SPM Tips By Subjects

Disclaimer : This post was first posted on Malaysia Students and is being re-posted on this blog for further references. Enjoy!

To keep things simple, I would like to classify the subjects in SPM according to their categories.

Languages – Bahasa Malaysia and English

Sciences – Biology, Chemistry, and Physics

Math- Modern Maths, Add Maths

General Knowledge/ Culture- History and Moral

There is no shortcut to Languages as you will be evaluated based on your skills to project your thoughts and maintain your proficiency throughout the entire essay and other various sections such as comprehension, summary and so forth. I would strongly urge each and everyone to take interest in mastering Languages as these subjects are the key skills in communication, that will lead you to getting a job and enhance the quality of your life.

To start the ball rolling, one should get some books to practice on your skills. If you are short of time to prepare for the next exam, practice harder on the skills that you are lacking. Keep doing questions on comprehension, summary, forming sentences (BM). As for comprehension and summary in both subjects, keep referring to the title/question asked. Write down the points in point form and rationalize if it relates to the title/question. After much practice, you should be able to easily spot the points in the passage. However, do not be over-confident. Remain calm and careful, screening through the text for any extra points. As for summary in English, you may use your own words to replace a single word in the passage. Be careful not to alter the meaning of the passage and keep count of the number of words written. For example, “Fifth Harmony is a popular band in America.”, “Fifth Harmony is a famous band in America.” You may also alter the structure of the sentence if you are good enough. As for forming sentences (bina ayat) in BM, refer to the meaning of the word in a Malay Dictionary (Kamus Dewan is preferable) and try to form your own sentence. Then, refer to the answers to get a better understanding of the word. You may also ask your school/tuition teacher if you sentence is grammatically correct.

Essays regardless in Bahasa Malaysia or English might be a tougher aspect for most students due to the common issues like getting penalized for inaccurate usage of words, incorrect spelling, lack of ideas on what to write and the inability to finish both essays in time. Start by brainstorming before writing your essay in point form. If it helps you, write down the idioms (peribahasa) or phrases that you might want to use in your essay. Don’t worry if you do not have the entire essay planned out. Make a draft out of the first few ideas/plots first and start writing. As I have mentioned earlier in a comment, try to stand out and be original. This gives the examiner a good impression of your writing. Instead of common sentences like “It was a dark and frightful night”, “During the holidays, I spent time with my cousins.”, start with intriguing sentences like, “Being on higher ground did not make me feel safe as I tried to ignore the realization of my fear of heights.”, “I was slowly slipping into unconsciousness as I saw a hand reach out towards mine, igniting my body with this unsual heating sensation.” For factual essays, avoid common ones like “Recently, the crime rates has reportedly increased nationwide.” or  “Nowadays, students hold no regard in respecting their elders due to their lack of morality” Opt for, “The lives of local residents of Taman X are jeopardized due to the rise in crime rates that ceases to have no end.” or “Respect is a two-way street whereby it is earned and not obtained through fear. However, generation Z has a different approach and mindset when it comes to respecting their elders.” For BM essays, start with unique openings and good endings with a solution instead of ‘Pada masa ini’.

General knowledge/culture requires a lot of extra knowledge that are not in your usual textbooks or school-related books. To do this, you may read materials like the local newspapers or internet articles. Try not to spend so much time on social media as there are hardly any beneficial knowledge that comes from it. If you find the newspapers boring, look for other sections in it that interests you such as technology, feedback from the readers, style, or sports. Grasp the way the sentences are written and how the words are selectively chosen and used in either language. Go a little out of the way to look up for the unfamiliar words because this widens your vocabulary. As for History, you have to like it to do well. Buy reference books that consist of mind-maps or other creative ways of studying if you find the textbook too mundane. Re-tell the story to your friends and make short acronyms to remember the factual evidence. Try not to think of it as a task but an extra subject that you were given the pleasure of learning. One’s mindset is extremely important hence, it is vital to stay optimistic and think of the good that comes from learning. As for Moral, all you have to do is memorize the name of the values (nilai) and keywords (kata kunci) to do well. Follow the method that your teacher has taught you to answer. Mine has taught me to answer structural questions according to their marks. Give one answer for 2 marks (kata kunci and elaboration) and two answers for 4 marks ( 2 kata kunci and 2 elaboration). Write according to W.K.S (Watak, kata kunci, situasi) for that particular question. This is where the values come in handy, you memorize them so you can answer well. Although the format has changed, memorizing will still benefit you in case you run out of ideas on what to write. If you have extra time, do all three Moral essays to stay safe. Use the format, N.K.P (nilai, kata kunci, penerangan) and write 4 values with their ‘kata kunci’ and ‘penerangan’ to stay safe. Also, you may visit my blog for a link to some effective Moral notes that will help you to answer every question, regardless KBAT or not with ease.

