Sunday, December 21, 2014

Why last-minute study? – Plus some tips to do so ☺

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Why last-minute study? – Plus some tips to do so ☺

by Wan Qing [Writing Contest 2014 ★ Winner ★]

Hi there. Don’t think it’s wrong to study at the eleventh hour when exam is around the corner. I truly understand secondary school students don’t have much time to study, because they are surrounded by homework, assignments, projects, oral tests, tuitions, co-curricular activities, personal stuff like blogging, fb-ing, outing etc. A week of 5 days at school and the rest is weekend.  But, sometimes, weekend is taken by school authority to conduct school activity like Sports Day, Jogathon and so on. Sometimes, they even use it as replacement school day for previous holiday. Well, secondary school students’ life is never been an easy one, so minus this and that, how many hours you left to do revision? Hardly more than 3-4 hours per week. If you are good enough in time management then you’ll have no problem. But what if you are not? What if you are as lazy as I am? So, I highly recommend last-minute study to you guys who encounter the problems above.

Last Minute Study Tips
Last Minute Study Tips / PicCredit

Now, let me do a little bit of frequently asked questions (FAQ) here.

Q: Did you try last-minute study before?
A: Haha! My answer is YES!!! And I did that throughout my whole secondary school life.

Q: Usually do you manage to finish all the revisions in time?
A: No, not really. I just look through short notes I made or given by my teachers.

Q: Do you manage to obtain satisfied results in the end every time after doing so?
A: Satisfied grades maybe. At least got an A or the worst will only be a B.

Q: Did you do that during your latest exam?
A: My latest exam is the big one, SPM, last year. And yes, I did last-minute study too.

Q: So what’s your SPM result?
A: Full A’s of 9A+ and 1A-. I’m not trying to boast about my result but just telling you that I can do it, there’s no reason why you can’t.

Q: Can every student use this method?
A: I can’t guarantee haha. I don’t want to be blamed as well. So, I can only say I highly recommend this for secondary school students. I’m not sure whether last-minute study can be used during college years.

Q: Will I fail my exam for doing so?
A: Hmm, worry not. You’ll never fail. I never fail my exams for doing so, so just make me as an example for you.

Q: Will it work?
A: Well, never try you’ll never know. But trust me, it won’t waste your money. There’s no bad trying.

Okay, after the FAQ section, here’s the section of why last-minute study? Here’s a list of few reasons.

1. You can remember better.

I can’t use scientific facts or investigations to point out or prove this. But for me, last-minute study makes me remember better compared to normal regular revision. The reason for this I think is probably because when there is a need to revise, and when you are under stress, you’ll try to pack in as much knowledge as you can.

2. People expect the least hard work and the best outcome.

If compared to regular revision, last-minute study is less time-consuming. In short, this act shows the laziness in you. I’m sure you have friends who always play and never see them study but when results come out, their results are even better than yours. Here’s a bit of tip, if you want something, don’t just work hard, work smart is more important. Last-minute study with the correct way brings you the best outcome.  Yea, your parents will surely nag about that, but when they see your outstanding results, they will be proud of you, trust me.

3. You barely squeeze out your time to do self-revision regularly.

The reasons I said so is just the same as my opening paragraph. Nowadays secondary school student life is quite busy. And they need to cover lots of subjects, like in Science stream; you may need to study 10 subjects. Some students even take extra subject like Account or Arts. That adds in a lot of trouble for you to divide your time between subjects. When you finish your homework after school it’s already almost 5 o’clock. After that you might go and take your bath, eat up your dinner and go for your tuition. When you return home after tuition, your whole day is like “Arghh! I didn’t even revise or study yet!” so you probably will feel sorry and regretful for doing nothing. But, you can make a difference by doing last-minute study.

Below are some tips about last-minute study.

1. Don’t panic.

Remember, never panic. Even though you have only one day left, don’t get panic that easily. This is because when you panic, you can’t do things well.  You can’t bring the best of you out. You get what I mean? Panic will only harm you by haunting you with the disadvantages of last-minute study and increase your possibility of getting low grades.

**Solution: Think again what your teachers have taught you recently.  Prepare a pencil and jot down the possibility of questions coming out. List down whatever things you remember and what you don’t remember. Then, when you think you are done, immediately find the answers for what you don’t remember.  After that, if you feel like you still have time to study, then go ahead to do some model tests or look through short notes.

2. Plan and prepare.

Well, last-minute study doesn’t mean you don’t have to plan. The date of school exams is usually announced one month earlier. So, you can use the first week after receiving the exam timetable to plan what to study. Let’s say if you want to study three days before the first paper, prepare all the things you might need like notes, exercises and reference book in case you think you still have time to revise all that.

3. Follow your study mood.

If you still don’t have the mood to study one month before the exam, don’t force yourself to study. I tried before to force myself study, but it doesn’t last long. I know I’m not that kind of person who used to revise regularly, so I better choose the easy way out. Hmm, I think you too think the same right? Maybe by force it will result in the opposite way I supposed.

**Advice: But you can’t say you don’t have study mood all the time. You must always remind yourself, results are essential for your future, and study is a need to survive. So, how to induce study mood? You can approach yourself to your friends who are preparing for exams, listen to what they revise, what they learn, what’s their problem and so on. If possible, join your friends’ study group and contribute your knowledge as well. After the day, I think you’ll probably find your study mood.

4. Tidy up your study room.

This is a good habit and should be cultivated since young though I don’t usually do that unless being scolded by my parents lol. But I compared several times between the differences. If you tidy up your study room, your notes will be reachable and organized. I know that because when coming up to Form 4 or 5, you will start to have multiple notes of different subjects from school, tuitions, or from your elder sisters and brothers. So, your desk must be scattered with all the papers. When you need to find notes to study, I’m sure you’ll start to lose your temper like what I did.

**Solution: So, tidy up all the notes. Which is used more frequent? Put them in files of different colour so that you can easily recognize.  Separate your notes subject by subject, then progressively, topic by topic. After doing that, you’ll see the difference.

5. Concentrate when teacher is teaching.

This is super helpful as I did the same. Don’t always talk rubbish when teacher is teaching. Listen carefully what your teacher say, and always remember to bring your own notebook to jot down important points. Some teachers are even good enough to tell you what questions usually come out in the exam, and what topic is not popular. Many people say that Biology is hard. But, there are some students who only practice this tip without going tuition but manage to get A+ in Biology. If the lesson is bored, try to do something make yourself feel refresh for instance doing some stretching, drinking some water or asking permit to go to toilet and wash your face. Don’t look down on these little things, because when you start to get bored and can’t focus, you can’t organize things in the way you want.

6. Don’t make notes at last minute.

Making notes at last minute will only waste your time. You will feel stressful when you study last-minute, and you might want to use the shortest time to finish what you’ve learnt, so don’t waste time on unnecessary things, unless it’s the note you made before. And if you have your self-made notes, it’s better to look through because the notes are based on your own understanding.

7. Switch off your phone and computer.

This will make somebody insane I guess haha. Well, you want to do last-minute study and yet you don’t want to sacrifice? This doesn’t make sense okay. Asking you to switch off those electronic gadgets is purposed to reduce distraction so that you can focus well. You can play background music of course if you want to, but not those rock music or DJ songs, you’ll know what happen next – you’ll try to follow the rhythm of the music and try to sing. I usually listen to R&B, jazz, blue, guitar instrumental etc. Adjust the volume so that it’ll only be background music, something like 20% to at most 60%.

