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

Friday, March 25, 2016

SPM 2019 Tips: How to Tackle KBAT/HOTS Questions

Guest post by Lindy Lim (Share your tips with 50,000+ Malaysian students)

Kemahiran Berfikir Aras Tinggi (KBAT) or Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) has recently formed a reputation of being one of the most feared entities among students sitting for the SPM. You might’ve encountered them before:

Berdasarkan perkembangan teknologi persenjataan masa kini, ramalkan masa depan dunia.” - Sejarah, SPM 2015

Questions like these often strike terror into the hearts of many students, but here are some ways to get around them:

Soalan KBAT sebanyak 40% UPSR dan 50% SPM pada tahun 2016 -  Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia


Search the net for these questions. Dig them up in books. These days, most of the SPM exercise books in the market incorporate HOTS questions, but in my opinion, it’s not enough. One suggestion for SPM Maths is to look up SAT Math problems. For those who do not know, the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) comprises of three sections (Reading & Writing, Math, optional essay) and is a standardised test taken by American students generally to measure college readiness. Here are two examples:

Tickets for a play were $2 for each child and $4 for each adult. At one showing of the play, one adult brought 4 children and the remaining adults brought 2 children each. The total ticket sales from the children and adults was $60. How many children and adults attended the play?” - Khan Academy

Tonya hits a golf ball from an initial height of 10 feet. The height of the golf ball, h, in feet above sea level, t seconds after the ball was hit, can be modelled by a quadratic equation. If the golf ball reaches its maximum height of 74 feet exactly 2 seconds after it has been hit, which of the following equations represents this relationship?” - CollegeBoard mobile app

The questions are definitely not similar to the SPM format, and units may be different (miles, gallons, feet, inches) but they test the same skills. Besides, practising these will reduce your fear of encountering long questions and train you to solve a problem one step at a time. A good resource would be Khan Academy’s SAT prep.

(Plus, students who are aspiring to study in the US get to prep for the SAT at the same time)


All the facts that you’ve memorised and are ready to regurgitate (only to choke on them when you see a question that isn’t related) can actually be applied in answering KBAT questions. For example, for the question above, think back to all the major events and wars that you’ve studied in Sejarah. Why did a particular power win a particular battle? What would’ve happened if there were no nuclear weapons, and they were not dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? How much different would Malayan history be if we had better technology and weaponry than the British? The same applies to other humanities subjects like Ekonomi Asas, and even the sciences. That leads us to…

Master the Basics

If you do not have a firm grasp or understanding of the basics for any particular subject, you can’t apply your knowledge effectively. Practise and work on those before attempting any HOTS questions.


It’s common sense, really. Reading newspapers and articles allows you to keep up with current news, which you can reflect on or manipulate, especially for arts and humanities. You don’t even need to read physical newspapers and magazines. Hit up social media sites like Facebook or Twitter and subscribe to pages that cover the daily news, both national and international.

In my opinion, I love the addition of these questions because not only are they fun to try to work out, but they let us apply what we’ve learned instead of blindly solving direct problems. Although, I must admit, a few of them can be rather… ridiculous.

Lindy Lim Li Wen is a post-SPM student who enjoys writing, programming and is currently still ruminating on possible education pathways.
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1 comment:

  1. thanks for the information....
    could you give me the HOTS questions with its answer?
    ( i`m just want to do some revision to sit the spm examination for the next year..)


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