The secret formula to Math is ‘practice makes perfect’. Get a suitable book to practice on Math according to your own level. The best is to start with Past Year SPM books as this familiarizes you with the current SPM format for Maths. When you have mastered those questions, move on to tougher questions like KBAT questions or books from Pelangi. First and foremost, understand the concept before practicing. Keep practicing different questions until you can solve them and redo those you have tried a few weeks before. Refresh your memory on Math by looking through the questions you have completed. The same idea applies to Add Maths, which requires a lot more practice. Spend at least 30 minutes or more doing Math each day if you want to be good/ score A+ in exams. Buy books that have the entire working and answers for you so that you don’t have to waste time finding out the working of the answer. As for Add Maths Section C, you are given the option of choosing four topics ( 2 in Form 4 and 2 in Form 5), I would suggest you master both topics in Form 4 (Solution of Triangles and Index Numbers) and use one of the Form 5 chapters as your back-up plan if you have extra time.

Lastly, the trickiest and hardest subjects of all to score, in my opinion : Biology, Chemistry and Physics. To score well, one has to have a balanced score in all 2-3 papers of your exam. (Not sure if  you still have Paper 3 for Science subjects as there might be hands-on to test your skills) It is not necessary for you to read each and every fact in the Science books as not all of it will be tested. Focus on Past Year Questions and the questions asked in the subjective paper. As for Paper 1, as long as you score 40 and above/50, you are in the safe zone. Keep trying harder to score 40 and above to those who are unsuccessful. After much practice, you will realize the questions are slightly similar and are based from particular parts of the syllabus. As for Paper 2, focus on the longer parts in the syllabus where it requires a lot of explaining. Remember the definition of the terms (Speed, Momentum, Elasticity, Newton’s Second Law) for Physics, (Molecular Formula, Strong Acids ) for Chemistry. More emphasis for the definition are placed on Physics so you know what to do. Master the calculations for Chemistry according to the Past Year Questions book. For Biology, remember to spell the term right and use acronyms to remember the sequence of the process. For example, High Blood Makes All People Suffer. H stands for hypothalamus, B for Baroreceptors, M for Medulla, A for Parasympathetic Sytem, S for SA Node. Memorize the important subtopics like Menstrual Cycle and make sure you know how to explain it according to the points awarded. Spend time on understanding the concept for Physics, how and why the process works for Biology and how the topics (Chemical Bonds, Periodic Table, Acids and Bases) relate to other topics (Carbon Compounds) and use your skills to apply the knowledge. Spend MOST time on practicing trial questions -which you can print online from the link in my blog- but make sure they are complete with answers and any other books that you have. Practicing is most important because it teaches you how to answer the questions and the way you are supposed to tackle the question. By understanding why and what the question wants, you know the type of questions your teachers set or how SPM questions will be like.

Advertisements

What’s Next After SPM?

Most students find it challenging when deciding what they want to study and what they plan to pursue in college. This is because :
a) most do not have a specific interest
b) they face financial issues
c)are still unclear on the courses that are offered by the colleges.
To overcome this issue, one should :
1. Identify your strengths
The most common question post-SPM students get is “What do you plan to study after SPM?” Questions like, “What do you like to do?” or “What are your hobbies?” are questions that are general and sometimes, us, students don’t have hobbies that lead us directly into jobs. It is well-noted for a fact that your interests and hobbies are not necessarily something you are good at but, something you enjoy doing. Hence, to get a better measurement of your actual skills, start by looking at your previous exam results. You can also look at the entire year of exam results to get an accurate measurement of your skills according to the consistency of your results. The subjects that you thrive in are your strengths.