8. Remember to motivate yourself.

It’s important to do so even when people look down on you. I’m sure when you start to do last-minute study; your parents will scold you for doing that. But!!! But!!! Don’t care what they say, just move on. Keep on telling yourself you can do it no matter what they say. Just imagine, if you lose self-motivation, you’ll start crying and regretting for what you’ve done before. So, remind yourself past is the past. You can’t go back and change it anymore. Don’t immerse yourself in the past. So, grab the time left and utilize it to the fullest.

9. Study during the breaks between tests.

I’m sure there will be breaks between tests.  It ranges from 20 minutes to 1 hour. So, use that time to study after you eat or you can eat and study at the same time. And, remember; don’t look at the mistakes you’ve done in the exam hall okay. This can’t help you much. In fact, this makes you feel down and tremble in fear. So, always ask yourself what’s the next paper and go for it. Don’t look back at the previous papers unless your exam has ended.
Wan Qing

So, let me conclude this. Honestly, you have your choice to not believe in what I suggest. Well, it’s up to you haha. I’m just sharing my own study tips here. And I hope these tips are helpful to you all. Don’t get crammed or screwed up.

Finally, all the best in your exams! Good luck and bye ☺

WanQing is an eighteen-year-old girl just graduated from secondary school and now considering to go for Malaysian Matriculation. She blogs too!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How to Help Your Child to Prepare for Exams

by Ruby Andrew (Submit your guest post and get published here)

As a parent, it’s wrong to wait until your child's grade fall below average to take action. Most parents feel that a teacher should help their kids perform well because they pay them to do so. However, that’s not the case. Children need proper tutoring from both the parent and the teacher and since the teacher cannot cover everything, as a parent, you have to chip in and help your child improve his grades. Do not start taking interest to help your kid with schoolwork when the exams are near. Start early by helping out with the home work and revision. When the exams are near, there are things that you can do which can help your child perform better.

How to Help Your Child to Prepare for Exams
How to Help Your Child to Prepare for Exams / PicCredit
Below are things that you can do to help your child to prepare for exams.

In preparation for the exams

A child needs a parent who will be there for him during the exam time. Exams create fear and tension and the best you can do as a parent is to assist your child in every way.

Be supportive to your kid during the exam period and help your child to overcome the stress and fill positive energies in your child.

Revision and brainstorming

Help your child in tackling difficult questions. Let him write down the topics which seem difficult and assist in covering them each at a time. In order to ensure that all topics are covered before the exam time, organize a time table and divide the topics by the number of days left.

Brainstorm situations that may come up during the exams. These are possible questions that may be in the exam.You can go through previous tests which might give you a clue. Come up with possible solutions.

Help him and develop confidence

A child needs a lot of encouragement especially during exams from people they can trust. Give him an example about how you used to handle the exam situation when you were young. Assure him that he can do it also and nervousness is normal.

Give words of encouragement each day. This will help the child to have confidence to approach the exams. And also encourage your child to study over a period of time rather than craming the entire night.

Providing emotional support

Children need a lot of understanding from their parents. Putting a lot of pressure does not help either. They need to feel loved in these stressful moments.

Create a comfortable environment so as to help the child have peace of mind. Be open with them and let them share their feelings about the exams. Encourage them and offer the best support.

Advise them on how to develop relaxation skills

Relaxation can help you to reduce stress, tension, nervousness and anxiety. There are many relaxation techniques that can be practiced during the short period of time

Show them the importance of relaxing and how it helps the mind improve concentration. Advise them on the importance of taking deep breaths during exams.

Provide a balanced diet

A balanced diet improves concentration and keeps the child healthy. Foods containing Omega 3 is important for good memory and concentration.

A balanced diet and good and relaxing sleep for about eight hours is important for excellent performance. Make sure your kid drinks lots of water to keep them hydrated.

Outdoor Activities

Physical activity and outdoor games can actually help out a child to reenergize the body and helps to burn out those extra pounds and keep your mind active and energetic

Therefore for better performance, physical activities like football, swimming and running will help your child's body feel relaxed and keep the mind active.

Your child's performance is important as it determines his future. Proper preparation for exams can go a long way in helping the child perform better. Your child's welfare should be your first priority and that's why you need the csa contact in case of problems that may arise concerning your child. You will be given proper legal assistance.

Ruby Andrew, a guest writer and blogger by profession lives in Bristol, UK. Since for a long time, she has a passion for writing and she could write on any topic. Her areas of interest includes travel, health, fitness, automobile, fashion, technology and wedding. At present, she works as a guest blogger on behalf of csa contact.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Things to Do During Your Gap Year

Posted by Celine Wan

After reading my post about my first gap year, I suddenly realized that I forgot to document my second gap year mainly because I was too busy. After all it isn’t much of a pivotal point as compared to my first gap year full of uncertainties.

First things first: I personally wouldn’t recommend people to have two gap years even though it is a fairly common practice in the UK. It really doesn’t hurt if you have the tenacity to make the most out of it but it takes a lot of emotional and mental strength to overcome such loneliness and criticism of having to start university late. Trust me; you wouldn’t like being associated as that crazy girl who didn’t go to university for two and a half years after graduating from A Levels. I got that just two days ago by my previous peer and despite completing my first year already, I felt very insulted as usual. By the way all the students who were once my classmate in high school just graduated in the UK.

Second Gap Year Period: October 2012 – October 2013

My first gap year was all about discovering what I want and finding out what my future path would be. This is a very common practice for people who take a year off from studies because they do not realize the importance of making such a decision. In hindsight I find it really ironic that I hadn’t a single clue about Higher Education at the age that mattered the most—and now this becomes something of a personal interest. Don’t you find it strange that in the present, I tend to advice people on this whenever I have the time? Maybe it’s because I do not want anyone to suffer the consequences like I did.

Anyway, the main purpose of this post is not only to archive my personal journal but to allow people to realize what they can do when taking a year off. There are many reasons and ways to use up your gap year: my first one was about self discovery and education mania, but if you’re the kind who knows exactly what you want to do already or have secured an offer or so, my second year may provide some guide on what else you can do to fill your time.

Events Organisation

So I got my life pretty much sorted out by summer 2012: It was to wait for another year before entering Cambridge University through Bank Negara funding. So great, this year was all about sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying life. Never have I felt more secured in a long time.

Since most of my friends knew that I had another year off and essentially had nothing to do, they got me involved in a UK university organization run by Malaysian students. That’s great for me because it is an opportunity to gain such experience to occupy my time. After all it can do good for my CV.

So I joined the Malaysian Public Policy Competition (MPPC) committee for two years and was the head organizer in 2013. That was the highlight of 2013 because not only do I feel more involved with people my age, I actually feel like I’m back in a scheduled and timetabled life. I got to meet new friends of my age as well and loneliness was a thing of the past.

Since I was the Malaysian representative as well, I got the opportunity to drive almost everywhere in KL and Selangor to meet organizations and learnt a lot in a professional sense. I did a lot of pitching for the event sponsorship and handled all aspects in the event since I took on a major role in this MPPC.

I’m not going to ramble much on the details of what I did, but the main point was I majorly occupied my time in such an event and I was very, very busy and happy. Eventually I changed from an introvert to a full blown extrovert—and that was one of my major character changes of me through my gap year. I guess it is a consequence of adaptation.


