Parent Blames ‘Error’ in SPM English Paper for Pulling Down Grades

November is a month filled with holidays, vacations and lots of play dates for Malaysians. Well, for the children and teens at least. However, there is one specific group of people who are trapped in a bundle of nerves, anxiety and anticipation in the month of November—the students participating in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations.

That’s right, these students will be spending the month of November, and half of December studying, burning the midnight oil and praying to God that they excel in their examinations. And we all understand how tiring the process is.

All of us empathise with students taking on the SPM examination, since we know first-hand how frustrating the questions can get (remember the contradiction that is Moral Studies? We never understood why it’s taught in the first place).

For this year’s English paper, people are shaking their heads all around. Some in frustration, some in incredulity and others in disappointment.

Someone was unhappy with the continuous writing section for this year’s English paper (a parent, obviously). And they made sure their dissatisfaction was heard by the public, wide and clear. They sent a complaint to The Star, but probably didn’t expect their complaint to receive some serious backlash after it was published.

The parent wrote:

“In the continuous writing section, which is worth 50 precious points, students were given five options to choose from.

“The first option reads: If you had the opportunity to move to another part of Malaysia, where would you choose to live? Explain your choice.”

Here’s where the parent got a tad bit upset, and people got REALLY confused:

“As an adult who read this question for the first time, I did not realise it was asking about a place to live within Malaysia.

“Likewise, many excellent SPM 2017 students who sat for this paper didn’t realise an inclusion criterion set by the question. Some wrote about living in Korea, Britain, Bali, Switzerland, Mecca, Madina, and etc.”

In response, people went like this:

And this:

So what exactly was wrong with the question?

Well, nothing apparently, according to fellow Malaysians.

The parent went on to plead for minimal penalty for the mistake made from the alleged ‘error’ of the question.

“It is crucial for the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate to recognise that a mistake like this is unintended and due to immense examination pressure and limited time as students might have rushed to complete the essays.

“I agree that some sort of points deduction could be made to be fair to those who answered the question as intended.

“For example, deducting a maximum of three points for not keeping within the boundary of the question could be made while recognising that the students still wrote essays that captured the same intended themes – moving to another place and reasons for the choice.”

There is no denying that the parent was just scared for their own child who (most likely) sat for the paper and (most likely) read the question wrong.

The parent ended the letter with this:

“It would be truly horrible for kids with excellent English to be penalised severely and given Cs and Ds because of a mistake made under immense examination pressure. 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.”

We understand that it’s a parent’s second nature to worry for their child, however, netizens believed that it was completely uncalled for.

Most felt like it was the student’s obligation to double-triple-and quadruple check the questions before answering the questions, and that the basic principle has been drilled into them since forever.

What do you think about the parent’s complaint? Leave your thoughts on the comment section!