Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Recommended Books for STPM First Term

I'm sure many of you are curious about which of the books out there is the best for revision?

Well, I have gone through the first semester and used several books, so I have recommendations for you if you are spoilt by choices. (No, I don't buy all books, I borrow some from the libraries)

I'm using more books for second semester, so by the end of this semester I'll recommend some books for the second term.

But sadly I can only recommend science subjects..anyway, here goes:


If you want the best notes ---> Longman (by Goay TC, Wong YH and Suraini Basir). Pelangi is good as well but not as good as Longman.

If you want many exercise --->; Pelangi (by Wang HK, Goh XH and Mohammed bin Hashim). There are plenty of objective questions and subjective questions in it. Longman and Oxford contain plenty of exercise too but not as many as Pelangi.

Personally I would prefer Pelangi over Oxford and Longman, because the notes are not too lengthy and there are enough exercise for you to complete for the examination.

So I would recommend Pelangi.

*It is widely believed that the one published by Ilmu Bakti is the best because one of the authors work in MPM, or so they say. I personally do not think that makes the book better. Anyway, Pelangi is already good enough.


Before you select your choice, you should realise that both Oxford and Pelangi Physics are published by the same author - Poh LY. Therefore, it would be unnecessary to buy both especially since the notes do not vary much and the exercises are mostly similar.

Well, I didn't use Longman for reference, but I did the exercise in it. If you're taking Physics, do remember these two authors - Lam CS and Lim SK. Their books are of very high quality and the questions are very very challenging. Therefore, if you want to try challenging questions, go for Longman. If you can solve all the questions without difficulties, you're ready for STPM!

I didn't read the notes, so I can't really comment on it.

Pelangi and Oxford have decent notes and scant examples. The notes are short and lack detailed explanation, but if you're hardworking and willing to twist your mind, the notes should be enough for you as you can interpret them yourself.

Since both are published by the same author, and since I've used both, I can tell you that the notes are mostly similar. Oxford lacks exercise. Pelangi has more but the problem with Pelangi is that the answers given are not complete. Some only show the final answers but never show the steps, so if you do not know how to solve a question, you're doomed. Whereas for Oxford all answers are given detailed explanation. Both books contain quite a lot of overlapping questions so please, save your money and don't buy both.

So Personally, I would highly recommend Longman. Longman's the best, Pelangi comes in second and Oxford comes in third.


For the first semester of Chemistry, you'll need a very good book because Physical Chemistry can be very abstract and the past year questions (or actual STPM questions) are quite tough.

Oxford, published by Tan YT, Loh WL, Lim MH and Ho SC probably has the best notes. The notes in it are very good and detailed but, like all Oxford books, it lacks exercise.

Longman is a bit unnecessarily long but very,very detailed, and both Longman and Pelangi contain a lot of exercise for you to do.

Personally I would recommend Longman. Oxford isn't a bad choice either. If you really can't decide which to buy - go for Longman.

*If you want the best notes, go for Pelangi Chemistry for the terminal system published by Loh YL and N. S . The notes are very very long but very detailed and the explanations are very good. Pelangi has terminated publications for the terminal systems, and the new books by Pelangi for Chemistry are written by different author: Peter Yip. So try searching for the books in libraries, highly recommended.


You're lucky you're not the first batch. Maths T has the most changes after they changed the syllabus and many of them are transferred from the old Further Maths.T. Because the new topics are tough and plenty, all books are published in a haste and there are either low quality notes or out of syllabus topics in all the books. And ergo, we, as the first batch, suffered from learning the wrong things and had no reliable reference.

Anyway, if you want good notes, go for Pelangi or Longman. They give quite detailed explanations but some of them are unnecessarily long-winded. Still, it's better than nothing. Oxford contains very vague explanation, a lot of the examples are wrong, and there are many out of syllabus topics like locus of complex numbers and distances between vectors.

If you want exceedingly challenging exercise, undoubtedly Oxford is the best. Some of the Oxford's exercise is beyond STPM standard and on par with university level. But do note that Pelangi and Longman too have great exercise. They are tough too, but not as tough as Oxford's. If you can complete Oxford's exercise, you should be ready for STPM. But personally I think Pelangi and Longman would be suffice if you think your Mathematics isn't very strong.

But there are a few problems: Oxford, like I have mentioned, contains too many out of syllabus topics like Gauss-Jordan Elimination Method (whereas Gaussian Elimination, which is in the syllabus, is not included), Locus in Argand Diagram, and Distances between vectors. Pelangi contains misleading notes such as wrongly teach Gauss-Jordan as Gaussian. Longman does not give answers for curve sketching.

