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SPM: "HOW DO YOU STUDY?

" PART 1/2/3

PART 1

9th December 2014

Bismillahirrahmanirrahim, Assalamualaikum warrahmatullahi wabarakatuh to all.

I've been asked this question numerous times before and of course, it's too late for me to write

this post for my friends. Well, I wrote this just in case any of my juniors stumble upon this in the

future. Or the future me forgot how to study and needs ideas, haha. Hi! I have different studying

techniques for different types of subjects. But there's one similarity for every subject though;

before SPM, I copied answers from the back and wrote them under the questions (trial papers,

model questions and past years) for easy reference. I also started doing them in sections, instead

of doing the whole model paper then moving on to the next one. This method helps me to see the

patterns more easily and I think it improved my productivity too. Lol.

So in this post, I'll explain my methods for language subjects!

BAHASA MELAYU & ENGLISH

These are language subjects and do not have any specific syllabus except for the literature

component. Therefore I always have a problem with both of these subjects and tend to postpone

studying them until the final few days before the exam. ._.

Nonetheless, I read sample essays from books. My favorite is from Pelangi for BM because they
have a glossary for peribahasas. I also go to teachers' blogs, like Cikgu Tan CL because s/he

have a loooot of awesome students' works. I practiced using wide vocab and bahasa bunga-bunga

for BM. For tatabahasa/komsas BM I depended a lot on exercises and notes from my teacher.

Nothing much I could do about that. I also have a list of common mistakes in grammar for BM,

and I revise them just before every exam to refresh.

For English, I tone the use of bombastic jargons down and tried to keep my essays as concise as

possible. I always use the essay books from Pelangi, Oxford Fajar and there's this book called

Just Write be Athelia Chan(sp?). The level of Singaporean students' English is dabomb.com. As

for English paper 2, I did lots of exercises. (Past years, model questions etc.)

As I said before English and BM are language subjects. There are not really any exam-oriented

things you could do. You just have to practice using both of these languages in daily life. As for

me, English is my Internet language. I communicate solely in PROPER(Well, I try to) English

during my early years of the World Wide Web. Joining chatrooms/forums/MMOs really helped

(Club Penguin, anyone?). Netizens are very particular about grammar and they never miss the

chance to correct your mistakes. Don't be angry about it though, just take it positively and use

them to improve and improve and improve! I also watch a lot of English movies and TV shows

with English subtitles too. And read English books. And talk in English with my friends. And

blog in English. So there's that. Haha.

To be continued! :)
PART 2

21st January 2015

Phew. It has been raining for the past few days in Miri so it's so, so, so cold here. Hujan rahmat.

Totes my fav kind of weather. Time to use those thick sweaters you never really got to use

during the normal sunny weather, lol. So a few days ago I was down with sinus headache, my

nose was so runny last weekend and now I'm just recuperating before I get back to work

tomorrow. Everyone's up and about filling in their UPU applications(including me), my laptop's

out, so I thought hey, why don't I blog? So here I am, for the 2nd part of my SPM: "How do you

study?" series.

So in this post, I'm going to explain how I studied for the subjects most students dread,

Maths/Add Maths!

MATHEMATICS & ADDITIONAL MATHEMATICS

Maths/Add Maths are actually the easiest subjects to score, once you've eliminated or kept the

careless mistakes to a minimum. The golden rules are as follows,

1. Pay attention in class,

2. Write down and read the worked out steps/examples, and

3. Do as much as exercises as possible!


They are cliched because they actually work. ;) Usually I just did the photostated exercises my

Maths/Add Maths teacher gave me. I bought a lot of exercise books from Pelangi but I only did

them before exams, lol. (I never finished the books... probably because the photostated exercises

are far more than enough). As far as topical exercise books are concerned, the Strategic Practice

series is quite good to familiarize/drill yourself with the basic stuff. The Top Gain books are

good if you're ready for tougher questions. Oxford Fajar books are a bit tougher and Longman

books are too tough/weird for me lol. (My friends asked me to help them with questions from

Longman books before, and oh boy. It took a while, and I may or may not have ripped the page

apart due to excessive erasing. lol idek why). You can also attempt the past year question books,

but they are pretty basic (except for the 2014 one hahahahahah). They're quick to do and most of

my friends and I do them to keep us from being out of practice.

