Well, do not let the title fools you. This is NOT a term paper; this is normal blog post, but is written in such a way that it depicts the EAP term paper format. To insinuate (sindir in Malay), is the best word to describe the purpose of this post being written.
Insinuating is the common things for us the ‘Southern’ people (Malacca and Johore natives) do when we want to give someone a ‘warning’ or reminder. It does not mean to insult, but to remind.
Do not stop, read on. I hope no one from CELPAD will sue me for defamation. It is a reality, most of my friends suffer, and I feel obligated to voice out what we feel and hopefully the relevant authorities will muhasabah (do self-evaluation) and see the real thing, of course from students’ perspective.
English for Academic Purposes, or simply EAP, is a compulsory English language course that all students of International Islamic University Malaysia must take before graduating. EAP is focusing on equipping students with research and writing dissertation-equivalent term paper skills that might be useful for them in the future career development.
However, there is issue of lack of time to answer the final examination questions that greatly affect the quality of the answers as well as the student performance and motivation. This blog post will try to explain in detail why this issue happened and the reasons why the final examination duration has to be added for the convenience of the students.
The purpose of this blog post being created is not to insult anyone, but to provide an insight to the relevant authorities (well, those who eat chilies will feel the hot!) and for the readers to think and evaluate the situation.
Narrative: 9 November 2009
Monday morning. It was a fine, calm day. I headed to Main Hall, CAC with my sidekicks, Br. Abdul Wahab for EAP final examination paper. Last night we crammed our heads with all the APA thingy and the four citations rules, and now all the facts were stuck firmly inside our heads. From what we heard from our lecturer, Sir Azman Abu Talib, we would have to write a summary and argumentative essay in the final exam.
Well, theoretically, writing a summary and an essay were very simple thing. All the points and references were thrown in and what we need to do was to extract the points and played around with the citations. We met Sir during our way to enter the hall, and he wished both of us best of luck. “Do not worries too much, just do it,” Sir Azman said to us before disappearing in the crowd of students.
When your own lecturer gave his wish during the critical time, you automatically will feel motivated. Abdul Wahab and I smiled and our motivation level dramatically increased. But would it last long?
The hall was filled with EAP students.
I took my seat, and the table on my right-hand side was Che Fatihah. She smiled when I looked at her. There was an air of confidence at her face (?) mixed with stressful expression. I understood, almost all of us had similar feeling. This subject was a killer. I filled in the required particulars on the front page of the answer booklet. The clock was ticking, approaching 9 o’clock. I look at the front page of the question paper, guessing what were inside.
“You may begin writing now.”
I opened the question paper, looking at the first article. Scanning through it once, and tried to capture the gist and theme. It was not easy, but bearable. I jotted down all the important points and moved on to the next article. Flipping the page, I scanned the second article. Then I stuck, I did not get the idea neither the points. What was the author tried to explain actually? I read the title, and read again, in a slow, detailed mode. I passed my eyes around, and saw most of the students did not even began writing! All eyes were glued on the articles.
This was not a good sign, I told myself. My motivation level began to drop. I started thinking on ‘Plan B’.
Thirty minutes passed, and I just finished analyzing two articles. Two more articles! I skipped the articles and read the questions again. The summary part required us to use the first articles, whereas for the argumentative essay part, all the articles must be utilized. I changed my strategy, now I targeted to first complete the summary part. I ‘activated’ my trustful Pilot G2 writing device (well, a pen) and began writing the summary. It was shuddering at first, but I got the flow and continued with my writing. Time was running, and no room for errors.
Ditto. I completed the summary part. Quickly I looked at the ticking clock. Oh my God, it was 10:25 a.m.! I had another 30 minutes to complete the essay part. My mind began to feel the pressure. I sneaked my eyes around; all students were in very, very serious gestures, with the hand were writing words in a high-speed mode! It was very critical for us.
I immediately gone through the remaining articles and organized all the key points. Then I started writing the essay. Gradually my writing speed increased as the clock approaching 11 o’clock. I churned out stream of phrases in very short intervals. As far as I know, this was the first time I ‘over-clock’ myself. Writing continued.
“15 minutes left, no one is allowed to leave this hall,” announced the lecturer.
Funny, did anyone dare to go out now? The atmosphere was full with stress. My speed was now in HSDPA mode, no longer GPRS, EDGE or 3G. Lightning speed ‘scribbling’ the paper. It was 10:50 a.m. and I just completed my counter-argument. Everyone was writing, and writing, and writing. We had no time to look around, the essay need to be finished!
“Bengong!” I cursed (inside my heart, of course) when I saw the clock was 10:55 a.m. (well, I do curse when I am in a very, very compromising and complicated situation). My conclusion part was halfway done. I increased my pace, and my hand was aching. Finally, I completed my essay, but I had only a minute to check the sentence structure and grammar! My eyes ran fast along the sentences. Uh, my handwriting, what the…!
“Time is up. Stop writing now!” there was the killing announcement.
All of us were forced to ‘surrender’ our pen. Hey, I had not checked my essay yet! Dissatisfaction was in everyone faces, including me. The hall now was full with sounds, sounds of discontentedness. I looked at Che Fatihah and her face was very serious. Br. Hafidz, who sat behind me, tapped my shoulder and asked about the exam.
Well, common answers were passed to him. Susah (difficult), tak cukup masa (not enough time), etc. etc. We exited the hall with gloomy heart, although our faces were smiling. Now let Allah s.w.t. do the calculation (read: biar takdir menentukan).
Based on the narrative above, I (as well as other students) strongly agree that EAP final examination ‘duration’ should be extended because the supplied articles are very difficult to comprehend (in a short time); it blocks our creativity and jammed our minds (due to rushing); and we are not robots (that can be set to complete the work with perfect score in the given time).