During Form 5, my exam results for Biology are always mediocre although I studied very hard.
I was devastated. Is it because I am too dumb?
Then I realised, working hard alone is not enough to achieve an A+.
Mastering the correct exam techniques is as important as understanding the concepts.
With the techniques, I managed to score 9A+ and get full JPA scholarship for further study.
And I would love to share them with you in this article.
Understanding the reasons why my marks are deducted
After the exam, I always carefully analyse all my exam papers marked by the teacher.
For a lot of explanation questions, I have written very long answers, but they are awarded zero marks.
But those answers are what I got straight from the textbook! How can they be all wrong?
I went to see the teacher, and show her the textbook and my answers.
But she refused to award me any marks.
Until today, I still vividly remember what she said to me.
Yeah, your answer may be correct based on the textbook. But it does not have the keywords required in the marking scheme.
“The marking scheme is the result of discussions with teachers from different classes. We all have to mark strictly based on it. So exam papers of students from different classes will be marked consistently by different teachers.”
“If I did not follow the marking scheme and give you the marks, it would be unfair to students in other classes.”
Since then, I learned that getting marks in the exam is really about writing a few correct “keywords” in the marking scheme to answer the question.
One can only score A+ by answering questions the “marking scheme way”.
Avoid using your own words to answer the question at all costs, or you risk losing precious marks.
To put it in a blunt way, if a Ph.D. students write a ten thousand words thesis to answer an SPM question, he still will not get any marks if the keywords required by marking scheme is not found in it.
How I train myself to write answer the “marking scheme way”
I started to practice a lot of SPM trial papers and past papers.
I analyse all of the papers’ marking scheme word by word, and identify all important keywords required by marking scheme.
And I memorise all the keywords by heart.
When answering a question, I will first identify the topic of the question, and make sure all “keywords” in the topic will appear in my answer.
For example, in Biology question asking about cell passive transport, the keywords will be “osmosis”, “diffusion”, “concentration gradient”, “partially permeable” etc.
Those are the keywords teachers will be looking for in your answers. Missing any one of them may result in losing marks.
Besides Biology, keywords are also equally important for scoring A+ in Physics and Chemistry.
Other than reading textbook, you may want to allocate sufficient time to practice trial papers and memorise the marking scheme keywords.
From the trial paper collections, you get access to a large number of marking schemes, which enable you to collect important keywords for all topics.
I have also compile SPM Trial Paper Questions by topic into ebooks, available for AddMath, Math, Physics, Chemistry, Sejarah, Biology and Science.
Click below to message “spm” to our facebook page, and we will send all the ebooks to your FOR FREE.
Thank you so much for reading.
If you have any question, feel free to talk to me on IG: letian.tan or WeChat: skyletian97. 😊 I will try my best to answer.
All the best for your SPM exam!