Tips on How to Tackle the SPM English Papers 1 & 2
SPM English Papers 1 & 2
In line with the Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Menengah (KSSM), the new SPM format for SPM English is more comprehensive and covers all aspects of English learning. Since the new format is adapted from the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) it is similar to the Cambridge English paper and the grading will also follow the CEFR Measuring system.
The aspirational target for SPM leavers would be level B2 where they are equipped with adequate English for further studies and later on career enhancement.
- level A1 (Elementary/Beginner)
- level A2 (Pre-Intermediate/Elementary)
- level B1 (Intermediate/Pre-Intermediate)
- level B2 (Upper Intermediate/Intermediate)
- levels C1 and C2 (Advanced)
CEFR Grading for SPM will be only up to B2.
Basically any English test is about understanding what you’re reading. Thus you should take time to comprehend what you’re reading and accomplish the task according to what is asked for.
SPM Paper 1
Paper I tests Reading and Use of English. It consists of 5 parts. The time allocated is 90 minutes. (40 marks)
Part 1: 8 Multiple Choice Questions consisting of short texts from books, magazines, advertisements etc. Candidates will choose the best answer from 3 choices given for each question. (8 marks)
ADVICE: Very quickly read through the question before reading the text given. This gives you an idea of what you will be looking for in the text. After this go through all the three options given before deciding on the answer. Make sure you read all the options as there may be slight differences in the answers given.
Part 2: Cloze Passage. You should try to get all the 10 answers correct. The passage tests you on grammar and vocabulary. There are 4 options given for each blank. (10 marks)
ADVICE: Do not attempt to fill in the gaps on your first reading of the text. First, read through the text quickly to see what it is about and determine the tense or tenses required for the text. Then go to the answers given and determine the right word for each blank.
Part 3: Here you will need to read a longer passage and answer 8 questions related to the text. This is of course a test on reading comprehension. (8 marks)
ADVICE: Take time to read the text carefully before going on to the questions. Some of the questions direct you to specific paragraphs to look for the answers. For other questions, look for key words to enable you to zoom in to the right paragraphs to look for the answers. Once again read through all the options given before deciding on your answer.
Part 4: In this section you are given a longer text from which six sentences have been removed. You have to choose the 6 correct sentences from among 8 choices given to fill in the gaps to form a correctly structured paragraph. (6 marks).
ADVICE: Here is where you have to apply your skills on ‘coherence and cohesion’ to find the correct sentence to fill the blank. Your sentence should blend in smoothly with the sentences before and after the blank.
Part 5: You are given a few paragraphs on a certain topic to read. You are given four statements which describe 4 of the paragraphs given. You have to identify the 4 paragraphs to fit the statements given. For the next 4 questions you are required to find words (one word each from the text) to complete the 4 sentences given. (8 marks)
ADVICE: Read the short texts carefully and determine the main idea in each text. This will help you decide to pick the statement which best describes the text.
SPM Paper 2
This essay and writing paper is worth 60 marks. However, the weightage in the overall SPM English paper is still at 25%. The time allocated for this paper is 90 minutes and the paper has 3 parts.
Part 1 - Students are required to write a short note or email in less than 80 words. (20 marks)
ADVICE: Read the email or short note carefully and underline the tasks given to you so that you will not miss out on any point. For example the task set out may want you to suggest
- a place to visit
- some activities to be done there (give a few - about three)
- things to bring (suggest a few - about three)
As you have only 80 words to juggle with, you must go straight to the point with a little elaboration if necessary.
Part 2 - This is Directed Writing in 125 - 150 words. (20 marks)
ADVICE: In this question, notes will be given to you to guide you on what to write. Whatever it is, the golden rule is to give at least three to four suggestions so that there will be enough subject matter for you to write about. Here you may need to give your opinion or provide proof for your suggestions. Do not write longer than required.
Part 3 - In this section, you are given 3 choices for a descriptive writing
(report/review/article/story). You will need to choose I essay to write in 200 - 250 words. (20 marks)
ADVICE: This essay calls for all your writing skills. Quickly mind-map four to five main points you want to talk about in your essay. For each point briefly jot down elaborations/examples/reasons to expand the point. Then organise your paragraphs with each main point as your topic sentence for each paragraph. Think of a good introduction and conclusion. The introduction and the conclusion should not be too lengthy.
For the writing task, you will be assessed on
task achievement - Have you answered according to what is required by the question?
What are your key points? Do you support your key points with proof or definite opinion?
coherence and cohesion - Are all your paragraphs part of a whole? Does each of the
paragraph have a key point? Do all the sentences in each paragraph talk about the key point? Use cohesive devices like thus, therefore, moreover, furthermore, on the contrary ... etc to help you.
vocabulary - You will need to show you have a wide range of vocabulary at your disposal. A wide vocabulary enables you to write better essays. To acquire a wide vocabulary you need to read books, magazines and newspapers. When you come across any good words or expressions jot them down in your vocabulary book. Learn how to use these words or expressions in the right contexts. Try not to use descriptive words more than twice in the same essay. For example:
Last holiday my whole family went for a very interesting trip to the East Coast. We stayed at an interesting holiday resort. While we were there we joined a lot of interesting activities.
Writing a paragraph like the above will show your limited vocabulary usage.
grammar - Make sure to use the correct tenses throughout your writing. Punctuations
are equally important as a wrong punctuation may contribute to misunderstanding.
5. sentence structures - Your writing should show
- variety in sentence structures ( There should be a combination of simple, compound and complex sentences in your essay. Make sentences of different lengths and with different beginnings.)
- vivid and interesting sentences - Write interesting sentences by adding adjectives to nouns, adverbs to verbs, adjective phrases and clauses. Students should learn how to use synonyms, idioms, figurative language, similes, proverbs etc. Avoid making spelling mistakes.
use of direct speech or quotes - Wherever possible adding a quote or a direct speech can break the monotony in your essay.
Do your best!
After years of studying, your success will be measured by your performance in this coming examination. Best wishes from us at STUDYMALAYSIA!
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