicants to have obtained grade C or higher for Chinese Language in IGCSE or its equivalent (SPM is an equivalent to IGCSE). I was glad that I decided to take Chinese Language in SPM 2013, because otherwise I would not be able to meet the entry requirements for HKU. Later in that month, I received the timetable and statement of entry for SPM 2013. My examination would be held at SMK Keladi, although I chose SMK Kulim when I registered for SPM. Chinese Language would be tested on 3 December 2013. That was lucky because I had other examinations around that time and they did not clash with it. The SPM Chinese Language paper was just 4 days after the last day of my AS Level examination and 2 days before my IELTS Speaking test.

During my AS Level examination, I had 2 weeks break from 12 November to 25 November 2013. During the 2 weeks, I mostly revised for the remaining AS Level subjects, but I also spent some time revising for SPM Chinese Language. I was worried that I might have forgotten how to write many Chinese characters as it had been about 15 months since I last took Chinese Language in the SPM Trial examination, so I tried to remember every Chinese character that I came across in the reference books. On 3 December 2013, I took SPM Chinese Language at SMK Keladi. I decided to just take it easy. Paper 1 was not difficult, while Paper 2 was quite difficult but still slightly easier than what I had expected. I was able to remember how to write all the Chinese characters that I wanted to write during the examination. I was not sure what grade I could get for Chinese Language, but I hoped that I could get A+ or A or at least A-.

The SPM 2013 results was released at 10AM on 20 March 2014. I was in college at that time and I checked my results through online. I obtained A- for Chinese Language in SPM 2013. Although I felt a little disappointed for not getting A, I was still quite satisfied with my results. My Chinese Language results met the requirements for HKU. The Ministry of Education then sent my SPM 2013 results slip to my house. Finally on 7 June 2015, I got my SPM 2013 certificate at the Kedah State Education Department in Alor Star.

Looking back, I felt that I made the right decision by taking Chinese Language in SPM 2013 instead of not taking it at all or taking it together with the other subjects in SPM 2012. Even though I was eventually rejected by HKU, having a SPM certificate for Chinese Language would be useful for me in the future. Some of my friends think that if I took Chinese Language in SPM 2012, I might be able to get A or even A+, and I did not have to go through the hassle of taking SPM twice. However, in my opinion, studying for the other SPM subjects was already very stressful, so taking Chinese Language in SPM 2012 would make this worse. On the other hand, studying for the AS Level examination was much less stressful, so it was the right choice to take Chinese Language in SPM 2013 at the same time as the AS Level examination.

(THE END)