The letter…

This is not going to be a post about those things that you get in the mail…but about the letter – A.

The letter A 1

Some of you may not be aware that they have changed the grading system in the SPM Examination at the end of Form 5 from numbers, Grades 1 to 9…to letters, Grades A to E and G which stands for GAGAL (fail…and I guess it can also stand for “goondoos” as well). For each A, they have A+, A and A- but only a B+ and B and also a C+ and C for the two subsequent grades and they do not have any such differentiation for the D and E grades. I wonder why.

SPM new grading system

Another thing that they claim is that an A is equivalent to the former A1 and an A- is the same as the former A2. An A+, however, is an achievement much higher than the former A1…

I think they said that in the past, among those who got A1, there are some very good ones and some not so good ones, so to be fair, they now have A+ to “separate the men from the boys” or so to speak. Personally, I fail to understand the rationale or the logic behind all of this. They could just raise the minimum mark requirement for an A1 so that those who are not of that standard will have to be happy with an A2 or lower. Sometimes I really wonder how the minds of those people function.

Now we have schools proclaiming the number of students getting straight As…but they are certainly not revealing specifically whether it is an A+, an A or an A-.

The letter A 2

And talking about those who did manage to get an A in English, it does seem that the candidates have to be quite good to get an A+ and do take note that I said, quite good – not very good or extremely good. I had some students that I had expected to get a B4 for the Cambridge English 1119 score but they managed a B3 instead. And for the SPM grading, they got an A when under the old system, I would think that they could be good enough for an A2 or lower and definitely not an A1. Catch the drift?

Whatever it is, I cannot understand why there is this mad scramble for a string of As. At the end of the day, it is just one’s paper qualification – it does not prove who you really are. And at the end of the day, it is you – whether you are an individual of substance or not that really matters. I know of a girl who is now studying under the JPA scholarship in Japan. Her grades for her Science subjects were not outstanding but she managed to impress them at the interview and succeeded in getting what she wanted. On the other hand, I do know of a couple of excellent students who also got the scholarship and went abroad – one broke down mentally halfway and had to come home to recuperate, never to continue his studies again and another had to continue in a private college in KL as he just could not make the grade when he was sent to the States.

And incidentally, when the aforementioned girl’s SPM results were released, she called me and said that if her school had been a tall building, she would have jumped off and killed herself. Why? It was because she had called her mother earlier…and she said, “You’re so useless!” and hung up. I had to do all I could to console her and encourage her that in life, there would be so many roads to choose and so many ways and means of getting to where one would want to go. A string of As may be a means to an end but is in no way THE end and I’m sure everyone will agree that success in examinations is in no way an assurance of success in one’s undertakings in life…