Some people say you don't need reference books for these two subjects, but I disagree. For

Mathematics, I bought the Analysis book from Sasbadi. My sister suggested them to me when

we were shopping for books at Popular. Mine was published in 2011 though. I thought I was

going to regret the purchase because the book's "outdated", but I didn't! It's complete with

formulas, examples and lots of Form 1-3 stuff we easily forget, lol. It's great for a quick

reference, to refresh your brain before every exam. It's also packed with exam-oriented questions

that you can attempt in case your exercise books aren't enough lol. (I did the Earth as a Sphere

questions from that book because the questions in the Strategic Practice book was too basic)

As for Add Maths, I bought the Success ref book from Oxford Fajar. It certainly helped me to
survive Add Maths for 2 years! It has a lot of worked examples, different types of questions that

can be asked, and more than enough questions that you can try with varying difficulties.

KBKK/KBAT? No problem! All those types of questions are covered :) The steps are also very

detailed. It comes with pocket notes that are actually filled with ways to solve problems with

your calculator. Your calculator is certainly your best friend, so please explore your calculator

and use them to their fullest potential. I only found out some tips and tricks to save time and

minimize careless mistakes in Form 5 -_- Better late than never, I guess lols. I also used the

Analysis book from Cerdik Publications because they're great for quick reference on how to

answer certain types of questions.

It really helps to manage your time during the exam. For Maths, I made sure I go through every

single question TWICE. If there's still time, check THRICE! It's better than just sitting

around/sleeping/playing with your stationeries, lol. Usually if I'm lazy and chose not to check, I

always lose points due to careless mistakes. I don't know why but I always mess up my

Transformations section, so I try to answer all 5 questions from Section B. But I usually ignore

the Plan and Elevation question la because it just takes too much time -_-

For Add Maths, I always answer from Section C then continue to the front. I noticed a LOT of

difference in the time spent / marks I get. I start from Section C because Price Index is the easiest

to score 10/10 points! So don't skimp on your Price Index question and recheck it a couple of

times. Then I'll answer Solutions of Triangles because my teacher skipped Motion Along A

Straight line. Make sure you can secure all 20 points for Section C because it's so easy to lose

marks in Section B! I always mess up my Index/Log questions, but with enough practice you'll
do fine. (There was one exam people kept asking me to teach them Index/Log I scored only for

that particular question and did badly in other topics lollll) It's also important to secure the 5

marks for Simultaneous Equations question but it's very easy to make careless mistakes, so

please do multiple rechecks with your calculator!

Extra stuff: I scored badly in the first exam in Form 4 for Add Maths because I was over

confident... I thought it was pretty easy in class so I didn't do enough exercises. Then BAM I was

so blank and clueless during the exam and ended up with a C+ (56) :( I realized my mistake and

did more exercises for the 2nd exam and got a B+ (69). So I did a lot of thinking and figured out

my weak points. I wasted a lot of time answering the questions and always almost don't finish in

time! I thought, hey, maybe I can train myself to do mental maths / answer the questions more

accurately and more faster. But just doing exercises takes a long time, so I played Sudoku! I took

out my sister's old Sudoku book (I think the difficulty is easy or medium, not so sure) and played

while waiting for my ride back home and in class when there's no teacher around. I timed myself

and made sure I beat my previous record every time I start a new game. My last record was 5

minutes and I averaged around 6 minutes like that. Alhamdulillah, with my prayers and effort I

earned an A+ (94) in the 3rd exam. (the highest I ever got actually, lol. and my Maths marks was

actually lower than that (89 if I'm not mistaken) and a friend of mine got a 97 during Trial 2, so

there's that). I stopped playing Sudoku since then, but my speed and accuracy maintained until

the end of Form 5. :) (My range was 86-90 Alhamdulillah)

I hope I can score A+ in both Maths and Add Maths, and all 9 subjects in SPM, insyaAllah! :D
PART 3

10th March 2015

Let's just cut to the chase and finish the "How do you study?" series of posts before I get caught

up with life and forget this blog, lol. So in this post, I'm going to share my tips and tricks on how

I studied for the 3 science subjects; Physics, Chemistry and Biology and 2 remaining core

subjects; Sejarah and Pendidikan Islam!

PHYSICS

after that I started to get the hang of it (The easiest topics are Forces and Pressure, Heat, Waves

and Logic Gates imho). Despite it all, I maintained B+ to A grade throughout the 2 years,

Alhamdulillah. I dropped back to B+ in Trial 2 because I was so focused on Biology and

Chemistry :( So I went to tuition, did the best I could, and I hope it pays off, insyaAllah. So

here's a run down of things I did for Physics:

1. Read the reference book to get the general idea of things you have to study and will be

tested on.

I used Oxford Fajar's Success ref book and the Mind Map book.

