EXAM fever is round the corner for thousands of PMR, SPM and STPM students. The underlying assumption is that the students are naturally prepared for the exams.
In all fairness, teachers ought to ensure that all their charges are adequately prepared for the respective public exams. That certainly is the hope and aspirations of all parents and students.
However, the primary key to getting excellent results is not only in studying hard but also studying smart.
To study smart for the exams, students must know how the examiners allocate and award marks for answers.
This is only possible if all the exam class teachers have been exposed to the exam format, that is, the techniques of answering exam questions.
Unfortunately, only a small number of teachers are examiners who have been trained and taught to mark exam questions. These are the privileged chosen ones who know the marking schemes.
These teachers, besides being qualified and experienced, usually need to have the right connection, be in the right school and at the right time to be selected as examiners.
Consequently, only students who are taught by these teachers have the necessary skills and knowledge to tackle exam questions and score maximum marks.
Thus, there is little wonder that examiners – exam-marking teachers – are very popular in schools and they are much sought after to brief students on techniques of answering questions.
And if they are resourceful enough to conduct tuition outside schools hours, their gross income would be quite big.
The reality on the ground is unfairness exists between schools that do not have trained examiners, especially in rural areas, and schools that have examiners, particularly in urban centres, resulting in an uneven level playing field for students taking the public exams.
To ensure that all examinees are exposed to the marking schemes, I would like to make the following suggestions:
> The Education Ministry should provide adequate training to all subject teachers teaching exam classes. Ideally, make it a module for teaching-training in colleges and universities offering Teaching of English as a Second Language (TESL).
> All students sitting for exams must be taught by trained examiners.
> The marking schemes should not be classified as confidential (sulit) materials – all teachers, and even students and parents, should have access to them.
> The sample answers, especially the excellent ones of the highest grades and bands, ought to be disseminated extensively, including through the Internet, to all students.
I raised this issue a decade ago with a panel speaker from the Education Ministry at the annual Malaysian English Language Teachers’ Association (Melta) conference in Petaling Jaya. She assured me that she would look into it. Thomas Kok The STAR Home News Opinion Letters 12 September 2015