After SPM – Ultimate Guide on How to Choose the Best Course to Study in Malaysia
Written by EduSpiral Consultant Services. For more information contact 01111408838
With the SPM exam over, you have to make some important choices about your future education. Many people are giving you a lot of advise and information and with so many choices out there, so which one should you choose?
Most great things begin with a plan. Your future career and studies should be no different. A plan will give you something to work towards. It’ll also help you make the most of the opportunities that come your way. It can be confusing to choose the right course after SPM. You should carefully think about what are the options available to you.
In this article, we will discuss about the diploma and various types of Pre-University programmes available in Malaysia for you to choose from to help you make the right choice.
You might also be interested to read:
- Choosing the Right Course After SPM or O-Levels Increases Your Chances of Getting a Good Job & Salary in Malaysia
- Study Options After SPM
- Best Diploma Courses in Malaysia at Top Colleges & Universities
- Entry Requirements for Foundation, Diploma & Degree Courses in Malaysia
- How to Choose the Best Private University or College in Malaysia that Fits Me?
- Study Courses that has High Job Demand in Malaysia
- Top 20 Courses to Study in Malaysia that has High Job Demand & Stable Salary
- Top 10 Best Courses to Study in Malaysia
- Malaysia’s 28 Top Jobs in Demand in Future with High Salaries
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After SPM Options – Diploma & Pre-University Programmes
Choosing the right Diploma or Pre-University course after SPM can be confusing as there are many out there for you to choose from. Choosing the right course depends on various factors such as your SPM results, budget, personality, learning style, education and capability to handle the course.
Students must ask, “Which is the Best Course that Fits me?” and not “Which is the Best Course?“. There is a big difference. If you just listen to everyone saying that this course is the best one without taking into account your own personality and needs, then you may have chosen the wrong one. It is choosing the right Pre-U programme that fits you and your future goals.
To choose the best Pre-University programme or Diploma course to study in Malaysia, you have to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my learning style?
- Do you prefer exam-based or a mix of exams, assignments, course work, etc.? What is your learning style? Each Pre-University Programme & Diploma has different learning styles from Exam-Based to a mix of coursework, assignments & exams.
- Understanding your learning style will enhance your ability to perform better in the course.
- Talk to the EduSpiral counselors to find out in detail about the curriculum of the Pre-University programme to see which one best fits you.
- What do you want to study for your degree course?
- If you know that you want to go for Business studies, then there is no need to take the Foundation in Science or A-Levels, you can go for the Foundation in Business or Diploma in Business Administration.
- Students after SPM who are not sure of what to study for degree may go for general Pre-University courses that have wider options such as Foundation in Science, Foundation in Arts, A-Levels or SACEi International.
- Additionally, students wanting to go for medicine, law, pharmacy or dentistryare recommended to take the A-Levels as it will prepare you well to handle the rigours of the degree programme.
- What is the Budget for my Studies?
- A Foundation programme will cost from RM10,000 to RM25,000 while a degree at a private university will cost from RM50,000-RM100,000 for a business course to RM130,000 for a Pharmacy course.
- Hence, if studying at a private university for Pharmacy costs RM130,000 and you are determined to study Pharmacy, then you should consider taking the STPM and going for Public University.
- However, note that STPM is extremely tough and takes 2 years of your time. You may not get the degree of your choice when entering into Public University.
- Or you can consider another course at a private university that would fit your budget.
- What’s my Educational Goals?
- Do you want to continue your studies in Malaysia or overseas? If you plan to go overseas, then go for the external Pre-University programme and choose based on which country you want to go to.
- If you plan to continue your degree course in Malaysia, you should just take the Foundation course as it is cheaper and generally easier than the external Pre-U.
- To study overseas will cost from RM150,000 to RM200,000 a year at least. So, if you do not have the finances to study overseas, there is no point to go for an external Pre-University Programme. A Foundation course at a top private university in Malaysia will be sufficient.
- Going overseas to study will give you the opportunity to stay there to work and apply for permanent residence. This could be one of your future goals and planning ahead increases your chances of achieving it.
- What’s my capability?
- Sometimes students choose the Pre-University programme for the wrong reasons. Students must research carefully the type of Pre-University and its assessment style.
