FORECASTING CONTINUOUS WRITING QUESTIONS IN SPM 1119 2019: AN INSIGHT
For certain subjects like History, Mathematics and Chemistry, forecasting questions is quite possible because some experienced teachers have the ability to analyse and examine past SPM questions and consequently make smart predictions. Their critical analysis allows them to forecast possible questions or at least topics that will be included in SPM 2019. However, what about the English Language 1119 subject? It is not topic or content based but as we know, it is all about language skills, grammar and vocabulary. Therefore, is producing forecast questions, in this case - Continuous Writing questions, a possibility?
Well, the answer to the question posed above is that, it is possible. As we know, any topic under the sun can be tested for Continuous Writing and that is the reason why predictions for Section B of 1119/1 can only be done in a general manner. Based on the critical scrutiny of the past questions for Continuous Writing, I have noticed certain patterns for each genre of the questions. Below are the findings of patterns or features:
FORECAST PART 1
For the descriptive narrative genre, based on the most recent questions above (2014-2018), we can see that the questions will always allow SPM 1119 candidates to write about personal experiences which could take place outside home. Besides, the descriptions of experiences always involve other individuals who could be classmates, friends or family members. Another interesting pattern is that sometimes, the candidates have to make a choice or decision before describing the personal experiences (SPM 2015 and SPM 2016).
Therefore, if teachers wish to forecast questions for the descriptive narrative genre, they should bear in mind these four features like personal experiences, outside school (in school is also a possibility), make decision and involve others. Perhaps, these forecast questions are relevant:
Describe an adventurous activity which you took part recently. Explain about your preparations for the adventurous activity and how you felt during the activity.
Describe a reunion which you took part. Explain how you contributed to make the event memorable.
Describe your visit to a home for the needy. Explain what you saw, did and felt.
Describe a project conducted in your school and you played the most important role in it. Write about your experiences organising the project.
FORECAST PART 2
Some candidates prefer to choose an argumentative essay. The analysis above clearly indicates that this genre always poses questions or topics that are related to issues involving teenagers. Of course, the chosen issues could be open too (2015, 2017). Therefore, if predictions were to be made, perhaps, forecast questions like these could be relevant:
There should be a night curfew for teenagers. How far do you agree with this opinion? Explain why.
Every teenage child deserves a monthly allowance of RM200 from their parents. How far do you agree with the opinion? Explain why.
Students should be allowed to choose their own subject teachers. How far do you agree with this opinion? Explain why.
Students should be rewarded with cash for their academic success. How far do you agree with this opinion? Explain why.
Getting all As in examinations is all that matters. How far do you agree with the opinion? Explain why.
FORECAST PART 3
The analysis above shows a few features for the narrative genre; specific character, specific plot and moral lesson. In short, the candidates do not have much freedom to write their story as they have to fulfill certain fixed criteria mentioned in the question. To those candidates who always prefer this kind of question, they should forecast these kinds of questions:
Write a story about a neighbour who is very popular in your neighbourhood. Discuss the reasons that make the neighbour popular and what other residents think of the popular neighbour.
Write a story about someone who was very workaholic and the effects of working too hard. Begin your story with: “It was already 10 p.m. All the other employers had gone home hours ago. …”
Write a story about a young successful farmer who is very generous. End your story with: “My friends and I learnt a lot especially the meaning of generosity.”
To me, it is not that easy to forecast the narrative essay questions as the scope is too wide; there are many positive traits for the character in the story and there is an extremely wide selection for the plot. Perhaps, what is more important is for candidates to prepare sophisticated words or structures to describe individuals, feelings and activities. No matter what the real SPM narrative question looks like, those sophisticated words and structures can be applied in their essay.
FORECAST PART 4
To me, this genre is the toughest to make predictions due to its main feature; open. It is like anything under the sun. Though there are two more features which are personal and opinion, forecasting questions is still challenging because there are too many topics that could be personal and opinion-based. Nevertheless, these "forecast" questions could still be relevant:
Some teenagers lead an unhealthy lifestyle. Discuss the reasons why this is happening and suggest how to promote a better lifestyle among them.
Unity is strength. Discuss how unity can be promoted, strengthened and maintained.
How can we make mothers feel that they are always appreciated? Give some suggestions and highlight your best suggested idea.
It is of utmost importance to understand that I am NOT saying forecasting questions should be the main emphasis among ESL/EFL teachers. However, as teachers, we need to be able to see the patterns or features of the Continuous Writing questions. No doubt, we have to bear in mind, Malaysian Examination Syndicate could also pose questions as it wishes in any way, which may affect the current patterns or features.
If we strongly believe in the existing patterns or features, I guess at this juncture (only a few weeks before SPM), it is not wrong to focus on the forecast questions. Whether the forecast questions become a reality or not is not a crucial matter to me. What matters more is the candidates ongoing effort to prepare well for their Continuous Writing. They need to be prepared as being prepared is half the victory. If they are fortunate, the forecast questions will benefit them. Whatever it is, let us pray for the best. There will always be a positive outcome if there are serious and consistent efforts by the candidates, in shaa Allah.