Tak kenal maka tak cinta. Jom Kenali Universiti Awam (UA) Malaysia.
UIAM - UiTM - UKM - UM - UMK - UMP - UMS - UMT - UniMAP - UNIMAS - UniSZA - UPM - UPNM - UPSI - USIM - USM - UTeM - UTHM - UTM - UUM

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

iTalk Buddy – Malaysia’s First Instant Messenger that Gives You More

Can you make cheap voice calls (both local and international) to fixed line, mobile and domestic and international destinations (with no access fee) using your instant messenger?

Can you keep and care virtual intelligent pet using your instant messenger?

iTalk BuddyNow you can do these with iTalk Buddy. What is iTalk Buddy? It is an instant messenger that has not only all the basic functions you could imagine like chatting, sharing files and folders, but also more advanced features like making voice calls (PC to PC / fixed line / mobile phones), keeping virtual intelligent pet, sharing your computer screen and even sharing Internet connection with your online buddies and much more.

MojiKan Sol-MojiiTalk Buddy has recently entered Phase 2 by introducing a lot of new features. One of the new feature in Phase 2 that I like very much is the 3D Moji. My Moji is able to move in 3D and show emotions and intelligent responses. It is able to understand the context of speech and hold conversations on its own due to the built-in artificial intelligence (AI) features.

Did I mention that you can buy food and purchase accessories like clothing, toys etc to customise and personalise your own Moji? You can get your own free Moji through iTalk Buddy too!
iTalk Buddy Chat
iTalk will soon introduce new feature i.e. mobile blogging and smsfeatures… maybe in early 2008. You can update your blog with latest posts and photos via your mobile phones. If you subscribe to the premium services at RM2.50 per month, you can get unlimited internet and screen sharing.

iTalk BuddyI like the concept of iTalk Buddy. It is a combination of all of iTalk’s features and the power of the internet. It brings the best from similar products like Skype or Windows Live Messenger with more useful features. Hence it is definitely value added to existing or potential iTalk users.

iTalk Buddy also offers free offline services (Self Organising Network, SON)! It allows you to create local area network (LAN) without hassle configuration, enabling files and printer sharing. You can play network games, chat and make PC call within LAN without connecting to the internet.

I meet a lot of new buddies through iTalk Buddy. Do remember to add me (my nickname is Student) to your buddy list so that we can chat (discuss) on topics like education in Malaysia, exams, scholarships, schools, colleges and even universities! If many readers of this blog use iTalk Buddy, we can organize chatting session so that readers can chat with each other in chatroom using iTalk Buddy.

So what are you waiting for? Download iTalk Buddy for free now!


► Read more on iTalk Buddy – Malaysia’s First Instant Messenger that Gives You More

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Popular Pre-University Programmes in Malaysia

Posted by Chong

Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM, English: Malaysian Higher School Certificate) / Form Six


Application:
All form five students who have taken their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM, English: Malaysian Certificate of Education) examinations will be automatically offered form six as long as their SPM exam results meet the entry requirements. Application is not required for form five students.
Entry requirements:
(a) Science stream - a combination of points from Mathematics and two science subjects must not exceed 18 points
(b) Art stream - a combination of points from Mathematics and any two subjects must not exceed 8 points
Duration: 1.5 years
Fee: Free in terms of tuition fees and examination fees
Intake: May
Recognised and accepted:
Local public universities, internationally (Most universities consider STPM results equivalent to GCE A-Level results)

Read more on Form Six (Tingkatan Enam) STPM

Malaysian Matriculation


Appilcation:
Students may apply for admission into local matriculation programme during their form five before sitting for SPM exams via their respective secondary schools.
Entry requirements:
90% of the places are reserved for the bumiputeras, and the other 10% for the non-bumiputeras. The selection criteria are not publicly declared. Actual SPM exam results will be used. Generally students living in rural areas stand a higher chance to be accepted.
Duration: 1 year (2 semesters)
Fee: Free (All expenses paid by government)
Intake: May
Recognised and accepted: Local public universities

Read more on Malaysia Matriculation (Program Matrikulasi)

Advanced Level (A-level)


Entry requirements:
SPM, O-level or its equivalent with five credits including in English, Mathematics and Science with a pass in a second language. Conditional offers will be given to students with forecast results.
Duration: 15 / 18 / 24 months
Fee: RM 16,000 - 18,000
Intake: January, March, July
Recognised and accepted: Internationally

Read more on A-level

Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT)


Entry requirements:
Minimum five (5) credits in SPM, 'O' Level or equivalent, including English and Mathematics. Conditional offers will be given to students with forecast results.
Duration: 10 months / 8 months
Fee: RM 10,650
Intake: January, March
Recognised and accepted: Internationally

Read more on Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT)

South Australian Matriculation (SAM)


Entry requirements:
SPM, 'O' Levels or equivalent - 5 credits including English and Mathematics/Science. Subject pre-requisites apply. Forecast examination results are accepted for provisional admission.
Duration: 1 year
Fee: RM 8,550 - 9,000
Intake: January, March (express intake)
Recognised and accepted: Internationally

Read more on South Australian Matriculation (SAM)

International Canadian Pre-university (ICPU)


Entry requirements:
SPM or 'O' Level or equivalent - 5 credits including English and Mathematics/Science. Subject pre-requisites apply. Form 5 students who want to apply for the Pre-U program can use their school forecast or trial results.
Duration: 1 year
Fee: RM 15,000 - 16,000
Intake: January, March, July
Recognised and accepted: Internationally

Read more on Canadian Pre-University

Canadian International Matriculation Programme (CIMP)


Entry requirements:
Minimum five (5) credits in SPM, 'O' Level or equivalent. Forecast results are accepted.
Duration: 1 year (2 semesters)
Fee: RM 15,000 - 16,000
Intake: January, March (express intake), July
Recognised and accepted: Internationally

Read more on Canadian Matriculation Programme

International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP)


Entry requirements:
SPM: Minimum five credits including Bahasa Melayu. Some institutions require you to have strong credits in English, maths (sometimes even additional maths) and the science subjects.
Duration: 2 years
Fee: RM 25,000 - 51,000
Intake: August
Recognised and accepted: Internationally

Read more on International Baccalaureate (IB)

Foundation Programmes

(specific for entry into courses in the respective colleges)
Entry requirements:
Minimum five (5) credits in SPM, 'O' Level or equivalent. Conditional offers will be given to students with forecasts results.
Duration: 9 months to a year (2 semesters)
Fee:
RM 3,750 - 9,000 (private colleges and universities)
RM 10,000 -19,500 (foreign university with local campus)
Intake: Varies but most institutions have a January intake
Recognised and accepted: Specific colleges or universities

Read more on Foundation Programmes

American Degree Transfer Program (ADTP or ADP)


Entry requirements:
(a) Students (SPM /GCE 'O' Level, UEC) need to have a minimum of 5 credits in academic subjects including credits in English and Mathematics. They must also have a pass in Bahasa Malaysia.
(b) Students with STPM, 'A' Levels, Canadian Pre-University or Australian Matriculation programs are given advanced standing in the American Transfer Program. Credits awarded are evaluated on an individual basis.
Duration:
2 years in Malaysia (5 semesters or 65 credits) + 2 years at the university abroad of your choice
Fee: RM 25,000 - 46,000 (for the first two years in Malaysia) + RM 80,000 - 160,000 (for the remaining two year at university abroad of your choice)
Intake: Varies but most institutions have a January intake
Recognised and accepted: Internationally

Vocational Programmes at Polytechnics Schools


Entry requirements:
Varies but generally lower entry requirements compared to other pre-university programmes
Duration:
1-2 years (Certificate)
3 years (Diploma)
Fee: RM200 per semester for public polytechnics
Intake: January and June for public polytechnics

Footnote:
1. All above quoted fees are estimates, approximated at the time of publication and are subject to change.
2. American Degree Transfer Program and Vocational Programmes at Polytechnics Schools are not pre-university programmes but tertiary education programmes. They are listed in this post as they are the popular choices among students who have completed their SPM examinations.
3. Kindly leave your comment to correct the inaccurate information (if any) posted in this post.

