How I study one month before SPM (by 9A+ student)
by Tan Le Tian
Your SPM trial exam has ended, and SPM is only about 1 month away from now. 😯
It is probably a very stressful period for most of you. 😞
You may be worried due to the less than ideal result in trial exam.
You may feel nervous, as there aren’t enough time left to revise through all notes/textbooks of all topics.
I have written this article in hope of addressing those concerns and reducing your stress level. So please keep reading. 😊
1. Actual SPM is much easier than Trial
A lot of school teachers deliberately set very difficult Trial Papers, to make you score badly, so you will study harder for the actual SPM.
Teachers’ intention is good. But you need to realise trial exam does not accurately reflect the difficulty level of the actual SPM.
Trying out the past year papers is the only way to see how prepared you are for the actual exam.
2. Threshold mark for SPM is very low
In school exam, you need to score 90 above for A+ and 40 above to pass the exam.
Actual SPM does not work that way.
The threshold marks to get certain grades is determined by the graph.
You probably knew that, but do you have any idea how low is the threshold mark?
According to an article in The Star,
Examiners say the passing grade for certain subjects could be as low as 20 marks, or possibly lower, especially for Maths.
Personally, I have also heard that, in one of the year, 78 above is the threshold mark to score A+ in AddMath.
3. What does this mean for you?
This is why most students including myself score better result in actual SPM compare to trial exam.
In fact, I actually got a C for accounting in trial, but manage to score A+ in the actual SPM.
So please don’t lost hope due to your trial exam result. If you work hard at the remaining time before SPM, your result will be very good.
If you failed in trial, you still have good chances to pass the subject in actual SPM.
If you scored C in trial, you still have good chances to get A in actual SPM.
If you scored A in trial, it will most likely an A+ in actual SPM.
4. Can’t finish revising all notes
Based on my true experience, most of my friends including me, didn’t manage to read through all notes of all subjects before SPM.
But I still do pretty well in the SPM (9A+).
If you face this problem too, I hope that you don’t worry too much about it, as you are not alone. Most other students faced this issue too.
I assure that you can still do well, by applying the strategy below.
5. Revise by doing past papers instead of reading notes
After completing 8 years of SPM past year papers, I have noticed certain topics/chapters are tested much more than the others.
For some unknown reasons, SPM examiners seems to prefer setting more questions on certain topics and allocate lots of marks for it, every year.
On the other hand, a lot of topics in syllabus never appeared in the exam, and have low chances of being tested.
20% of the topics will determine 80% of your mark.
This is the reason why I didn’t revise notes of all topics, chapter by chapter, when preparing for SPM.
Instead, I only focus on important topics that have higher chances of appearing in exam.
6. Identify important exam topics by looking at past papers
Before reading any notes/textbook, I go straight into doing past year papers.
When unable to solve a question, I will copy the answer from the mark scheme, and try to understand it.
Only if I cannot understand the mark scheme, I will go back to study notes on the topic of that question.
This method really helped me stay focus on revising important exam topics that I haven’t mastered, instead of rereading topics that have low chances of appearing in exam.
7. Will SPM repeat past year question?
For language subjects like BM and BI, the exam questions are usually not repeated, which means the same essay questions probably would not appear again in your exam.
But for subjects like Sejarah, Math, AddMath, Phy, and Chem, a lot of questions are repeated every year.
8. Repeated SPM questions in Sejarah P1
When sitting for my Sejarah Paper 1 in SPM2014, I was quite surprised to find that I have seen at least 90% of the question before, either in the past year papers or the trial papers.
Let me show you the evidences:
Below is a real SPM question about Piagam Madinah in 2014. As you can see from the picture, the same question have already came out in SPM 2010.
SPM 2014 Q10 (Piagam Madinah)
SPM 2010 Q9 (Piagam Madinah)
Here is another repeated question about realpolitik in my exam. The exact same question had already appeared in SPM 2011.
SPM 2014 Q25 (realpolitk)
SPM 2011 Q26 (realpolitk)
This means the best way to score Sejarah P1 is by doing lots of past year and trial questions, because many of those question will 100% certainly come out in your exam.
However, note that the same thing is not true for Sejarah P2.
Unlike Paper1, Paper2 questions does not repeat past year question so often. You probably need to study the textbook for P2.
9. Repeated SPM questions in Math
Out of all the subjects, Math paper perhaps repeats the most questions from past year papers.
Below are 2 examples of repeated simultaneous equation and quadratic equation question.
But really they are just the tips of the iceberg. If you tried the past papers yourself, you will notice most of the questions are repeated.
Of course, there are certain percentage of KBAT question which usually does not repeat the past question.
They require deeper understanding on the concept, so many may find it difficult.
But if you could get all marks from the non-KBAT question that repeats every year, it is probably sufficient to get A/A+ already.
SPM 2016 Q3 (Simultaneous)
SPM 2015 Q2 (Simultaneous)
SPM 2015 Q3 (Quadratic)
SPM 2013 Q3 (Quadratic)
10. The shortcut way to finish more past papers
After seeing so many repeated questions above, you probably have realised the importance of finishing all past year papers.
The problem is, how to finish so many past year questions in the remaining 1 month?
Here is my solution,
When I can’t solve a question, I will straight away copy down the mark scheme and try to understand it.
This allows me to go through more questions in a limited time.
I have a friend that score very well bring this method to an extreme.
He just read the past year questions and mark scheme, and try to understand and memorise it by recitation. He didn’t even bother to write down the answer due to very limited time before exam.
This sounds very much like route learning. But it is an effective strategy for scoring SPM because many of its questions are frequently repeated.
11. Learning from marking scheme is effective in improving score
Some may not agree, but I always believe copying marking scheme is actually a great way to learn how to get marks in the exam.
In fact, for the 3 Sciences subjects (Phy, Chem, Bio), reading marking scheme could be more effective than reading textbooks/notes, in terms of increasing your exam marks.
Because looking at marking scheme will help you understand how SPM examiners will mark your papers.
In your school exam papers, you may have noticed your teacher underlining few portions of your answer when marking. What they are doing is looking for keywords(underlined portion) required by mark scheme to award marks.
It is important to realise, a very long answer can still receive zero marks if it does not contain required keywords in mark scheme.
In reality, writing a few correct keywords may be all you need to get full marks for that question.
Thus, it is really important to memorise those keywords required by mark scheme and always use them in your answer.
Conclusion: Stay safe, stay healthy
In summary, there are only two key points this article aim to prove:
- Actual SPM is easier to score than Trial due to lower threshold mark
- SPM always repeat past questions, so it is important to finish SPM past year papers and understand the marking scheme
However, the most important thing before SPM is to stay healthy and safe.
Few years ago, I have a friend that suffered from a motorbike accident and injured his hand before exam. It is really unfortunate as it hinders his ability to write down answer for exam.
So I hope you will take great care of yourself and avoid any risky activity at this period of time.
Thank you so much for reading till the end.
If you have found this article helpful, I warmly invite you to share it with your friends. 😇
If you have any questions, feel free to message me via IG: letian.tan or WeChat: skyletian97 😊
I will try my best to answer any questions ☺️
If you haven't already, tap button below to message "spm" via FB Messenger, and I will send you 10 SPM Trial Questions by Topic Ebooks of various subjects for free. ❤️
All the best for your exam!