Wednesday, October 05, 2011

exam fever....& why you can't give up!

yes, it's that dreadful time of the year again...for anxious students & their super-over-anxious parents.

i'd be lying if i say i'm not concerned for my daughter whose exams start in 2 weeks. having gone thru my fair share of tests & assessments from age 7 till 36 (!!), i think i may have figured out the twists & turns of exams.

1st, you're not competing against one another but rather against the system. as long as you achieve certain marks, you'll pass or score an A. yes, the examiners plot a curve & then decide on the cut-off points, but these points don't change much from year to year. if the exam is exceptionally difficult, as what my friend said about the PMR BM paper yesterday, most people will find it difficult, so the points will be lowered accordingly. i overheard my teacher friend said the standard of SPM Add Maths is so bad, the passing mark is 20%!!

so, it's actually in the students' interest that they have group studies/discussions & share with each other what topics they think are more important. that's called spotting questions & i believe this term still apply these days. my friends & i used to spot, in the sense that we've covered most exam topics & then we decide, based on previous years' questions, which are likely to be ask that particular year, so we can emphasise on those topics & hope to score should it be asked. but you have to have covered MOST topics, if not all. of course, when you haven't & are desparate, you'd also spot questions but i call this gambling with your future!

2nd, most students would have diligently prepared months before the exams & no one will ever admit they've completely covered the whole syllabus. even so, i'm quite obssessive about making sure the other preparations are in place, eg. full complement of pens, pencils, rulers & erasers, identity card, hankerchief (to wipe the sweat from forehead & palms) & watch/clock. after all, the revision is already in the head & there's not much more you can do about that, but you don't want to be rattled because of a oversight, eg. don't forget fresh calculator batteries!

3rd, don't forget to pray. doesn't matter which religion you embrace, you still need the confidence that a Supreme Being is on your side. especially when all else fail, when you're staring at a question & don't know how & where to begin, or when you're facing an essay question with no points in your blanked-out mind. when you're in dire straits & the sinking feeling is overwhelming, your last hope will be to call out, pray, exhort, chant or just mumble. you don't know Who's listening & Who's going to give you enlightenment. besides, you have nothing to lose.

fast-forward a few months, & when the results are announced, if you scored, then congratulations are in order. otherwise, don't fret that you didn't achieve your target. yeah, i know, your parents are disappointed & you're frustrated & the whole world seems to be against you. your friends have moved forward but you're sort of stuck in a rut.

who's to know what the divine plan is for you? is it for you to take a detour from your desired career path?or, should you start back at square #1 & start your journey all over again, hopefully be better equipped the next time?

after 30 years of sitting for exams, i've been thru it all - success, disappointment AND outright failure. the battle scars tell of the detour & square #1 tales. & more.

that's why i dare tell you - don't give up because it ain't over till the fat lady sings!


Small Kucing said...

sometimes adult is more anxious than the kids who are sitting for the exam. :)

stay-at-home mum said...

I gave up ... studying after many many years,... but only after graduation, of course! but you know, you never stop learning. I am learning to cook more, bake more, and use more new gadgets!I am also still learning to be more patient with my kids!

wenn said...

very good advices..

reanaclaire said...

All the best to your girl... mine will be starting in another 3 weeks or so..
As parents,sure we worry about them, I worry more about her health.. pray that they are healthy and fit during this period of time for studying and taking their exams.

doc said...

Small Kucing,

MOST TIMES, it's the adults who are over-anxious!

doc said...


if you read Tuesdays with Morrie, the professor said if you stop learning, you're dead, meaning the brain will deteriorate. think LKY!

doc said...


that's based on my personal experience.

doc said...


thanks. all the best to yours, too.

Soo said...

Lol, still kenot beat my husb who sat for his last icaew paper at the ripe age of 43!

Something is seriously wrong w our examination based society. Not everything that's important can be tested, and not everything that can be tested is important.

doc said...


written exams alone are not comprehensive in testing the students' knowledge & thinking but it's as good as it gets. some exams include aptitudes tests as well as viva voce sessions.

well done to your husband for persevering!

Yvonne Foong said...

Whoa I never made that many preparations for exams. If I know the answers, I know. If I don't lnow the answers, I don't. Because thw rimes spent worrying and making extra preparations for exams could be spent doing more beneficial and productive things. Even at the college level, I see students so obssessed preparing for their exams that they turn a deaf ear and blind eye to people in need of help.

doc said...


others may not be as contented as you are about not knowing the answers.

perhaps, it's for this reason that the word "kiasuism" was coined.

Yvonne Foong said...

LOL! There are students like me who prefer assignment-based exams and subjective questions, but we are among the minority. I know people who deliberately select a college program of their interests that grade students based on their assignments and no final exams. 44

After studying thru three different local colleges and one american university, I realize that I learn best from assignment-based courses - that is directly through the american university, albeit online. I can retain the knowledge learned much better.

When schools grade studebts by having them answer objective questions in term exams or yearly exams, the teachers can manipulate the questions to generate the amount of passes they wantm regardless of whether their teachings were effective or whether their students have learned anything at all from them. This is something that I find distasteful.

That's why I don't bother burning the midnight oil. Why should I let teachers pull me by the leash?

doc said...


the ATP is not as popular as the other degree programs, right? having been spoon-fed from day 1 in school, it's difficult to get students to think laterally & out-of-the-box, hence when faced with which degree program to choose, i suppose those with such assessments are foreign to the students' upbringing & are generally avoided.

Yvonne Foong said...

Well, sadly, local ADP programs are mostly taught by local lecturers who were born and bred out of the same education system/method as everyone else in Malaysia so they can only try to mimic westerners. So after two years of headaches, I decided to study with the university directly online and learn with western instructors.

I really can't stand memorizing facts. I don't have a good enough short-term memory bank.

doc said...


you have done well. keep up the good work!