THE day I finished my STPM examinations and said goodbye to my high school life for good is a day I’ll never forget.

After months of toiling away for a national exam, there was nothing I wanted to do more than lie in bed all day and catch up on my reading … which was exactly what I did for a while.

No one can deny that examinations are the bane of most students’ existences, which is why most students usually look forward to the end of the exam season.

However, 473,175 Year Six pupils across Malaysia who were scheduled to have completed their Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examinations last Thursday (Sep 11), will have their agony prolonged.

On Wednesday, the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate announced that the Science papers have been postponed to Sept 30 after questions were leaked on social media.

Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh announced on Thursday that pupils will have to re-take English Paper 1 and English Paper 2 (on Sept 30) as well, due to a leak in the questions.

Vernacular school pupils, however, were not affected as they sit for a different version of the English papers.

Four primary school teachers were arrested on Saturday as part of the investigation into the leak.

Suspecting the involvement of some form of corruption, even the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has come forward to offer its services.

It’s been mooted that an independent committee will also be set up to improve the security measures for future examinations in Malaysia.

These efforts seem to be cohesive enough to nip the issue in the bud, but it highlights a pressing issue in our society: we are simply too exam-oriented!

There’s no denying that examinations are important as a yardstick to measure our academic performance.

Still, it needs to be highlighted that our preoccupation with academic results alone is not healthy at all.

Our grades should not define us, yet, in our country, it almost feels like it’s the only thing that matters at times.

In the desperate bid to churn out the maximum number of As possible in any given examination, many students will do as much as they can.

This includes burning the midnight oil to study, going for as many tuition classes as possible, and, prior to the actual exams, attending seminars which promise to “spot” questions.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong in doing all of these things, considering how important grades can be in our academic aspirations.

Nonetheless, some people will cross the line just to get good results in public examinations.

Our education system has become so exam-oriented that it becomes far too easy to forget that each and every student has their own inclination, be it academics, sports or the arts.

Ultimately, the leak in the UPSR examination questions is not the fault of the culprits alone.

While an overhaul of our education system might be timely, what needs to be changed first is our attitude towards examinations. Having good results in examinations is laudable, but it really isn’t the only thing to strive for.

* The writer is a member of The Star’s BRATs young journalist programme, organised by R.AGE. To find out more about theBRATs, and to apply to join the programme, go to, and click on the ‘About’ section.


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