- Some students don’t perform well in the Pre-University because the assessment of the Pre-University doesn’t fit them or their command of the English language is too weak to handle the written assignments.
- Just because a Pre-University is free, doesn’t mean that it would be the best or “less burden” to your parents. Taking the STPM may be free but it is a very tough exam. If you have 9As and you take the STPM, which is tougher to score, you may not be able to get 4As to apply for scholarships for degree.
- But if you take the Foundation, even if you have to pay a bit, but you score because it is very much easier than STPM, you will be able to apply for partial or even full scholarship for your degree.
Understanding What the Diploma & Pre-University Programmes will Help You Choose the Right One
What is a Diploma Course?
Students who are sure of what they want to study can go for a Diploma course. If you are still not sure, then you should go for a Pre-University programme. The diploma generally is more practical while a degree course is more theoretical and academic.
After completing your diploma, you can go find a job or continue on to Year 2 of the degree if your college or university offers the degree or you can transfer credits into another university. If you transfer to another university, you may not be able to get the full exemptions to enter into Year 2 of the degree.
- What is the Duration of the Diploma?
- 24 – 30 months
- How is the Diploma Assessed?
- Students will take 25-35 subjects in the diploma.
- It is a mix of Assignments, Coursework, and written examination percentage.
- The diploma programme provides students with relevant, interesting, stimulating and practical experience via a variety of teaching and practical techniques.
- Students will experience different dynamic learning processes are employed in the delivery of a diploma programme, such as lectures, tutorials, computer lab work, team-based project, real life system development, presentations, independent projects supervised by supervisors from university lecturers or industry experts.
- The learning is very much practical oriented.
- How much does the Diploma Cost?
- Depending on the college or university, the Diploma will cost between RM15,000 to RM50,000 total.
- Why Should you Study Diploma?
- The Diploma is technically not a pre-university programme; it is one level below undergraduate degree
- Needs at least 3 credits in SPM to enter the Diploma programme
- Students may apply for the PTPN Loan for Diploma courses. There is no PTPN Loan for Foundation & External Pre-University programmes
- You will study the subjects that you are interested in. The subjects are specific to your field of interest.
- The course is more practical with mixed assessment.
- Upon completion of the Diploma, you may choose to start work or continue on to Year 2 of the related degree.
What is a Foundation Course?
Many private higher educational institutions in Malaysia, have developed their own internal university foundation programmes. These courses are accredited by the Malaysia Qualification Agency (MQA)and recognised by the respective foreign partner universities.
Unlike the external qualifications which focus on more general Science and Art-based subjects, the internal qualifications provide specialisation in precise areas of study such as the fields of business, computer & IT, and engineering, and hence, cater to the specific needs of different students.
Students who know what they want to study can just go for the Foundation at the university offering the degree of interest. It is cheaper, easier and a faster way to continue to completing the degree.
- What is the Duration of the Foundation Course?
- Students after SPM will take the Foundation Programmes at top private universities in Malaysia for 12 months.
- Students will take about 12-15 subjects in 3 semesters (1 year) for the Foundation programme.
- The Foundation Programmes are 1 year and is cheaper compared to the external Pre-University Programmes.
- How is the Foundation Course Assessed?
- Students will take various subjects depending on the type of Foundation Programme. Assessment is about 50% exam and 50% coursework and assignments.
- In addition, assessment for Foundation programmes in Malaysia will vary from university to university. It will contain a mix of coursework, assignments, quizzes and exams.
- The coursework could cover different assessment tasks such as projects, assignments, laboratory work, presentations, tests, and others as assigned throughout each semester.
- The final examination is conducted at the end of each semester. The assessments are subject to quality assurance procedures to maintain high standards and ensuring fair assessment.
- How much does a Foundation Course Cost?
- A Foundation programme cost depends on the private university and ranges from RM6000 to RM25,000 total for 1 year.
- Why Should you Study a Foundation Course?
- The Foundation Programmes are 1 year and is cheaper compared to the external Pre-University Programmes.
- Students intending to continue on in the particular university can choose to go for their internal Foundation course.
- Its accredited by MQA & can transfer to other private universities in Malaysia for the relevant degree.
- What are the Different Types of Foundation Courses in Malaysia?
