Tak kenal maka tak cinta. Jom Kenali Universiti Awam (UA) Malaysia.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore

Posted by elie

Every year, many Malaysians go over to Singapore to study (under the ASEAN scholarship programme) after secondary school. Most would choose to be in Junior Colleges (JCs) to study A-Level rather than studying in polytechnics for a diploma. Fortunately, this mindset is slowly changing as more top students, local and foreign alike, choose to study in polytechnics.

A diploma programme at a polytechnic here takes 3 years unlike A-Level which only takes up 2 years. Yet, this route is preferred by many due to its hands-on approach unlike in Junior Colleges. I'll go in depth on one of the five polytechnics available here which is Temasek Polytechnic.

Temasek Polytechnic (TP) was established in April 1990 and is located at the east side of the island. Situated at Tampines Avenue 1, the 30-hectare campus faces the scenic Bedok Reservoir. I'm currently studying for a diploma in Biomedical Informatics Engineering (BIE) in the School of Engineering.

The fees for AY 2007/2008 is approximately SGD $2300 with Tuition Grant (TG). You might ask, "What is a Tuition Grant?", well, it's sort of like a form of discount in fees given by the government provided you work in Singapore for 3 years after completing your studies. That doesn't mean you could only study until diploma and forced to work for 3 years. You are able to apply for TG again if you gain admission to one of the 3 universities (NUS, NTU, SMU) and complete the bond of 3 years after you graduated. (Note : The 3 years bond for the diploma TG runs simultaneously with the degree TG, therefore you'll only work for 3 years in Singapore for 2 TGs)

Life in a polytechnic is quite similar to a life in a university as both are conducted by modules. Classes consist of lectures, tutorials and practical sessions. Lectures are conducted in lecture theaters with a class size of up to 120 students. Tutorials are conducted in classrooms where more attention are given to a smaller class size of about 20 students. Practical sessions are held in laboratories.

Students are continuously assessed and the final grade do not rely on the final examinations' marks alone. Certain subjects are assessed based on a 60/40 formula (60 percent comes from the final examinations' marks, 40 from continuous assessments such as quizzes, assignments, practical tests, term tests) and some are assessed based on a 40/60 formula.

Life in TP isn't just about academics; many co-curricular activities (CCAs) are offered. Among them are water polo, dragon boat, Chinese orchestra, and many more. Each diploma also has a club formed by the seniors in year 2 and 3 to care for the welfare of the freshmen. For international students like myself, many activities were organized during the orientation period and the first month of the semester to help us to cope with life in Singapore.

That said, Singapore polytechnics are another option for Malaysians students after completing their SPM. The fees are quite affordable with TG but the living costs here is very high. But you can work part-time (even for international students) to help lessen the burden of your parents. Wish me luck, and hope I'll get into the Director's List. =]

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Studying in Canada - Columbia International College (CIC) - PART 1

Posted by jjme

Columbia International College (CIC) is the largest private boarding school in Canada for students who are preparing to study in universities. It was founded in 1979, having established a recognized Total Care Education Program deemed to be the most trustworthy education system for international students. In essence, students coming from abroad face many challenges in adapting to the new culture and education standards. As most parents tend to be worried, CIC's Total Care Education delivers a sense of responsibility in looking after students' well-being and providing a conducive learning environment.

The one thing about this school is that 100% of the graduates enter prestigious universities in Canada and around the world. CIC's co-operative efforts with Canadian universities bred an initiative called University Partners. This initiative offers significant benefits to CIC students. For example, University of Alberta offers an entrance scholarship of $4000 to students who achieve at least 80% average. To learn more about the rest of the members of University Partners and their respective benefits for CIC students, visit here.

CIC is also located near the world-famous McMaster University. CIC students have the privileged of getting access to the university library's extensive collection of books. As part of the Total Care Education program, the school has secured residences for girls and boys. Personally, I like the way we were being cared for at these dormitories. Even though they had late-night curfew hours, strict restrictions to visitors of the opposite sex, and no room for excuses on skipping classes unless you have a medical sick leave ... it was all for our own good. Let's face it, we are in a foreign country ... with no parents keeping a watchful eye on us ... it is easy to go astray. It gets annoying at this rebellious stage, but CIC has proven that they do care. Believe me, whatever that you do in school (bad or good) is reported back to your parents. And it's not just the e-ReportCard that they can access online. Here's a brief info on the students' residence:

Residence for Boys Residence for Girls
Internet Service Free via the school's internet server.
Requires Ethernet adaptor
High speed WAVE internet service
via cable. Monthly fee is required
Washroom Shared Private
Distance To School On-Campus 10 minutes by public bus.
One bus service.
No transfer needed
Cafeteria Yes
Curfew Yes
Security 24 Hour Computerized
Occupancy Double Occupancy
Single Room Limited Availability Not Available
Triple & Quads Eight triple rooms equipped with
private washroom
Limited triple rooms and quad rooms
Sports Two squash courts.
Free access to a first-class sports facility
2 blocks from the girls residence.
Students have free access to a first
-class indoor fitness and sport facility
which is located 2 blocks from the residence.
*Adapted from Inter-Ed.com

For a more detailed description with pictures ... see here.

Now, I will talk about the education programs offered in CIC. There are three intakes: January, June, and August. In a nutshell, there are three programs offered (adapted from Inter-ed.com):

High School Programme (Grades 9 to 12)
  • Students with at least Form 2/Sec. 1/Junior Middle 2 are eligible to apply
  • Graduates are awarded the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD)
  • Offers work experience options (co-op) that allow students to explore career choices and make informed decisions
Pre-University Programme
  • Pre-U program is designed for admission to university in Canada, U.S.A., Australia & the U.K.
  • Students now studying in Form 5/Sec. 4/Senior Middle 3/'O' Level are eligible to apply
  • 7 month program (January or June intake) allows completion of 6 credits
  • 10 month program (August intake) allows completion of up to 8 credits
  • 'A' Level Students are eligible to apply for the shorter 2 month Pre-U program (June intake) or the 5 month Pre-U program (August & January intake)
University Transfer (AP) Programme
  • The AP is a program of post-secondary level courses and examinations that provide Pre-University students with the opportunity to receive advanced placement and/or credits in Canadian or USA universities
  • Accepted by 34% of Canadian Universities
  • Accepted by all American universities

I was enrolled in the Pre-U program for 7 months. My sister is doing the 10 month program now. During my time, I had to sit for TOEFL in M'sia. CIC now offers a TOEFL preparatory course in the school. As a foreign student, you need to have TOEFL to apply to any Canadian University.

Here is how it will work as an SPM student applying for the Pre-U Program:
To graduate with an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), you need to complete 30 credits from school. Let me explain in more detail ...

First, you will submit your SPM forecast/trial results. You will gain $200 scholarship for every A1 or A2 on mathematics (additional or modern), language (English or Bahasa or Mandarin), physics, chemistry, and biology. There are certain subjects that are not accounted for such as moral studies and EST. Your SPM forecast result holds already 24 credits as a pre-requisite to complete the OSSD. Therefore, students will need to take additional six Pre-U courses in CIC (equivalent six credits) to be able to graduate with an OSSD. Additionally, each prospective student needs to sit for CIC's entrance examinations (math and english). This will determine if you are eligible for the Pre-U English and Math courses. Sometimes, students do well in the math exam but not the english exam thus the student will have to go through Grade 9, 10 or 11 English depending on his/her test results. It is also likely that you can be exempted from this but you have to go through an appeal process. Also, CIC has implemented another exam that students have to pass to officially graduate. This exam is called the literacy exam. According to my sources, it is similar to an English exam ... but you will be surprised for not all Pre-U students can pass this test ...

The AP program is a higher level course. I have a friend who took AP Calculus, and she had the credits transferred into first-year university. Therefore, she didn't have to take Calculus again for her program of study in university. But it is challenging to be in the AP syllabus, especially when you will be competing with very proficient students from China. Please visit here to read in more detail about the pre-requisite subjects for university applications.

I will continue in my next post on living and education expenses. Stay tuned.

► Read more on Studying in Canada - Columbia International College (CIC) - PART 1

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Malaysian University English Test (MUET) Guide

Posted by Chong

Malaysian University English Test (MUET), first launched in 1999 and administered by Malaysian Examinations Council (Majlis Peperiksaan Malaysia), is a test to measure candidates’ English language proficiency. MUET is taken by students who intend to pursue their tertiary education at local public universities since it is a mandatory test to gain entry into degree courses offered at all Malaysian public universities. This test is carried out twice a year, in April/May and October/November. Candidates usually register through their academic institutions while private candidates through State Education Departments (Jabatan Pelajaran Negeri), with a registration fee of RM60.

Unlike International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) which are globally accepted as the certification of English language proficiency, MUET is recognized only in Malaysia and Singapore (National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University).

