Comparison Malaysia’s Best Pre-university Programmes to Study after SPM/O-Levels

Comparing the Best Pre-University Programmes in Malaysia to Help You Make the Right Choice

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Choosing the right Pre-University course can be confusing so I have come up with a chart to help you to compare the best pre-university programmes in Malaysia. There is not one best Pre-University course. The Pre-U courses have different types of assessments and you will need to choose one that fits your learning style.

In addition, you should know what you want to study for your degree and which country, this will also help you to choose which Pre-University course in Malaysia that would best suit you.

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 courselor will send you a message on WhatsApp & provide assistance from there.

A Comparison of Top Pre-University (Pre-U) Programmes 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 12 or 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 12 or 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


Further Maths








South Australian Matriculation (SAM) or SACE International                                                               Awarded by South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) SAM 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 10 – 18 months with intakes in January, April or August 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                                       • Accounting
• Biology
• Chemistry
• Economics
• English as an Additional
• Legal Studies
• Mathematical Methods
• Nutrition
• Physics
• Psychology
• Research Project B
• Specialist Mathematics
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 7-10 months with Intakes in January & March

Exam in November

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

How to Choose the Best Pre-University Course in Malaysia that Fits You

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

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.

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.

Studying 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 of the 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.

  • Foundation programmes by private universities in Malaysia – Duration is 12 months
  • Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) Malaysia – Duration is 18 months
  • Matriculation Certificate, Ministry of Education Malaysia – Duration is 12 months
  • University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) UK A-Levels – Duration is 12-18 months
  • Edexcel International Advanced Level UK A-Levels – Duration is 12-18 months
  • South Australian Matriculation (SAM) or SACE International – Duration is 10 months to 18 months depending on intake
  • Western Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT) Duration is 7 months to 10 months

Entry Requirements of Pre-University Programmes in Malaysia

General Entry Requirements for all Pre-University Programmes in Malaysia:

  • SPM or ‘O’ Level or equivalent – 5 credits. Additional requirements may include credits in English, Mathematics or Science depending on the Pre-University Programme or degree you intend to take.
  • Medical & Pharmacy degree programmes will require at least 5Bs in SPM including the Science subjects while Engineering would require credits in Physics & Maths.
  • Students must have passes in BM and Sejarah in SPM
  • Note that you will need to take into account the degree requirements for certain courses for SPM subjects.

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 the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (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

Below is a list of pre-university programmes offered by top universities & colleges in Malaysia:

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

Malaysian Private University Internal Foundation Programme

Our mum asked us to talk to EduSpiral as we did not know what to study. EduSpiral had helped our older sister before. He met us at Taylor’s, talked to us and then gave us a tour.
Gan twins, Foundation in Arts at Taylor’s University

Students after SPM or O-Levels can consider taking the Foundation Programmes at top private universities in Malaysia. The Foundation Programmes are 1 year and is cheaper compared to the external Pre-University Programmes.

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 businesscomputer 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.

Study Foundation at Top Private Universities in Malaysia

My mum contacted EduSpiral to help advise me on which course & university to choose as I was quite confused. He took us to visit the universities & helped guide me to make the right choice.
Bryan Yap, Foundation in Business at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

Malaysian private universities have been preparing students for study in top universities worldwide since the 1970s therefore they have the necessary experience to ensure quality for the Foundation programmes are adhered to.

Students after SPM or O-Levels should choose the foundation programme in Malaysia that best fits their career goals and needs. Students should choose Foundation programmes from prominent and established universities such as Heriot-Watt University Malaysia Asia Pacific University, Taylor’s University, Multimedia University (MMU), KDU University College Utropolis GlenmarieUCSI University, First City University CollegeHELP UniversityKDU University College Penang, others.

Students will take about 10-12 subjects in 3 semesters (1 year) for the Foundation programme at private universities in Malaysia.

If you are still not sure of what to study for your degree, the Foundation programme is a good choice and is shorter in duration than the STPM and less difficult.

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Entry Requirements: Min. 5 credits, inclusive of Maths and 2 pure Science subjects for Foundation in Science or Engineering. For IT, you must have a credit in Maths. Other courses just require 5 credits. For Medicine and Pharmacy, Min. 5B in Maths, Additional Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Physics but will vary from university to university.
  • Recognition: Mostly in Malaysia and some overseas. As long as the Foundation course is accredited by MQA, it will be accepted by another private university for entry into the relevant degree programme.
  • Cost: Generally cheaper than overseas Pre-University courses and A-Levels

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.

However, there are also general Foundation programmes such as Foundation in Arts and Foundation in Science offered by the private universities.

