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How to Study for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) Exam and Succeed!

  • Tip 1 : Remember that exams are not the enemy

In some cases, students go into preparation with the mindset that the exam is something they should resent having to take. Instead, the best advice is for you to think positively and see the exam as a challenge that is worthy of your time. If you are feeling stressed, practice some relaxation techniques. When doing practice exercises, pause from time to time and take deep breaths. Listening to soothing study music without lyrics can also help you concentrate.

  • Tip 2: Give priority to difficult topics

As you are planning your study preparation, it is not necessary to give equal time to each subject. Instead, allot more of your study time to the more difficult subjects and spend less like on the easier ones. If possible, work with a study partner. This will make the exam preparation more interesting. Of course, also make sure to find time to take breaks and watch movies or socialize with friends.

  • Tip 3: Do not allow yourself to become distracted

The time you allot to studying should not be wasted on distractions such as reading your friends' Facebook posts or watching amusing YouTube videos.

Furthermore, pick a place where you feel comfortable and relaxed. Keep the focus on the designated subject and not on the other ones. Also make it a routine to study when it is most productive for you. For instance, morning people might prefer to study right after breakfast whereas night people it probably makes more sense to study in the wee hours of the night.

  • Tip 4: Pick a chair (and do not slouch in it)

You might feel comfortable studying while laying on your bed or even on the floor, but if you want your routine to be most effective, you would benefit by sitting up straight in a chair. For one thing, by laying down increases the odds that you will feel sleepy. Maintain good posture as well while you are sitting in the chair. Finally, keep your legs parallel to the ground and slightly raised off the ground as this will allow proper blood flow to the brain.

  • Tip 5: Do not neglect to take notes

This is not a minor thing. Although it might seem time consuming and require effort, you will thank yourself when you get a good score. Research has shown that people retain information better if they take notes rather than simply read a passage and try to commit it to memory. Keep your notes short and to the point. Read them aloud. Aside from important facts and figures, if the subject involves formulas, make sure to write them down too. Organize your notes well so that you can go back and find specific information when needed.

  • Tip 6: Maintain proper sleeping and eating patterns

Everybody knows that you need to get around 8 hours of sleep every day, but a lot of people mistakenly assume that on the night before the test, you should go to bed super early and get as many hours of sleep as possible. The truth is, if you overdo it on the sleep, your head will feel cloudy as opposed to well rested. Of course, it is also important to eat properly. This starts by having a wholesome, nutritious breakfast. There would be nothing worse than trying to take an exam on an empty stomach. But what you eat is really important. Skip the donuts and opt for fruits, eggs, and whole grains. As for lunch, choose something light. Stuffing yourself will leave you feeling lethargic.

  • Tip 7: Use proper penmanship and organize your answers well

You might know all of the answers, but this fact will be irrelevant if the test grader cannot read them. So make sure your writing is clear. Also keep in mind that the graders will typically look through 30-40 question sheets, which means they don't have time to read novel-length answers. Stick to the important points and underline line them so that they will be easier to identify.

  • Tip 8: Strategize your time

Before you start the test, scan through the short answer questions and answer the ones that you are most confident about. Along the same lines, if you are stuck on a question, skip over it and come back to it later. You would not want to find yourself in a position in which you failed to answer a question you knew because you spend so much time on ones you do not.

  • Tip 9: Do not skip any of the questions

If you are finding yourself stumped over a question, try to use some intuition and answer it the best that you can. If you leave a question blank, it guarantees that you will receive zero points. But if you at least make an attempt to answer, you stand a chance of receiving partial points for that question. Before you turn in your test, give it a look one last time to make sure you answered all of the questions. Also check for possible spelling mistakes.

  • Tip 10: Don't change your answers unless you are absolutely certain

When students are simply guessing at an answer, intuition often serves them well. So unless a light bulb goes off in your head and you definitely remember the answer, do not make any changes. Research has found that 70% of the time, a student's first guess turns out to be the correct one.

Consider These Additional Tips for Passing the SPM

General Test Preparation

Succeeding on the test obviously starts with reading all of the material. Do not skip readings or assignments. Once you start preparing for the test, review the material. Here is some advice that can help during the process:

Learning

  1. Take good notes of the lecture and course material
  2. Review your notes soon after class. Do not put your notes away until exam time! Review them after class and again before the next one.
  3. At the end of each week, review the new information that you have learned.

Reviewing

  1. This also starts with taking proper notes
  2. Organize your notes in a way that makes them easy to retrieve when test prep begins
  3. Estimate how much time you need to study and plan accordingly
  4. Develop a study routine and stick to it.
  5. Create your own test questions. You might end up finding similar questions on the exam itself.
  6. Don't cram the night before or in the morning of the test since you will not likely retain any of that information

How to Remain Calm and Successfully Pass the SPM Exam

It is normal to feel nervous before an exam, but you can overcome this feeling if you strategize.

Good Study Habits are Essential

  1. Manage your time well. This means not procrastinating or spending time on Facebook when you have a task at hand.
  2. Organize the material that you need to study and commit to memory
  3. Do not over-study. Pace yourself.
  4. Think about previous exams and how you studied for them. Find ways to improve upon this.

Relax and feel Confident

  • Tell yourself that you are capable of passing the test:
    • Think about techniques that will help you achieve success, whether it is by visualizing success, forming study groups, using affirmation, etc.
    • Look at the test as a way to reward yourself for studying hard and learning the information.
  • Good preparation matters!
    • Use a checklist
    • Look through the course material and place more focus on the important information while still remembering the little facts.
  • Plan for the night before the test and the morning of it,
    • Get between 6-8 hours, but no more. If the test is early, obviously wake up a couple of hours beforehand. Remember to bring a pencil, eraser and anything else that is permissible.
  • Stay focused and concentrate on the task at hand
    • If your friends and classmates are discussing the exam in a negative way, avoid engaging with them. Just keep your eye on the ball.
  • Keep your heart pumping
    • Go for a little jog or do some calisthenics to get your heart racing a bit.
  • Eat a good breakfast
    • Do not take the test on an empty stomach. On the other hand, do not eat donuts or sugary foods either. Stick with fresh fruits and whole grains.