MUET consists of four components: listening, speaking, reading and writing. New test specifications have been introduced officially and will apply from MUET October/November 2008 onwards while old test specifications will still apply for MUET October/November 2007 and April/May 2008. The table below shows the detailed comparison between new and old format of MUET.

TestOld Test SpecificationsNew Test SpecificationsPossible Genres
Listening (800/1)
Number of texts:
Number of questions:
Question type:
45 marks

30 minutes


Four-option multiple-choice
45 marks

30 minutes


- Information transfer
- Short answer
- Four-option multiple-choice
- Three-option multiple choice
Lecture, briefing, talk, discussion, interview, telephone conversation, announcement, instructions, advertisement, news, meeting, documentary
Speaking (800/2)
Number of tasks:
Task format:
45 marks

30 minutes

A: Individual presentation
B: Group interaction
45 marks

30 minutes

A: Individual presentation
B: Group interaction
Contemporary issues
Reading (800/3)
Number of texts:

Number of questions:
Question type:
135 marks

120 minutes


- Cloze
- Information transfer
- Four-option multiple-choice
120 marks

90 minutes
6 shorter texts (at least one text with graphics)

- Three-option multiple-choice
- Four-option multiple-choice
Articles from journals, newspapers and magazines, academic texts, electronic texts
Writing (800/4)
Number of questions:
Question type:
75 marks

90 minutes

Task 1: Summary of not more than 100 words
Task 2: Extended writing not fewer than 250 words
90 marks

90 minutes

Task 1: Interpretation of information based on specific stimuli provided (no less than 150 words)
Task 2: Extended writing based on a given topic (no less than 350 words)
Report, article, letter, essay

Candidates are rated into six bands – band one being the lowest and band six being the highest -- according to their test scores. The total score is 300 and the table below shows MUET band description.
BandAggregated ScoreDescription
6260 - 300Very good user - Very good command of the language. Highly expressive, fluent, accurate and appropriate language: hardly any inaccuracies. Very good understanding of language and contexts. Functions extremely well in the language.
5220 - 259Good user - Good command of the language. Expressive, fluent, accurate and appropriate language but with minor inaccuracies. Good understanding of language and contexts. Functions well in the language.
4180 - 219Competent user - Satisfactory command of the language. Satisfactory expressive and fluent, appropriate language but with occasional inaccuracies. Satisfactory understanding of language and contexts. Functions satisfactorily in the language.
3140 - 179Modest user - Modest command of the language. Modestly expressive and fluent, appropriate language but with noticeable inaccuracies. Modest understanding of language and contexts. Able to function modestly in the language.
2100 - 139Limited user - Limited command of the language. Lacks expressiveness, fluency and appropriacy: inaccurate use of the language resulting in breakdown in communication. Limited understanding of language and contexts. Limited ability to function in the language.
1Below 100Extremely limited user - Poor command of the language. Unable to use language to express ideas: inaccurate use of the language resulting in frequent breakdowns in communication. Little or poor understanding of language and contexts. Hardly able to function in the language.

Students that have taken MUET are eligible to be enrolled into degree courses offered at local public universities as long as their CGPA for Diploma STPM or Malaysian Matriculation examinations are good enough to fulfil the entry requirement. The difference between all these bands is that students from band 1 and 2 have to take two extra English courses during holidays while band 3 and 4 students take one extra course. Students with band 5 or 6 can skip the extra English course. Some competitive degree courses like medicine and pharmacy, however, require students to get band 5 or 6 in MUET.

Online Resources for MUET
MUET Tips by Melanie, MUET Listening Tips, MUET Speaking Tips, MUET Reading Tips and MUET Writing Tips

Recommended: Free MUET Tips & 10 Reasons Why You Should Buy This MUET Guide (Panduan MUET) written by MUET teacher & examiner at RM30!

► Read more on Malaysian University English Test (MUET) Guide

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Literature in English (SPM 2005-2007)

Posted by Snow

Update: Read Literature in English (SPM 2008 - 2010) for updated syllabus of SPM Literature in English.

Due to the fact that the Literature in English subject is not commonly taught subject in schools, students who wish to take up this subject will have to pursue it of their own initiative. I shall hereby try to provide some information as to what is expected of prospective candidates by writing a marking scheme of my own, or rather a guideline.

