How to compare the Pre-University programs in Malaysia to choose the best Pre-U to study after SPM or O-Levels

A-Levels at Taylor's College Lakeside Campuse

Choosing the Best Pre-University Course in Malaysia that Fits you

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If you have just completed your SPM or O-Level exam and plan to study a bachelor’s degree overseas or in Malaysia, the pre-university programme is the next step for you. Students after SPM can obtain a pre-university qualification in Malaysia before continuing with their degree at private universities in Malaysia or globally.

There are many types of Pre-University programmes in Malaysia and students after SPM or O-Levels should find out more about various pre-university programmes are available at top private colleges & universities in Malaysia to see which Pre-University programme would be most suited for you.

Students who are not sure of what to study after SPM can contact EduSpiral Consultant Services to help guide you to choose the right course and university. There are many Pre-University progammes that you can go for after SPM or O-Levels so it can be confusing for you to choose the right one.

For more information contact 01111408838

Please fill up the Form below and I will WhatsApp you and provide you with sound advise on how to choose the best private university or college in Malaysia to study at. If you do not give your mobile number or full name as in IC, your query will not be answered. Our knowledgeable & experienced counsellor will send you a message on WhatsApp & provide assistance from there.

Choosing the Right Pre-University Programme to Study after SPM

Diploma in Accounting Graduate from Asia Pacific University (APU)
After I finished my SPM, I felt confused about my further study. Eduspiral, was so patient to answer all my questions and took us around for a campus tour.
Hui Ying, Diploma in Accounting Graduate from Asia Pacific University (APU)

Choosing the right Pre-University course after SPM or O-Levels can be confusing. There is no such thing as the “best” Pre-University or Pre-University programme. It is choosing the right Pre-U programme that fits you and your future goals.

 To choose the best Pre-University programme to study in Malaysia, you have to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you prefer exam-based or a mix of exams, assignments, course work, etc.? What is your learning style? Talk to the counselors at the private universities to find out in detail about the curriculum of the Pre-University programme to see which one best fits you.
  2. What you want to study for your degree? If you know that you want to go for Business studies, then there is no need to take the Foundation in Science. Students wanting to go for medicine, law, pharmacy or dentistry are recommended to take the A-Levels.
  3. What is your budget?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. If this is out of your budget, then you should consider taking the STPM and going for Public University. If you do not have the finances to study at private universities, then just go for STPM. 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.
  4. 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.
South Australian Matriculation (SAM) at Taylors College
I met EduSpiral a few years back & although I wanted to pursue his advise, my parents asked me to take STPM. I wasn’t satistied with my STPM results and finally, EduSpiral helped me to understand clearly that SAM was the best Pre-U that suit me.
Khalil, South Australian Matriculation (SAM) at Taylors College

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.

Intakes are also important for students who want to perform the best in the exams. Taking the March intake is generally a mistake as it is compressed in duration therefore making the student having to complete the syllabus in a short amount of time.

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.

The Best Pre-University Programmes in Malaysia

“Pre” means “before”, therefore, “Pre-University” means the course that you take before entering into a university degree programme. Most students will enter into the Pre-U after completing SPM. There are many different Pre-University programmes available in Malaysia.

Duration & Entry Requirements of Pre-University Programmes in Malaysia

The duration of the Pre-University Programme vary from programme to programme and takes about 8 months to 24 months to complete.

General Entry Requirements for all Pre-University Programmes: SPM or ‘O’ Level or equivalent – 5 credits including English and Mathematics/Science. Note that you will need to take into account the degree requirements for certain courses for SPM subjects. Medical & Pharmacy degree programmes will require at least 5Bs in SPM including the Science subjects while Engineering would require credits in Physics & Maths.

Subjects for Pre-University Programmes in Malaysia

The number of subjects for the Pre-University Programmes in Malaysia vary from 3 to 12. When choosing the subjects, it is important to take those that would be relevant to the intended degree course. It is important to choose the right combination of subjects which would be related to your degree programme.

For example, if you take up Arts subjects, you will not be able to continue into a Biotechnology degree course.

Acceptance & Recognition of the Pre-University Programmes in Malaysia

As long as the Pre-University Programme has been accredited by MQA, it will be accepted into any private university in Malaysia and the external Pre-University programmes such as A-Levels, AUSMAT, SAM, etc are accepted into universities overseas. The Internal Foundation Programmes of Private Universities in Malaysia are generally not accepted for entry by universities overseas therefore you have to take this into consideration when making your decision.

The Different Types of Pre-University Programmes for SPM/O-Level School Leavers

There are many different Pre-University programmes available in Malaysia. I will list some of the most popular ones.

  1. Foundation programmes by private universities in Malaysia
  2. Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) Malaysia
  3. Unified Examination Certificate (UEC)
  4. University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) UK A-Levels
  5. South Australian Matriculation (SAM) or SACE International
  6. American Degree Transfer Program (ADTP)
  7. Edexcel International Advanced Level UK A-Levels
  8. Western Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT)
  9. Monash University Foundation Year (MUFY)
  10. Matriculation Certificate, Ministry of Education Malaysia
  11. Canadian International Matriculation Programme (CIMP)

Comparison of the Various Top Pre-University Programs in Malaysia

Pre-U Programme Brief introduction Duration Assessment Subjects
Cambridge A-Levels           Awarded by Cambridge Advanced Level Certificate                                                                               The Cambridge GCE A Level is the general certificate of education qualification through examinations by the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE).The GCE A Level programme places emphasis on knowledge, understanding and reasoning abilities and skills. Duration is 18 months                Intakes in January, March and July                                                                                                Exams in June & November Assessed totally through external examinations. The examination papers are set and marked by examiners from the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE).  You can now sit for the A-Level examination in two phases:  at Advanced Subsidiary Level (AS) and at Advanced Two (A2) Level. Students unsatisfied with any of their individual units must re-sit the entire level, ie either AS or A2, and only the last score will automatically be taken into account. No. of Subjects: 3-4                                                SciencePhysics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Further Mathematics and Economics.Arts

Law, Mathematics, Economics, History, Accounting, English Literature and Business Studies.

