“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

Many book lovers will certainly agree with the above quote that the power of literature is undeniable. You can be freely transported to a whole new world and a new fantastic point of view. In fact, if we go beyond reading, there is also great excitement to study various literary texts and literary elements on a regular basis.

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Why Is It Important To Study English Literature in Schools?

Do you know that English Literature is offered as an elective subject at SPM and STPM level in Malaysian schools?

There are many students who find this subject interesting. Let's review the 3 main reasons why it's still significant and relevant to study English Literature in schools today.

a) Appreciation towards written words

The power of words is undeniable. It is the most assessible way of teaching and spreading knowledge in the history of mankind.

Without the study of literature and appreciation towards the written words, the world would not have seen the emergence of talented writers across the globe and various timelines such as William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, C.S.Lewis, J.K. Rowling, Haruki Murakami and many more.

b) Cultivate critical thinking 

When we dive deep into literature studies, we learn the art of reading beyond the lines. We not only learn about new information, but we form new ideas that we may agree or disagree with the authors. We also learn that it is absolutely fine to criticize what has been written with the right contexts and understanding of literary devices.

c) Widen your worldview towards new cultures and timelines as a reader

Nothing beats the thrill of reading a book for the first time, especially when it's a totally new genre that you are not used to reading or when it involves a new theme. When you look at the  syllabus of Literature in English for STPM , you will notice that you're exposed to various authors and genres (Malaysian and non Malaysian authors).

Continue reading this article to find out how you can ace your STPM Literature in English paper like a pro by practicing with various past year and sample questions.

stpm english literature studies
Critical reading will broaden your worldview. Photo by Streetwindy from Pexels

How To Analyse The Past Year Questions For STPM Literature in English?

There are limited reference books when it comes to STPM Literature in English, but it's not impossible to get various resources and notes on this subject.

We've come out with some useful suggestions where you can access them.

a) Download the annual subject reports from the MPM website 

The reports can be found via the Resources tab on the upper right side of the website. From there, you can click the Publication option and look for the reports under STPM and MUET Examination Reports. You can then start viewing and downloading the report from the year 2012 until 2020 (at this time of writing).

In the STPM Literature in English [920] report, you can read about the overall performance of the students that have registered for the subject. You can also read the general comments that the examiners have on individual questions from Section A, Section B and Section C for all 3 papers throughout the semesters.

Here is an example of past year questions compilation for Paper 1 (Semester 1) that we have made for you based on the information in the report. You can do the same for the rest of the papers.

YearSection ASection BSection C
20131. Poem (Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers) -Identify the main theme of the poem and explain how it is
brought out through the use of symbols and images.

2. Short story (The Dream of Vasantha)- Identify the emotions felt by the main character, and then go on and explain what these emotions tell us about her personality.

Identify irony within the poems, and then show how that irony is used to comment on life and relationships.Discuss the theme of multiculturalism as it appears in at least two stories.
20141. Discuss the mood of nostalgia that pervades the poem Piano, by D.H. Lawrence.
2. Discuss the physical changes as perceived by the two main characters in Removal in Pasir Panjang by K.S. Maniam and link these ideas with notions of how developments affect the community.
Discuss how the idea of aging is dealt with, in any two poems prescribed in the syllabus.Choose any two short stories prescribed in the syllabus which centrally deals with death and analyse the different attitudes to both short stories chosen.
2015Identify what is ironic in the poem At Tea by Thomas Hardy, and then explain how the descriptions in the poem highlight the irony of the situation.
2. Describe how Chranpal’s anxiety is portrayed in the extract taken from Pasang by Pretam Kaur.
Elaborate on the significance of song in any two poems prescribed in the syllabus.Discuss the issue of gender discrimination in any two short stories prescribed in the syllabus.
20161. Discuss the primary issue within the poem entitled My Last Duchess by Robert Browning, i.e. the Duke’s jealousy and possessiveness in relation to his last wife.
2. Look at the technique – how does the author show that the thoughts and feelings in the passage come from a young child extracted from a short story by Pretam Kaur entitled Through the Wall.
Discuss how animals are portrayed in any two poems prescribed in the syllabus.Discuss their responses to any two characters, explaining why those characters have captured their attention in any two short stories prescribed in the syllabus.
20171. Candidates are required to discuss the use of contrast depicted by the poet, William Butler Yeats in the poem When You Are Old, using the definition of contrast given.
2. Discuss the use of contrast described by the writer, Pretam Kaur, with close reference to the excerpt from the short story, As the Buffaloes Bathed.
Discuss what poetry can do and support it using specific poetry elements, relevant to their readings of any two poems prescribed in the syllabus.Discuss the relationship between the different races in Malaysia as one of the themes in Malaysian Short Stories with reference to any short stories prescribed in the syllabus.
20181. Describe how the language of a poem entitled A Bird Came Down by Emily Dickinson captures the behaviour and feelings of the bird.
2. Describe how the language of a short story entitled The Touring Company by Shirley Lim reflects the mind and feelings of the narrator.
Examine the treatment of the theme of alienation of any of the two poems prescribed in the syllabus.Discuss happy or joyous moments which affect the characters’ thoughts, feelings and actions with reference to any two short stories prescribed in the syllabus.
20191. Discuss the imagery presented in the poem To Autumn by John Keats, and to show how those images help bring out the ideas of growth and decay.
2. Discuss how the past and present are utilised by the author in conveying the protagonist’s current state of mind in The Touring Company by Shirley Lim.
Examine the poet’s treatment of beauty in any of the two poems prescribed in the syllabus.Discuss the depiction of the traditional practice of religion and culture in any two short stories prescribed in the syllabus.
20201. Discuss how nature is used to illustrate fading love in Sonnet 73: That time
of year thou mayst in me behold by William Shakespeare.
2. Discuss how the negative effects of development are depicted through the
condition of the mansion in A Love of the Past by Stella Kon.
Discuss how memories are represented with close reference to any of the two poems prescribed in the syllabus.Discuss how life’s circumstances change individuals with close reference to any two short stories prescribed in the syllabus.