When I received my scholarship, I requested for an internship in the organization that I will eventually work in upon graduation. Therefore right after everyone left for their second year, I started off my second gap year working at the Central Bank of Malaysia (Bank Negara Malaysia, BNM). Being a Pre U grad from a pure science course, words could not describe the steep learning curve that I had to endure when placed in the Economics Department. It was a very good way to occupy my time and prevent myself sulking that my friends have just gone back to university to start their second year. Working in BNM was also the time when I learnt more about the organization to prepare myself on what I want to do when I step into that organization 4 years later— I’m bonded for 8 years by the way. Much to my surprise, the anxiety of transferring from an engineering field to the economics or finance world was much reduced after working in the banking industry. Since I knew exactly what sort of career I will be pursuing, I was previously an intern at CIMB investment bank. Summer holidays are after all the perfect opportunity to learn things not related to my degree (chemical engineering).

After completing my two-month internship, I was also actively involved in the education side of things, spending my time advising juniors and such. I was an active forum member in various forum services and wrote a lot of articles whenever I’m free—partly because I kind of like writing. I indirectly made a lot of friends along the way and since the first theme for the event I organized was on Education, Shifting Paradigms, I got to know of a non-profit organization called Teach For Malaysia and thus got myself an internship because it will be fun to spend some of my gap year time doing other things I’m passionate about. I was stationed in the Training Department, preparing final year examinations for form 3 till form 5 students in various subjects. I get to go on school visits in Malaysia’s underperforming schools which reminded me of my own past—that probably led me to be more passionate about raising education opportunities and awareness.


This was mainly during my first gap year but since I’m listing out possible things you can do while on a gap year—what the heck. It was my first time travelling alone to a foreign country:

Bali, Indonesia

Jeju Island and Seoul, Korea

London and Cambridge, England


Celine Wan's Solo Travel in London
first “solo” travel with a friend in London

In time I realized that I really love travelling which I cannot fully describe in words. The real experience is just so educational, fun, and eye opening it is just impossible for me to provide such vicarious pleasure through words. I used to think that travelling is just way too expensive because you throw in large amount of money for a short period of time—might as well invest them on fixed assets! Oh how wrong was I to feel that way.

Ever since my solo travels I made a point to travel during every university break since travelling from the UK is relatively cheap. To date I’ve visited London, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Vatican City, Porto, Lisbon, Prague, and Kutna Horra in my first academic year itself! Now that I’m back in Malaysia I’ve only visited Melaka again. It seems that eating is the only thing in my itinerary.

Society Involvement

I was initially involved in the Mensa society but transferred most of my time in the student run organization called the International Council of Malaysian Scholars (ICMS) through the Malaysian Public Policy Competition (MPPC). I was involved in a few other subsidiary organizations but most of these are overlapped with the events organization said above.

Sedentary Interests

This may seem the most boring but it’s also the most unique part of having a gap year, right at the comfort of your own home. I personally find this a privilege to actually set out a lot of time doing exactly what I like which include but are not limited to:

1. History

I read a lot of biographies, got lost in Wikipedia and Youtube, watched a lot of movies and dramas revolving around an era I was obsessed in at any point of time. I had spent a lot of time setting up a blog to express my obsession in history Speaking of which I should revive it soon.

2. Beauty and Make Up

I ditched my nerdy side and started learning make up. I’m proud to say that I was the makeup artist for my friends for their May Ball event! This hobby is actually really useful in a University where formal events are a norm.

3. Education

As mentioned above, I dwell a lot in higher education side of things through forum discussions and reading.

4. Reading and Writing

Very miscellaneous. Everything mentioned above revolves around this sedentary activity.

5. Dramas

Hong Kong dramas, English dramas, American dramas, Korean dramas. Watch everything without guilt.

Family and Friends

I guess this is a no brainer but knowing that I will be away for a long time, I obviously had a lot of time to chat and hang out with friends and family. Visiting relatives during Chinese New Year, knowing that it will be my last for a very long time was part of the description but you don’t really need a gap year to do this. I guess what I mean is I took more time than a usual person to meet people, though bear in mind they’re usually professional in nature because even my friends in Malaysia have work and studies to attend to. So I spent most of my time Skype calling friends in the UK that I got so used to knowing what time it was in the UK when I was in Malaysia: sometimes 7 hours behind sometimes 8 hours behind, depending on the time of the year. All of this again, was part of the events organization. I had not physically met my colleagues in the UK when I first started out the event planning, but after 6 months of calling them almost every day, I didn’t even realize that I had not physically met them before by the time they got back to Malaysia. Talking to each one of them was so comfortable and natural it took us a while to even realize this!

Extra Studies

This is the most common fear and misconception of every Asian when a gap year is brought to mind—being rusty. On the contrary, I self studied extra subjects very regularly: Further Maths and I read up on Economics and Finance related books and websites to supplement my experience while at work (interning at a bank). I concede that I did not touch my sciences and have abandoned my Biology book a long time ago. Hence after the events were over, I dedicated a month just to find and gather all my books and notes in college and crammed 2 years of workload in a month minus Biology. Maths was very easy because I studied A Levels Further Maths so I totally dismissed this subject. Biology was unrelated in my course (for now) so I did not bother to revise. Hence a month for 2 A levels subject was very doable and starting university in my first year was a rather comfortable pace because it is like remembering “an old friend.” So don’t worry it’s easier to revise it back than you think—I left my Science for exactly two and a half years and at this moment after my first year, I’m pretty confident in giving tuition for the A levels Maths and Sciences!

Also, nobody really cares about my age, much to my surprise. Maybe it’s a UK thing, but a lot of them are actually of the same age as me, not including the Singaporeans.

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Saturday, December 06, 2014

11 Ways to Become a Teacher in Malaysia

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I receive many questions about how to become a teacher, particularly for SPM leavers and also degree holders. Congratulations! Hopefully your interest to become a teacher can strengthen to strong fighting spirit when you become a real teacher later. Do you know that there are about 11 paths to becoming a teacher?

11 Laluan Menjadi Guru di Malaysia
11 Laluan Menjadi Guru di Malaysia / CiKGUHAiLMi

1. SPM - IPG - SK

This is among the easiest way to become a teacher. SPM school leavers who obtained excellent results (4/5 A and above) may apply for admission to the Institut Perguruan Malaysia (IPGM) or better known as the Maktab Perguruan formerly.

They will be trained for 1 year preparation and 4 additional years for the Bachelor of Education program (Ijazah Sarjana Muda Pendidikan). They will then serve as teachers in the Primary School (Sekolah Rendah). Moreover, to improve the quality of teacher education, Malaysia Education Ministry (KPM) also provides dedicated path of immediate interview to SPM straight A's school leavers who are interested in becoming a teacher.

2. SPM - Matriculation - University - SMK

For those who are interested to become teachers in secondary schools, there are other paths that you can try. After getting good results for SPM, you can apply for admission to matriculation colleges. Generally, your SPM results need to be at least credit for all subjects.

While studying at matriculation colleges, get good exam results to apply for universities that offer programs for teaching or education.

3. SPM - STPM - University - SMK

There are also students who want to become secondary school teachers or teachers of subjects taught in secondary schools, such as Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Economics, Commerce and others, then they can choose this path. It is to further study at Form 6, and then further study at university.

4. STPM - University - SMK

This path is more or less like the above path, in which Form 6 students who obtained excellent STPM results, then futher study education program at the university.

The majority of them will be posted to teach in secondary schools, except where otherwise the subject has been specified in primary schools.

5. Diploma - University - SMK

This path is the path for those who first continue their studies to Diploma level. After SPM, probably already lose the sense of going to school, then go to study diploma in any local public university that offers the program.

Once you have a diploma, you may apply to further study to degree level specialized in teaching at universities that offer the education programs. 4 additional years are needed to complete their studies at this level. However, there are universities that allow some subjects to be exempted, hence it is possible to complete this degree in a shorter period.