Related Posts:
1. STPM Frequently-Asked-Questions by BooNBox
2. STPM Blues by Melanie
3. Pre-U Course - Cambridge GCE 'A' Levels by typlotion
4. GCE A-level in Malaysia by elie
5. SAT De-solved by BooNBox
6. What Should You Expect in Form Six/STPM by Chong
7. The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme by Snow
8. Secondary/Pre-University Options in Canada by jjme
9. Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore by elie
10. Studying in Canada - Columbia International College (CIC) by jjme
11. Advanced Placement (AP) Program in Canada by jjme

References:
1. doctorjob - Sign up as a doctorjobber today for unlimited undergrad advice & resources!
2. Wikipedia - STPM, A-level, IB
3. Ministry of Education, Malaysia - Pelajar.Student
4. IB Diploma Programme - official Website
5. SAM - official website
6. Canadian Education Centre - Malaysia
7. Education in Malaysia - ADP Part I, ADP Part II, Matriculation vs STPM
8. Tinkosong - ADP, IB
9. Sunway University College
10. Taylor’s University College
11. Olympia College
12. HELP University College


► Read more on Popular Pre-University Programmes in Malaysia

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Orientation in a Public University (UUM)

Posted by Melanie

I shall start with a brief introduction. Six months ago , I was accepted to Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM). It's not exactly a well-known public university but they're the pioneer in Business Studies in Malaysia. Situated in Northern Malaysia, it costs me around RM 1K (Malaysia Airlines) for a return ticket. I am from Kuching, Sarawak and I must admit it's really tiring to travel up there because unfortunately there's no direct flight.

Well, before I continue sharing my orientation experience with you, I must warn you that every university have a different way of conducting their orientation and this is what I personally went through.

Orientation starts right after your registration. Yes, I kid you not. It's directly! You register, get your keys to your room (hostel) and the next thing is you gather with thousands of juniors. You don't even realise it is starting! (Honestly, it meant nightmare!!)

Orientation usually lasts about a week. The orientation in my university is conducted by a team of University Facilitators. There are about hundreds of them , and you will be divided into groups and each group has one facilitator. Something every university does is to distribute the same beg where you will use for the entire orientation. I don't find it a good idea because many eventually mistook other's beg and it just causes more problems.

The day started as early as 5 in the morning. (I'M NOT JOKING) The Muslim go to the mosque and do their duty while non-Muslim gather in the hall for some Moral studies. I don't know if it did help moulding our Moral, but really most of them (including myself) is just to sleepy to even pay attention. No, it's not that we are lazy to wake up in the morning. You would be the same too if the activities the day before ends at roughly 1 a.m and this goes on for one whole week. I remembered once they woke us up at 2 a.m just caused they wanted to announce something that is not important at all. It was frustrating knowing you have to wake at 4 a.m to get ready for the 5 a.m slot LATER!

There will be endless "taklimat" whole day through just to get us juniors used to the new rule and of course, a total new environment. They are somehow helpful, but most of the time, almost half of the hall is sleeping away. I somehow wish they're conducted it in a more interactive ways so that it won't be so boring. Other times, you will be mingling around with your team mates (remember i said we're divided into groups?) and if you're lucky, they stay with you even after orientation. Unfortunately for me, my orientation friends stays as "orientation friends".

Food are served six times a day. Early morning breakfast, breakfast, lunch, tea time, dinner and supper. In Kedah, food are all spicy and it's not just spicy, but extremely spicy! I am lucky enough that I can put up with spicy food but it was a tad too much for me because even supper is spicy! Many could not put up with it and have bad diarrhea. Some chose to skip their meals. In fact, I had bad constipation through out the whole orientation and skipped many of my meals. The desperate ones chose to skip their meals just to get some short nap.

You know, I was never mentally prepared to go through all these hard core orientation. My sister graduated from a private university and I never ask anyone how it is like to go through orientation. I told you food are served six times a day. Before you could think that our meal breaks are long, you're SO TOTALLY wrong! We're actually given less than two hours to eat and having to queue with so many people, you actually have around 15 minutes left to really rest your mind or answer nature's call. There's really almost nil breaks in between.

With really short breaks in between, there's really no time for you to go back to your room and take a bath or even nap! My university's dress code is formal so it really didn't help at all. Imagine wearing formal the whole day with all the sticky-ness of your body? It's one of the most uncomfortable feeling in the whole world. It feels like heaven when you finally can take bath when the day ends. Many fell sick during orientation and a lot fainted too. Heck, my friend was even hospitalised! I guess it's not really that we lacked rest, but with no bath and unhealthy food, our body just decided to break out.

There is always one day where you will need to attend a protocol event. It is very formal where no applause is allowed. They encouraged you to wear traditional costumes and no dark coloured clothes are allowed. It is where you pledge to be committed with your studies and the university itself. Mine was not properly organized, and they made me round the hall at least three times under hot burning sun and when I finally manage to get into the hall, they told me I have no seats. With the lack of sleep and rest, it really tested my patience! Somehow, having to see so many high spirit juniors pledge together was an interesting sight.

Of course, everything has it pros and cons. There are some things i really did enjoy during the orientation. Orientation is basically all the juniors gather so you get to make a lot of new friends. Everybody wants to be your friend, and you want to be everybody's friends. You're new, you're fresh and you wanted to have someone with you. No one will actually judge you even though you don't give them a good impression. There's no assignments, there's no pleasing lecturers and there's no chasing bus to make in time for morning lectures. You just do what's told. I'll say, orientation is innocent. =)

There's always a slot for community service but not everyone will be involved. I was involved though. And I must say it is the highlight of the orientation. I was sent to kampung in Bukit Kayu Hitam, and helped clean the mosque. The people in the kampung cooked us lunch and we were served in a totally Malay-style. The "makan bersila" thing. I am a non-Muslim, so I really find that fascinating. Then we were served some local fruit as desert and I would never forget how good the durian taste! It was really, really good.

There's also some mind-rest activities and the one I enjoyed was singing songs together. The theme song for my orientation was "Right Here Waiting" and "Permaidani Biru". It was one of the best moment for me where you sing along with friends, holding hands or waving with your hand phone lights on. It's a pretty sight when friendship was really innocent. Speaking of singing, one of the funny thing I recall was having to sing Negaraku in the wee hours. It's funny to sing the national anthem when all you think is to go back to your room and lie down on your bed. Even the hardest bed could make you feel like you're in heaven!

Last but not least, to sum the whole orientation , the facilitators conducted some "soul searching". They will read some really sad poems followed by gloomy songs but the main intention is to remind you of the your motif there, that if to graduate with a degree and not to disappoint your parents. It works to most of them, and the rest slept through it. I don't blame them, I remembered clearly that it was done around 12.30 a.m! I was sleepy too and I confess I did sleep. I was too tired to be into the "plot".

That's about all that I went through during orientation. It was so hard core, but I never really understood the message they wanted to send us through a hard core orientation. Six months has passed, orientation memories still stays really fresh with me. It feels like just yesterday...

Anyway, my advise to those of you who are going to public university , be mentally and physically prepared! Best wishes from me!

Melanie


► Read more on Orientation in a Public University (UUM)

Monday, December 10, 2007

AP Program in Canada

Posted by jjme

I apologize for my long hiatus. Working life isn't as pleasing as I thought it would be ... even though work only takes up 8 hours a day *ahem*

Anyway, there was a request for information on the Advanced Placement (AP) program in Canada. I will share this with everyone today.

The AP Program, which was established in 1955, is administered by the College Board with the services of Educational Testing Services of New Jersey. The AP courses and exams are at college/university level, and it is often a rigorous curriculum for students in their last years of high school. In many cases, students may take an AP course and concurrently earn credits towards the OSSD. It is recognized as credit transfers at many American and Canadian universities or colleges.

