Teaching to the Test – Part 2

Last week I wrote about Paper 1 for SPM English. This week I will talk about Paper 2.

Paper 2 has a total of 4 sections with a time limit of 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Section A: Multiple Choice Questions (15 marks)

This section consists of 15 MCQs. Question 1 to Question 8 are based on a variety of graphic materials such as labels, road signs, tables/charts etc. Students often need to rely on both their language knowledge as well as their general knowledge in order to be able to answer the questions correctly. Question 9 to Question 15 are in the form of a cloze passage. The questions are usually based on grammar and vocabulary.

Section B: Information Transfer (10 marks)

Again, students are given some sort of graphic material either in the form of a poster, an advertisement or even a short passage. Students  have to transfer relevant information into a table or a graphic organiser. To be honest, this is by far the easiest section in SPM English. But because of that, it is also marked the strictest. Most importantly, students must not make any spelling mistakes. This includes mistakes with capital and small letters. Also, students must not change the form of the answer. For example, from “December” to “Dec”.

Section C: Comprehension & Summary (25 marks)

In this section, students will be provided with a passage based on which they have to answer comprehension questions and write a summary.

For the comprehension questions, each question typically refers to a specific paragraph. Make sure students are aware of this so that they know where to look for the answers. Question 33 typically asks for students’ personal opinion. As such, students should refrain from copying directly from the passage. Instead, they should try to form their own sentences. Also, because this question asks for students’ opinion, any answer is acceptable as long as it is logical and suitable.

For summary, it is important for students to be able to identify the relevant points based on the question given. Look out for the key words used in the question such as “factors”, “benefits”, “causes” etc. Make sure students look for points within the range given in the question. Refer to the instruction that says “use materials from Line … to Line …”.

Section D: Literature (20 marks)

For the Literature component, please bear in mind that only the poems and the novels will be tested. The short stories, “QWERTYUIOP” and “The Fruitcake Special” as well as the drama, “Gulp and Gasp” will NOT be tested.

The poems tested are:

  • “In the Midst of Hardship” (Form 4)
  • “He Had Such Quiet Eyes” (Form 4)
  • “Nature” (Form 5)
  • “Are You Still Playing Your Flute?” (Form 5)

Only ONE poem will be selected and FOUR questions will be asked based on it.

There are a total of three novels listed for this section but students typically learn only one depending on which zone they are located in. The novels are:

  • “The Curse ” by Lee SuAnn (Pahang, Johor, Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan)
  • “Catch Us If You Can” by Catherine MacPhail (Perlis, Kelantan, Kedah, Penang and Perak)
  • “Step by Wicked Step” by Anne Fine (Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negeri Sembilan and Malacca).

ONE question will be asked. Please remember that this is an extended-response question as it is allocated a total of 15 marks.

***Students are meant to answer this question based on the novel that was allocated to their zone. However, there are no set rules regarding this issue. As such, should you feel that your students will do better with one of the other novels, you can actually consider a change of text although this should be done only with the approval of your Panel Head (Ketua Panitia), Department Head (Ketua Bidang) and School Administration.

Hopefully, this helps to clear things up a little for those of you who are still new to teaching the upper forms. (:

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