“May already?! Wasn’t January just yesterday??”
“May already?! Wasn’t January just yesterday??”
Cue Form 5 students collectively hyperventilating as they count the months to trial exams and the dreaded SPM. Panic sets in and cortisol levels rise at an alarming rate because there isn’t a lot of time left- how are you going to ace all your subjects?
The unfailing reality check
The deadliest illusion is the abundance of time. It’s so common and has the power to utterly tank the grade of even the nerdiest student. This is where the “reality check” formula comes in handy- it gives students an accurate idea of how many chapters (of each subject) you need to study per day in order to be fully prepared by “D-day”.
Based on the formula’s results, you can plan your schedule properly and more accurately. Don’t leave your studying up to “my mood”- always have some sort of game plan!
Understanding is the new memorizing
The moment you understand something, you’ve pretty much cut your memorizing workload by half (especially when it comes to Science subjects). It’s a sign that you’ve truly mastered your studying material and you can sleep in peace knowing that you’ll be able to answer any SPM question with ease.
Tip #1: You know you’ve fully understood a topic when you’re able to confidently teach it to someone without referring to your textbook every five seconds.
Tip #2: If you don’t understand a topic, try reading about it from different sources (i.e. different textbooks and notes from friends) or watching YouTube videos.
Put your textbooks away (Yes! Finally someone said it)
The closer SPM gets and your forehead starts to sprout (more) pimples, swap your back-breaking textbooks for workbooks. The technique of answering is just as important as the facts themselves so make sure you’re able to identify and meet the question requirements.
Tip #1: Randomly ask your school teacher to check your answers (for essays and subjective questions) because many a times, the answers provided by the workbook are inadequate or incomplete.
Tip #2: Put markers on the pages where mistakes are made so you can refer back to it easily.
Complete the holy trinity: Past year papers, SBP papers and MRSM papers
These books will expose you to questions that are interesting, mind blowing and challenging. After completing these three books, you will come out feeling like a changed person- no lie.
Also, keep an eye out on the internet for the current SBP, MRSM and state trial papers that would probably be released around September or earlier. Many of the teachers that set the SPM paper also set these state trial papers so you’ll definitely find relevant and important questions.
Tip #1: Compare the topics that have been questioned in all the current trial papers. If you find a recurring topic in most of the papers, make sure you brush up on said topic.
Study smart not more
It’s about quality not quantity! Don’t spend 4 hours torturing your brain over something that can be learnt in 30 minutes. Learn to be able to pick up key points from texts instead of memorizing a whole chunk of it (this is especially true for Sejarah).
The first round of studying should encompass every topic while the second round should be more focused on predicted and popular ones.
Tip #1: It’s useful to find out what kind of learner you are to find the most effective way of studying. Are you a visual, audio or kinesthetic learner?
Tip #2: Also, through doing many questions, you’re able to discern which are the “hot” topics that year (this does not mean you completely ignore other topics though)
Tip #3: Many predictions of what will be questioned in SPM based on analysis can look pretty convincing but don’t take it as gospel truth. You can use it as a guide but don’t completely ignore the chapters which have not been predicted.
Banish thy phone for it distracts thine mind
The phone is the ultimate weapon to destroy any ounce of self-discipline and concentration in a student’s body. When using it, some sort of Twilight Zone time warp takes place and 5 minutes suddenly becomes an hour. So, before you succumb to its siren-like calls, put it away- far away. It doesn’t belong anywhere on your desk or even in the same room- nowhere within (teenage) walking distance and that usually means it must be in another room or better yet on a different floor. You’ll be surprised by how much more productive you’ll become.
Tip #1: During examination period, temporarily delete your games and social media apps. That way there won’t even be a reason to seek it out.
Finding your perfect zen zone
Believe it or not, your mood to study heavily depends on your environment and its “feel”. During my SPM year, I moved my study zone every couple of months from the study room to the living room to the dining room then to my room then- yeah you get the picture. Find a spot that you feel is most comfortable and will facilitate your “rajin mode” to its maximum capacity- even if it drives your mom bonkers like it did mine.
If your house just isn’t doing it for you, there are plenty of libraries you can go to or quiet cafes that are perfect for studying.
On the eve of battle
With the remaining few hours, you should only go over topics that you find difficult and are very likely to come out in the examination tomorrow.
Compile all your important worksheets, previous exam papers and mistakes you’ve made into one folder and then write down short notes of all the facts you struggle to remember. That way, you have easy access to them without needing to frantically flip through multiple reference books and have a panic attack just before the exam. During the last few minutes, all you need to go through are your compilation of previous mistakes and that stack of quick, crucial notes.
Tip #1: Do not pull an all-nighter. There have been cases of exam candidates oversleeping or not being able to think properly during exams because their minds are dull and fuzzy from lack of rest.
Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep by thinking caffeine can make up for it.