6. Degree - DPLI - SMK

This is a way for those who already have a degree, but not in the teaching field. Then you can apply DPLI courses, Diploma Perguruan Lepasan Ijazah.

The difference of DPLI compared to the more commonly known KPLI is that DPLI is implemented in universities, not in IPG like KPLI. Also DPLI is for teachers to secondary school, while KPLI is for teachers to primary schools.

Little allowance is given to those who are selected to participate in this program. But there is a contractual agreement with KPM for 2 years.

7. Degree - KPLI - SK

This is the most common path we hear, namely KPLI, Kursus Perguruan Lepasan Ijazah. I myself was once the product of KPLI. Now KPLI leavers are for teachers who will be posted to primary schools only. Want secondary school, you can try DPLI as above.

KPLI is implemented in IPG, for 1 year. However, due to the factors of the number of teachers and subjects disproportionate and excessive, factors of Ijazah Sarjana Muda Perguruan (ISMP) graduates do not get any posting, this program has reduced its intake.

It is usually only limited to those critical subjects such as English, KHB, Special Education, and many others which are in immediate supply demand. Even if it opens, the competition is usually very fierce. Good luck!

8. Degree - JQAF - SK

For those who have a degree in Islamic studies, Arabic or related to it, then you can try this path. Those who seek and are offered this program, will be given the opportunity to straight away become a JQAF teacher in a designated school.

At the same time, during the school holidays, they must be enrolled for studies during school holidays for 2 years. After finishing this JQAF program, then there will be reposting again. Depending on luck and vacancy, the posting may be to the former school, or a new school.

9. Degree - MRSM

In addition, you can also try your luck to become a MRSM teacher or Maktab Rendah Sains MARA teacher, especially if you have something to do with MARA. Whether former students, former MARA scholarship recipients or anything related to MARA education.

You can refer to the advertisement at specific MRSM from time to time for application instruction. This depends on the subject vacancy and demand. Like other teachers, the teaching programs for these teachers are conducted during the school holidays. The priority would be given to former MARA scholarship recipients. However, you can try also. Who knows you are lucky enough to be a MRSM teacher.

10. Degree - Private Schools

If you've tried MRSM and other schools, but have no luck, then you can try to apply as a private school teacher and international school teacher. The requirements are surely more selective on the subject, teacher qualification and also certain strengths.

This path is a good way for those who always want a challenge in career. Salaries are certainly more lucrative when compared with teachers working with the government. The risk of becoming a teacher at these schools is the contract might not be renewed if not performing impressively.

11. Degree - Teach for Malaysia - SMK / SK

This is another new route that I know. You can join Teach For Malaysia NGO which is active in preparing teachers for critical subjects in schools that are in need of teachers.

Those who apply to join Teach For Malaysia program will be filtered and given school for posting. During the weekend they have to attend kursus pemantapan perguruan with Teach For Malaysia friends. The contract is for 2 years, then they can choose to continue to be a teacher or stop.

Teach For Malaysia program is also sanctioned by the Ministry of Education, and even more actively promoted through the social networking site in the past two years.

Actually I attempted to get more information directly from Teach For Malaysia about the program. However my questions were not answered. Probably they were too busy managing the would-be teachers who want to join Teach For Malaysia…

So, surprise, right? I cannot believe there are many ways for you out there who really want the title of a teacher. So, work as according to your plan. And when you have the opportunity to become a teacher one day, do not waste the opportunity, responsibility and trust that you bear as a teacher!
Congratulations for choosing a career as a teacher... and good luck! ;)

This post was first published in Malay on CiKGUHAiLMi blog. He is a Science and Chemistry teacher who is fanatic about softball and drama.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Understanding the Art of Expression in Descriptive Writing with Super Seven Tricks

by Eddie (Submit your guest post and get published here)

It is essential to know that a descriptive writing is nearly utilizing the best of words to produce the thoughts, detention the reader’s devotion, and create a long lasting impression in the brain of the pursuer. Here, you'll study how to get a command over descriptive writing and some effective tricks to polishing your skills in this area.

1. Recognize what you're going to portray

As you begin with graphic composition, distinguish precisely what you are embarking to depict. As a rule, an unmistakable piece will incorporate the portrayal of an individual, a place, an experience, a circumstance, and so forth. Anything that you encounter or see about your subject can be the point of convergence of your expressive composition.
The Process of Essay Writing
The Process of Essay Writing / PicCredit

2. Choose why you're depicting that specific perspective

While it can be a grand innovative activity to just portray anything you see, in unmistakable written work, there is frequently a particular motivation to depict whatever you have embarked to depict.

3. Keep up a legitimate sequence

At times, you may get so found up in making your work vivid and innovative that you may wind up having a squash up of portrayals that take after no specific request. For example, in the event that you need to portray characters in a specific circumstance, start by depicting the setting, and afterward move ahead to the most critical character of that specific circumstance, and after that to the slightest essential one.

4. Utilizing Symbolism

is the best apparatus you can utilize in distinct written work. Since you can't demonstrate your reader what you are envisioning, you have to paint a picture with words. You have to make the portrayal of your creative energy so strong that your pursuer will quickly have the capacity to envision what you are portraying. The composition must have the capacity to attract the reading audience; consequently, the essayist ought to say things that they can identify with or relate to. Extraordinary elucidating written work can draw them, tempting him or her to keep perusing right to the end. While giving the points of interest is vital, it is the means by which they are displayed that has the effect.

5. Polish the wits

A standout amongst the best approaches to make the experience you are portraying striking for your reader is to utilize the five faculties: smell, sight, sound, taste, and touch. At the point when the portrayals are centered on the faculties, you give particular and distinctive subtle elements in such a route, to the point that it demonstrates your reader what you are portraying. In this way, when you depict a subject, portray it in such a way, to the point that it includes the purser’s conceivable tactile translations. It must make them envision what he would see, smell, taste, hear, or feel when he peruses what you have composed.

6. Add associated words/phrases

Earlier you really start keeping in touch with, it is dependably a decent thought to fabricate associated words and thoughts. Case in point, when you are going to be portraying flowers, you could scribble down a couple of thoughts before you begin depicting it, in the same way as: shade, vase, sorts, petals, shape, stem, crisp, style, and so on. When you have these fundamental words, you could begin illustrative sentences for everyone. At that point, bear on from that point.

7. Show enthusiasm

Effect is what you're looking to make in the personalities of your reading audience. You need them to communicate and identify with what you're composing. This will be near inconceivable if your work does not reflect the enthusiasm that you actually feel for it. Write the way to feel them exactly you feel with the words you compose. A dialect that identifies with compelling feelings, for example, adoration, scorn, profound respect, revulsion, and etc., can pass on the reach and force of the assessment that you are attempting to express. Use them for your support and get the wanted impact.

Eddie is a freelance writer and editor in a local magazine. He has written numerous blogs and articles related to effective writing skills at speedy essay at essay help.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Why studying in Singapore is not as good as you think?

Guest post by Ricky Tay

A letter for Malaysia Pre-U students who intend to come to Singapore for Tertiary Education

Dear Juniors,

Finishing your STPM, UEC or A-Level blah blah blah? Then what is NEXT?

If you have the intention to further study in Singapore, then this is the post you need to read before you MAKE A CHOICE.

Let me share my experience with you first.