Personally, because all three books are bad in some ways, to compensate them, I used both Pelangi and Oxford. But if I were to choose only one in the three, I'll go for Oxford for the exercise.

*Oxford has updated the first term book. Now with much more appetising front page and the topics which aren't in the syllabus have been removed, and Gaussian Elimination has been added in. So if you were to buy this book, find the version which has "Algebra and Geometry" and a huge "updated version" printed on the front page.


MUET stands for Malaysian University English Test, and it is mandatory for you to sit for it if you study form 6. Contrary to what most people believe, MUET is not an easy exam, unless you speak English as a first language, are extremely functional in the language, and have been using it for your whole life. Even if you have one of the above, you're still likely to face difficulties scoring it.

MUET is a completely different exam from SPM/1119. There are four components in MUET: listening, speaking, reading and writing, and most of my friends, including me, found writing's the most challenging. There are two tasks to be completed, and the marking scheme oddly requires an extremely profound maturity most 18/19 years old have not attained and your language must be strong enough to relate the information given and elaborate on your points maturely and convincingly. Writing it like how you wrote for SPM is going to give you marks on points, but not task fulfilment.

Listening and speaking require repetitive training, while reading requires lots of exercise. Because MUET is a language test, there's no best reference books because it depends on your proficiency in the language. Contrary to the other subjects, this exam requires some alive and huge twisting and it allows your imaginations to run wild. So, make sure you have grasped basic grammar. Avoid tossing bombastic words because bombastic words are mostly too flowery for a factual essay, and frankly bombastic words do not impress your readers.

If you need at least a reference book, I'll say you go for past year papers. The reading part is really tough because the passages are taken from articles mostly meant for first speakers, the points are pretty vague and catchy, and the answers are very close to each other and a high analytical skill is required if you wanna score the paper.

My personal experience tells me that none of the reference books out there published reading exercise that are on par with the actual exam. The book published by Wayne WH is way too easy so save your money. Go buy past year papers. That's my only advice.

If you're curious what band I got: I got a band 5, merely grazed the border by scoring 220.

*All reviews above are solely my opinions. 


  1. * puan Lim SK (Seang Kee)is my form teacher .Sir Lam CS is her husband. she is JU (jurulatih utama) for physics in JB :)))

  2. Wow! You must be proud to be taught by a great teacher!! ^^
    You are a Physics student?

  3. for sure . she really enthusiastic when teach us . yup , i am physics student :)) same like you, right ?

  4. Yup, I take all subjects listed in the post! =)
    Haha good luck for your second sem ya! ^^

  5. ahha .. thanks :)) all the best and good luck to you too ^^

  6. Good luck! next thursday....:(

  7. Whoa band 5 for MUET…fantastic @@
    I'm a form 6 student who just started studying recently
    Your recommendation had been very useful
    Thanks for the tip ;)

  8. Cn u recommend some books for sem 3?...for science subjects...

    1. Lol I can't la because I haven't even started studying lol. But I buy longman for all subjects for now.

    2. Longman hv more exercises?

    3. A lot of the exercise in Oxford are past year questions, and my teacher already gave us them. So I opt for Longman which gives exercise that aren't past year questions.
      But it does seem Longman too has more exercise. And more importantly, the notes are better IMO.

  9. Nw the book store hv sell the past year question for MUET or nt?.. really nid it for practice...

    1. Just wait. They should hit the market soon.

    2. Do u noe which reference book r gud?... Oxford?... or...

    3. MUET? Just go for past year papers.

    4. hw to find the past year papers? search them through internet?

    5. Buy them from Popular. Don't think online got.

  10. wow, good job~! I should refer to this earlier.. but it's ok now. Thanks!! If you don't mind, which school you're from?

    1. I'm from SMJK Jit Sin, Penang. Perhaps I should start using the past tense already haha

  11. Replies
    1. No, sorry. But you can get them online or from Popular.

  12. Brilliant suggestions for freshman year!

  13. Hi! Danny can i did u hv any facebook account that i can contact v u?

  14. sorry for typing wrongly.May i know did u hv any facebook acc to contact v u?

    1. I prefer to not establish any links between my blog and my facebook, thus I prefer to not post my facebook account here. However, you can reach me by my e-mail:

    2. Okay.Thanks

  15. Do you have any recommendations for biology? I am retaking biology sem 1 this year..

  16. Or if you could, can you direct me to some of your friends who experienced my situation before?? Tq!

  17. Wow band 5 for MUET O.O u must be vry gud in english hehe...and thx for ur advice too ^^


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