2. Reflect and study offered options

Some questions to ask yourself :

1. Do you prefer a 100% exam based course (like SPM), 50% exam 50% coursework (quizzes, projects, short test) or 70% coursework 30% exam?
2. Do you plan to pursue your studies overseas?
3. Are you still unsure of what you intend to study hence, you want a course that offers broader options and admission into a different college/uni?

If your answer is :
100% exam based course – you should go for A-levels.
50% exam 50% coursework-Foundation programmes
70% coursework 30% exam- Canadian Pre-U programmes
Going overseas to study- you should do A levels/American Degree Programme/AUSMAT/SAM
Unsure of what to study but want broad options- A-levels/AUSMAT/SAM
Want to study locally- Foundation Programmes/STPM/ Malaysian Matriculation/AUSMAT/SAM/A-Levels
Already know a specific course you want to take up-Diploma
3. Make lists
Although you are clueless or unable to decide which course to take up, you would know what job you would want or would not want to do. Cross out the unpreferred jobs. This leaves only the jobs you want to do and enables you to choose which course to take up in college according to your preferences.
4. Work from the end to the front

The best solution is to know what degree you want to study before entering a Pre-U programme. Work from the end by finding the right university that offers you the desired course and you can choose whether to join the Pre-U programme offered by the same college/uni or, choose another one whereby you can transfer to that course. All in all, look for courses that suit you and your needs/interests. An example will be subjects offered by the college.

5. Consider the time factor
Consider the duration of the programme you have chosen. Look at the intake of the Pre-U programme and the intake of the desired degree. Let’s say the intake for your foundation programme is in January and it ends in December. The intake for your degree is in February. This leaves you two months of break before heading back into your studies. Another situation would be if you choose to go for the March intake for your foundation programme. The intake for your degree is either in March or August for the following year. Hence, you’re only left to choose August as your option. What then are you going to do in the 5 months of your break? All these options need to be put into consideration so that you make the right decision.

6. Visit the Admission Office

There are counsellors in various colleges and universities who are willing to help you. I would suggest that you visit the respective college/university’s website and do some research of your own before visiting the Admission Office. This is because, you would be clearer on what you’re going into and you would be able to make decisions faster and easier. Don’t rush it, though. Take time to think carefully because it’s the place you’re going to be studying for the next four years. Don’t stress out too much either. College/university is just a ticket to getting your job and to provide you with the skills and knowledge required for your job.

To Future SPM Candidates, From A Secondary School Graduate

Hi everyone! I’m a post-SPM student who has went through the wrath of KBAT. And the reason I choose to write this is because there were many things I’ve discovered, even in the last moments before SPM and I wished someone, a senior or teacher told me about it. Here’s a compilation of things I wish to share with all of you. (Make sure you read on till the end, the links will help you most.)

1. Materials

Materials are extremely essential so I would suggest you get 3 books. The past year questions book which is divided into Form 4 and Form 5 and is complete with explanations. Make sure you do those after you’ve done revision on a chapter. However, don’t take too much time doing revision. This is something I’ve wasted a lot of time on, and like what my teacher said to me, “Students are able to grasp the theories from revising but, they still fail to answer the questions due to lack of practice and inability to apply the knowledge given.

Next book would be the Sasbadi book containing 5 or 8 sets. Make sure those are complete with explanation. The last book would be a book containing Form 4 and Form 5 KBAT questions. Buy this book only for History, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Add Math and Modern Math have incomplete answers. Try solving the questions with friends and if you don’t know how to answer, ask your teachers. Also, make sure you print lots and lots of trial papers from various states. It would help if you could do as much as possible.

2. Time Management.

I strongly urge you all to prepare at least 1 month before your exams. If it’s SPM then obviously, prepare a few months ahead. Even if you’re not a planner, you’d have to if you want to be well prepared. For instance, take off 1 month to do revision on Form 4 and Form 5 syllabus, yes I know that’s a lot to digest in two months but if you weren’t paying attention in class, you should start on revision. A faster way would be to do revision on that chapter and do questions after. It would help retain knowledge in your brain but it’s not as long-lasting, considering you have just read about something only to be tested moments later.