I am a Johorean who graduated from Foon Yew High School in 2005. At that time, I knew nothing about what I am supposed to do next as I have no elder brother or sister as a reference. Due to the limited financial support I have from my family, further studies outside of Malaysia & Singapore is not an option. However, when I applied to the local universities in Singapore, I failed because of my lousy UEC result.

Ricky 2005 UEC Results
Ricky 2005 UEC Results

At that time, a minimum number of 4As was required in order to enter NTU, while I gotten only 3As (why didn't I have my last A!?).

Tips: English must be an "A" in order to secure a place in Singapore local universities.

My FIRST takeaway - You really need to work hard for your pre-U exam to be in a better position to choose your next path.

Eventually, I listened to my dad (a wrong advisor) and chose a 3-year Diploma course in Bioelectronics (DBE) in Singapore Polytechnic (SP).

My SECOND takeaway - With my UEC results, I could have gone to other Universities, probably in Malaysia for a degree. By going to Polytechinic in Singapore, you need 2/3 years to obtain a diploma and another 3/4 years for a degree in a Singapore local University, which means that you take a total of minimum 5 years to get a degree.

I finished my Diploma in Bioelectronic in 2009 and continued with a degree in Electrical & Electronic Engineering (EEE) in Nanyang Technological University (NTU). I chose EEE simply because it gave me 1-year exemption in NTU (normally 4 years for EEE). Then I graduated in 2012 with CGPA of 4.01 (So lucky, it was just barely Second Upper Class Honours!) and worked for Panasonic Semiconductor from 2 Jul 2012 to 31 Oct 2014 as one of their scholars. And now, I am making a switch in industry after realising my passion is not engineering (it took me so many years to find out).

My THIRD takeaway - Choose your Major & Career carefully. Do not just follow the default path or be fooled by the promise of early graduation. Follow your heart and choose something you love (with reasonable prospects). When you realise you are in the wrong direction, try the very best to make the switch as early as possible.

With 6 years of studying plus 2 years of working experience in Singapore, I would like to offer 3 warnings before you make the decision whether or not to cross the border to study:

1. Don’t be deceived by the money

High employment rate and a strong currency in Singapore seem alluring, but there is more than what meets the eye. The costs (including tuition fee, living allowance, etc) of studying in Singapore are much higher than that in Malaysia, even with the support of Tuition Grant by the Singapore Government. Furthermore, in recent years, the government is stepping in to limit the number of foreigners fighting for jobs with Singaporeans (after their infamous series of complains). Hence you must be mentally prepared to work in industries that you don’t like or even in Malaysia upon graduation. On the other hand, if you are just looking at completing a degree with low costs, studying in Malaysia (even in KL) might be a better idea with the support of PTPTN. With good results, it is also not that hard to get a scholarship in Malaysia universities.

2. A major problem

Popular courses like medicine, law and business are almost impossible for foreigners to get into. Singapore applicants love to choose business or finance based majors. Afterall, Singapore is a well-known financial hub and that’s where all the money is. Therefore, foreigners typically end up in courses pertaining to engineering or sciences. It is understandable since every country wants to protect their citizens.

Hence, if you are looking at a major like business or accounting, you must be a straight "A"s student in order to compete with Singaporeans. Google search “Digital Senior IGP of NUS, NTU & SMU for A-level holder”, it will give you an insight of how popular each course is.

3. Don’t just rely on official sources

Competition is intense in Singapore in every area. Even individual universities are fighting to woo talents like you. The information you see on their official websites provide a very narrow perspective of life within the university itself. Sometimes it can be misleading. Many Malaysian students I know have difficulties adjusting to the fast-paced culture in Singapore.

Therefore, apart from researching on official sources, you should seek advice from people around you, especially your seniors who are studying in or have studied in those universities.

You should also look at third-party websites with content contributed for students, by students such as and to find out more hidden facts about the universities in Singapore & Malaysia.

So much for the warnings, I am sounding like an old man now. Despite being slower than all my peers who studied in Malaysia, I have no regrets nonetheless about my choice.

Here’s the good side: Singapore local universities are globally reputed. (Check out the comparison of 3 Universities). And I am grateful for being a student in NTU which provides sophisticated facilities, forest-like campus, crazy CCA activities, infinite overseas exposure as well as unlimited opportunities to get in touch with different people from different background. If you are looking at a holistic campus life, then I believe Singapore local universities may be suitable for you.

Choosing university & course is totally different from selecting your secondary school in Malaysia. Consider the 3 main Questions: What is your dream, passion or interest? What is your capability or strength? Which path will have a better prospect or potential in future? It might give a clearer or narrower list of choices for the next phase of your journey. In the end, no one really responsible for your success except you. All the best to your tertiary education journey!

Best regards,
Ricky Tay @

About the author - Ricky Tay: Graduate of Foon Yew High School (2005) & Singapore Polytechnic (2009). One of Specialist Manpower Programmer (SMP) scholar where the scholarship is sponsored by EDB & Panasonic and graduated with 2nd upper class honors degree in EEE from Nanyang Technological University (2012). After 2-year working with Panasonic, he is currently full-time running Digital Senior website with his partner. Click here to get more information about studying tertiary in Singapore.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

An Insight into South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE International)

Wrong Pre-University Program in Malaysia: An insight into South Australian Matriculation (SAM)

Guest post by johnboston89

Many students are in a state of confusion of what Pre-U to take, after they are done with O levels / SPM / IGCSE. I was confused too, and I’d like to share my experience of choosing the wrong Pre-U after my O levels.

I made the mistake of taking the South Australian Matriculation (SAM). I chose this program because of its short duration (1 year) compared to other international pre-university programs e.g. A-Levels, International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program, etc. and also because of its percentage breakdown (70% coursework 30% exam). However, I was duped into taking this program by the internet (SACE) website. Firstly l will give a brief insight as to what the SAM program is before you consider enrolling yourself in this course. Referring to the SACE website, “The SACE International is an internationally recognised one year pre-university program. The SACE International was previously known as the South Australian Matriculation (SAM) program – the new brand is being rolled out progressively during 2014.

The SACE International is administered by the SACE Board of South Australia, an independent, statutory authority of the South Australian Government that is responsible for curriculum development and accreditation, assessment, reporting and certification for the final years of secondary education.

International acceptance of the SACE International, and its proven track record, has meant continued expansion of SACE International Schools in Asia.”

South Australian Certificate of Education SACE International South Australian Matriculation (SAM)
SACE International | South Australian Certificate of Education International

I would like to question the word ‘International’. SAM is only offered in six schools in Malaysia and one school in China. To make it more international they have now added the word International from South Australian. I think the term ‘international’ is an understatement if it’s only offered in two countries. On the other hand  A Levels and IB  is offered worldwide (understatement not withstanding). This program has been taught for more than 30 years (SACE Website) and yet it still has not expanded to other countries. To summarize, it is a local Australian program offered in South Australia that is offered to a few number of schools outside of Australia, in Malaysia and China. Just like if STPM (although more recognition than SAM) were offered outside of Malaysia, you can’t call it international. A reason for taking SAM instead of foundation (1 year) was because I was under the impression that SAM was a highly accredited international program.

First of all if you would visit the SACE website there is a link to which you can download the SACE booklet. In this booklet you will find testimonials by high achieving SAM students who got admitted to top universities in UK and US. The SACE website however failed to mention the ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) score of the said students then visited the websites of the stated institution and saw the entry requirements for SAM in the University of Bristol,UK which is 98.38% – 99.29%ATAR. Other universities also have a similar requirement : 98.5 – 99.5 (Oxford University, UK) 90 - 95 ATAR (University of Lancester, UK) , 98.5 – 99.5 (University of Lancester, UK) 95 – 99.5 ATAR (Monash University, Australia and Malaysia) 85 and above ATAR (International Medical University, Malaysia).

