Malaysians Cannot Brain How SPM Students Misunderstood This "Clear-Cut" Essay Question
"If you had the opportunity to move to another part of Malaysia, where would you choose to live?"
If an open letter published by The Star is to be believed, the essay question above apparently confused many "excellent" SPM students who did not realise that the question referred to a place within Malaysia.
In the letter, titled 'Error in reading exam question', A Worried Malaysian wrote that many "excellent SPM 2017 students" who sat for the paper answered with locations or countries outside of Malaysia instead, such as Korea, Britain, and Switzerland. Moreover, the writer said that "as an adult who read this question for the first time", it wasn't clear to them that the question was asking about locations within Malaysia.
It goes without saying that this is a costly mistake for these particular students, as this section of the paper is worth 50 points.
"These kids have been in turmoil since they realised this horrendous mistake. Those who were aiming for an A+ in English are in extreme shock about this," the writer added.
As such, the writer pleaded with the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate (MES) to not penalise these students too severely as their mistake is "unintended and due to immense examination pressure and limited time"
The writer did agree that these students should have some points deducted to be fair to those who understood the question and answered it accurately. However, they suggested that only a "maximum of three points" should be deducted because the students still captured the intended themes ("moving to another place and reasons for the choice") and wrote the essay in "excellent English".
"They spent 11 long years learning English; please do not punish them for a mistake committed in a single exam.
Many students with excellent English will be deprived of their bright futures because of an error they made in SPM. Please be kind and just to these kids. After all, to err is human," the writer added.
The letter has gone viral since it was published earlier today. Judging by the comments, Malaysians found it hard to sympathise with the writer and the students, as most felt that the question was pretty clear cut:
For some, it goes without saying that students who did not read the question properly do not deserve an A (much less an A+) for the paper
Some criticised parents who mollycoddle and make excuses on behalf of their children, saying that these students should be held accountable and learn from their mistakes
Some pointed out that the students might have presumed that the question asked for places outside of Malaysia because of the "anywhere is better than Malaysia" sentiment they grew up hearing about
On the bright side, some netizens advised the students to not get too hung up on this one mistake as SPM is not the biggest hurdle they will face in life
Do you think the question was a tricky one? Let us know what you think of this issue in the comments section.