For example, a friend of mine took AP Calculus when she was completing her Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) at Columbia International College (CIC), Hamilton, ON. After completion, she applied to Canadian universities with her six Grade 12 credits (the minimum entrance requirement for most Canadian universities). As her Calculus course earned her AP credit, she immediately had that credit transfered over into her program of study at the university. In other words, she was exempted from the Science Faculty's introductory Calculus course at university. This is what distinguishes students who graduate with AP courses and regular OSSD courses.

Still, depending upon the student's academic background, he/she may qualify to write an AP exam at the high school. Some schools do not participate in this AP Program thus they do not have classes held for students intending to pursue the AP courses. Then again, I have heard of some students who study on their own and sit for the AP exam but they still require consent from parents, the school counsellor, and the College Board. You can view the list of participating schools in Canada here. CIC is one of them. Some popular exam choices include:

Art History / Studio Art
Calculus AB
Chemistry
English Literature & Composition
English Language and Composition
European
History
French Language and French Literature
German Language
Government & Politics: Comparative Human
Geography
Physics C: Mechanics

All examinations are written in May, and the results announced in July of each year. The AP grading scale used is as follows:

5 - Extremely well qualified
4 - Well qualified
3 - Qualified
2 - Possibly qualified
1 - No recommendation


Each university sets its own recognition policy. The policies vary not only from one college or university to another, but also across faculty departments at any particular university. Typically, an AP score of 3 or higher is the passing mark. Some universities want 4 or higher.

If you are a Malaysian student pursuing tertiary studies in Canada straight from O-levels/SPM, you would have to apply into an international college that can provide you the option of acquiring the OSSD, and subsequently the AP Program. You can try applying to a Canadian Public High School, but I doubt that it would be easy because often you have to be a permanent resident (PR), landed immigrant, or a citizen to be eligible. The SPM certification is not recognized in Canada, and so you have to prove that you can pass at least Canadian Grade 12 curriculum. I have friends from Chong Hwa Secondary School who took the SPM equivalent of O-levels exam (or it was some other exam which was only offered in private chinese schools), and they still could not transfer those scores over. But really, the difference is not in the syllabus itself ... it's more of the nature of teaching and education that Malaysian schools lack. Moreover, English is not our language of instruction in schools.

For more information, please see: www.ap.ca

My advise is to always ask the college/high school's AP Program participation and offered courses, as well as the different universities' AP credit transfer recognition. Hope that helps!


► Read more on AP Program in Canada

Friday, December 07, 2007

Are undergraduates ready for the real world?

This article was written by Kwan Will Sen, a third-year Law student at University of Malaya.

“You take the blue pill -- the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill -- you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes." – Morpheus


Although fictional, the Matrix world as in the blockbuster movie ‘The Matrix’ by the Wachowski Brothers is very relevant in the context of our society today. Undergraduates, especially the ones from local universities are akin to those stuck in the Matrix. Fed with the belief that they will make it in life, armed only with a scroll, they succumb to complacency. Their minds start to rot, intellectual growth is suppressed, and the end result; they hit rock bottom in the ‘real’ world. Groping in the dark, they try to find a way out, but to no avail. Thereafter, enlightenment ensues, a harsh realization, that the scroll in their hands is merely that, a scroll.

Since pre-school, our parents and teachers have constantly imparted upon us, that success in life can only be achieved through education. This is true to a certain extent, but apparently, as we grew older, something got lost in translation along the way. Education is no longer interpreted in the normal sense of the word, but solely equated with academic achievement. Our undergraduates are products of a system that hails the number of As and a CGPA of 4.0 as the only testament of success, indicating a bright future ahead. Rote learning seems to be the order of the day, while the holistic approach is now almost obsolete.

Such ‘values’ to life in university defeats the whole purpose of a tertiary education. Undergraduates strive to get CGPAs of 4.0, and are further exhorted to do so, especially when an ex-Minister proclaimed that it is their duty to get 4.0 in university. As preposterous as this may sound, it is very real. A right-minded person would shun such statements, but for some, it’s almost like a matter of filial piety. Time spent mugging and memorizing might get you good results, but it does not prepare you for the ‘real’ world, where problem solving skills and the ability to think outside the box is valued instead of the text book stuff.

Students spend so much time studying, they forget about everything else, except where to find that particular book in the library. Ask them if they know anything at all on current issues, and they respond with a blank look, expecting you to fill them in. The other problem with our undergraduates is that, they seem to idolize pop culture a tad too much. Try organizing a public lecture by Warren Buffet and a concert by some Akademi Fantasia singers on the same day. It is not that hard to predict which event will have a bigger crowd, unfortunately.

Then, there is the other group of students, i.e. those who believe that life in university is a bed of roses. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that. Problem is, some tend to stretch it a little too much, so much so that they don’t even know what they are doing. They believe that just as in the university, everything will be taken care of when they are out there in the ‘real’ world, i.e. that their precious scrolls will take them places. No effort whatsoever is made to improve themselves and participating in ridiculous activities is deemed to be the ultimate indicator of what is to expect in the ‘real’ world. For instance, a senior while ordering around a junior to do this or that project will justify it by saying “This is to prepare you for working life, especially when facing employers”. And the poor subordinate believing it, bids the senior’s wishes. We should never send across such wrong messages. Kow tow is not fun, and will never be. Period. Furthermore, why should we continue the negative and perpetuate such myth? Whatever happened to entrepreneurship?

Another issue which bugs a portion of undergraduates today is the inability to converse and write in English. Needless to say, in the era of globalization, the importance of English cannot be over emphasized. One might have plenty of mind boggling ideas, but without the ability to articulate them, such ideas cannot be conveyed to others. While such facts are known to every student, they prefer to converse in their mother tongues. Getting out of the comfort zone is often the toughest nut to crack.

On the other hand, the introduction of a compulsory soft skills course serves only to magnify the deficiencies of our education system. Students have forgotten how to interact, how to communicate, and how to ace that interview, to the extent that such drastic measure has to be taken. While this solves the problem on the surface, it effectively sweeps the bigger chunk of it under the carpet. Undergraduates cannot be expected to learn the art of eloquence and to gain self confidence overnight. It takes more than a course to create the wholesome undergraduate.

More importantly, undergraduates must be provided with room and space for holistic growth. Intellectual discussions, debates and forums on any topic at all should be encouraged and the underlying fear that students will rebel, retaliate or even form extremist groups, I would like to state, is unfounded. As adults, they should be respected as such, which means also to be given inter alia, the right to freedom of expression. What is right or wrong is not the point. The focal point is, undergraduates must be allowed to think, to express themselves, and to dissent if they want to. Keep pushing them around, and what do you get? A bunch of pushovers in society.

The bottom line is this. Whether or not an undergraduate will ever be ready to face the ‘real’ world is essentially a matter of choice. Choose to maintain your status quo, you continue in your temporary bubble in Neverland, waiting for the ‘real’ world to come crashing through. Choose to free your mind from the fetters of tradition for tradition’s sake, and to move out of your comfort zone, you embark on a journey with nothing guaranteed, except unfamiliarity. The latter sounds like a better deal, at least to me.

Be like Neo. Choose the red pill.


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Saturday, December 01, 2007

FACON Education Fair 2007

Posted by Alphonso Tan

For readers who are seeking for your future institutions, this is the place you have to go, unless you have a better option (eg. Harvard, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge, Yale University...).

The DO's:
- Give them a smile and a firm handshake when you meet them.
- Introduce yourself as an SPM/STPM leaver, seeking for courses, seeking for education funds...
- Ask whatever you want to ask. They were paid for this.
- Express your positive feelings when you decide to leave.

The DON'TS:
- Shy shy...
- Reject the gifts given.

