PETALING JAYA: Pupils are finding the UPSR exam papers difficult because of the Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) questions.
It was so challenging that many of them left the examination hall last week in tears after taking the Chinese and Science papers.
The HOTS questions were introduced in last year’s examinations for UPSR (Year Six), PT3 (Form Three) and SPM (Form Five).
HOTS refers to thinking that requires greater cognitive processing compared to other types of thinking. It involves critical, reflective thinking as well as decision-making, problem-solving and reasoning.
A parent, who only wanted to be identified as Shirley, said her daughter and a few other pupils from the top class of a primary school in Kuala Lumpur left the examination hall crying after sitting for the Science paper.
“Almost the entire Science Paper II had HOTS questions. There were some really ridiculous ones, too, such as how temperature affects rust, and which would rust faster – a bicycle left in a room or a bicycle left in a house compound,” said Shirley.
“My daughter Sara also complained that there wasn’t enough time to complete the Maths Paper I, as some questions were very tough,” she said.
Shirley, who works full-time, said she took leave from work to help her daughter revise for the UPSR examinations and knew how well-prepared Sara was.
“Sara is an A student. But based on what she told me, Sara is unlikely to get 5As. Even adults wouldn’t have been able to answer the questions in the Science paper.
“Our education system puts too much undue stress. It looks like whatever effort Sara and other children put into preparing for the exams will be wasted,” said Shirley.
Shirley said she spoke to fellow parents and several teachers, who agreed that the Science paper was particularly difficult.
“The teachers even said ‘please don’t blame us’, for fear of being blamed by parents for their children’s bad exam results. They also complained about how the exams were beyond what had been set in the syllabus,” she said.
Commenting on the Chinese paper, Tan, a teacher from a Chinese school in Puchong, said her colleagues said that only the comprehension section of the UPSR Chinese language paper was difficult.
“They said the section was tricky as the answers were similar, but the rest of the paper was okay. The teachers have done the necessary to ensure our pupils are prepared to answer the HOTS questions,” she said.
A school senior assistant named Chia said: “The HOTS element trains children to think further. Perhaps the students and teachers are not ready, and have to change their way of thinking to better prepare for change.”
When contacted, a representative from the Education Ministry said the matter would be referred to the Examinations Syndicate.National Union of Teaching Profession secretary-general Datuk Lok Yim Pheng said those who set the questions for the UPSR Chinese language paper should be made answerable.
“There have never been reports of the paper being difficult until now. The UPSR is an exam to evaluate a student’s performance after six years of education, and they shouldn’t be tortured with difficult papers.
“The Chinese subject allows students to acquire an additional language. The emphasis should be on the Bahasa Malaysia paper,” said Lok.