The S.T.P.M Exam (Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia) in the sixties was known as the H.S.C (Higher School Certificate) exam in my days. Cambridge University conducted the exam then.
During my Form 5 years, I was not selected by the school authorities for the above exam. Economic reason probably barred my selection. H.S.C classes were conducted by both the Victoria Institution and the Methodist Boys School in Kuala Lumpur.
As I never attended classes, I therefore became a private candidate, studying by myself. Self study needed lots of sacrifice, perseverance and discipline. Not to mention “finance”. Especially if one were to fail it over and over again.
My encounter with the H.S.C exam started way back in 1968. My H.S.C days went on for many years. After numerous and frustrating years to secure a certificate, I finally succeeded.
At times, the temptation to give it all up was there. But the “never say die attitude” in me just refused to surrender. For my teachers have often said to me, “if you try and try again, you will eventually succeed”.
So I’m writing this article hoping it might spur my nieces and nephews on. Even if one person out there were to be encouraged by this article, I would have succeeded in my mission.
1966 to 1976 were my H.S.C days. My O.S certificate (Oversea School certificate) was in 1962. It was to be over 20 years before Form 5 before I saw the university gates.
To make this even more difficult, I initially offered English Literature (Shakespeare, Keats and Woodsworth) as one of the papers. My results were all miserable Nines.
Pondering over things carefully, I had no other choice by offer Sastera Melayu or Malay Literature doing Hang Tuah, Sastera Baru and Lama instead.
Anyone who thinks English Literature is difficult, you have not seen the likes of Hang Tuah yet. If one can master, Hang Tuah, anything else in life would then seem easy.
Hang Tuah text itself is over 600 pages. Hundreds of characters and incidents will easily turn one off. Only Subsidiary passes, not Principal came my way in the beginning. It took 3 – 4 solid years before achieving good results.
Few non Malay opted to offer B. Sastera in H.S.C Exams. The reasons was obvious. Any success will therefore be sweet. To me, it most probably was the reason behind my being selected for the U.S.M (University Sains Malaysia) offer campus course later in 1977.