Peninsula Malaysia
Opening Hours : 12noon to 6pm
Kuala Lumpur
Dec 8 & 9 (Sat & Sun) Putra World Trade Centre
Alor Setar
Dec 11 (Tue) Holiday Villa Hotel
Penang
Dec 12 (Wed) Traders Hotel
Ipoh
Dec 13 (Thu) Syuen Hotel
Malacca
Dec 14 (Fri) The Golden Legacy Hotel
Johor Bahru
Dec 16 (Sun) Hyatt Regency Johor Bahru
East Malaysia
Opening Hours : 1pm to 5pm
Kuching
Dec 9 (Sun) Holiday Inn Kuching
Sibu
Dec 10 (Mon) Tanahmas Hotel
Miri
Dec 12 (Wed) Grand Palace Hotel
Tawau
Dec 15 (Sat) Heritage Hotel
Kota Kinabalu
Dec 16 (Sun) Promenade Hotel
Sandakan
Dec 17 (Mon) Sandakan Hotel

And of course, the admission is free! Free gifts might be given away by institutes.

Remember, one of them might be your future mentor, teaching and guiding you until you graduate and join the real world. Enjoy!

*Oh ya... Forgotten to include something here. Usually, January Intake students tend to outstand the others =) Example? Snow ;-)

* For more info, you may have a peek at the FACON website. =)


► Read more on FACON Education Fair 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

How to score well in essay

Posted by Alphonso Tan

OK, I'll go through this very fast. When I said fast, I mean, really fast.

I have a friend, one of the 4 students who scored A1 for his G'CEO Level 1119. This is what he told me:

Read a poem, and choose a topic related to that poem. Recite it at any part of your essay, and elaborate. Remember, don't elaborate too much. A poem must consist of some artificial secret in it. It will give the examiner a good impression towards your work.

Besides, you can praise God in your essay, no matter what religion are you. Just use 'God'. Try not to use other words. And may His force be with you.

Ah hah... And he roughly told he about the synopsis of the essay he worked on. A very bored, dragging, complaining, and long-winded essay, but with his 2 tips given above, and he obtained an A! But do remember do proofread the piece of your babe when you've finished! All the best for 1119 tomorrow!


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Thursday, September 27, 2007

PMR, SPM & STPM Tips & Trial Papers

Posted by Chong

Update: Download free STPM & SPM 2008 tips and trial papers now.

Help Us Help Others

  1. Send this post as emailSend this post as an email or forward this email to all your friends who are going to sit for PMR, SPM or STPM examinations this year and they will certainly thank you for your kind effort. Feel free to promote Malaysia Students blog by blogging about this blog and link to it (www.Malaysia-Students.com).

  2. Subscribe nowTo receive free PMR, SPM and STPM tips as soon as they are posted at Malaysia Students blog via your email inbox, enter your email address in this subscription form to subscribe now for free.

  3. To share your trial exam papers (kertas soalan peperiksaan percubaan) with fellow exam candidates (calon peperiksaan), submit them through email to student at malaysia-students dot com (replace at with @ and dot with .). Instead of exchanging your trial papers with your limited online friends, we encourage you to share the trial papers with the rest of Malaysia Students blog readers (mostly exam candidates like you) so that you can enjoy the spirit of helping others too!

  4. To share your exam tips or hot topics, visit Malaysia Students blog to post your tips as the comments on this post. Discuss the popular exam topics on this post. Do check out the regularly updated PMR, SPM and STPM Exam Tips 2007.

  5. While these forecasted questions (soalan ramalan) and exam tips might be useful to you for your final preparation and revision before stepping into the examination hall, do not rely on these tips! There are no such things as 100% PMR, SPM or STPM tips. If there really were the so-called 100% tips, why doesn't the government take any action against the tip providers since those who set the actual exam questions are prohibited to leak the real exam papers or even topics? Do you think it is worthy to pay RM100.00 to RM200.00 to buy the so-called exam tips that do not guarantee good exam results?

Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) 2007 Trial Papers

PMR trial papers for Melaka and Johor are available at Malaysia Students blog.

Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) Tips

SPM 2007 Trial Papers

Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) 2007 Trial Papers

STPM trial papers for Pahang, Negeri Sembilan and Melaka are available at Malaysia Students blog.

Useful Resources



► Read more on PMR, SPM & STPM Tips & Trial Papers

Sunday, August 26, 2007

SPM Literature in English (Notes: Poems II)

Posted by Snow

THEME: ENCOUNTERS
A. but education tells me I am halus, he kasar
for don’t you see I’m a Shakespeare-wallah
with this degree that clings to me like a vise
and a middle-class airconditioned nose?
In the lines above, why does the speaker refer to himself as “a shakespeare-wallah”? [5 marks]

Answer:
The speaker refers to himself as a shakespeare-wallah as a means of equalizing his status with that of the midnight satay vendor. He does this by using the local slang term “wallah” that means “vendor”. This stanza reveals the guilt the speaker feels about his own higher status in society; a status afforded him by his education to which the satay vendor does or did not seem to have had equal access.

B. In the poem Dance by Fadzillah Amin, what does the speaker mean in the line “I am tired of these ronggeng motions”? [8 marks]

Answer:
The speaker compares her relationship and her daily routines to the ronggeng*, an upbeat Malay social dance in which couples exchange poetic verses as they dance to the music of a violin or a gong. The dancers of the ronggeng perform very energetic movements that, however, never culminate in physical contact with one another. In the very first stanza of “Dance”, the speaker says:
“We are like partners in the ronggeng,
Approaching nearer, nearer and nearer;
But just when one would think we’d meet at last,
We turn away, reverse our steps, withdraw….”
The ronggeng can be read as both a simile and a metaphor for the speaker’s life of which she is tired. It appears that the social rules, symbolized by the dance’s fixed routine, of the speaker’s life does not allow for a greater intimacy between the dancers or those around her. As it were, the speaker is merely “going through the motions” because her life lacks greater meaning through richer expression which she feels can only be obtained through a forbidden intimacy.

*From the beginning, Ronggeng is a type of Malay social dance. Ronggeng, sampeng and sila are dances influenced by Western, Near Eastern and Malay traditions. The terms joget and ronggeng denote the most famous and popular Malaysian dance, often seen as an unofficial national social dance. The word joget has two meanings; “dance” and “dancing girl”. In its earlier usage, it probably denoted female courtly dances and dancers in the state of Pahang. The ensemble accompanying the dance was known as a joget gamelan which still exists in Pahang and Trengganu. The form of joget was influenced by Portuguese and Malaysian-Portuguese dancers and musicians at the time of the Portuguese occupation of Melaka, four hundred year ago. Until the early 20th century, it was known by the name ronggeng. With the creation of joget modern, the term joget generally replaced the term ronggeng as the name of the genre. [Folks, I got this off the Internet… for your information.]

C. “The future is a different planet, they do things differently there.”
Do you share this view in your reading of Tea in a Spaceship by James Kirkup? Support your answer with reasons and examples from the text. [12 marks]

Answer:
In the poem “Tea in a Spaceship” [TIS] by James Kirkup, it would seem that the future is indeed a different planet where things are done differently. This is especially apparent in the central metaphor of having tea in a spaceship where the spaceship can be said to represent the “other-worldliness” of the future. Within this spaceship,
“... a tablecloth need not be laid
On any table, but is spread out anywhere
Upon the always equidistant and
Invisible legs of gravity’s wild air.”
From the very beginning of the poem, we are painted a picture of total formlessness where familiar and necessary objects or paraphernalia one associates with the social construct of having tea such as a tablecloth, cake-forks, spoons or knives are considered obsolete. This world of the spaceship / future where gravity, in both senses of the word -- that is, “the force that attracts objects to the centre of the earth and to each other” and “seriousness and solemnity” -- holds no sway seems to have a “wild air” about it.

The following three stanzas of the poem proceed then to reinforce this sense of wild disorderliness of the future, especially because cups -- the moulds which would otherwise hold and give form to liquid tea – can no longer contain the tea. Without gravity the surface tension of liquid will have the tea gather “itself into a wet and steaming ball” that “... hurls its liquid molecules at anybody’s head”.

As far as the tone of Tea in a Spaceship is concerned, the future where things are done differently is not looked upon kindly. Chaos and rudeness appear to reign supreme with tea assuming a life of its own and those that consume it are “chronically nervous jerks” who, despite their failings and “flailings” with “mouths agape for passing cake”, will not spill a drop of tea as there is no gravity or seriousness to cause such that would otherwise be regarded as a social faux pas.

