Error in reading exam question


THE English SPM 2017 Paper 1 was conducted on Tuesday. In the continuous writing section, which is worth 50 precious points, students were given five options to choose from. The first option reads: “If you had the opportunity to move to another part of Malaysia, where would you choose to live? Explain your choice.”

As an adult who read this question for the first time, I did not realise it was asking about a place to live within Malaysia. Likewise, many excellent SPM 2017 students who sat for this paper didn’t realise an inclusion criterion set by the question. Some wrote about living in Korea, Britain, Bali, Switzerland, Mecca, Madina, and etc.

SPM is an important examination for students in our country as it will decide the paths they will follow. For excellent kids who wrote about living outside of Malaysia, they have made a mistake in one of the most important examinations in their lives.

These kids have been in turmoil since they realised this horrendous mistake. Those who were aiming for an A+ in English are in extreme shock about this.

It is crucial for the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate to recognise that a mistake like this is unintended and due to immense examination pressure and limited time as students might have rushed to complete the essays. I recognise that this was a mistake but the students should not be penalised severely just because they did not peruse the phrase “another part of Malaysia”.

I agree that some sort of points deduction could be made to be fair to those who answered the question as intended. For example, deducting a maximum of three points for not keeping within the boundary of the question could be made while recognising that the students still wrote essays that captured the same intended themes – moving to another place and reasons for the choice. This, hopefully, would be taken into consideration by the Examinations Syndicate.

It would be truly horrible for kids with excellent English to be penalized severely and given Cs and Ds because of a mistake made under immense examination pressure. They spent 11 long years learning English; please do not punish them for a mistake committed in a single exam. Many students with excellent English will be deprived of their bright futures because of an error they made in SPM. Please be kind and just to these kids. After all, to err is human.

A WORRIED MALAYSIAN

Penang

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