- Unlike the external pre-university programmes in Malaysia which focus on more general Science and Art-based subjects, the Foundation programmes for private universities provide specialisation in specific areas of study such as business, computer & IT, or engineering, and hence, cater to the specific needs of different students.
- Below is a list of the different types of Foundation Programmes in Malaysia:
What is A-Levels?
A-Levels is a UK-based programme that’s popular in Malaysia. The A-Level programme places emphasis on knowledge, understanding and reasoning abilities and skills. Students can choose to take 2 to 4 subjects from a wide range of subjects depending on their degree path.
- What is the Duration of the A-Levels Course?
- 12 – 18 months
- Intakes in January, March and July.
- How is the A-Levels Course Assessed?
- It is 100% external examination-based.
- Both the ‘A2’ and ‘AS’ level examination sessions occur twice a year, in June and November, with some subjects only available in June or November.
- The A-level syllabuses are divided into Advanced Subsidiary (AS) and Advanced Two (A2) levels, each contributing 50% towards the final A-Level grade.
- AS Level is the first half of the course and forms the foundation of A-Level. A2 Level is the second part of the syllabus and covers more difficult topics.
- How much does the A-Levels Course Cost?
- RM20,000 – RM40,000
- Why Should you Study A-Levels?
- Students who have good results in SPM/O-Levels and prefer exam-oriented assessment rather than coursework or assignments, should go for the A-Levels.
- Commonly considered the ‘Gold Standard’ of Pre-U programmes and is globally accepted (UK, US, Singapore, Australia etc.)
- Accepted by universities worldwide
- General subjects therefore the choices to enter degree programmes are wide depending on your subject combination
What is the Australian Matriculation?
TheSouth Australian Matriculation (SAM) or SACE International is an internationally-recognised Australian pre-university matriculation programme which is set and administered by the Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia (SSABSA).
SAM or SACEi has been offered to students outside of Australia since 1984 and is accepted by many renowned universities in Australia, the UK, the US, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, India, and private universities in Malaysia as an admission criterion into their undergraduate programmes.
- What is the Duration of the Australian Matriculation Course?
- 7 – 18 months.
- Typically, you would start the course in January or March and take your exams in November.
- The June intake is 18 months with the exams in November the following year.
- How is the Australian Matriculation Course Assessed?
- SAM is a 10-month matriculation programme with a unique assessment pattern – 50% of the final mark is derived from the final public examination (usually in the month of October/November) while the remaining 50% is awarded internally through continuous assessment of coursework and tests. It offers students the flexibility to complete the programme over an extended period although the normal duration of study is one year.
- Students taking the SAM programme must complete five subjects, including one subject from List 1 and at least one subject from List 2. In addition, students must achieve a satisfactory score (10/20 or better) in either English as Second Language Studies, or English Studies. Students can also repeat subjects without a penalty.
- The SAM programme gives students an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR, which is a percentile ranking that is utilised as a selection criterion of students for bachelor’s degree courses by universities in Australia and different parts of the world.
- South Australian Matriculation (SAM) or SACE International: 70% coursework (e.g. tests, research papers, assignments) and 30% exams
- AUSMAT: 50% coursework (e.g. tests, research papers, assignments) and 50% exams
- How much does the Australian Matriculation Course Cost?
- RM21,000 – RM40,000
- Why Should you Study Australian Matriculation?
- Recognised for entry by most countries overseas
- Shorter duration compared to the A-Levels and STPM
- Continuous assessment helps to accumulate marks towards your final grade, instead of depending on a particular exam or coursework
- Students who have a strong command of the English language & like assignment based courses would do well in the Australian Matriculation
- Things to Consider
- There are some slight differences between the two programmes and it is important for students to research and compare to see which on fits them.
- I would not advise students to go for the March intake as it is an intensive programme which is shorter in duration where the exam is in November.
- Many students with good SPM results have not done well after taking the March intake for AUSMAT.
What is American Degree Transfer Programme (ADTP)?
The USA has one of the world’s finest education systems, with excellent programs across all disciplines. The USA higher education system has a lot to offer Malaysian students. Students interested to save money and study the first part of their degree program in Malaysia before continuing on to the USA for the final part can go for the American Degree Transfer Program or ADTP.