The chronically nervous jerks who populate the future live in a world that is free of “gravity” or seriousness and concern thanks to technological advances (such as the microwave oven) that allow the tea to be perpetually hot. Aside from this, they also no longer need or want to have control over the condiments that go along with the having of tea such as sugar cubes that “[S]ling themselves out of their crystal bowl” and milk that “... describes a permanent parabola / Girdled with satellites of spinning tarts.”

The last stanza of the poem takes on an even heavier sense of irony when it concludes that:
“The future lives with graciousness,
The hostess finds her problems eased,
For there is honey still for tea
And butter keeps the ceiling greased...”
The future is a land of plenty where we will always have enough to eat and drink. However, social mores – represented by the ritual of “taking tea” – have changed dramatically. If in the past (or perhaps the speaker’s present) food shortages and manual labour are the main focus of concern or grave issues of the day, the lack of such cares in the future will make it a different planet where things will be done differently, and not to the approval of the speaker of Tea in a Spaceship, if his tone is anything to go by.

A. Grandchild we lived
before your age. Because
of our ignorance,
we did not know
pollution, stress, traffic jams
destruction of forests, streams and
hills
we feared God and nature
now nature fears you and
money is your news God.

In the stanza above, what is the speaker saying to “Grandchild”? [5 marks]

Answer:
The stanza above is the grandparent’s response to the question the grandchild had asked in the first stanza of M. Shanmughalingam’s poem “Heir Conditioning”. Here the grandparent answers the main question asked by the grandchild, that is, how did the latter live without modern technological advances such as air conditioning and telephones that make life so much easier. In the stanza above, the grandparent then explains that although he or she had lived in an age before their knowledge was “advanced” enough to invent such technological conveniences (“Because of our ignorance”), they lived without the stress, traffic jams and the destruction of nature that such progress brings with it. Also, the grandparent says, progress has made those living in the grandchild’s age worship money as it is only with money that such modern gadgetry can be bought. Ironically, however, such conveniences come with a spiritual price and stress.

B. In The Gardener by Louis MacNeice, what is the significance of the explanation “For he was not quite all there”? [8 marks]

Answer:
The phrase “For he was not quite all there” and “He was not quite right in the head”, used in the poem, respectively in the first and last stanzas, are euphemisms that the speaker uses to say that the gardener is mad. These euphemisms are significant in that they underscore the speaker’s own fascination with the zany antics of the gardener to whom the former cannot or is not willing directly to apply the word “mad”.

Instead, the speaker gives us a very graphic description of the gardener’s actions that obviously hold the speaker of the poem in a grip of fascination that, in turn, can be seen in the painstaking detail the speaker uses to describe the gardener.

In the first stanza the reader is informed that the gardener is illiterate and that he (presumably) makes a living by tending to the gardens of richer folk. By the end of the first stanza, the speaker declares the gardener “not quite all there” because the latter cuts hedges and hoes drives with the “smile of a saint” and “the pride of a feudal chief”. It appears that the speaker looks down on the lowly gardener by saying that only a mad man could have the smile of a saint and the pride of feudal chief if all he does is cut hedges and hoe drives.

As the poem unfolds the details of the gardener’s ways, however, it becomes apparent to the reader – if not to the speaker – that despite making a big deal about the unstable mental health of the gardener, the speaker harbours a sad admiration and respect for this gardener who is “not quite all there”.

C. “Technology breaks down communication between people and erodes civility”
Do you share this view in your reading of Manners by Elizabeth Bishop? [12 marks]

Answer:
In my reading of the Elizabeth Bishop’s poem Manners, a very strong case can be made of the statement “technology breaks down communication between people while eroding civility”. This is most apparent in the seventh stanza of this eight-stanza poem in which a grandfather instills the lessons of civility and respect at two levels: Civility and respect people should have for one another, and civility and respect people should have for nature.

From the first to the sixth stanza, the grandfather -- who is riding in a wagon with his grandchild -- gives the latter lessons on manners and civility with examples drawn during the course of their journey.

In the first stanza, the grandfather says “’Be sure to remember to always / speak to everyone you meet’”. In the following stanza, the grandfather enacts this instruction by greeting a stranger on foot whom their wagon passes. The lesson in stanza three “’Always offer everyone a ride; / don’t forget that when you get older,’” is then backed up in stanza four when the grandfather offers a boy they knew -- who had a pet crow on his shoulder -- a ride.

When Willy, the boy passenger, gets into the wagon, however, his crow flies away, much to the speaker’s dismay. Nevertheless, and this time much to the speaker’s awe, the crow follows Willy and the wagon “from fence post to fence post,… / and when Willy whistled he answered”. From this, the grandfather draws the conclusion:
“’and he’s well brought up. See, he answers
nicely when he’s spoken to.
Man or beast, that’s good manners.
Be sure that you both always do.”
It is at this point that the wagon is rudely passed by automobiles whose “dust hid people’s faces”. Although the passengers of the wagon are true to their principles of civility which they then exhibit by shouting “’Good day! Good day! / Fine day! At the top of (their) voices”, the din of the automobiles’ engines drowns them out. This, then, highlights the observation that “Technology breaks down communication between people and erodes civility”. Technology, this stanza can be interpreted to say, obscures human communication and contact, and, ultimately, civility and manners.

THEME: FAMILY
A. So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamor
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamor
of childhood days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.
Why does the speaker of the Piano by D.H. Lawrence say that “… it is vain for the singer to burst into clamor”? [5 marks]

Answer:
The speaker says that “… it is vain for the singer to burst into clamor” because the singer cannot change the mood of the speaker in which her first song, sung softly, had placed him. The first soft song reminded the speaker of his childhood, specifically of a poignant moment he had sitting under the piano “(a)nd pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.” For the speaker, this memory is more glamourous than that of his adult life so even the more upbeat tune cannot drown out his yearning for his childhood.

B. What role does the imagery of flowers play in the poem Parents by e.e. cummings? [8 marks]

Answer:
Flower imagery is the heart of the poem Parents by e.e. Cummings. The different types of flowers – pansies, lilies-of-the-valley, and blackred roses – used in the poem respectively convey concepts such as effeminateness, purity or chastity, and sexual passion.

In the first stanza, the speaker declares his mother so unique and special that if there were heavens, she would have one all by herself. Then, to describe the character of her heaven, the speaker then draws on flower imagery to delineate it. We are told:
“…. It will not be a pansy heaven or
a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but
it will be a heaven of blackred roses”
In other words, the speaker’s mother’s heaven will neither be a common heaven nor -- because it houses a woman – an effeminate one. On the other hand, his mother’s heaven is also not a heaven that’s pure or divine, as symbolized by lilies-of-the-valley, but a heaven of heady passion, as suggested by “blackred roses”.

This interpretation is further reinforced when the speaker says that his “father will be (deep like a rose / tall like a rose / standing near my / swaying over her / (silent)”. So, although his father is in heaven with his mother, she is still the only occupant of her heaven given that his father is not there in human form but only as one of the blackred roses that constitute it. As this tall and deep blackred rose, the speaker’s father represents the passion of love, and this is especially apparent in the almost breathless lines “my father…. is a flower and not a face with / hands / which whisper / This is my beloved my”.

C. “You only totally understand, love and miss your mother when you need her help.”
Can this statement be applied to A Figure Forgotten in Hours Not-of-Need by Kee Thuan Chye? Support your answer with reasons and examples drawn from the poem. [12 marks]

Answer:
The very title of this poem supports the phrase “you only totally understand, love and miss your mother when you need her help”. For the speaker, his mother, up until the point that the poem is written, was no more than a figure.

However, the poem itself is an expression of the speaker’s desperation “in helpless moments” when he most understands the figure who had sacrificed so much for him, but whom he had remonstrated in the good times.

Spurred on by a poignant sense of helplessness, the speaker ponders his relationship with his mother. He now understands her actions that he once condemned. He says:
You are not the purest of women
but you toiled for your children,
throwing morals coyly to the wind.
How else could we have grown up
with cushioned settees to sit on
and hot cuisine to nourish our hungry souls?
These lines strongly suggest that the speaker’s mother had compromised her morals – engaging in prostitution, perhaps? – to fund her children’s upbringing, the standards of which seemed to be quite high as the words “settees” and “cuisine” insinuate.

