Who Says You’re Not Gonna Score?by Hoe Zhan Hui [Writing Contest 2014 ★ Winner ★]
So, who said so?All in all, I am not talking about anyone scoring a hat trick in a soccer game. I’m talking about real business! I mean, some serious study plan! Everyone wants to be somebody. I wish to score STRAIGHT A+ in SPM, you too! Now, what to do? Easy…
1) Leave everything behind (for the time being while doing something)
‘One target at a time.’ It’s more effective in reducing your overall workload and stress. Trust me, you’ll feel much lighter. I won’t say, ‘Prioritise’. It’s more like getting the job done rather than prioritizing something else that you should not be. FOCUS on the task in hand. Say, you are in chemistry class. Then, don’t do other stuffs during your chemistry class. Strictly, only do chemistry stuffs. It’s a good time to finish your undone chemistry homework!
2) Blend in with the education system
Hey, don’t go fussing about the downside of our education system. Eventually, you’ll be the one going through it. Save your effort! You don’t like to memorise, do you? Well, don’t memorise! Instead, you lean on the ‘practicing’ approach. Trust me, you won’t even realize that you could answer questions you are already so familiar with. This technique is much more effective for slow-learners like me! I need all the time I could get to digest raw information and making them a part of me. However, some ‘facts and figures’ are unavoidable. You need to memorise somehow. But here’s the trick. You practice ‘remembering’ the facts. In other words, you might need a few days, maybe weeks to get them familiar with. You will remember them in times of need!
3) Never stop asking stupid questions! – Not annoying ones
Have you ever wanted to know minute details of how to solve a question but sounded like asking stupid questions? This is perfectly fine in my point of view as long as you stick to the rule of thumb. Firstly, don’t ask repetitive questions, it’s annoying, yes. Secondly, explain what you are trying to do before asking what you wish to know further. You get the picture. Feeling better? Keep your questions simple and straight to the point. By asking always, I actually knew what to do when I’m on my own during my exams! Glad I asked. Believe me, trying to be stupid to gain extra info is better than trying to be “Mr-Know-It-All”.
You got to have something in your mind that you want so badly! In this case, say, “I want straight A+ in SPM!” Now, I got a BIG dream and I must literally ‘dream on’ to keep the spark alive in me. With this, I’ll have just the right push to be successful. Motivation is a very powerful tool to spur one on. No man will be successful doing things that they themselves are not passionate about. To quote it, you must be goal-oriented and optimistic plus a little bit of extra effort. Bon voyage!
Narrowing down on how to do well in different subjects…a) Language Subjects (Bahasa Melayu & English)
How often do you speak Malay Language or English? You might find them a little difficult to score in exams. However, surprisingly, some can write better than they speak. In writing a piece of essay, it’s all about expressing out your ideas. Having good ideas are as important as knowing how to write.
- Start practicing your grammars.
- Try grabbing maximum scores in grammar, comprehension and literature sections.
- Grammar – Start off easy with building simple sentences to writing complex and compound sentences with beautiful words in it. Here, I’m not stressing on bombastic words but anyhow a handful of beautiful words would definitely suffice to add colours to your essay.
- Comprehension – Grammatical errors in this section are rarely penalized as this part tests on the ability of a student understanding a passage. As long as you write down the answers that are understandable, you might be in your way to scoring a few marks here.
- Don’t cheat in your literature sections by just reading the synopsis on everything. This is not going to work.
Science subjects are often the far most interesting ones in school, well, at the very least.
- Start off slowly by doing topical assessments, which includes actual-exams format questions.
- By doing this, you’ll get to know every topic inside out. (Possible questions, definitions, level of difficulty and most importantly, your mastery of the topics.)
- Do questions first before memorising facts.
- Frankly speaking, I can’t memorise facts on the go. Instead, I felt better memorising facts in question form that is a much easier technique. The question and answer are paired. Thus, the moment when you look at questions even if they’re twisted, you’ll still know the answer.
- Paper 2 is where you need to pay attention to the most.
- Throw away PMR habit of spending so much time revising objective questions.
- In exercise books, there are already answers provided in factual form for essay practices. Make them your “reference book”! It is a much easier and convenient way to look at your facts than reading your thick, bulky reference book, which you don’t even know where to start!
Again, all you need is practice, practice and practice.
- Get yourself familiarize with all types of questions.
- Use the ‘topical approach' mentioned earlier in (b).
- In Additional Math Paper 2, you’ll normally find ‘application questions’.
- Therefore, start practicing with real-exam format questions after understanding the concepts of each topic on the whole.
- Invest more time on the must-score questions especially in Section A and Section C just to play it safe. The topics involved are still manageable like the ‘Index Numbers’ and ‘Simultaneous Equations’. At least, you can still get a good mark if Section B is too hard.
- Modern Mathematics should not be a problem compared to Additional Mathematics.
- Some easier questions do carry a lot of mark such as the ‘Venn diagram’ or the ‘Plane and Elevation’.
- Again, practise more and you’ll get the hang of it! This subject would be easy if you did your homework back in lower secondary.
- Start early.
- By doing so, you not only create more time to remember the facts, but also lessening your burden during last-minute study.
- Use the ‘topical approach’ to remember facts from each topic without jumbling up everything.
- Refer and answer questions simultaneously.
- Slowly after some time, try answering without textbooks. You don’t want ending up being too dependent on textbooks, right?
- A must-score in Paper 2. Using the same technique, use answers provided at the back of the exercise books as quick notes! They are perfect to use as long as the facts are extracted from the official textbooks.
- There is nothing much to do but to memorise the definitions first.
- Easily, you can break down any one of the definitions into key words on the spot. You save all the time memorising definitions alone and then key words another.
- Last year, there were slight modifications in the format! That was pretty scary. I was thinking whether I should approach the questions like what I used to do before or to use a totally different approach according to the new instructions. Well, I packed in both just to be on the safe side. Quite lengthy answer, though.
So, what’s the moral of the story? Be flexible! ‘Blend in’, remember?This year, questions requiring higher order thinking skills (HOTS) might be trending. Anyhow, think out of the box! Remember, you can always apply concepts and formulas that you have learnt in class. The problem is, how can they be applied in a question itself?
Make yourself SHINE. Make the people around you PROUD!
Hoe Zhan Hui, 18, has achieved 10A+ in his SPM and also 7As in his PMR. He opted to continue his study in Taylor’s College Sri Hartamas for the IB Diploma Programme under KPM Bursary and is still waiting for the Maybank Scholarship Award scholarship. He is a slow starter but that’s not stopping him to achieve his goals! His life goal? He is interested in tech entrepreneurship and he wished to take up computer engineering course. He dreamt of having all the modern science fiction technology coming to life one day!
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