Foundation in Science programmes can lead to engineering, pharmacy, medicine, applied sciences, health sciences and other arts related degree programmes. The Foundation in Arts programme can lead to accounting, business, computing, architecture, design, and other arts related courses. After completing the Foundation in Science students have the choice to choose sciences or arts related degree programmes.

The Foundation programmes at HELP University, Taylor’s University and UCSI University are recognised by some top universities in Australia, UK and New Zealand for entry into their degree programmes. Asia Pacific University is the only private university in Malaysia where all students will study the same subjects for the first semester and then when they figure out which course suits them, they choose the stream for their second and final semester.

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.

List of the Different Types of Foundation Programmes in Malaysia

  1. Foundation in Science
  2. Foundation in Arts
  3. Foundation in Business Administration or Management
  4. Foundation in Communication & Media Studies
  5. Foundation in Computing & Technology
  6. Foundation in Engineering
  7. Foundation in Natural & Built Environment or Architecture
  8. Foundation in Design

The Best Universities Offering Top Rated Foundation Programmes in Malaysia

The Best A-Level Programmes in Malaysia

The A-Levels is quite popular however it is quite tough and not for those who do not have the discipline or motivation to complete it. It is recommended for those intending to pursue medicine, law or pharmacy to take up this programme.

Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) A-Levels in Malaysia

EduSpiral advised & helped me choose the best college for A-Levels. And now I have graduated from a top ranked UK University in Malaysia Dexter Leong, A-Levels at HELP Academy & Degree from University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

EduSpiral advised & helped me choose the best college for A-Levels. And now I have graduated from a top ranked UK University in Malaysia
Dexter Leong, A-Levels at HELP Academy & Biotechnology Degree from University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

After SPM, students have a choice to continue with the GCE A-Levels programme (UK’s post-16 qualifications) offered by the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) which is part of the Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate (UCLES).

Many private colleges in Malaysia prepare students to sit for this examination which is a popular option among Malaysians as well as international students. It is internationally-recognised for admission into universities worldwide including professional courses.

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.

There are normally between 2 to 4 A-level subjects and General Paper or English is compulsory. The duration of study is usually 15 to 18 months (3 semesters). Both the ‘AS’ and ‘A2’ levels are flexible and students have the freedom to select the subjects that they are interested in, either to study a broad variety of subjects or to specialise in a particular area.

For assessment purposes, students can choose any one of the following options:

  • Take all papers of the ‘A’ levels in one sitting, usually at the end of the second year of study, or
  • Take the ‘staged’ assessment route, that is, to take the ‘AS’ level in one examination session and the final part of the assessment ‘A2’ level at a subsequent session, or
  • Take the ‘AS’ level only, either at the end of a one-year or two-year course.


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. Results are issued in August and February respectively.

Fact Details
Duration and Intakes 1.5 years of 3 semesters:
Entry Requirements SPM, O Levels or equivalent 5 credits including English and Mathematics/Science Subject pre-requisites apply
No. of Subjects A minimum of 3 or a maximum of 4 A Level subjects
Subjects Offered Mathematics
Further Mathematics
English Literature
Examination Sessions May / June
October / November
Assessment Style 100% external examinations in 2 phases: Advanced Subsidiary Level (AS Level) and A2 Level
Awarding Body University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)
  • Students take the A-Level examinations conducted by the University of Cambridge International
    I scored 10As in my SPM and needed scholarships to help me continue my studies. EduSpiral gave me the information online and took me around to the campuses to help me make the best choice. Lay Hoe, A-Levels at HELP Academy

    I scored 10As in my SPM and needed scholarships to help me continue my studies. EduSpiral gave me the information online and took me around to the campuses to help me make the best choice.
    Lay Hoe, A-Levels at HELP Academy

    Examinations (CIE) in two phases: AS Level and A2 Level.

  • AS Level will account for 50% of the marks while Advanced Two (A2) Level the other 50%.
  • Students who complete the correct pattern of AS level units (usually 2 or 3 units at this level, depending on the subject) will be awarded an AS level certificate.
  • A2 refers to the final stage of A-Levels. Students who have successfully completed AS units in a subject move on to do A2, which are of a higher standard.
  • Completing the correct sequence of subjects at both AS and A2 level means students have finished a full A level in a subject.
  • University places often need a number of grades at A-Level (so both AS + A2 in a subject) but completed AS awards also attract UCAS points and are often counted towards university entrance.
  • There is no coursework in the syllabus, however, unit 3 of science subjects is a practical examination in which students are assessed based on their laboratory skills. The practical is conducted up to 2 hours under controlled conditions. The whole unit is marked by CIE.
  • To obtain an A* you require an average of 90% in your both AS and A2 units to qualify for an A*. If a student scored very highly in AS and only got grade A in A2, but overall uniform mark scale (UMS) is 90% or above, it’s an A*

