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SPM Success Access: Techniques for Comprehensive Exam Prep

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18 Jan 2024

5 Min Read

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


Noticing your study routine is lacking? Discover effective techniques that can help you with comprehensive preparation for your SPM exams!

Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, or SPM, is like a roller coaster ride that (almost) all Malaysian students must embark on. To conquer this 'ride', many of us believe we should devote 12 hours or more each day to studying. However, even after putting in the long hours and the even longer days, why do we still find ourselves scouring through the Internet the night before an exam, desperately searching for resources to help us grasp that one ever-elusive concept?


The mistake we've been making is this: it's not about burdening ourselves with the weight of memorised information to get us through the exams; it's about adopting a comprehensive approach to guide us through preparing for them, making learning more efficient and effective.


So, get your 2B pencils and exercise books out, and let's rewrite the story of your exam preparation because I'm about to share three techniques that will not only ensure your success in the exams but also enhance your overall learning experience!

Subject-Specific Study Methods and Techniques

The first chapter in the story of comprehensive exam preparation tells of tailoring a learning approach for each subject. Whether it's Malay, Mathematics, or Biology, each subject exhibits distinct characteristics that influence their specific study strategies. Below, I've outlined the different study methods and techniques needed to master the different subjects!

  • Languages — Malay, English, and Mandarin! 

Immersing yourself in the language is the key to unlocking mastery in these subjects. While we often practise writing using textbooks and reference books, which reveal exam expectations such as topics and themes, the nuances of learning a language lie in its diverse manifestations across various situations. Reading books, newspapers, and articles broadens our vocabulary and widens our syntax and structure. Engaging in conversations with family and friends further enhances our fluency and accuracy in speaking. Creating an environment where you consistently use the language contributes to both theoretical learning and practical application.

  • Formulas — Mathematics, Additional Mathematics, and Physics!

On the other hand, mastering these subjects demands a lot of hands-on practice, particularly when it comes to internalising their formulas. To make them easier to remember, you can use mnemonic devices. Acronyms and acrostics, where you create a word or phrase from the first letter of a group of words, can make the formulas more memorable and relatable to you. For example, an acrostic for the area of a circle (i.e., A=πr2) can be 'Apple Pie Recipe for Two'. But beyond mere memorisation, it's also important to practise and improve your problem-solving skills. If you find yourself in need of additional assistance, explore extra resources like online tutorials and practice materials or seek guidance from your teachers. Consistent and systematic practice increases your confidence and competence in applying the formulas.

Geometry diagrams and formulas
  • Facts and Concepts — Biology, Chemistry, and History!

These subjects might be overwhelming for most, owing to their intricate facts and concepts, but the roadmap to mastering them is by making connections. Utilise mind maps and concept maps to organise information — these visualisation techniques help us envision how ideas or concepts are connected from a bird's eye view! It's also important to note that efficient and effective learning extends beyond reviewing familiar content. Set aside time to delve deeper into understanding the unfamiliar aspects of the subject. A helpful technique is to keep a reflective journal or a learning log — after each lesson or study session, write down everything you've learned, identify facts and concepts that were challenging or require further attention, and set realistic goals to track your progress. This technique ensures continuous improvement and enhances comprehension and retention of information!

Personalised Study Schedules

Employing the proper study methods and techniques isn't the sole game-changer in the 'game' of SPM; understanding how you learn best is just as instrumental! Personalising a study schedule to align with study priorities marks the second chapter in the story of comprehensive exam preparation.


Begin by determining the weightage of each exam paper, allocating a proportionate amount of time for study based on their significance and the difficulty of the subject. Consider your peak concentration periods throughout the day (or night) and manage challenging subjects during these times for optimal focus. Breaking down study materials into easily digestible chunks can help fuel productivity and prevent burnout. Ultimately, flexibility is the name of the game; a personalised study schedule allows you to achieve a balanced and sustainable routine, optimising your preparation for the exams! 

Effective Time Management Strategies

While creating schedules helps us organise our daily routine to allocate time efficiently, what about an hourly routine to focus our concentration effectively? How should we aim to retain the information we've learned during our study sessions? That's where effective time management strategies come in — the third chapter in the story of comprehensive exam preparation.


One strategy is the Pomodoro Technique (p.s., Pomodoro is Italian for tomato), which sections study sessions into focused 25-minute 'sprints', followed by a short 5-minute break. After four Pomodoros, take a longer 15 to 30-minute break. This technique leverages our brain's ability to engage in a small task over a short period of time, maximising concentration while minimising procrastination. And if you need help prioritising tasks to focus your time, use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategy contrasts between urgent tasks, which are time-sensitive but not always important, and important tasks, which are goal-sensitive but not always urgent.

Hand holding an alarm clock


As you strap in for the roller coaster ride that is SPM, know that you now have subject-specific study methods and techniques, personalised study schedules, and effective time management strategies to navigate the twists and turns of all your subjects. Hold on tight because comprehensive exam preparation has ensured your coaster is on track for a thrilling ride to success!

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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