In SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia), all candidates are required to sit for core subject English under the code 1119. This subject has three papers, two written and one oral. I hope to share some of my experience with you in how to help your students to score better. Of course, there are some classified info I cannot disclose, but I will try my best to share with you what I know in help the students to score.
First of, it is really important for you to know the structure of the paper inside out. This is because from here you know how to help your students to focus. If you know your students well enough, you can help them to score on certain sections in the exam paper to help them to get a better mark.
For the two written papers, there are coded 1119/1 and 1119/2. Paper 1 is essay writing and will be double marked by MPM (Majlis Peperiksaan Malaysia) and GCE Cambridge ‘O’ Level examination board. That is why when students get their SPM certificates, they will see that there is a small remark on their score in the ‘O’ level. This grade is crucial especially to those who wish to further study overseas or doing some courses that require a decent English language command. A good GCE score may just save them some time and money to skip the English prep course.
1119/1 is divided into 2 sections: Section A and Section B. Section A is guided writing (35%) and Section B continuous writing (50%). You can read up notes on how to help students on these two sections here.
Paper 2 is structured questions and is divided into 4 sections:
Section A: 15 multiple choice questions (8 questions on stimuli-response and 7 questions on grammatical items – cloze text)
Section B: 10 blanks to fill in on information transfer.
Section C: 10 marks of comprehension questions, and 15 marks of summary
Section D: 5 marks of poem comprehension questions and 15 marks on literature critical response (novel).
Many students may not know that the oral assessment you ‘force’ them to participate in every English lessons sum up their achievement in 1119 paper 3. This is a paper that would determine their grade, not to determine whether they will pass or fail 1119. It is carried out from April (Form 4) to June (Form 5). Students should be assessed twice in Form 4 and once in Form 5. If they joined school debate, public speaking, or won any English speaking competition, they will be awarded full mark on the 4th assessment. If they are not satisfied with their 3 assessments, they can request you for a 4th assessment. Only the highest assessment mark will be chosen to be submitted.
There are 5 components in the oral assessment. You should brief your students before April when you are in Form 4, and then carry out the assessment throughout their Form 4 and Form 5 studies. The full mark of the oral assessment is 30 and it is possible for students to score the maximum mark of 30. Though there are some teachers that think otherwise. Their rational is that no one should be scoring perfect mark and there’re no one that is perfect in this world. Well, my personal opinion is that, this is a scale to measure students’ ability, but not a catalyst to show whether they are perfect. In addition, a full 30 marks is only translated as “Excellent command of English usage” not “Perfect English usage”. So I never hesitate to give 30/30 for those students who have proven to me they have worked hard to earn their results.
Being the Head Assessor for 4 consecutive years, I know teachers are quite burdened and may sometimes lack in oral assessment. However, if you brief the students right, your job will be easier. You should tell them that when you tell them they are going to be assessed they should no hesitate or whine, provided of course you highlight the importance of the oral assessment to them, right from the start. You should also keep a copy of the evidences, just choose some, like their notes or scripts for presentations. If you are determined and dedicated, you can do video shooting. I did it sometimes, not all the time. 😀 This is because the Regional Assessor most probably will ask for the evidence if the score discrepancy is too great. Nowadays, due to budget cut, Regional Assessors may not visit the school anymore, provided they think that you have compromised the oral score or the score is unreliable.