Why your SPM results don’t matter as much as you think

Ah SPM, the dreaded three letters every 17-year-old Malaysian student’s mind across the nation.

It’s seen as the culmination of our 11 arduous years in school, bringing an end to our high school life and signaling the start of higher education and young adulthood.

Every March, thousands of students pray and lose sleep over the release of their SPM results, with many tears shed on the day itself, whether it be tears of joy or ones of misery.

SPM has always been seen as something all of us have to do well in if we want to guarantee a good future – you know the whole deal – get into a good university, get a good degree, then get a good solid job etc.


But frankly, that’s not the case.

Most schools, and parents for that matter, tell us from young that doing well in exams is the key to success, and whilst good grades will definitely help us they are by no means a surefire way to a rewarding career.

Employers nowadays look for so much more in potential employees in terms of motivation and interest levels, soft skills, and also whether they’re a right fit for the company.

If you do get good SPM grades, great!

If not, keep your chin up and know that it’s not the end of the world.

Of course, everybody wants to do well in their SPM, as it would increase your chances of getting good scholarships such as the JPN, Petronas or Bank Negara scholarships. And besides that, a great sense of pride and achievement.

Most importantly, however, is the ability to brag to your friends about how well you did.

Let’s not kid ourselves, SPM is far from being a globally renowned and prestigious academic achievement, as it barely holds any weight when it comes to applying to overseas universities.

For the most part, SPM is used as a tool to apply for colleges, and from then on it becomes almost redundant.

Taking a look at some of the mandatory subjects, some questions arise, one such question is the inclusion of the subject Pendidikan Moral.

This is a subject that has absolutely no real world implications or any reflection on our own mortality. Has memorizing this 36 nilais and their definitions ever proven useful in the real world?

Has memorizing these standard 36 nilai- nilai and their definitions ever proven useful in the real world?

Or does it put us on a higher moral ground than those who do not memorize them?

Surely not.

Making us memorize lines word for word and then having us simply regurgitate it all on a piece of paper without really learning anything useful, more than anything cultivates a poor mentality when it comes to preparing for exams.

Instead of these pointless subjects, how about the education system start placing priority on areas that are more important, such as critical thinking, artistic development, and emotional intelligence.

The Malaysian education system has often been criticized for being extremely results-orientated, and that it creates generations of robots, and not thinkers, who study for the sake of doing well in exams, instead of actually learning and absorbing information.

Schools should start teaching important life skills such as tax and financial management, how to write good resumes, or even how to code, and sex education.

As a traditionally conservative country, the Malaysian society avoids the topic of discussing sex, but educating students on this is imperative in producing well-informed young adults.

Back to the topic of SPM, it’s not a question of how many A’s students get, but rather what they get out of it.

If they get straight A’s only to forget everything they tirelessly memorized for months a week later, then what is the point.

Are those extra 1 or 2 A’s going to be the difference when looking for a job in the future?



I for one know so many people who didn’t do particularly well in their SPM but went on to excel in their degrees, doing something they enjoyed or had an interest in.

SPM can certainly be a helpful stepping stone in getting into a good college but it is not the best way to determine how intelligent one is, perhaps it measures to discipline and memory skills more.

To reiterate, it does not by any means determine your overall ability or potential.

That being said, don’t use this as an excuse to be lazy for your SPM, as often laziness can become a habit, which may then follow you into college/university.

And also, make your parents and teachers proud.

You owe them that much!

Author’s Bio:

My name is Kai Zen Au, and I’m a 20-year-old Malaysian who is pursuing my Bachelor Degree (Class of 2020) in Physiotherapy at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen (Hanzehogeschool Groningen), Netherland. I have great interests in health, fitness, football, and food. And I hope to write more articles in the future just because I really enjoy writing.

I want to share my personal experiences of living and studying in the Netherlands and general knowledge of other topics.

You can reach me here at my Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/kzen01

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