Edexcel International Advanced Levels in Malaysia

"EduSpiral gave me advise over phone, Facebook, Skype and even took me to visit the universities. He spent a lot of time to help me make my decision on what to study and at which university." Ban Moon (Left), Scored 3As in the A-Levels at HELP Academy

“EduSpiral gave me advise over phone, Facebook, Skype and even took me to visit the universities. He spent a lot of time to help me make my decision on what to study and at which university.”
Ban Moon (Left), Scored 3As in the A-Levels at HELP Academy

Edexcel International Advanced Levels is a new suite of A level qualifications developed for  international centres.  With a modular structure, our new suite of International Advanced Levels have examination windows in January and June of each year, allowing students to finish their course in January if they need to, for entry to local and international universities.  Please note Law will continue to be examined in June of each year only.

  • Widest options & opportunities
  • Knowledge & strong preparation for further studies
  • Students sit for the exams in the same time as UK students
  • Worldwide recognition
  • Modular System (curriculum 2008) allows student to retake any modules to improve subject grade
  • Professional Recognition: recognised by Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), UK and fully accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA)
  • Top ranked examination board
International Advanced Levels
Structure Modular structureAS can be used as a stage on the way to completing an Advanced Level.
Assessment  ·       No coursework (100% examination).·       January and June examinations.
Recognised by universities Yes.
Regulator Regulated by Pearson.

The qualifications have been written to the same rigorous standard as all Edexcel qualifications and Edexcel International Advanced level qualifications are already recognised by many leading universities in the UK and internationally.

What’s the difference between the Cambridge A-Levels and the Edexcel A-Levels in Malaysia?

EduSpiral advised me to go for the best college for A-Levels in order to fulfil my dream of entering an Ivy League university in the USA. He met us at Taylor’s College Subang to talk to us and tour the college.
Gi Hang, A-Levels at Taylor’s College

Academic system: The Cambridge A-Level programme follows a staged assessment route to A Level by taking the AS Level in one examination session and completing the final A Level assessments at a subsequent session. Some papers are actually practical papers, in which you have to do experiments and answer related questions.

The Edexcel A- Level programme follows a modular system. Most Edexcel A-Level students would sit for 1-2 papers per subject at the end of every 5 to 6-month period.

Examination board: Edexcel and CIE are both examples of UK examination boards which provide a range of exams and qualifications. All exam boards operate under the guidelines produced by the JCQ (Joint Committee for Qualifications).

There is no difference in the level or degree of difficulty between the examination offered by Edexcel and CIE. The specifications of syllabuses might differ but both of them are recognized by colleges, universities and employers all around the world.

The Edexcel International Advanced Levels A-Levels modular system aims to test you on the application of each unit, and hence a student can choose to repeat a single unit on its own, without having to repeat an entire level.

Only the highest mark scored in any attempt will automatically be taken into account. The Cambridge Board, on the other hand, is linear-based. Students attempt to take the examinations in two stages, AS & A2 Level. Students unsatisfied with any of their individual units must re-sit the entire level, i.e. either AS or A2, and only the last score will automatically be taken into account.

Advantage of the Cambridge A-Level programme

  • Examination fees for Cambridge A-Level are lower than its Edexcel counterpart.
  • Fewer modules per subject (max five) than Edexcel (max six).
  • The CIE is internationally recognised by universities around the world including all UK universities and over 450 US universities including Harvard, Yale, MIT and Stanford.

Advantage of the Edexcel International Advanced Levels programme

  • This modular system aims to test you on the application of each unit, and hence a student can choose to repeat a single unit on its own, without having to repeat an entire level. Only the highest mark scored in any attempt will automatically be taken into account.
  • The Cambridge Board, on the other hand, is linear-based. Students attempt to take the examinations in two stages, AS & A2 Level. Students unsatisfied with any of their individual units must re-sit the entire level, i.e. either AS or A2, and only the last score will automatically be taken into account.

The Best Colleges and Universities in Malaysia for the A-Level Programme

  1. Taylor’s College
  2. HELP Academy
  3. UOWM KDU College
  4. UCSI College
  5. Disted College Penang

South Australia Matriculation (SAM) or SACE International Programme in Malaysia

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

The South 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 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.

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 usual intake for the 10-month SAM programme is in January and the minimum qualification for admission is the SPM/O-level certificate or equivalent, with at least five credits totalling not more than 30 points, including credits in English and Mathematics / Science.

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. Students will be awarded the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE).

