"Hey, you seemed to be reading lots of books and writing extensive notes lately." 
"Yup, I'm preparing for my Literature in English STPM test this semester."

"I thought you just need to read a few stories and write a simple review for that." 
"Nah, it's not that simple. You have to understand and be able to explain various critical appreciation skills like literary devices, themes, language and style and so forth." 
"Wow, that's a long list......" 

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What Is Critical Appreciation Skills And Why Is It Taught The  Throughout the Semesters For STPM Literature in English?

While it's true that many people have the misconception that literature studies involve purely reading, there is certainly more to it.

It's also not as overwhelmingly complex as it sounded based on the above dialogues either. Literature studies can be properly mastered and enjoyed with the right skills. Yes, we are talking about critical appreciation skills.

Critical Appreciation Skills forms the core foundation of the STPM Literature in English syllabus. It acts as a significant guide to help students analyse the prescribed texts and answer the questions accurately in Paper 1, Paper 2 and Paper 3 of the subject.

There are altogether 3 themes that students need to master under these critical appreciation skills.

Literature, Language, and Form

  • Literary devices
  • Narrative techniques
  • Setting
  • Characterisation
  • Structure
  • Themes/issues/concerns
  • Reader response
  • Language and style

Literature, History, and Culture

  • Context
  • Themes/Issues (Power relations, quest for identity, diaspora, beliefs/value systems, race relations)
  • Cultural perspective
literature english culture stpm
Your reading experience will be richer with the right understanding of various historical and cultural contexts.
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Literature and Gender

  • Gender
  • Historical context
  • Socio-cultural context
  • Themes/issues
  • Reading perspectives as a man/woman
  • Cultural perspective

Throughout the semesters. both teachers and students are expected to go through the above components and apply them when they are studying various literary texts such as poetry and short stories, plays and novels. 

Find out the latest exam format for the STPM Literature in English paper here.

What Should You Take Note Of When Answering Questions For Paper 1 (Poetry and Short Stories) in STPM Literature in English?

For Paper 1, you will have to answer 3 essay questions. Each question is 25% and the total duration of your paper is 2 hours. The questions will be taken from the 22 poems and 12 short stories from Malaysian stories, Lloyd Fernando Edition.

Here are some tips to score well for this paper.

a) Familiarize yourself with different forms of critical appreciation skills for all the prescribed poetry/short stories

Note that this is the first paper that you will be sitting for this subject. Hence, it is important to kickstart the right way to master various technical literature forms such as specific jargon, concepts as well as literary contexts in terms of historical, social and cultural aspects.

Mastering these elements will help you to understand what the questions are truly asking and enable you to come out with better analysis and elaborations.

This is because you will be asked to give your answers based on two poems/two short stories in Section B and Section C respectively. It is also important to choose your answer options that fit the requirements of the questions. Here is an example of a sample question.

With close reference to any two poems, discuss how love is expressed through images of nature. [Section B]

stpm english literature syllabus
Critical reading will enable you to analyse your readings through different lens and themes.
Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

b) Answer the option that you are most confident in for Section A 

Well, this tip is actually applicable to all 3 papers but it is significantly more important in Paper 1 because there are so many available texts that can be chosen (out of 34 potential texts!).

It is literally a hit or miss streak so it's best if you are well prepared for both the poetry and short stories options. Read the two questions carefully and highlight the keywords that are asked in relation to the given poem/short story excerpt.

You can also draft out your points and examples before deciding which one to answer. If you can list down at least 4 points with strong examples and textual evidence for the first option as compared to the second one, go for the former.

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How To Answer Better For Paper 2 (Plays) in STPM Literature in English?

Moving on to your second semester, you would have a better idea of how to answer the questions in the three sections.

The only difference is you will only be tested on 2 plays namely Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare and A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry.

