Undergraduate Focus: Pre-U – Revitalised exam system (The new STPM format)
The article below is taken from NST yesterday.
THE Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia has been around for 30 years. In that time, depending on who you ask, it has been a blessing, a nuisance, or the torment of thousands of Malaysian students.
But no matter which, there is no doubt that the STPM, known as Form 6, is one of the toughest and most prestigious pre-university exams a hopeful young person can take. The STPM is recognised by international universities, especially within the Commonwealth, and even in the US, and is considered by many to be equivalent to GCE A-Levels.
Besides advancing the curriculum with the times, not much has changed with the STPM, until now. Just this year, the STPM examination policy was changed from the accustomed terminal system (a final exam at the end of the year) to a new modular examination system — exams at the end of every semester.
The new system: Starting this year, students will sit for a centralised assessment and a school-based assessment. Students already in Upper Sixth will continue with the old examination system, the last group to do so. Students currently in Lower Sixth will be the first to undertake the new system.
The centralised assessment, which will be administered at the end of each term, consists of written examinations comprising essays, and both structured and multiple-choice questions. The school-based assessment is coursework consisting of project work, field work and practical work. The coursework will be conducted either over three terms or in a specific term, depending on the subject.
A special feature of this system is that students will be allowed to retake the first, second and third term written examinations if their performance is not satisfactory the first time around. The best result obtained will be the one taken
into account, and the overall STPM results will be based on the best combined results of the three terms.
Looking to the future: The examination system was changed from the single high-stakes pen-and-paper examination system in line with the Economic Transformation Programme’s objective of moulding
a more all-rounded graduate.
The less examination-oriented approach means that the teaching and learning pedagogy caters to a range of learning approaches. It endeavours to prepare students for their further education and work life, and to encourage higher-order thinking skills, problem-solving skills, independence, team work and maturity.
Form Six teachers have been briefed on the new modular system; another expected result of the new system is that it will empower teachers, enabling them greater creativity and innovation in teaching.
Long time coming: The new system took about six years to develop and implement. The Ministry of Higher Education together with the Malaysian Examinations Council (MEC) studied various syllabi of different examination bodies – University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, International Baccalaureate Organisation, Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia, and Singapore Examination and Assessment Board to name a few — and used what they learned to formulate a system that works in the Malaysian context.
Prestigious qualification: While the new system makes the STPM more manageable for students — the fact that students can re-sit modules will increase the passing rate — the standards and quality of the STPM will be maintained.
While the system certainly needed an overhaul, it was vital that its quality and international recognition not be compromised. To ensure these standards continue to be met, a representative of Cambridge Assessment sits as advisor to the Standards Setting and Certification Committee to provide advice and opinion on the analysis of the results of each STPM paper before a collective decision is made.
Only time will tell how much more
effective these examinations are as the first step to creating a thinking, innovative, whole
person. Meanwhile, continuous improvements will be carried out, and the system will be closely monitored by the MOHE and the MEC to ensure it runs without a hitch.
The new examination system combines two assessments:
School-based assessment with a weighting of 20-40 per cent of the final score
Centralised examination with a weighing of 60-80 per cent of the final score
The new grading system is similar to that of old sytem. Scores for each term will be aggregated to determine the overall subject
grade. There is no prerequisite minimum pass grade in each term.
Students are allowed to retake first and second term exams at the end of the third term if they are unsatisfied with their results.
The standards and recognition of the new STPM examination system is similar to the old system.
Basic fee RM120
Fee per subject RM90
For more information about the new STPM examination system, visit www.mpm.com.my
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