It is now clear to the speaker that his mother did what she had to do to protect her children from the harsh realities of life. The speaker says:
“Now, in helpless moments,
I think of you,
a figure forgotten
in hours not-of-need,
but a comforter of the past
who caught cockroaches with bare hands.”
The speaker’s mother caught cockroaches with bare hands, a brave action which the speaker, even as an adult, is still afraid of doing. From a symbolic angle, one can argue that, in the poem, cockroaches represent the filthy realities of life – such as the compromising of one’s morals in order to protect others – which the speaker, unlike his mother, is still unwilling to face as an adult. He says:
And though it’s a sin to grow old
And to lost your dearest treasures,
You stoutly go your humdrum ways
While I curse the drudgery of life.
I am still afraid of cockroaches.
So, it would seem, from this poem, that one’s mother is especially loved, missed and finally understood only when the child is faced by life’s dilemma’s and challenges that the parent had so willingly faced up to all in the name of love for her children. In the last three lines of the poem the speaker laments:
But when I think
how little live I’ve shown you in return,
I sometimes cry.

A. Your body is black
your face is black soot
the sky is black.
despite your shame
you are a river of frangipani blossoms
a burning flower
a firefly.

A Father’s Word for a Lost Child, Suhaimi Haji Muhammad
In the stanza above what is the speaker saying to the child? [5 marks]

Answer:
The speaker is telling his child that despite her exposure to evil, she is still pure. Although the child is now “black”, which represents evil and shame, on the outside, she is still innocent and pure inside, symbolized by the river of frangipani blossom, a burning flower and a firefly, all of which symbolize bright beacons of hope in the face of darkness.

B. What is the attitude of the speaker towards the little Maid in the poem We are Seven by William Wordsworth? [8 marks]

Answer:
The speaker of We are Seven is, on the whole, exasperated with the little Maid who refuses to accept the finality of death. At a deeper level, it can be said that the speaker also feels very sorry for her as she is obviously a very lonely child now that most of her brothers and sisters have either left home or have died.

On the surface, the poem is hinged on the clash between the difference in the adult and child’s perception of death. The first stanza reads:
“A simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?”
This stanza of the poem sets the framework for the dialogue between adult and child that follows. The next fifteen stanzas are then filled with the details of her family and siblings who are no longer around. She tells the speaker that two of her siblings are now living in Conway, two are at sea, two are dead and buried in a churchyard nearby while she lives with her mother not twelve steps from the graves of her deceased siblings Jane and John.

Despite going into great detail about Jane and John’s death and their graves, the little Maid insists that there are still seven – as opposed to five – children in the family. The adult tries to reason with her, that if two are dead, there must only be five. Ultimately, the poem ends with the child refusing to accept the adult’s calculations.

At a less obvious level, one can argue that the speaker of the poem is very touched by the child’s loneliness that leads to her denial of death. The painstaking detail of her interaction with the graves of her siblings, told over six stanzas, underline this. The speaker is intrigued that the little Maid knits, sings and eats by the gravestones of her brother and sister. She performs all these workaday activities by their graves as a way of keeping them alive in her mind and the speaker is careful to relate this to his audience or readers.

C. “Symbolism in poetry provides one a way of saying one thing and meaning another simultaneously”
Do you agree with this statement in your reading of Grandmother, by Kemala? Support your answers with reasons and examples drawn from the poem. [12 marks]

Answer:
The symbolic qualities of the mengkuang mats form the backbone of the poem Grandmother, allowing the poet a way of saying one thing while meaning another. On the surface, the poem is about the mengkuang mats that Grandmother makes. However, the mengkuang mats and Grandmother’s attitude towards them can just as well be applied to her relationship with her children. We are told:
She is very old. And apart from God,
She most loves the mats she weaves.
She takes the thorny menkuang from the deep
jungle.
She knows the cruel sting of its thorns and the pain
Of torn flesh as the thorns strike deep.
She has boldly drunk from the ancient waters of this
Love.
A parallel can be drawn between the weaving of Grandmother’s mengkuang mats and her bearing and raising of children. The thorns of the mengkuang that tear at her flesh are strongly reminiscent of the tearing of flesh during the birthing process. Yet, she is able to clear away the thorns to weave and order the mengkuang into beautiful and unique mats the way she was able to endure the difficulties of raising children into beautiful adults that then went on the set up homes and lives with others.

From “the criss-sross of flowers”, just as through the raising of children, Grandmother “learns answers to the riddles of life”. From them, she “knows the meaning of love and ordered devotion”. And just as she has to part with her mats when she sells them to her customers, she has to endure the “high price of parting” with her own children when they have grown.

THEME: HOPE
A. i hope they become what they want to become
as long as they are not thieves, robbers and philistines
as long as their coming manhood and womanhood
do not become the fuel for the technological fire
burning us, making us useless and spent kayu bakau

My Clever Pupils, Omar Mohd. Noor
In the stanza above, what are the teacher’s hopes for his pupils? [5 marks]

Answer:
The teacher does not seem to have very high hopes for his clever pupils. Although he hopes that they will achieve their own goals he fears that their ambitions are not very high, the repetition of “as long as” indicating this. Most of all, he hopes that they will not be made obsolete by technology (“do not become the fuel for the technological fire / burning us, making us useless and spent kayu bakau”), especially if they were to end up being manual labourers of factory workers – due to their apparent lack of ambition to be more -- whose tasks will eventually be replaced by automated machines and robots.

B. What is the speaker’s attitude towards the future in the poem Nocturne by Muhammad Haji Salleh? [8 marks]

Answer:
The poem Nocturne harbours – both literally and metaphorically – much hope for the future and this is communicated through its central metaphor of a ship being urged on through the darkness of night by a comforting concert of natural forces – the sea, sky and winds – into a dawn that represents the future. Despite the onset of technological advances that threaten the natural rhythm of humanity, the spirit of Nocturne insists that nature will be able to adapt to the brave new world of “machines”. The second stanza of the poem reads:
“late tonight we borrow the music of nature
to mend the rhythm of our souls
newly broken by the pace of machines
i hold your hand
to marry my body to your lucidity”
It is ultimately the “music of nature” that will assist souls adjust to the “pace of machines”. The rift in humanity caused by the new pace of machines is surmountable if we allow the music of nature to bring us together. Once this is done, humanity will be able to sail into a new dawn of mutual understanding and harmony. This is evident in the last stanza that reads:
“in this dawn
we find a world
that understands us.
we string our experiences
as proof of our humanness.”

C. “Sometimes the social gestures we make in the name of civility hide rather than communicate our true intentions and feelings”
Discuss this statement in relation to the poem Once Upon a Time by Gabriel Okara. Support your answer with reasons and examples drawn from the poem. [12 marks]

Answer:
Once Upon A Time is a poem that is based on this view that social gestures often hide rather than communicate our true intentions and feelings. The speaker of the poem tells his son about a past where people were genuine where “they used to laugh with their hearts / and laugh with their eyes.” In the speaker’s present, however “they only laugh with their teeth” even as their eyes “search behind” the speaker’s “shadow”. In other words, the people of the speaker’s present harbour sinister hidden intentions which social gestures such as smiling, greeting, and the shaking of hands are used to hide.

Accordingly, the speaker has had to adapt by himself becoming insincere in the form of wearing many faces “like dresses” such as his “homeface, officeface, streetface, hostface /… with all their conforming smiles”. He has “… also learned to say, ‘Goodbye’ / when (he means) ‘Good-riddance’”. Nevertheless, the speaker is not proud of this. On the contrary, he wants to re-learn how to be sincere. He says:
“But believe me, son.
I want to be what I used to be
When I was like you, I want
To unlearn all these muting things
….
So show me, son,
How to laugh; show me how
I used to laugh and smile
Once upon a time when I was like you.”
Ultimately, the speaker is asking to be returned to a state of innocence where communication and human interaction has yet to be “muted” or disguised by learnt social gestures of politeness which adults use to gloss over their true intentions.

A. Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all…
… I’ve heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Hope is a thing with Feathers, Emily Dickinson
In the stanzas above, how is hope represented? [5 marks]

Answer:
Although never directly expressed, hope is presented as a bird. In other words, the metaphor of a bird is used to embody, as it were, the concept of hope. As such, the bird of hope that lives in the soul is simultaneously slight and strong; it sings the tune of hope incessantly through the most difficult times, yet it is free and costs us nothing.

B. What is the main image used in At the Door by Wong Phui Nam, and how effective is it in communicating the subject of the poem? [8 marks]

Answer:
The central image or metaphor on which the poem At the Door hinges is that of plant, or sapling for a feotus that has been poisoned in order to be aborted. The voice of the poem is that of the aborted feotus who begs to know:
“Mother, why did you let
the poison seep down,
blacken leaf and stem
from overhead course down the roots
to pinch and disarrange
the bulging knob that was to find its shape
to be my head?”
In these lines, the speaker of the poem likens itself to a plant whose leaf and stem (body), roots (blood vessels) and bulging knob (head) is poisoned “from overhead”, presumably after Mother has ingested abortifacient (swallowed drugs that induce abortion). I find this metaphor highly effective in its graphic immediacy; the images of its bulging knob, or head being “pinched and disarranged” at once focuses the attention on the cruelty of the poisoning and subsequent abortion. This is especially so in the third stanza when the speaker says:
“… before I melted back
into the glistening bunched gel,
red grapes shot thick with ash,
as I, expelled,
made my way out in my sac
filming over so soon with death?”
Once again, the plant (red grapes) metaphor is used to great graphic effect to illustrate the actual process of the abortion. Red grapes which would have otherwise been sweet fruit, are “shot thick with ash”, or burnt and killed.

C. “Life is a tedious routine with very little to look forward to”
Can this statement be applied to the poem Miracles by Walt Whitman. Support your argument with reasons and examples drawn from the text. [12 marks]

Answer:
The main message of the poem Miracles is the antithesis (opposite argument) of the claim that “life is a tedious routine with very little to look forward to”. One can only imagine the speaker of the poem balking at this phrase.

As far as the poem is concerned, life in itself is cause for celebration as everything around us is a miracle in its own right. Just by its title alone, one would expect the poem to be about awesome phenomena, however, the content and message of the poem debunks this expectation.

Everything in life that one would consider humdrum and mundane, the speaker insists, is a miracle to which he looks forward. From the very first line he declares: “Why, who makes much of a miracle? / As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles” and goes on to give us a seemingly inexhaustible list of “miracles” that range from roofs, to streets to sunsets and to every spear of grass.

Above all, “… the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women, and all that concerns them, / All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.” In other words, humanity itself and its surroundings is miraculous and therefore there should be much in life to look forward to.


► Read more on SPM Literature in English (Notes: Poems II)

SPM Literature in English (Notes: Random questions)

Posted by Snow

  1. (a) Why did Alfred Doolittle go to Higgins’ house?
    (b) How you think the change in Eliza has affected her in the end?
    (c) “We are told that Pickering treats a flower girl as if she were a Duchess, while Higgins treats a Duchess as if she were a flower girl.” Show how far this is a true description of their behaviours.

  2. (a) What bet did Professor Higgins make with Colonel Pickering?
    (b) What was Eliza’s first test and in what way did she pass or fail it?
    (c) What is your opinion of the play after reading it? Did you find it amusing or otherwise? Comment, with reference to specific scenes or events in the play.
1. Choose any one of the following poems [titles of poems from a given theme will be listed] and answer questions (a), (b) and (c) below:
(a) What is the main concern of the poem you have chosen?
(b) Using specific references, give two examples of imagery used in the poem.
(c) Choose any two poems that you have enjoyed reading under the above theme, and with close reference to the poems say why you like them.

Section A : Novel

The River Between by Ngugi Wa Thiong ‘O
Demi Na Mathathi were giants of the tribe. They had lived a long way back, at the beginning of time. They cut down trees and cleared the dense forests for cultivation. They owned many cattle, sheep and goats and they often sacrifice to Murungu and held communion with the ancestral spirits. Waiyaki had heard about these two generations of the tribe and he was proud of them. Only he wished he knew what they had looked like. They must have been great and strong to have braved the hazards of the forest.

In the above extract, state how Waiyaki perceives Demi Na Mathathi? (5 marks)

Explain the importance of the following ceremonies: (8 marks)
  • Ritual of Being Born Again
  • Circumcision
“Literature teaches us to understand relationship among family members.”

Discuss the above statement with close reference to Chege and Waiyaki. Do include their trip to the sacred grove in your answer. (12 marks)

Section B : Short Stories

Compassion Circuit by John Wyndham
Janet went on talking, more to herself than to the patient Hester standing by. She talked herself into tears. Then, presently, she looked up.

“Oh, Hester, if you were human I could not bear it. I think I’d hate you for being so strong and so well – but I don’t, Hester. You’re so kind and patient when I’m silly, like this. I believe you’d cry with me to keep me company if you could.”

“I wish if I could,” the robot agreed. “My compassion-circuit…”

In the above extract, why is Janet envious of Hester? (5 marks)

“Compared to robots we must seem so, I suppose. You are so strong and untiring, Hester. If you knew how I envy you that…”

What happens to Janet at the end of the story and what do the above lines tell us about Janet and her opinion on robots? (8 marks)

“Robots will be able to handle life better then human beings.”

Discuss the above with close reference to the story “Compassion Circuit” (12 marks)

Bequest of Love by Marie Gerrine Louis
After the incident, Karim got steadily worse. He stopped moving about around the house like he used to, getting in everyone’s way on purpose.

He now pulled himself about slowly with his long arms, his legs dragging behind uselessly. Growing more melancholy, he spent hours just staring out the window at the boys playing soccer of the neighbor’s children playing hide and seek. I tried to see if it was resentment he felt towards them but all his face ever showed was a deep sadness for what was never to be for him.

Sometimes, just sometimes, my gay Karim would come back to me for a while but these instances were few and very precious to me.

Based on the extract above, describe the kind of person Karim has become. (5 marks)

Briefly explain the relationship between Karim and his parents. (8 marks)

“Family unity is an important component when one faces tragedy.”

Discuss the above with close reference to the text. (12 marks)

Section C : Poetry

Theme: Family
Grandmother
Lost in thought, she is happy. And grateful.
Then her customers come. Their sting
is worse than that of the mengkuang.
How deep the meaning of love.
How high the price of parting.

Why is grandmother upset with her customers? (5 marks)

A Father’s Word for a Lost Child
Explain in detail three reasons given by the persona as to why his daughter should return home. (8 marks)

A Figure Forgotten in Hours-Not-Of-Need
“In literature it is shown that people influence one another”.

Do you think the mother has a long lasting influence on her child? Discuss with close reference to the text. (12 marks)


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SPM Literature in English (Notes: Plays and Novels)

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George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was born in Dublin, the son of a civil servant. His education was irregular, due to his dislike of any organized training. After working in an estate agent's office for a while he moved to London as a young man (1876), where he established himself as a leading music and theatre critic in the eighties and nineties and became a prominent member of the Fabian Society, for which he composed many pamphlets. He began his literary career as a novelist; as a fervent advocate of the new theatre of Ibsen (The Quintessence of Ibsenism, 1891) he decided to write plays in order to illustrate his criticism of the English stage. His earliest dramas were called appropriately Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant (1898). Among these, Widower's Houses and Mrs. Warren's Profession savagely attack social hypocrisy, while in plays such as Arms and the Man and The Man of Destiny the criticism is less fierce. Shaw's radical rationalism, his utter disregard of conventions, his keen dialectic interest and verbal wit often turn the stage into a forum of ideas, and nowhere more openly than in the famous discourses on the Life Force, «Don Juan in Hell», the third act of the dramatization of woman's love chase of man, Man and Superman (1903).