The American Degree Transfer Programme (ADTP) structure is flexible, broad and all-rounded, giving equal emphasis on building a strong theoretical base along with importance on practical, employment-related skills.
Furthermore, the highest ranking universities in the world are in the USA. Universities in the USA pride themselves on being at the forefront of technology, research and techniques, and in making the best possible equipment and resources available to their students.
The American undergraduate degree provides an education that emphasizes problem-solving, critical thinking and decision-making skills. American education provides a flexible, holistic and well-rounded approach to education. It produces graduates with strong critical and analytical thinking skills with the ability to put knowledge into action.
- What is the Duration of the American Degree Transfer Programme (ADTP)?
- The ADTP duration is 24 months although students can also transfer after 12 months.
- The American education system does not require Pre-University to enter into the degree programme after SPM or O-Levels.
- After SPM or O-Levels, students will enter into the American Degree Programme for 2 years before transferring their credits to a university of their choice in the USA for the final 2 years.
- Students after SPM or O-Levels will enter directly into Year 1 of the degree program for a total of 4 years.
- The American Degree system is
- Year 1 (Freshman) – American Degree Transfer Programme (ADTP) in Malaysia
- Year 2 (Sophomore) – American Degree Transfer Programme (ADTP) in Malaysia
- Year 3 (Junior) – University in the USA
- Year 4 (Senior) – University in the USA
- How is the American Degree Transfer Programme (ADTP) Assessed?
- Students are assessed through exams, coursework, assignments, presentations, quizzes and research papers.
- The percentage of exams and assignments varies depending on the subject you are taking.
- Students will take about 40 subjects (110 – 140 credit hours) in total during their four years of studies, where 20 subjects (60 credit hours) are completed at ADP and the rest are completed in the USA.
- Students will normally take about 4-5 subjects each semester.
- Final results will be a single score, the Grade Point Average (GPA) on a 0.0 to 4.0 scale. The highest grade is an A, which equals 4.0 The final result is the CGPA (cumulative grade point average) which is also on a 0.0 to 4.0 scale, and is your GPA obtained from all subjects taken.
- How much does the American Degree Transfer Programme (ADTP) Cost?
- RM30,000 – RM60,000 for duration of 2 years of study in Malaysia.
- Cost of studying in the USA would range from RM150,000 to RM200,000 per year including cost of living.
- Why Should you Study American Degree Transfer Programme (ADTP)?
- The curriculum is broad based and flexible.
- Students are allowed to switch major if they decided to do so even after 2 years of studies.
- Students are required to take courses outside of their major (commonly known as the liberal arts education philosophy).
- Continuous learning and testing system (70% coursework, 30% final examination) where students are involved in projects, teamwork, presentation, extra- and co-curricular activities.
- The education is learning-driven instead of exam-driven. Students are groomed to be all rounded team players with strong critical thinking and communication skills.
- Students are expected to speak, ask, and challenge your instructors during discussions in / outside of class.
- Things to Consider
- You must be sure that you want to study in the USA because you cannot use the ADTP to enter into the degree programme at other private universities in Malaysia, UK or Australia.
What is Canadian Pre-University (CPU) or CIMP?
The Canadian Pre-University (CPU) or CIMP is the final year of the secondary school programme in Ontario, Canada. It is designed based on the course guidelines and standards of the Ministry of Education and Training of the Ontario Province.
- What is the Duration of the CIMP?
- CIMP is a 12-month course where intake occurs three times a year in January, March and July.
- The examination sessions occur twice a year, in May and November.
- How is the CIMP Assessed?
- Students take a total of six subjects which include one English subject, that is, either ENG4E or ENG4U. The other subjects are Business, Computer Studies.
- It is 70% coursework (e.g. tests, research papers, assignments) and 30% final exam.
- How much does the CIMP Cost?
- Between RM13,000 – RM35,000
- Why Should you Study CIMP?
- Focuses on interactive learning as opposed to only academic
- Progressive accumulation of marks towards your final grade instead of depending on one final exam or coursework
- Things to Consider
- March intakes are shortened and more intensive therefore I would not recommend for students to go for the March intake for CIMP.
- Public speaking and debate may not be suitable everyone (requirement for CPU)
- Very high entry requirements for competitive programmes like Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, etc. It is also not recognised for entry into certain programmes at universities.
