NOW that SPM 2020 is over and school will be starting for SPM 2021 candidates, it is crucial to remind the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate and the Education Ministry of a few things.

Firstly, SPM 2021 students have only attended physical classes for eight months so far. If they keep attending classes until December this year, they would have had 17 months of face-to-face learning. While online classes are ongoing, there is a huge disparity in how SPM 2021 students are learning when they are outside of physical classrooms.

Secondly, SPM 2021 students are the first batch of the Standard Based Curriculum for Secondary Schools (KSSM). They have gone through so many abrupt changes throughout their education journey. The Education Ministry announced the SPM 2021 formats in March 2020, right before the movement control order (MCO) was imposed, and published example papers in October 2020 just weeks before the schools were shut down again. Hence, the students have limited experience answering SPM 2021 formats.

Thirdly, SPM is an extremely significant exam that could decide one’s trajectory in life. SPM grades are now used to determine qualification for medical schools regardless of how the students performed in STPM. With the compulsory essay question being introduced for the first time in the science subjects, SPM 2021 students will be getting tougher papers than in previous years.

Fourthly, speaking and listening tests represent half of their grades in English and a third in Malay. Bear in mind that with schools not operating physically and the instrument papers being introduced so late, SPM 2021 candidates would have limited exposure and training for these papers. Without sufficient practice in school, they are bound to perform poorly, especially in the listening test with higher order thinking skills.

Fifthly, a fifth of the grade for Islamic Education would come from reading and memorising verses from the Koran and hadith. Without teachers guiding them to perfect their readings, students would not be able to perform to the best of their abilities.

Given all of these factors, it is crucial for SPM 2021 to take place after Chinese New Year in 2022. December 2021 and January 2022 would not be ideal as these are the monsoon months.

Additionally, the Islamic Education oral test should be delayed to September and October so that students can have further training before they sit for this paper. Likewise, the oral tests for both English and Malay should only take place in November 2021 so that students would have enough time to prepare for them. Be mindful of the fact that doing poorly in the oral test in Malay could lead to failing the whole exam.

By not giving ample time for SPM 2021 students to prepare for their papers, the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate will be jeopardising their future, especially for those with limited access to online learning. This would ultimately affect the rest of their journey in life and would even determine their probability of rising to the M40 and T20 groups. So, it is highly hoped that the Education Ministry will hold SPM 2021 on the times suggested here.

Source: The Star