If a comparison for the entry requirements between A levels and SAM is made, it can be seen that the requirements for SAM is ridiculously high when compared to A levels. As an example, the Psychology Degree program in IMU has a minimum entry requirement of two Es (passing two subjects in A Levels) while the ATAR requirement is 70, even for foundation it requires only CGPA 2.5, which is the pass rate for foundation. For an engineering degree in UTAR, they need two passes in A levels & 70 for SAM. For Nottingham University, Chem Eng is set at ABB with 70 ATAR. Taylor’s University 70 ATAR with CCD. When asked why the requirement for SAM is so high, to universities, they said it’s still not globally accepted as A levels, plus the curriculum only covers the basic, so they only want to take the best students of SAM.

Moreover, as for SAM you have to take 5 subjects, you need to do equally good in all the five subjects, as your ATAR will be calculated on your overall performance, not just in two or three subjects that you excelled. A single ‘C’ in any tests/lab/report or other task can bring your ATAR down significantly. That being said, you’d be compelled to study some subjects that won’t favour your further degree studies. Unlike A level where you can take subjects you are best at, and will do a great favour when you pursue your degree studies.

If you think obtaining 90+ ATAR can land you with scholarships, then you’re wrong. The truth is, universities in Australia do not usually hand out scholarships based on the ATAR score, and if they do, the score would have to be 98+. This information was acquired by visiting various university homepages and direct phone calls to the universities themselves. For local universities like IMU, the scholarship requirement is 95+ compared to ABB in A levels program.

I’ll now give you a deeper understanding on how SAM marks are obtained. 70% of coursework might sound simple and very appealing to those who prefer an alternative marking system, instead of the usual 100% exam-based. Some tests, some assignments and voila! But, to break it down concisely, the 70% coursework requires tons of summative assignments, lab report, tests, direct investigations etc. In reality, it is quite burdensome, and I speak from direct experience. There are a handful of students who are always punctual l in their work and assignments, meaning that they finish the work as soon as they get it. I, however, was not part of that minority. Most of the SAM students were rushing to complete their summative assignment (one that would be counted in their ATAR) when we had a summative test (a test that would be counted in the ATAR) the very next day.

For maths and spec maths, you just go have to give TESTS and Quizzes, and Direct Investigation, unlike for science and humanity subjects where you have to do tons of assignments and lab reports. However, it still doesn’t make the mentioned subjects easy. To make things more clear, D.I is something like you have to do investigation and write 3-4 pages essay on maths. That’s right Essay on Maths. Imagine you’re told to differentiate 3x+2 and then write 5-6 pages report on it, what would you write? Here is an example that was given to us. Hard to believe, but every year only 1-2 gets A+ on this investigation, the average grade is C that most gets.

Secondly, there are no weekends or semester break. No breaks at all for SAM students!!! When the whole university is on semester break for a month, the SAM students would be having only 1-2 weeks(highest) break. The SAM students would spend their weekends studying for their tests( be it formative or summative) in the coming week. The semester break (or any breaks, for that matter) would consist of an overload of assignments due after the break and studying for coming summative and formative tests. "You would be exposed to the university life" said my lecturers, but you can hardly find any degree students stressed out like us SAM students.

You have to do a research paper on every subject. It’s very much akin to a mini thesis paper which holds a 25% weightage out of the 70% coursework. You have to choose a topic and carry out investigative research on it  while completing other assignments alongside and not forgetting sitting for the tests. Imagine how hectic it would be. If you’re aiming for a 99.95% get ready to get all A+ for the tests, lab report, research paper basically everything. For an average student the minimum grade should be a C not C-, so if you get one C- or below like E-, the chances gets lower for you to get the minimum requirement in degree programs which is on average 70-80ATAR, unless you work very hard for the coming tests, but again the marks at the end will be unpredictable  and “moderated”.

Moderation is done in SAM. It works like to keep a consistency in the program. Let’s say you did badly for most of your tests but suddenly started to get better scores in the tests which cannot happen for SAM as consistency is maintained, so they will downgrade your mark.

At the end, after giving all the tests and submitting all the assignments, you have to sit for the public exam(held in South Australia and other SAM schools in Malaysia and China) which is in November and holds 30% of the total 100% marks. Now even if you got a perfect 30% moderation will be done, so getting bad result for the tests and the end getting the perfects score won’t give you a good score.

One more thing to know, the resources for SAM is very limited, you will have to go through ONLY study guide set by the South Australian Education Board. Those are only for tests and quizzes, but for investigation and other assignments there are no books .Whereas, in A levels, there is plenty of book to read on also plentiful of resources found online. There are YouTube channels, where the whole A level syllabus is taught for free, so if you’re not having much reliance on your lecturers, you can always use your internet as a dependent tutor.

In conclusion,

What I’ve seen is many students like me are discouraged from taking A-levels  because they think it is stressful (due to its 100% examination assessment), so most end up taking up SAM without having an abundant knowledge of it. I would suggest students to take A levels as their pre-u, as A-levels is actually quite relaxing compared to SAM but not easy when the syllabus is compared, as A level is more in-depth. If you takes SAM CONSISTENCY is must. You have to finish your assignments perfectly almost once in a week or 2 weeks. and because the duration of SAM are short, plus the number of subjects you’re required to take (5, compared to A-levels max only 4), the stress level is actually higher.

Many students especially the one who opts for engineering and medicine has moved on to do foundation  on the respective universities or a levels, as they had not met the required requirement wasting one whole year. It’s a big risk if you take SAM, and you’re sheer consistency isn’t there.

For a-levels, u can study on your own pace, and do things relaxingly. And u can choose to love yourself more by taking only 3 subjects. Even entrance into Oxford needs only 3A’s in A-levels, why punish yourself?

Whoever is doing foundation must note that foundation is local, it cannot guarantee your admission to any other universities other than the one where you’re doing the foundation. So wherever you do your foundation, make sure that’s the same university you do you undergrad in.

I made a mistake that had affected me, and I don’t want anyone to make the same mistake I did. So the choice is yours. Hope you make the right choice :)

Feel free to express your feedback on SAM, or any other Pre-U.

Criticism and appreciation are both cordially welcomed.

This post was written by johnboston89 and first published on his blog.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

5 A-Level Revision Tips from the Revision Experts

Five A-Level revision tips from the revision experts

by James Timpson (Submit your guest post to us and get published here)

When it comes to you’re a-Level’s there’s no substitute for hard work and without revision you’ll put all your years of education to waste. If you’re worried about performing well in your exams, Justin Craig has constructed these revision tips that could help guide you in the right direction.

1. Create a revision timetable

Students will often revise without devising a plan. This usually results in too much revision on one particular topic and too little on others. Creating a revision timetable will help you structure and prioritize. For example, if one topic needs more attention than another, you may need to dedicate more time to it. Exam Time’s Calender Tool is the perfect platform for designing a personalized revision timetable and will allow you to colour coordinate all your subjects in a clear and concise manner.

Revision is a mental game. It’s vitally important to be mentally prepared for an exam as you can execute your answers with much more depth and analysis. By covering a host of subjects in an effective time period ensures you have the confidence going into the exams, preventing any stress or last minute revision overloads. The problem with revision is its perception. Students clearly perceive revision to be a time consuming exercise, however with a structured timetable and time on your hands, it allows you to socialise as well as study.

A Levels Revision Tip Experts
If you ever hit the revision wall, just take a break.