b) Get them from your direct seniors 

It's time to put your networking skill to practice here. Be sure to keep in touch with your seniors who have taken this subject. Some of them will keep the papers and are more than willing to share the relevant information with you and even give you extra notes and sample questions too! What are you waiting for? Grab this opportunity!

stpm literature english notes
Your seniors can be a great help when it comes to getting notes and sample questions.
Photo by Armin Rimoldi from Pexels

c) Receive direct guidance from an experienced English Literature tutor 

So you've gotten the past year papers and even some extra notes. What's next then?

You might find it a little challenging to put everything into perspective by yourself. It is a sign that you should get an English Literature tutor!

There are many advantages that you can enjoy from tutoring! Firstly, your tutor will organize your lessons according to the syllabus of your study and learning pace. Secondly, your tutor will monitor your progress throughout the semesters and give you constructive feedbacks and gradings through various sample exercises.

That being said, private tutoring is a blooming industry in Malaysia. With so many teachers offering their services these days, you may wonder which is the best platform look for one.

Our recommendation is none other than Superprof! Superprof is a educational platform that connects tutors and students for a personalised and flexible learning experience. You can opt for online or face to face tutoring depending on your desired subject and preferred mode of learning.

Rest assure that it takes a few simple steps to connect with an amazing English Literature tutor at Superprof!

  1. Head to the Superprof Malaysia homepage/ Google Superprof Malaysia
  2. Key in "English Literature" and enter your class location to find a tutor
  3. Adjust your maximum budget (hourly rate) and preferred response time
  4. Review the tutors' teaching experience, qualification, methodology, past reviews and hourly rate
  5. Start connecting with the tutor via your Student Pass and book your first lesson
  6. Begin your first lesson after discussing about your lessons arrangements

You can also learn more about the marking scheme of the STPM Literature in English paper here.

Which Blogs Can You Refer To For Studying Tips For STPM Literature in English?

As a 21st century student, you certainly cannot deny the significance of online learning due to the abundant resources that are available on the Internet. One of the most commonly used resources by students is blogs.

Here are 2 blogs that you can access to gain some information and insights for your STPM Literature in English paper. Some of them are written by former students who took this subject and also English Literature tutors.

a) Literature in English (Blogspot)

This blog is created by Jessy Wong, a former STPM student who took this subject in 2012. In her blog, she uploads notes on the subject syllabus, examination format, commonly asked questions and answers on the marking scheme for various literary components.

The author of the blog provides systematic analysis and simple explanations for the prescribed texts (poems, short stories, plays and novels) in separate blog posts. She even includes stanza by stanza analysis and critical appreciation for the given texts alongside relevant reading materials for the readers. This blog is a must-read for students who are taking this subject!

b) Guide My Essay M'sia

This site provides extensive information and guideline for the Malaysian syllabuses’ literature components which includes STPM level.

You can expect to read many discussions, articles, sample questions plus answers revolving the prescribed texts of the Form 6 Literature in English studies.

Some of the sample questions (with answers) are as follows:

  • Illustrate how nature is portrayed in any two poems.
  • Discuss the presence of gender discrimination in Malaysian society with reference to two stories you have studied.
  • Society can make or break a person. Discuss with reference to Ratnamuni by K S Maniam.
  • Compare and contrast two stories based on the language, parent-child relationship and the protagonist’s character.

By reading the above blogs, you can gain some insights and tips to score well for your Literature in English paper. 

What Are Some Websites That You Can Access To Get Relevant  Reading Materials For This Subject?

It is important to get all the necessary readings for each semester ready for your revision each semester. Fret not, most of the prescribed texts and reading recommendation for this subject can be found online.

Let's take a look at some websites where you can access them.

a) Reading Shakespeare by Keith Sagar (Plays)

You can read up the a list of critical essays by Keith Sagar (a renowned author) on the plays of William Shakespere through this site. The essays are free to download via the Word or PDF format. Among the essays that are listed include Twelfth Night , the play that will be tested in your 2nd semester. The essays offer a multi-dimensional interpretation and systematic analysis of the whole play.

essay stpm english literature
You can learn from many essays by renowned authors on various literary texts. Photo by Zen Chung from Pexels

b) PoemHunter.com (Poetry)

This website features the complete poems of some of the authors that are listed in the first semester of your studies. Some of the authors include:

  • William Wordsworth (The Solitary Reaper)
  • Emily Dickinson (A Bird Came Down)
  • Jenny Joseph (Warning)
  • Thomas Hardy (At Tea and I Look Into My Glass)
  • William Butler Yeats (When You are Old)
  • Seamus Heaney (Digging)
  • Adrienne Rich (Aunt Jennifer‘s Tigers)
  • E.E. Cummings( I Thank You God For Most This Amazing)

c) Project Gutenberg (Plays and Novels)

Project Gutenberg is a dream come true to get various e-books for free! As the website implies, it is a library of over 60,000 free eBooks! There is no fee or registration on this site so you can browse and download these e-books for free anytime and anywhere you want on any mobile devices with the usual browsers.

You can download the entire book of Pride and Prejudice here for your third semester. So, you better start bookmarking these amazing websites now to get your hand on these resources!

Also, don't forget to read this article to know the latest examination format for your STPM Literature in English paper.

“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” -C.S.Lewis

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