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SPM Score Secure: Strategies for Peak Exam Day Performance

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01 Feb 2024

4 Min Read

Ishaanaah Ravi (Alumni Writer), Nellie Chan (Editor)


Wondering how to secure that high score on exam day? Uncover game-changing strategies that can help you achieve peak performance in your SPM exams!

If you're familiar with Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, or SPM, then you're likely familiar with this scene: SPM students, resembling warriors preparing for battle in the academic arena, arming themselves with study strategies to conquer challenges and emerge victorious in the exams. Whether committing elaborate mathematical formulas to memory or dissecting intricate biology concepts for a better understanding, countless hours are invested in the relentless pursuit of exam readiness!


Yet, despite these tireless efforts, we can still hear the silent whispers of being underprepared, speaking hesitance into our confidence as we enter the exam hall. But, are we to shiver? Are we to shake? No!


So, gear up with your stationery, hit the hay early, and let's get your game face on because I'm about to share three strategies that'll be your winning plays for peak performance on exam day!

Pre-Game Routine

Here's the thing: besides revising your textbooks and reference books from cover to cover before exam day, there's another 'book'-let you mustn't overlook — the exam paper! While we can't get our hands on upcoming exam papers (that would be cheating), we do have, at our fingertips, easy access to past exam papers!


Some of you might think that practising with past exam papers simply adds to the pressure (since it simulates exam day), but let's think of it in another way: they are the windows through which you can gain a clear view of how an exam works. When you attempt these papers, you will get a sense of the types of questions asked (e.g., multiple-choice questions or essays), the manner in which they are presented (e.g., sections and parts), and the criteria by which they are graded. Getting to know the questions using these papers is like getting to know your opponent; it helps you 'defeat' them on exam day.


Moreover, working with past exam papers sharpens your time management skills. Believe me, when you're in the heat of an exam, it's easy to lose your cool — and lose track of time! So, seize this opportunity to ensure you have sufficient time to answer all the questions and double-check them! Practise timing yourself with each paper; that way, you'll learn how to manage your time better on exam day.


Once you've completed a past exam paper, spare a moment to compare your answers with the marking scheme. This step not only offers insights into your performance but also helps identify your strengths and weaknesses across the topics and themes. With this knowledge, formulate a game plan, tackling areas that need improvement. By doing so, you're well-prepared to overcome the obstacles of exam day!

The Night Before the Big Game

But no matter how well-prepared we are, the night before an exam often finds us in the midst of cramming. Now, while cramming isn't inherently wrong, there are correct ways to approach it. Navigating this final stretch methodically is crucial; otherwise, you might just end up sacrificing sleep or, even worse, your sanity! So, let's delve into some last-minute tips and tricks to guide you through burning the midnight oil:

  • Review key topics: Focus on mastering topics or themes most likely to appear on the exam. 
  • Prioritise weak areas: Concentrate on strengthening areas where you are weak or feel less confident.
  • Practise active recall: Recall what you've learned by quizzing yourself on key concepts and information.

On the morning of the exam, go through this checklist:

  1. Eat a healthy breakfast — you can't tackle challenges on an empty stomach.
  2. Before heading out, check if your bag has everything you need — you can't play the game without your gear.
  3. Arrive at the exam venue early — dodge delays like a skilled player.
  4. In the exam, be strategic with your time — if blocked on a question, sidestep to the next one and circle back later.
  5. Remember, it's normal to feel a touch of nerves — that's the adrenaline! 

Trust in yourself; you've got this!

Post-Game Analysis

After completing an exam, take the time to reflect on how things went. This reflection isn't about obsessing over scores or comparing performances; it's about recognising areas where you excelled and areas for improvement in preparation for future exams — like reviewing a game after playing it. These are your 'Glows and Grows'. 'Glows' are the positive things (i.e., what we did well in the exam), while 'Grows' are the less-than-positive things (i.e., what we can do better). Think of it as adjusting your game plan after analysing your moves. This framing teaches us to celebrate our successes and learn from our failures.


So, as you step onto the court of SPM, ready your strategies, trust in your abilities, and approach each exam as a seasoned player. Dribble past the challenges, shoot for the hoop, and adapt to the changing game. As the final buzzer sounds, may you secure that score, turning your academic journey into a victorious game well played! Go, SPM students, go!

Ishaanaah Ravi is a Bachelor of Education (Honours) alumna of Taylor's University who enjoys reading and creative writing in her free time. She also finds fulfilment in conducting volunteer work, believing that life is not just about what we receive but also about what we give.

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