2. Take regular study breaks

Constant studying is never a good thing. Take a five to ten minute break every hour, even if you don’t feel like you need one. The longer you study for the less you’ll take in, so if you ever feel like you’re hitting a wall, take a step back. Light exercise such as walking, yoga and even jiu-jitsu to channel focus which is also a great way to stimulate the brain and wake up if you’re feeling tired, and will make you feel more refreshed and motivated to work.

It’s vitally important to refresh the brain with activities listed above. Regular walking sessions is highly recommended as it can revitalise the body. ‘Hitting a wall’ is the common phrase when someone has encountered a revision overload occurrence and cannot absorb any more notes. It’s key to not push yourself so early on in the timetable as this can prevent you to persevere with the exercise.

3. Collaborate with others

A lot of people are fearful of collaboration because they feel self-conscious about their intelligence. Try not to worry and just remember that other people are more concerned about their own A-Level grades than yours. Collaborating is a great way to boost motivation and remain enthusiastic about revising. Study with friends whenever possible and test each other on a regular basis. Mutual encouragement is the perfect way to build confidence, which is half the battle in an exam situation. If you don’t have any friends you feel comfortable with, ask your family and teachers to help you. Most schools will have after-hours study programs designed specifically for those who want a bit of extra help.

Students will normally combine notes together to learn effectively together and both benefit from the exercise. Also, by undertaking this activity, students are introduced to new techniques from their colleagues and can learn from them as well. Isolating yourself from people in crucial revision periods could be detrimental to your development and confidence going into the exams.

4. Perform mock exams

Ask your teachers for past exam papers so you can get an idea of what questions will be asked. While the questions may not be the same, they’ll most likely be in a similar ballpark and are sometimes merely reworded. Make copies of the past papers and perform your own mock exam so you can get used to the pressure. If you do it with a friend, check and mark each other’s work. Perform two or three mock exams in the week leading up to the specific A-Level and you’ll no doubt see a significant improvement.

This method of learning is probably the most beneficial as you can familiarise yourself with the type of questions you will encounter in the exams. With a range of questions ready to be revealed on the day, it’s important to test yourself and adapt to the intensity of the papers. Furthermore, time-management is another important issue and by practising in exam conditions you will be much more comfortable undertaking the real papers.

5. Don’t revise too much on the day

While it’s okay to quickly scan your revision notes, don’t revise too much on the day of your exam. This will only increase your anxiety. Avoid socializing with friends who haven’t revised or have a negative attitude towards examinations; they’ll only put you down and make you feel unprepared. In addition, arrive well in advance; make sure all of your stationary is in order; eat a healthy breakfast; have a light snack beforehand; and use the toilet a few minutes before you enter the exam hall. The more relaxed you feel the better.

It’s important to remember that everybody has different learning styles and what could work for one may not work for another. Feel free to pick apart these tips and adapt them to suit your own personal style.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Disturbing Videos: Boarding School Bullying / Ragging at Boys' Dorm & Girl Victim of Bullying in Kelantan

Malaysia School Bullying / Ragging

Every now and then we see videos of school bullying posted to social media and spread like wildfire. Public condemned the bullying and demanded actions to be taken to prevent bullying at schools. Stop the bullying, Malaysians urged. But how far have we achieved? Despite various anti-bullying campaigns conducted online (such as and at schools, the sad reality is we have not achieved much, obviously.

Ponder on the headlines below; how likely will your siblings, kids or someone you care become the next victims?

June 2014: Yet another video of bullying in school goes viral - The Rakyat Post

February 2014: After help pleas ignored, bullied student drinks pesticide - The Malay Mail Online
Malaysian Effeminate Teen Bullied To Death / Teen suicide linked to gay bullying - China Press

April 2013: Outrage over school bully video clip - Yahoo Newsroom

January 2010: Video: Malaysian School Girls Bullies - AsianTown.NET

Below are the two latest school bullying videos going viral on Facebook this week.

Video: Boarding School Bullying / Ragging at Boys' Dormitory

Source: Samseng dalam Asrama Sekolah

Update 5 Nov 2014: Another video surfaced earlier today.
Source: Lagi rakaman kes buli junior di asrama "Kalau ade siapa-siapa kenal mangsa atau pembuli boleh buat laporan polis."

Video: Girl Victim of Youth/School Bullying in Kelantan

Source: Video Awek Kelantan Bergaduh: Mek Kelate Gangster

Dina Murad, reporting for The Star Online, ran a good piece on school bullying / ragging at boarding schools (sekolah asrama) last year. It is still relevant and an insightful piece to understand what your siblings or children will face at the dorms if the situation does not improve. It is reposted here in full:

Ragging in Malaysian boarding schools widespread, say students

Malaysia Schools Bullying Ragging
Students are often reluctant to report cases of ragging because they do not want to tarnish the names of their schools / PicCredit
PETALING JAYA: Late at night when the school wardens were asleep, a "junior" student was forced by his "seniors" to meet them in the school pantry, where he was then set on and attacked by a group of them.

Such stories of "ragging" or bullying are familiar in Malaysia, The Star Online found out after speaking to 40 current and former Malaysian asrama (boarding school) students.

"He was beaten quite badly. After the session, we had to carry him back to the dorms because he couldn't walk," said Amir, who recalled the above experience during his years in one of Malaysia's prestigious asrama.

However, the victim lodged a police report and the culprits were soon suspended.

Sadly, this is only one of the few reported cases of ragging in Malaysian schools where justice was meted out to the perpetrators.

The bigger portion of the iceberg goes unnoticed and unreported, due to obedience and fear of further torment conditioned by hierarchical student politics.

Students also don't report abuse because they are apprehensive of tarnishing their school's "good image".

In India, where student deaths are frequently attributed to ragging or hazing, the government introduced a National Anti-Ragging Helpline as a way for victims to anonymously lodge complaints without fear of repercussions.

Although Malaysia's history of ragging isn't quite as extreme as that in India, the responses of those interviewed proved that practice is still prevalent and worryingly inculcated into Malaysian boarding school culture.

The numbers of cases are especially high in asrama compared with day schools due to distant parental figures and inadequate adult supervision.

Among 15 girls interviewed, six had witnessed or experienced ragging in their schools.

"Ragging is less common in girls' schools. When it does happen, it is usually psychological in nature and involves humiliating the person by teasing, name-calling and public shaming.

Malaysia Boarding Schools Bullying Ragging Sekolah Asrama
Ragging at Sekolah Asrama / PicCredit
In boarding schools, victims are often forced to live in close confinements with their aggressors.

"Sometimes, there are dire consequences," said Sue, who recounted an incident where a friend suffered from bulimia after being constantly ridiculed about her weight.

"If you report the bullying, you would be ostracised," she added.

"We were made to do ear squats by the hundreds. I remember having a hard time going up and down the stairs after that," said Rohaiza of the physical bullying that girls were also sometimes subjected to.

Although the situation among girls is worrying, the occurrences of ragging between boys are far more pervasive.

Of the 25 boys interviewed, an astounding 24 admitted to either having experienced or witnessed bullying in their schools, some even owning up to being the aggressors themselves.

While both boys and girls alike are expected to carry out miscellaneous "chores" for their seniors like preparing food, carrying pails of water, ironing and cleaning seniors' clothes and rooms, the experiences shared by the boys were of a more extreme nature.

A number of the interviewees recounted incidences of students being force to do push ups, "duckwalks" and sit ups, apart from them being kicked, slapped, punched and made to march and run around the school compound.