- Students must do well consistently in all assessment types to obtain a high final grade
What is STPM?
Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) is Malaysia’s version of the UK’s GCE A-Levels and is a Pre-University course recognised for entry into public universities (IPTA) in Malaysia. The STPM is also accepted for entry into private universities in Malaysia and overseas universities. The STPM is acknowledged as one of the toughest exams in the world.
- What is the Duration of the STPM?
- 18 months (+6 months if you intend to apply to public universities)
- How is STPM Assessed?
- Students will go through a school-based assessment with a weighting of 20-40% of the final score and a centralised examination with a weighting of 60-80% of the final score (The weighting varies according to subjects).
- Nevertheless, School Based Assessment (SBA) cannot be repeated and repeaters are required to sit for an alternative written paper in place with SBA.
- The curriculum is divided into three parts based on topic areas. Each part will be taught and studied in either the first, second or third term.
- You will take the examinations at the end of each term (3 in total). One term is 6 months. Students who are not satisfied with their results for the first two terms can retake the examinations at the end of the third term.
- Students’ assessment will be carried out each term with the results being released at the end of each respective term. The overall STPM results will be based on the best combined results of the three terms.
- How much does STPM Cost?
- Less than RM1,000
- Why Should you Study STPM?
- A Pre-University course recognised for entry into public universities (IPTA) in Malaysia
- An affordable Pre-University programme
- Recognised for entry into universities worldwide
- With School Based Assessment, teaching and learning are integrated with assessment. Students are allowed to improve on their first term and second term results by retaking these term examinations at the end of the third term. Students who do not obtain satisfactory results for the third term may also re-sit it.
- Things to Consider
- If you had scored high is SPM, you are eligible for scholarships for Foundation programmes at top private universities. The Foundation programmes are easier and so if you score for Foundation, you can get more scholarships to cover part or all of your degree studies.
- Problem is if you take the STPM which is so much tougher than the Foundation course, although Form 6 is free, but if you don’t score in STPM, you have no scholarship for your degree studies and in the end have to pay all of the fees for your degree studies in private university.
- The STPM is extremely tough and if you do not do well, you would have wasted 2 years of your life and time is money. The earlier you graduate and join the work force, the more work experience you can gain and add this to your resume where it translates into higher salary. If you take a diploma at a private university in Malaysia, you would have finished it at the same time you would have taken to complete Form 6.
- You need a lot of discipline and good teachers in order to do well in the STPM. If you have alright results for your SPM, don’t expect a miracle in the STPM as it is 20 times tougher than the SPM.
- The STPM can be very challenging for students who are weak academically or who do not prepare themselves well
- Heavy weightage of exam-based assessment
- As soon as you enter Lower 6 you will have to hit the books because your first exam will be in December and you will have not much time to study and the teachers do no have enough time to cover the material as well. There is no rest as you will need to keep studying the exams every 6 months.
- To enter into most private universities, students must achieve at least a CGPA of 2.00 or at least 2 Principal Cs in the relevant subjects. A C- is not a principal and some universities do not accept the Pengajian Am as entry into the university.
- STPM requires you to take in too much information in 1.5 years. That in itself shows the inadequacies of a system which doesn’t give enough time for students to consume the information required. Furthermore, STPM needs a lot of study time in order to score well. If you are not ready to commit the time and effort, you should consider other options.
- From the time you enter Form 6 till the exam and getting into IPTA would be 2 years. If you had taken a diploma, you would have already completed it.
- English language not emphasized so you do not gain the all important language and communication skills needed to succeed in the workforce
- The government chooses the course and university (IPTA) for you. Therefore, after 2 years, you may not get to study what you want.
EduSpiral gets to know who you are so we can advise you how to choose the best course that fits you
EduSpiral Consultant Services has more than 10 years of experience in counseling students on choosing the right courses
- We review the student’s high school profile, all high school transcripts, projected courses, extracurricular activities, awards, hobbies, interests and outstanding talents.
- Then we discuss the factors that are most important to the student in identifying appropriate colleges & universities that would fit you
- We assist to develop priorities for university selection, including courses of study, location, size, extracurricular opportunities, and many other factors
- Ensure that the student’s interests and achievements are carefully matched with appropriate private colleges and universities in Malaysia