Malaysiakini Letter

SPM chemistry paper good but one error

Boo Soon Yew  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | I write once again with regards to the soon-to-be concluding SPM examination, this time the final subject for many which is Chemistry.

I must applaud the Examinations Board on a high-quality Paper 1 which tested students to the utmost; from basic knowledge to a good analysis of data plus a tinge of general knowledge to help in applications.

Let's not forget the equally challenging and gruelling calculation demands which appear in the last 10 questions.

One very interesting question of noteworthiness was a question that asked what a breathalyzer contained to test for alcohol. No one (not me at least) would have taught this to their students but it uses the application of simple Redox where an oxidizing agent is needed to react with ethanol by oxidizing it to ethanol acid.

Nevertheless, there is one error that needs to be addressed by the Examinations Board of the Ministry of Education and that is question seven which asked for the IUPAC name of the ester found in pineapples.

Rarely will one be taught to memorise the name of esters with their fruits; eg: oranges = octyl ethanoate or apples = methyl butanoate.

Thus a structural formula was given in this question for students to determine its name. But there is a flaw in this structure.

The answer if one were to Google search the "pineapple ester name" is ethyl butanoate.

Instead, the structural formula drawn shows the name propyl butanoate which is none of the four objective options which was in a way good as students themselves were able to detect the flaw.

Now with this scenario, again the ball is in your court, Examinations Board - what shall be the outcome of question seven?

It is a good question, it has an answer - but it is one not obtainable from the diagram given as it is flawed. What will be your decision?

May this be a challenge itself to the Examinations Board for the future to minimise such errors or faults in public exams and equally important, to be accountable for it.


The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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