"We were told to blow on a light bulb until the light 'disappeared', which of course meant we had to do it until the seniors got bored and flipped the switch off," said Nabil, elaborating on more creative ragging traditions.

Physical abuse, although not rampant, is not unheard of in boarding schools.

"Sometimes, juniors were made into punching bags for stress relief," explained Hanif.

But most often, violence is reserved as a form of "punishment" or "education" for juniors.

"Physical contact usually only happens when juniors report bad behaviour of seniors or when we refuse to do their chores for them," explained Fitri.

"They put my head in the toilet bowl and flushed it. I had dirty water in my mouth, eyes and nostrils," said Huzaifah, although he admitted it was because he skipped his cleaning duties for the day.

"Another time, I was beaten up because I did not wish a senior 'good morning'," he added.

Commonly, physical punishment is meted out when theft is suspected. In these circumstances, students take it upon themselves to proffer vigilante justice.

"If you disrespected a senior, or if you were caught for stealing, then you would get beaten up before being sent to the teachers," said Malik.

"They were never beaten up to the point where they were bruised and bleeding. It was just enough to subdue the junior," added Shahrul.

Among the tricks used by students to elude detection was creating "makeshift weapons".

"If you put bars of soap in a sock and used it to hit someone, you wouldn't leave bruises. So it was a popular method used by seniors," explained Nizam.

Despite the horror stories, most of those interviewed argued that ragging had its latent benefits, as long as it was not excessive or extreme.

"When ragging is done within limits, it builds character and nurtures humility and respect. In addition to that, you get a feeling of camaraderie among fellow form mates as you go through something 'bad' together," said Ahmad.

Other responses received were that "a little ragging" was a good way to instill discipline, shape the student or to prepare them for the real world.

The problem with this reasoning lies in the idea of "excess ragging" which is arbitrary at best and is decided on by the whim and fancies of the senior in power. The narrow yardstick between "acceptable" and "unacceptable" ragging is obscure, allowing too much of an opportunity for worst-case scenarios to happen.

Given recent media spotlight on bullying, many of the interviewees have said that the number of ragging incidents have decreased substantially over the years due to better enforcement and sterner punishment by school authorities.

While the initiative of schools in eliminating the problem is commendable, administrators must remain observant to unreported instances of ragging that continue to takes place within asrama.

Outside of asrama, there have been cases of bullying and assault in other boarding institutions such as the National Service training programme.

The most recent controversy involved the bludgeoning to death of 18-year-old Muhammad Suhaimi Norhamidi in September, in a camp in Pahang for allegedly cutting a queue during breakfast.

Previously, in a different camp in Pahang in 2009, a brawl broke out among 100 trainees at a camp in Pahang.

Only a few days earlier in the same camp, an 18-year old trainee claimed to have been sexually assaulted by more than 20 unidentified men within camp grounds.

- The names of those interviewed have been changed to protect their identities.

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Saturday, November 01, 2014

SPM is worth every bit of your hard work

SPM 2014 Tips and Trial Papers

SPM is worth every bit of your hard work

by M&A [Writing Contest 2014 ★ Winner ★]

I was appalled when my friends shared the viral article ‘Why I Regret Getting Straight A1 in SPM’ on Facebook and commented that an impressive SPM result is just not worth the sacrifices. In that article, the blogger noted that in vying for stellar academic results, he had lost friends and family, suffered severe sleep deprivation, and mentioned other reasons that all pointed to the direction of ‘It’s just not worth the effort.’

What my friends didn’t recognise is that this case is an extreme one. Anyone who is pursuing for the extreme will usually not end up well, often suffering from emotional or financial distress. One of the main rules in life is not to get obsessed with any earthly things. Fortunately, you don’t need to be the best SPM scorer in the nation to receive the exact same rewards as the nation’s best: getting a scholarship (preferably overseas) and the perks that associate with it. The fact is that there is more than just the gold-medal winner in this competition. There are thousands of scholarships available to top scorers. You just need to be one of the selected thousands to receive a scholarship.

Let’s remind ourselves what are the benefits of receiving a scholarship. At its core, it helps your family to save tens of thousands to possibly hundreds of thousands of ringgit. If you are studying in London for example, JPA gives an allowance of 1045 pounds every month- that’s more than RM 5000 per month. If you are going to overseas, you will receive a world-class education and most probably a world-wide recognised degree. Education aside, you get to immerse yourself in a foreign culture, full of its quirks and niceties. You get to travel to new places and meet new people from around the globe. Many working adults save their hard-earned money just to travel for several days in one of the Western countries and you are spending years in their dreamland. An overseas education could transform you into a more independent, self-reliable and resourceful adult. And best of all, at the end of your degree, you are most likely guaranteed a job (let’s not forget the bonding). If you are an aspiring chemical engineer, getting a Shell or Petronas scholarship would certainly put you ahead of the competition in securing a good prospect job with a competitive salary.

Guess what? The best chance of you enjoying all these privileges is by scoring the best you can in SPM. With the recent announcement by the Ministry of Education, every student who scores 9A+ and above will have his pre-u education (either A-level, IB, STPM or matriculation) sponsored fully, with monthly allowances at the school of his choice. Upon receiving an offer from any top 50 recognised universities in the world (or top 20 for the 2013 SPM top scorers batch as according to unofficial announcements) JPA would sponsor his degree fully. Working hard for your SPM has the impact of changing your life forever. By investing your effort, it’s one of the best bets that you could ever make in your life.

I have witnessed many of my friends who are forced to change their course from A-level to STPM because of financial reasons. There are a few aspiring doctors whom I know who had to stay away from the medicine career path simply because they couldn’t obtain a scholarship. Whether you like it or not, the truth is that your SPM result could determine the future of your life, for good or bad.

I have also seen many of my slightly above average friends in SPM who went on to score 5 As in STPM, a tremendous feat which demands respect. It is not uncommon for STPM top scorers to sleep less than 5 hours a day to cope with their studies. The point is that if they had put in such dedication earlier in Form 5 (there is no doubt in their potential and ability), they probably wouldn’t end up in STPM and had to suffer the hardship to prove themselves. Had they scored 9 A+ and above, they would have been in college studying A-level, much bearable compared to STPM and possibly heading to overseas for their degrees with a JPA scholarship.

It’s all about self-motivation, discipline and time-management in preparing for your SPM. Your 1 or 2 years of total concentrated effort in upper secondary is worth it. There is no need to stress yourself to the limits, put your health in jeopardy and ignore those important relationships during this time. Managing your priorities is the key to better time management. It is unwise, for example, to spend a substantial amount of time in co-curricular activities in the last 3 months before your SPM trials. Adulthood is all about being shrewd in prioritising and juggling several important priorities at the same time. Preparing for exams with the right attitude would go a long way to help you be stronger in life.

There is no guarantee in life. Life is full of uncertainties. You might not get the 9 A+ you want even if you have worked hard for it. But what is life without trying and taking risks? Life is more meaningful if you have goals in mind, both short-term and long term. For the same reason that we respect Olympians for their determination, perseverance and discipline, those who are working hard to score in SPM deserve our praises too.

Keep Calm and Study Well for SPM
Keep Calm and Study Well for SPM

Work hard for your SPM. It is one of the best investments that you can make in life- the investment in yourself. If the investment turns out to be successful, the rewards could last a lifetime. It is more than worth it.

The writer, 20, has just completed his pre-u course and intends to study in the UK. In his spare time, he enjoys reading. He is grateful for God’s love and how far God has guided him in his life. He would like to thank his family and his best friend for making life wonderful for him.

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