2. Do exercises to familiarize yourself with exam questions.

I did not do much topical exercises, but I did a lot of trial questions given by my school teacher

and tuition teacher. After a few sets you'll see the pattern and find that Physics is quite easy to

master. Especially the essays! My tuition teacher helped me a lot on this. He made a booklet of

all the characteristics/explanation question and drilled us on it. He also gave us a list of
definitions and experiments. So it's great to organize your notes that way. Formulas, Definitions,

Paper 3 Experiments, Undertanding Essays, Characteristics/Explanation essays etc. instead of

some jumbled up topical mess.

3. Make a flashcard of ALL the formulas you've learned.

I used a sheet of thick drawing paper, wrote and numbered all the formulas/constants/values I

have to remember. I laminated it too so that it can stand through the abuse until I finish SPM, lol.

Use it to make a quick reference when doing the calculation questions.

4. Teach other people.

When you teach other people, you're actually reinforcing your memory and understanding of the

material. Sometimes you'll also have to find ways to simplify those intricate theories into simple

ideas, analogies and imagery. Create stories! I really had fun teaching my friends how to do

Logic Gates with happy/angry analogies and the satisfaction you get when they get it is just...

man... plain awesome.

5. Ask teachers.

I went to all of the extra classes I had with my physics teacher, Mdm Chai to do exercises/trials

and ask her questions. Every time I had even the tiniest bit of doubt, I'll ask her again. And again.

I'd even arrange to steal a bit of her time during recess to ask her explain the Form 4 stuffs I am

still stuck in. I also went to tuition after I got a B+ in Physics for my final trial exam, so I made

full use of the time I had (1 month and a half?) with my tuition teacher to ask for clarification on

certain concepts I am still hazy about. Don't be shy to ask, you'll regret it otherwise, trust me. :)
BIOLOGY

Biology's my favorite subject, but I tend to score the lowest in this subject. (The marking scheme

is the worst...) Fret not (janganbimbang), as long as you have the knowledge and understanding,

you only have to sharpen your answering skills(Pay attention during the answering technique
talks! They help a lot, trust me) and you'll be fine! Here are some of the things I did...

1. Record audio notes.

I came up with this idea when I was SO UBER EXTREMELY lazy to go through the thick

reference book / textbook again and again. So I decided to record myself reading the book out

loud (you're already listening to yourself at this point) and listen to the recordings(repetition is

the mother of knowledge!) before I sleep. Yes I fell asleep in the middle of the recordings a

couple of times. It doesn't help that I'm lying down, snug and warm in my blanket, eyes closed

for maximum focus. But it sure does help you to retain the memory on the gazillions of Bio facts,

especially for essays. My logic behind this technique was actually inspired by how easily we

memorize song lyrics. Using an extra sense - hearing to study? Check. Repetition? Check.

2. Do exercises. Lots of them.

Actually, you don't have to answer them yourselves. I always copy answers from the back so that

I know how to answer the questions. I ended up ripping apart (koyak) the answer section and

copied the answers straight away, haha. It's like note-taking, but more of a guided one. Don't

copy blindly lah, make sure you're actually learning things along the way. If not then you're just

wasting your time and energy. :/ For objective questions / Paper 1, my teacher suggested us to

write down our answers in a separate paper. If you score above 40/50, move on to the next set. If

you didn't, redo it until you do! It really worked. I did all of the objective questions in my past

year paper book and Sasbadi model aktual book. I scored 47/50 for my trials and 49/50 for my

actual exam, alhamdulillah. :)


3. Take notes.

This is pretty self-explanatory, tried-and-tested, most popular technique. Apart from the notes I

copy from the teacher's PowerPoint presentation, I also make my own notes at home to reinforce

my knowledge. Copy the VERY important points. Remember, they're notes, not essays. Bio tend

to be very detailed too, actually. But use your highlighters/coloured pens so that it's easier to

study. After a few exams you'll notice what's important or not, but if you still have no idea, ask

your teachers. "Penting ka ni cikgu?" "Apa jak saya perlu tahu untuk topic ni?" "Kalau soalan

tanya macam ni apa saya perlu tulis?"

Books I used - Oxford Fajar's Success Biology SPM as main reference book, OF's Whizz Thru as

quick reference/something to read while waiting for transport, Bioscore Form 4 and Form

5(which you can order online here), Cerdik's Past Year Questions book, Model Test Papers from

Sasbadi/Cerdik.

CHEMISTRY

. But actually, Chemistry's the EASIEST science subject to score. (I'm pretty sure after going

deep into Organic Chemistry later I'll beg to differ). After I scored 92/100 for Paper 2 in Form 4

(my record. After that I couldn't go any higher...) I started loving Chemistry more. The beautiful
balance between Stoichiometry (calculations) and theory makes the subject quite interesting lah.

Even though kadang-kadang rasa nak setengah nyawa hafal so many things. But memorizing's

my mojo, hehe. Here are some of the things I did(apart from making notes, reading the reference

book), especially for this subject...