In the plays of his later period discussion sometimes drowns the drama, in Back to Methuselah (1921), although in the same period he worked on his masterpiece Saint Joan (1923), in which he rewrites the well-known story of the French maiden and extends it from the Middle Ages to the present.

Other important plays by Shaw are Caesar and Cleopatra (1901), a historical play filled with allusions to modern times, and Androcles and the Lion (1912), in which he exercised a kind of retrospective history and from modern movements drew deductions for the Christian era. In Major Barbara (1905), one of Shaw's most successful «discussion» plays, the audience's attention is held by the power of the witty argumentation that man can achieve aesthetic salvation only through political activity, not as an individual. The Doctor's Dilemma (1906), facetiously classified as a tragedy by Shaw, is really a comedy the humour of which is directed at the medical profession. Candida (1898), with social attitudes toward sex relations as objects of his satire, and Pygmalion (1912), a witty study of phonetics as well as a clever treatment of middle-class morality and class distinction, proved some of Shaw's greatest successes on the stage. It is a combination of the dramatic, the comic, and the social corrective that gives Shaw's comedies their special flavour.

Shaw's complete works appeared in thirty-six volumes between 1930 and 1950, the year of his death.

PYGMALION: Who was He?
In Roman mythology, Pygmalion was the King of Cyprus who had vowed never to marry because he could not find an ideal woman. Being a sculptor, he sculpted a perfect woman out of marble and eventually fell in love with the cold marble statue. He pleaded with Venus, the Goddess of Love to make her into a real person and she granted his wish.

In Shaw's Pygmalion, Professor Higgins tried to turn Eliza Doolitle into what he pictured to be the ideal woman.
  1. Comparison between Prof. Higgins and Colonel Pickering.
  2. How Shaw presents Eliza in the play.
  3. What does the character of Alfred Doolittle contribute to Pygmalion?
Some ideas to consider in this question.
  • Doolitle adds colour and personality to the play.
  • He makes no pretence to be virtuous but is completely honest about his nature.
  • He presents his own philosophy on the idea of 'Undeserving Poor'.
  • The higher he rises in the world, the less happy he becomes.
(Any statement made must be supported by evidence directly from the text through paraphrasing and quoting from the play.)

Pygmalion
It has been said that Pygmalion is not a play about turning a flower girl into a duchess, but one about turning a woman into a human. Do you agree?

On a literal and simple level, the audience would view Pygmalion as a play about a flower girl, yet the deeper, cum more accurate point of view would be as the transformation of a young lady into a real, living human. The play Pygmalion is about a street urchin, Eliza Doolittle, who was brought into the bright glare of the high-class society, the world that she was not born to live in, but by a strange twist of destiny was transported into. The bringing of these two worlds together, that of the poverty-stricken society and the superior civilization had thrown a spanner into the works, for in the Victorian society, a person born into the working class remained there and never had the chance to decide their fate. In other words, their birth selected their future for them. However, defying this unspoken law audaciously, this young damsel has showed courage and learnt rapidly, not only about the art of proper speech and etiquette, but also about the underlying reality that she has to face, life. Eliza had a hard lesson to learn, but she learnt it well. She stood up for herself, for her rights, and showed Professor Higgins that she was not an “insect” or “squashed cabbage leaf”, but a human with feelings just like him and everyone else. This courageous maiden had managed to grasp the true meaning of life, that everyone has a right to live, that the gift of life in itself is pride enough to lift the head of the lowliest beggar and shame enough to bow the head of the most powerful king. To be precise, she learnt to be a human, the meaning of life. Eliza Doolittle had found herself at last.

Romeo
  1. Look for scenes in the play when Romeo rushes into things without thinking. Identify at least five.
  2. What are the results of each of his actions?
(Please post your comments on the above if you'd like to share it with others.)

Essay question
With close reference to the text, discuss Romeo's impulsive nature and how it leads to his tragic end. (Your essay should not be less than 500 words.)

An Example of How You Can Start This Essay:
In Romeo and Juliet, there are several instances when the audience sees Romeo displaying his impulsive nature. Romeo proposed to Juliet the same night that they met. Juliet would have preferred that their wedding be arranged the right way which would have been through their respective family members. Romeo was hasty in not wanting to wait. He wanted them to be married immediately. So when they parted at daybreak, he went to see Friar Lawrence to make arrangements. The outcome? The marriage had to be kept a secret and Juliet had to fake her death to get out of marrying Paris. This resulted in the tragic ending to this play.

Religious imagery in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
There are different types of imagery used in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. One of them is the use of religious imagery.

Christianity was the religion that everyone was expected to follow during Shakespeare’s time and this explains why the imagery used is related to Christianity.

In the play, Romeo expresses his desire to kiss Juliet’s hand which he refers to as a ‘holy shrine’ and his own lips as ‘two blushing pilgrims’. The audience, being familiar with the religious connotation is made to feel that Juliet is linked with a divine existence, that is, God. This scene which takes place in Act 1 scene 5 (95-96) is the young lovers’ first meeting when Romeo turns up uninvited at Capulet’s masquerade party. Juliet plays along, responds to Romeo by referring to him as ‘good pilgrim’ and comparing him with ‘holy palmers’, the pilgrims who have returned from Jerusalem with a palm leaf as a token.

Romeo wants their lips to ‘do what hands do: They pray ...’ The touching of their lips in a kiss is likened to hands which are pressed together in prayer. The use of religious imagery elevates the relationship to a higher plane beyond that of ordinary mortals. The language used is very romantic, poetic and written in the form of a sonnet which sets this scene and the lovers apart from the ordinary characters in the rest of the play.

In Act 2 scene 2, Romeo speaks of her sacredness, recalling the holy motif of their first conversation together. She is his ‘bright angel’; she is like a winged messenger of heaven‘, a ‘dear saint’, and he vows to be ‘new baptiz’d’ for her. The balcony scene expresses the feelings of youth and passion. It makes anyone watching the play realise that young love does not have its feet on the ground. This explains Romeo and Juliet’s perception of love as a heavenly and religious experience.

As God’s intermediary, Friar Lawrence plays a very important role in propagating this perception as he is the one who gives official recognition of their love by marrying them. This implies divine recognition of their union.

The use of religious imagery is crucial to the audience’s acceptance of the events that take place in the play as destiny lies in the hands of God. Romeo and Juliet are not meant to be together on earth. It is only in death that they will be together as husband and wife.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Golding's Lord of the Flies is about struggle for survival and the conflict between good and evil. The characters in the novel are children who are stranded on an uninhabited island after their plane crashes, killing the pilot. In an untamed environment, the children are left to fend for themselves and in the process, form a society with a hierarchy not much different from that in the civilised world.

Readers should consider the following question:
What is the message concerning human nature in Golding's Lord of the Flies?

The Dark Side of Human Nature in 'Lord of the Flies'.
Golding wanted to illustrate in this novel the dark side of human nature and to make the point that each member of humankind has this dark side. The boys blame the source of all the evil and savagery as a beast, some sort of animal or supernatural creature that inhabits the island. In actual fact there is no external beast. When they act on their animal impulses, the boys themselves take on the persona of the beast.
(At this point, SPM students writing their examination essays should display knowledge of text by referring to specific events in the novel.)

Golding places supposedly innocent schoolboys in the protected environment of an uninhabited tropical island to illustrate a point: that savagery is not confined to certain people in particular environments but exists in everyone. Even the smallest boys act out, in innocence, the same cruel desire for mastery shown by Jack and his tribe while hunting pigs and, later, Ralph. The former schoolboys discovered within themselves the urge to inflict pain and enjoyed the accompanying rush of power.
(Refer closely to an event in the novel to support this.)

When confronted with a choice between reason's civilising influence and animalistic savagery, the boys choose to abandon the values of civilisation that Ralph represents.
(Again, support this statement with close reference to the chain of events in the novel. Paraphrasing - that is, putting appropriate quotes into your sentences, is an effective way of showing knowledge and understanding of the novel.)


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