LONDON EDEXCEL INTERNATIONAL – A-Levels          The Qualifications & Curriculum Authority (QCA) in the UK only recognises the London A-Levels. The London A-Levels is under the tight scrutiny of the QCA for all preparation, distribution and marking of the examination papers. For the London A-Levels, there is a centre in every region to facilitate communication with Edexcel UK, in addition to ensuring that the London A-Levels centres meet the standards set by the QCA. Duration is 18 months      Intakes in January, April and July         Exams in January & May/June 100% external examination. n Modular A-levels, each A-Level subject is subdivided into SIX UNITS where each unit is separately assessed in stages. In the Staged assessment it is divided into stages and in each stage the candidates get to select any number of the six units to be assessed in each examination session. An assessment is done every six months and the number of units selected for each examination session is entirely up to the candidate. The best grades for all the 6 units will be added together for a full A-Level final grade. No. of Subjects: 3-4                                         MathematicsFurther MathematicsBiology





South Australian Matriculation                                                                Awarded by South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) SAM/SACEi offers  – Proven learning techniques tailored to university study- A balanced choice of subjects leading to a variety of university degree courses- A mixture of school assessments and external examinations that assess students fairly

– The flexibility for students to complete the program over an extended period

– An opportunity for students to increase their tertiary entrance rank by repeating subjects without penalty.

Duration is 9 months with intakes in January and March Balance of continuous internal assessment and a final external examination. Students are provided with a university aggregate score (out of 90 marks) and a tertiary entrance rank (TER), a percentile ranking that is recognised without modification by all tertiary selection agencies in Australia. Students must complete 5 subjects, including 1 subject from List 1 and at least 1 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. No. of Subjects – 6                                                    List 1 – Economics, English as Second Language Studies, English Studies, Legal StudiesList 2 – Accounting Studies, Biology, Chemistry, IT Studies, Mathematical Studies, Specialist Mathematics, Physics,Psychology
Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT)   Awarded by Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) The AUSMAT is the Year 12 curriculum of Western Australia. The Curriculum Council of Western Australia, on behalf of the Government of Western Australia, overseas the quality implementation of the curriculum. Duration is 10 months with Intakes in January & March with        Exam in November.

September intake is a 14-month course

50% internal continuous assessment(moderated by the Curriculum Council)and 50% external final examinations (TEE)

Provides opportunities to use multiple assessment techniques to help students progress – continuous assessment may include topic tests, quizzes, assignments, investigations, research and exams.

Flexibility of calculating a student’s score based on Best-4 or Best-5 subjects .

No. of Subjects – 5                                              Required to take English as an Additional Language (EAL/D) or English The remaining subjects must include one subject from each from List 1 and List 2:LIST 1 – German, English, Economics,  LIST 2 – Accounting and Finance, Biological SciencesChemistry, Computer Studies

Mathematics, Mathematics : Specialist Physics

Canadian International Matriculation Programme (CIMP) or International Canadian Pre-University (ICPU)                               Awarded by Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) Offered according to the requirements of the Ontario Ministry of Education, students to graduate with the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) In the CIMP, they focus on your development in the following areas:- Effective communication; using English as the language   for international communication- Independent learning skills; learn how to learn

– Effective transition from secondary to tertiary education

– Talent and leadership development

– Community outreach

Duration is 10 months.               Intakes in January, March and July                Exam in May & November Assessment will be 70% coursework and 30% final examinations. Coursework includes evaluations conducted throughout the programme; quizzes, assignments, projects and class tests. The final assessment will be in the form of an examination.In addition, to graduate, students must sit for anexternal literacy test administered in March, perform Ten (10) hours of recognised Community Involvement.  No. of Subjects – 6                                            Business, Computer Studies, Mathematics, Science, Social Sciences & English Courses.
Internal Foundation at Private Universities in Malaysia -Internal qualification  It is cheaper and easier than 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. Duration is 12 mths or 3 semesters with intakes in Jan, April, July, August or October depending on the university Assessments comprise coursework, class tests and examinations. Internally assessed by the private university. No. of Subjects – 12-15

Subjects depends on the type of Foundation

 American Degree Program (ADP)  -Direct entry into Year 1 of degree continue to Year 2 in Malaysia and then transfer to a university in the USA for the final 2 years- Holistic education Duration is 2 years in Malaysia and 2 years in the USA Assessment includes quizzes, assignments, projects and class tests. Students will take general studies for the first 2 years before specializing in their major for the final 2 years


15 thoughts on “How to compare the Pre-University programs in Malaysia to choose the best Pre-U to study after SPM or O-Levels

  1. hello , I’ve made research about entry requirements for foundation in engineering at curtin university sarawak, what does it mean by “5 Credits including English and Mathematics and passes in Add. Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry” ? If I got D for chemistry , can I still apply for foundation in engineering there?

      1. I only have 2 credits for my science subjects which is physics and bio. can I still apply for foundation?

  2. Hello. I am 70% sure that I want to do engineering but I’m not too sure if I should go for CIMP/CPU, ADP, or Foundation in Engineering after SPM. Studying abroad or locally is not a big concern for me. I just want to know which program is (for the lack of better words) more worth it in the long run.

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