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.


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)

3 comments:

  1. Wow. You really planned for your studies since spm. But in boarding school, sekolah yang tetapkan subjek yang kena ambil :)
    I never plan like you for spm. I just learn everything what the school provided haha

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just out of curiousity, why was the AS Level examination much less stressful than SPM ? Although it's just 4 subjects but all the 4 subjects are much more in depth right ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Read this:
      http://daniellimjj.blogspot.com/2015/08/spm-is-more-stressful-than-level.html

      Delete