1. Watch videos.

I watched IB/A-level Chemistry videos on Youtube! I found really useful videos on making

calculations easier and experiment demonstrations that are extremely useful to give yourself

ideas during Paper 3. My favorite uploaders are Richard Thornley and Brian Swarthout(for

Physics). Please, please make full use of the Internet. I survived on my teachers at school,

videos/notes on the internet and reference books (no tuition at all) throughout my schooling years

until the final 2 months before SPM. :)

2. Make flashcards.

I bought a pack of watercolour paper thing (I forgot the size, but the standard ones you can find

at the shops lah) and cut them up into palm cards. I wrote EVERY SINGLE THING I need to

memorize onto the cards. I also did conventional notes, but I converted them into flashcard

versions to reinforce my knowledge. I punched a hole in a corner and fastened them together

using a book ring. Here's an example of flashcards I made (this is for Physics, I couldn't find the

one I did for Chemistry D:) And you don't want to know when I made all of these...

hahahahahahah
Books I use - Pelangi's Focus Chemistry SPM, Cerdik's Past Year Papers, Model Test Papers

from a variety of publishers, and most importantly, STATE TRIALS! (For all subjects!) For

Chemistry, it's essential that you MEMORIZE the charges of the ion first, then balancing

equations will come easily for you. Basically... Chemistry's easier when you have all the infos in

your head.

SEJARAH & PENDIDIKAN ISLAM


For Sejarah, I just read and makes notes lah, for every exam I'll make a new set (if rajin/sempat

lah, ha). But towards the end I got really lazy to do them on a separate piece of paper. So what I

did it, you know Sejarah textbooks have these big margins, right? (For the record, the Sejarah

textbooks were mine, not the school's, so please, kids, don't vandalize school property, okay?) I

just extracted all the important infos(Faktor/Kesan/Isi/Huraian/etc.) and write them on the

margins for easy and quick reference. If only the books are still with me, I would've taken a

picture to show you guys how I did it. Then after that, I bought different colours of highlighters,

each of them with different meanings. I assign one colour, pink, for example, for FAKTOR. So

every time I fine factors in the walls of text, I highlight them with pink. Now it's easier for you to

make connections, especially in the exams. "Hey, I highlighted this this this with pink, so it must

be one of the factors!" Now do this for other things, like ISI, HURAIAN, TARIKH, TEMPAT,

TOKOH and NAMA KHAS.

For Pendidikan Islam, usually I will just again, read the reference book and make notes. I have 3

reference books for PI; Sasbadi's Nexus, Nota Ringkas book I photostated from a friend, and this

really concise book with all the maksud istilah and all that. Again, sorry, no pics. To familiarize

myself with the questions and standard answers, I copied the answers to the questions as well.

Then I made a flashcard for all the tajwid rules and Tulisan Jawi rules.

There's nothing much that I can say for these two subjects. Both of them are quite easy to score,

so don't slack on them yea! ;) Pay attention in class, find notes on the internet, make your own

notes, do exercises / copy answers from the back, read reference books / text book (very
important for History!), ask teachers and help your friends! You can apply majority of the

techniques I did for other subjects for these two.

As for study "timetable", I don't really have a rigid timetable where I set how many hours I spend

studying every day and all. All I did is plan what I am going to study for each day. 1 subject per

day only! Only after trials then I started to study multiple subjects each day because I'm afraid

there won't be enough time :(

I guess that's about it for now. If I remember anything else that I forgot to add, I'll update from

time to time. Please remember that these are not "mujarab" techniques that guaranteed will work

on everyone. But all I can tell you is that they worked for me. I spent my time planning, thinking,

making changes to my study methods as I see fit. If my marks are not improving, I'll start to find

other methods. If it works, I'll continue doing what I'm doing! Trial and error are very important

processes in learning, so don't be afraid to try for yourself. I learned most of my techniques from

other students as well - feel free to Google for them. I would also like to note here that I don't

listen to music when I study. But to be honest I still have my phone around so that I can go on

WolframAlpha / Whatsapp to discuss about questions / find notes on the internet. Oh and by the

way, my posts are of my own opinions/experiences/what I learned from other people, and

completely not endorsed by any parties, heh. Lastly, most importantly, please take good care of

your relationship with Allah SWT, your parents, your teachers, your family and friends. Good

luck and all the best for your studies and future undertakings! For clarifications/questions you

can reach me through FB(please introduce yourself first), Twitter and Whatsapp. :)
Yours sincerely,

Dayang Nurfarahin binti Abang Usop,

SPM 9A+,

A National Scholar.

Last edited: 14th March 2015.