Literature in English
Marking Scheme/ Guideline


Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)
Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
The River Between (Ngugi wa Thiong’o)

Drama (Read novel and drama notes)
Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare)
The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde)
Pygmalion (Bernard Shaw)

Short Story (Read short story notes)
Bequests Of Love (Marie Gerrina Louis)
Patol Babu, Film Star (Satyajit Ray)
A White Heron (Sarah Orne Jewett)
The Inheritance (Karim Raslan)
Compassion Circuit (John Wyndham)
The Stolen Bacillus (H. G. Wells)

Poetry (Read poem notes and questions and answers on poems)
Theme: Family
Piano (D. H. Lawrence)
Parents (E. E. Cummings)
A Figure Forgotten In Hours Not-Of-Need (Kee Thuan Chye)
A Father’s Words for a Lost Child (Suhaimi Haji Muhammad)
Grandmother (Kemala)
“We are Seven” (William Wordsworth)

Theme: Encounters
Tea in a Spaceship (James Kirkup)
Manners (Elizabeth Bishop)
The Gardener (Louis MacNeice)
Heir Conditioning (M SHANmughalingam)
Dance (Fadzilah Amin)
The Midnight Satay-Vendor (Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof)

Theme: Hope
Miracles (Walt Whitman)
My Clever Pupils (Omar Mohd. Noor)
nocturne (Muhammad Haji Salleh)
Once Upon a Time (Gabriel Okara)
At the Door (Wong Phui Nam)
Hope is the thing with feathers (Emily Dickinson)

Examination Format
The candidate is asked to choose one question from each component. (Read random questions for SPM Literature in English)

Section A:
There are 6 texts to be studied. Only 4 short stories will be selected for testing each year. Each short story will be tested individually. The candidate is required to answer ONE out of the four questions.

Section B:
There are 3 texts to be studied. All 3 novels will be selected for testing each year. Each novel will be tested individually. The candidate is required to answer ONE out of the three questions.

Section C:
There are 3 texts to be studied. All 3 plays will be selected for testing each year. Each play will be tested individually. The candidate is required to answer ONE out of the three questions.

Section D:
There are 3 themes to be studied. All 3 themes will be selected for testing each year. Each theme will be tested individually. The candidate is required to answer ONE out of the three questions.

Extra Answers
  • Candidates are allowed to answer two or more questions from each component.
  • The examiner will chose the highest marks that the candidate has attained for ONE question.
  • A single question comprises of three sub-questions. They are to be considered as a whole and not to be counted as separated questions.
  • No extra marks will be given for any additional answers.
  • No extra marks will be awarded beyond the maximum marks cited.Illogical/irrelevant information may be ignored by the examiner.

Section A: Short Stories [25 marks]

I. Text Comprehension. (Maximum of 5 marks)
  1. First point given.
  2. Appropriate supporting information given.
  3. Second point given.
  4. Appropriate supporting information given.
  5. Third point given.
  6. Appropriate supporting information given.
  7. Overall understanding.
  8. Language. (None of the common mistakes as stated.)

II. Plot Expansion. (Maximum of 8 marks)
  1. Basic description correctly given based on the short story.
  2. First point given.
  3. Appropriate supporting information given.
  4. Second point given.
  5. Appropriate supporting information given.
  6. Third point given.
  7. Appropriate supporting information given.
  8. Fourth point given.
  9. Appropriate supporting information given.
  10. Overall contribution of stated event/incident/occurrence/etc to the plot.
  11. Writing techniques used by author given.
  12. Language. (None of the common mistakes as stated.)

III. Evaluation and Understanding with Reference to the Text. (Maximum of 12 marks)
  1. First point given based on story.
  2. Appropriate supporting information given.
  3. Second point given based on story.
  4. Appropriate supporting information given.
  5. Third point given based on story.
  6. Appropriate supporting information given.
  7. Fourth point given based on personal ideas.
  8. Appropriate supporting information with reference to the text.
  9. Fifth point given based on personal ideas.
  10. Appropriate supporting information with reference to the text.
  11. Sixth point given based on personal ideas.
  12. Appropriate supporting information with reference to the text.
  13. Overall understanding.
  14. Language. (None of the common mistakes as stated.)

Section B: Novel, Section C: Drama, and Section D: Poetry are all worth 25 marks each. The guidelines for answering is the more or less the same as Section A.

All the best.

P/S: Literature in English actually has quite easy texts, contrary to popular belief. It's easier and more interesting than that dry novel some of you has to do for normal English, The Return. Give it a try. = )

► Read more on Literature in English (SPM 2005-2007)

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