Again, I know trials start in August/September. So I would suggest you make sure you’re prepared beforehand. Spend at least one month before practicing trial papers before your school trial exam. You might be thinking, most tuition centres let alone schools haven’t covered the syllabus in time. This is where you only have yourself to depend on. Study the last few Form 5 chapters and do Form 4 revision during the holidays. The last few are not related to the other topics hence you should be able to understand it. Now that you have 1 month of preparation before trials, trials and post-trials, you have one month left to work on your weaknesses rather than wait till trials are over and having a whole lot of studying material to cover up. This will also build up your confidence level, trust me.

3. Mindset

Besides everything I’ve just said, having the right mindset is just as important. Your thinking controls your actions and how you feel etc. Be optimistic, set a goal and work towards it. Everything in life is about balance ; work too hard, you get drained (it takes a long time to get better and you just simply don’t have the pleasure of taking a break too long and trying hard to get back on track.), but work at a steady pace, you find yourself at peace and rest.

When you feel like giving up, remind yourself of the reason you’re doing this in the first place. Don’t just find a reason for the sake of it but find an emotional reason because emotions are powerful. Mine was wanting to motivate others because I’ve never been a straight A’s student but if I get straight A’s for SPM then others would see that they can too. This emotional drive kept me going in the last few months. Don’t stress out if you can’t find your reason. Find something to compensate at the moment, at least. (I found my reason while bathing.) Also, when you feel like you’re so stressed up, like there’s so many things piled on top of your head, worrying whether it’s worth it, whether it will work out, just relax. Breathe and do things slowly. One step at a time because a little progress is still progress.

Pertaining to mindset, it’s also important that everyone breaks the common thinking that you study to get to a good paying job and live on for the rest of your life. It’s true, though but not entirely. I happened to read a business book on that same year. It led me to broaden my perspective on life and finance. All in all, you control money. This is part of the rat race (google it for more details) which many are stuck in, so you make sure you’re not one of the many. Education is important but it’s not everything that determines your success ; persistence, consistency, attitude, flexibility are the traits that ensure your route to success. Prioritize studying as though it’s your job, but know that it’s not the sole factor that determines the outcome of your future. This is all about finding balance again. Here are some websites that helped me. All the best in SPM to all future candidates 😉

Free seminars :

https://www.youtube.com/user/edunationmalaysia

(The chemistry and physics seminar were extremely helpful, biology was informative. Special thanks to the teachers who were willing to spend hours guiding students for free.)

BM :

http://prodtas.blogspot.com/2013/04/karangan-bm-spm-peribahasa-yang-sesuai.html

http://bmsevaspm.blogspot.com/2014/04/peribahasa-spm.html

http://karanganspm.com/category/karangan/karangan-spm/

http://anelyza.blogspot.com/

English :

Maths:

http://www.symbolab.com/solver/trigonometric-equation-calculator

(calculator that can calculate anything, including trigonometry and simultaneous equation)

Moral :

Nota-Moral-20121

(Most effective notes I’ve ever read.)

Chemistry :

http://smart-chemistry.blogspot.com/p/malaysian-spm-chemistry.html

Biology :

http://brainstormthoughts147.blogspot.com/2010/05/how-to-remember-spm-biology-facts-by.html

http://brainstormthoughts147.blogspot.com/2010/05/spm-paper-3-mainly-applicable-to.html

http://cikguheery.blogspot.com/

(easy ways to remember Biology)

Physics :

http://www.physics4spm.com/2009/06/spm-a1-student-tips.html

http://fizik-fizik.blogspot.com/2009/10/how-to-answer-spm-physics-paper-2-and-3.html

Trial papers :

http://edu.joshuatly.com/

http://skorminda.com/2014/09/spm-trial-papers-2014/

Extras :

http://tips-skema-upsr-pmr-spm.blogspot.com/p/tips-skema-spm.html#11

Before SPM :

http://cikguheery.blogspot.com/2013/10/8-things-to-do-in-30-days-before-big-day.html?m=1

http://kcmexamtips.com/spm_hot_tips.php

Knowing yourself :

http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/improving-study-habits.shtml

http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/kind-of-student.shtml

Motivation :

http://www.malaysia-students.com/2014/11/spm-is-worth-every-bit-of-your-hard-work.html

http://www.malaysia-students.com/2014/06/i-almost-flunked-in-my-trials.html

http://studying-hard.tumblr.com/

http://studyinspiration.tumblr.com/