Here are some reminders to present your answers better and to avoid any mark deduction.

a) Organise your analysis with consistent tenses according to the excerpt

Grammar and language proficiency play significant roles to make your writings more coherent, organized and most importantly readable. It is important to follow the same tenses throughout your essays to avoid confusion when you are elaborating with textual evidences.

b) Accurately interpret and address the key terms asked in the questions pertaining to the plays

Let's take a look at this past year questions to dive deep into the marking scheme for this section.

[STPM Literature in English Paper 2, Section B]

Candidates are asked to compare and contrast Viola and Olivia’s strengths and how they feel powerless when faced with certain situations.

You can learn more about the marking scheme of this question by reading this sample answer by an actual candidate that has performed well for this question.

Sample answer

‘Although the love of Viola and Olivia was quite prominent in the scene, Viola and Olivia were powerless in facing this circumstance because Viola didn’t want to reveal her true identity while Olivia didn’t want to lose her friendship. Thus, Viola and Olivia have displayed their strength and powerlessness in their characters in facing certain circumstances.’ ‘They both portray strength similarly in a sense that both are strong in going through the pain of losing a loved one.’ ‘

Viola and Olivia portray powerlessness differently in the play…. Viola looked like a young man who is very able to fight with Sir Andrew, but underneath all that, she is actually a powerless female who was not trained to fight… In contrast to that, Olivia, even though a countess, is powerless when faced with love Therefore, it is clear that Viola and Olivia display powerlessness differently in the play.’

You can find more information on the answer scheme of this paper in the annual report released by the Malaysian Examination Council (MEC) website.

Also, don't forget to read more about the tips to score for your STPM Literature in English paper. 

What Are Some Ways To Improve Your Answering Techniques For Paper 3 (Novels) in STPM Literature in English?

Congratulations, you have finally reached your final semester of your Literature in English studies. This semester, you will be studying two novels namely Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.

a) Discuss the points with extensive, relevant and adequate discussion 

To answer questions relating to novels, you need to critically discern and discuss your answers based on the understanding of plot, background, setting, theme, relevance, moral concerns and other literary devices.

Let's look at one of the past year questions to see what examiners are looking for in your answer.

[STPM Literature in English Paper 3, Question 1 in Section A]
Students are asked to discuss Jane’s reaction to and concern about Elizabeth’s breaking news based on an excerpt from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Here are some of the marking schemes provided by the examiners.

  • Candidates are expected to answer by providing different types of responses, from literary analysis (stylistics – use of exclamation marks) to Jane’s reactions (disbelief) and concern (uncertainty).
  • Any relevant and well-supported points pertaining to the excerpt given are accepted and all the answers are taken from the excerpt.
practice stpm english lit
It's important to master the marking scheme of essay writing for your STPM English Literature paper.
Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

b) Find evidence in the excerpt to support their argument (provide textual evidence) 

When it comes to Section C of this paper, you will only be given a short passage that shows an excerpt of the chosen novel. When you're answering the question, keep your answers precise, concise, organized and relevant.

Make sure you base your writings on textual evidence and elaboration that are found in the given extract and not other parts of the story that are not included there.

Discover where you can access past year questions and sample answers for your STPM Literature in English papers.

 Where To Find A Reliable English Literature Tutor?

After reviewing the marking scheme of your STPM Literature in English paper, you should be ready to take your learning experience to the next level.

Having all the head knowledge is all great and cool, but wouldn't it be better to have someone to directly teach and guide you consistently?

We heard you and we certainly got you covered.

Waste no time and head on to the Superprof Malaysia website to find the perfect English Literature tutor to ace this paper!

With just a few clicks you can:

  • Browse and compare various tutors' profile
  • Review the tutors' teaching experience, qualification, methodology, hourly rate
  • Connect with the tutor directly
  • Book your first lesson with a Student Subscription pass
  • Learn English Literature online/locally from your desired tutor

Without a doubt, you'll gain great confidence to tackle your STPM Literature in English paper with the right resources and guidance. Keep calm and start reading critically!

Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.-Ezra Pound

 

 

 

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An avid reader and writer, Joycelyn loves the art of communication and is passionate about all kinds of media.