After A Decade Of Being An Express Class/PTS Student

It’s been 10 years!

10 years since the government experimentally implemented a compulsory examination for 9 year old students nationwide. It was called Penilaian Tahap Satu(First Grade’s Assessment). Doesn’t make sense to me, should be called Tahap Tiga, since we were in standard three.

Born in 1987, I was one of the many pioneer students who sat for the examinations somewhere in September 1996. The examination’s purpose was to assess a student to see if he or she was fit to skip a grade and proceed to standard 5 instead of standard 4.

When all the other kids were outside playing in the playgrounds or sitting at home playing masak-masak or climbing into abandoned homes to burn dried leaves, I went for tuition to PREPARE for my Penilaian Tahap Satu examinations.

I remember I was so excited that I was finally attending tuition. Oh, I’ve heard so much about tuition! I finally get to go for something called tuition! I bought nice exercise books for 20 cents from my school bookshop and anticipated the ride to Bandar Sunway every Tuesday evening.

My teacher taught me IQ questions and simple essays.
The types of questions asked in the PTS MCQ examinations were such as:-

1) Spot the odd one out:

A) Banana
B) Coconut
C) Equator
D) Apple

….

Honestly,majority of the nine year olds must’ve not given a shit about the examinations or else that would not have been a single standard 4 student in Malaysia circa 1997.

The essays were ALWAYS about Berkelah Di Tepi Pantai(Picnicking by the beach). The difficult ones were about being Sebatang Pen(A Pen).

I was actually nervous about sitting for the examination and puked out mushrooms during my grand aunty’s birthday celebrations at a restaurant two days before the examinations. I even had diarrhoea because I was so afraid to face the examinations.

The format of the paper was 50 Multiple IQ choice questions and an essay!(Berkelah Di Tepi Pantai came out! Yay!).

So, duh, I passed the examinations.

My class teacher called me out of computer class one day.

“Uh oh,” I thought. Maybe she wanted to scold me about playing Mario Brothers on the school computer… but everybody’s playing it too!

I went up to my class teacher who was leaning against the balcony.

“Pei Shan, you’re the only one from the class who passed the PTS examinations.”

“Huh?”

“You’re going to standard 5!”

“Oh. okay. Thank you!” I was shivering with excitement. I always tremble when I am extremely happy. Don’t know why…some physiological effect, perhaps. Body more receptive to cold..?

All the 33 students of SRSS19 Subang Jaya were called to the principal’s office to be given a pep talk/to be congratulated. The stupid assistant principal scolded me, “Pei Shan! I said tallest stand behind!!!”

“…um, I’m the only one from my class.” I mumbled.

But anyway, yeah, my parents were overjoyed, my partially deaf grandfather who was still alive back then was really supportive of me to take up the PTS offer, relatives far and wide knew… etc. (my paternal grandmother is not called Astro for nothing).

I was having second thoughts because I didn’t want to leave my friends! All my classmates asked me not to leave and chided me about being action baby lotion michael jackson now that I’m skipping standard 4.

I was even supposed to go to the top class in standard 4. Oh what fun~~.

The first day of standard 5 was pretty awkward. Who were all these tall boys and girls?? They look so… scary and action baby lotion michael jackson. It was hell to stay back after class to attempt standard 4 work and go home to do standard 5 work.

I remember crying about having to draw the South East Asia maps. (just the shape of it lah).

I remember calling my father on the phone and crying, “I don’t know WHYYY I must learn how to count the area of a leaf!! I DON’T KNOW HOW!!!!”

I remember crying to my tuition teacher, “HOW ?! TOMORROW EXAM ALREADY!! I cannot remember all the states of Malaysia’s flags and their meanings!!”

I ended up getting number 2 in class and number 6(i cried.). Which is pretty silly actually, since it’s such an achievement already to be better than the normal standard 5s. Some of you who are reading might know Jade Ho(who was from SMK Seafield and is still very beautiful, smart and popular. But the keyword here is smart!)… I got number 2 she got number 3. Nyahahahaha.

From standard 5 to form1, PTS students were treated like outcast by the normal kids. In secondary school, a class was set aside for the PTS students. The other normal kids would usually say, “Oh, right. Aiyer, PTS.”

The things they used to call us were like Pencuci Tandas Sekolah. or Pityass. ;

It’s like our mentality was deemed lower than theirs. For lack of better word, they hated us. Because we were childish and too smart for our own good.

Damn funny though because they loved calling PTS kids, “Small kid”. My dear best friend Melody Song Faye-Lynn would not allow me to touch her Girlfriend/Bliss/Seventeen/Cleo magazines because I was a “small kid” and should not be allowed to indulge in reading material with sexual contents.

After form1, the PTS kids proceeded to form2 along with the other normal students and we mixed well and found our own cliques. Puberty kicked in for most of us and soon you couldn’t differentiate who was a PTS and who was not.

Previously it was very obvious. The PTS kids were SMALL in size. I was one of the unfortunate extremes lah. I’ve been tall most of my life.

The so called childish mentality became less and less obvious due to peer influence. (and of course, growing up helped alot too!)

Soon the PTS students camouflaged with the normal students. It was always so fun to see the surprised look on my form4 classmates’ faces when they found out that I was a PTS.

Sitting around with an addmaths book in my hands, I looked around the class. Cliques were sitted around gossiping and trying to study prior to the SPM examinations. It was the last week of form5. I saw the fat little boy now mixing with the ‘cool gang’ from primary school….and they are no longer little and fat and ‘cool’, but lean boys with low pants and spiky hair. (The standard look for any boys in the Malaysian education system with half a brain to fit in).

I looked at the people surrounding me. ALL of them were older than me by a year.

The PTS students have been distributed evenly amidst the high school crowd.

As a result, I have NO best friends from secondary school who are of the same age as me. I looked at the students who were in the year below me as my juniors and felt that they were younger than me. One of them even confided to me before that he felt I was older than him even though I’m his age, but a senior.

Sometimes I even felt that I was 14/15/16..and thought that I was 15/16/17.

But NOW? I feel that the 1986 kids in my class are like.. well, the young ones. The 1985 people are like, the normal age for my course. And of course we have the 1984 and the 1983 and the 1982 whom I feel inferior to. There is that “senior” feeling somewhat. Even though I’m the youngest one in the class, I hardly feel like I’m the youngest. The entire class seems to be the same age.

Which leads me to my conclusion: No matter how old your peers are, peer influence will occur, and the mentalities will be in tuned.

Sorry for babbling for so long as I get carried away sometimes when reminiscing.

I don’t see why the government decided to scrap the examinations. The last batch of PTS will be 15 year old this year. After 4 years of PTS examinations, the government thought that it brought more disadvantages than advantages to those who managed to skip standard 4.

As far as I know, most of the PTS kids who managed to get through are doing really well for themselves. I’m not blowing my own horn, because I’m nothing compared to the really outstanding ones. And most of the PTS kids went on to become best students.

Alot of people think PTS kids are extremely smart. Yes, the extremely smart ones are sometimes PTS kids. But there are also average students who are PTS ie. myself. And there are crazy students who are PTS kids who had to repeat form5 because he couldn’t give two fucks about his SPM examinations. (and did silly things like standing on his chair and singing metalicca songs during the SPM trials, taking a chair and threatening to hit the teacher etc)

What I’m trying to say is that getting to skip standard 4 was only tough in the first couple of years. I don’t know why the government took this opportunity away from the 90’s babies.

We’re still here. Surviving. And it’s always nice to find out that a new acquaintance is a PTS. 🙂

I wonder if the government ever wondered whatever happened to the …19,000(or something like that) who got pass the examinations in 1996.