Recent changes to the format of the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) exam have resulted in fewer students scoring A+, A and A- grades over those from previous years, and has prompted Malaysia’s Education Ministry to offer a bursary to the top scorers of 2014. As reported in The Star Online, out of the 429,003 students that took part in the examination last year, only 11,289 (2.63%) scored straight A’s – compared to 13,970 (3.16%) out of 442,588 students in 2013.
Director-general of education Datuk Seri Dr Khair Mohamed Yousef commented that the recent drop in performance over previous years is likely due to a change in the way the questions in this exam were structured:
“The questions were the same as before, but students now need to think more when they answer. They can’t just revise lessons the old way, or spot questions, to do well. However, candidates who focus on lessons and knowledge will continue to secure excellent results.”
This may be simply due to differences between years however, as he then went on to comment:
“But the decline is still within the acceptable range, as the overall performance of students will rise and dip slightly through the years.”
This drop in grades is also in line with a drop in those obtaining the SPM certificate, which is down from 85.52% to 85.02% in 2014. Not all areas saw a decline however, with one of the core subjects, Islamic Education, showing an increase of 0.14 in the GPN (National Grade Average) from 4.42 in 2013 to 4.28 in 2014 (lower scores are better).
Out of the 11,289 students who obtained excellent results for the year, 9,438 of those were from schools who were run under the ministry with the remaining 2,078 being schools outside the purview of the ministry, as reported in the Borneo Post Online. Urban schools also showed a gap in grades in comparison to rural areas, with urban GPN points for the year coming in at 4.85, 0.55 points lower than the rural schools at 5.4.
As a result of the Malaysian Education Blueprint for 2013-2025, the number of “higher order thinking skills” based questions is set to increase, comprising up to an expected 75% of total papers in 2016.
The MalayMail Online reports that the drop in grades from 2013 to 2014 has also prompted a reaction from the Education Ministry, which is offering students a bursary to take up a prepatory or pre-university course in the country.
This bursary was said by the Education Ministry to cover course fees and a subsistence and accommodation allowance before further pursuing a tertiary degree either locally or overseas:
“The bursary is given to the SPM excellent performers regardless of their race or family background,”
Those who qualify for the bursary are among the top performers for the year who scored 9A+ and above in the examination. This offer is available for eligible students to be checked online through the ministry’s website at www.moe.gov.my from now until June 30th.
Accompanied with the bursary are a set of guidelines and conditions that students are required to read over as well as an update of their personal information through the online application system.