The best private colleges in Malaysia for South Australian Matriculation (SAM)/SACE International Pre-University programme are Taylor’s College and Disted College Penang.

Western Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT) in Malaysia

The Western Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT) is the final year (Year 12) of the secondary school programme offered by the government of Western Australia to enable entry into year one Bachelor’s degree programmes of most universities around the world, such as Australia, the UK, New Zealand, the US, Canada, and private universities in Malaysia.

The entry requirement into AUSMAT is SPM, ‘O’ Levels or other equivalent qualifications, with a minimum of 5 credits in subjects of Science and Mathematics. The student intakes are in January and March. The course duration is between 8 to 10 months and students are required to take up five subjects including either English or ESL.

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.

The AUSMAT is an internationally-recognised pre-university programme administered by the Curriculum Council of Western Australia on behalf of the Western Australian government. Students are graded based on their performance throughout the year, i.e. 50% course and project work and 50% final examination.

Tertiary Entrance Examination (TEE). The student’s score (based on best four subjects) is ranked for the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) for university application at undergraduate level. This arrangement not only helps to remove pressure from the single year-end assessment, but also provides opportunities for the usage of a variety of assessment techniques in determining the students’ standard of achievement.

Students are required to take five subjects including English as an Additional Language (EAL/D) or English. The remaining four subjects can be a combination of these subjects: Applicable Mathematics, Calculus, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Economics, Accounting, Information Systems, German, and others.

Canadian International Matriculation Programme (CIMP) in Malaysia

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.

CIMP is a 12-month course where 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, Mathematics, Science and Social Science. Assessment comprises 70% coursework and 30% final examinations.

Student intake occurs three times a year in January, March and July. The examination sessions occur twice a year, in May and November. The minimum entry requirement is five credits in SPM, O-level or its equivalent. Upon meeting all requirements of the programme, students will graduate with the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).

March intakes are shortened and more intensive therefore I would not recommend for students to go for the March intake for CIMP.

Top Universities in Malaysia for the American Degree Transfer Programme (ADTP)

“I did not get the results as expected in my A-Levels. EduSpiral helped me to find the right course to fit my needs.”
Foo Hong, American Degree Program at HELP College of Arts & Technology

With at least 5 credits, students after SPM or O-Levels from Malaysia can enter the American Degree Transfer Program in Malaysia at top private colleges & universities. Students after SPM or O-Levels will enter directly into Year 1 of the degree program for a total of 4 years. The American education system does not require Pre-University to enter into the degree programme after SPM or O-Levels. The American Degree system after SPM or O-Levels is Year 1 (Freshman), Year 2 (Sophomore), Year 3 (Junior) and finally Year 4 (Senior).

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 will need at least 5 credits in SPM to enter the ADP. There is no “Foundation or Pre-U” in the USA education system. Students after high school will enter directly into 4 years of degree studies. Students complete (on average) two years in the ADP and the remaining two years at universities in the United States.

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. Since the total duration to obtain a USA degree is four years, students spend about two years in Malaysia and the other two years in the USA.

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.

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.

  • It is a 4-year degree program after SPM or O-Levels
  • Students gain direct entry to university level after high school.
  • 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.

Students after SPM or O-Levels planning to study partly in the USA can go for the American Degree Program (ADP) offered at Taylor’s University, KDU College Damansara Jaya or HELP University. Students will take the General Studies for 2 years in Malaysia and then transfer their credits to their university of choice in the USA for the final 2 years.

Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM)

I was planning to study in IPTA after STPM but then my parents talked to EduSpiral. They realised the importance of studying at a top award winning university for computing.
Mark Siew, Software Engineering at Asia Pacific University

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. The other way to enter public university (IPTA) is the Matriculation course where only 10% of the seats are set aside for Non-bumis therefore the competition will be extremely high for the spots.

The STPM is set and run by the Malaysian Examinations Council since 1982, which also runs the Malaysian University English Test (MUET) since 1999. All students who have passed the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) are eligible to enter into Form 6 to take the STPM, and will be automatically assigned a place in a government secondary school after the release of the SPM results.

The examination body, Majlis Peperiksaan Malaysia (, allows students to enroll for the examination with a minimum of one (1) subject and a maximum of five (5) subjects (including General Studies). The intake for Form 6 is in May of each year. Most students take STPM after attending two years of Form 6 (Lower 6 and Upper 6) at a government or private secondary school.

Should I study Form Six and take the STPM In Malaysia?

After STPM, my dream was to study 3D Animation but I did not have much information about it. EduSpiral gave me a lot of information including the future job prospects so that I could make a good choice.
Chun Poh, 3D Animation at UCSI University

In order to consider studying Form 6, students should take the time to understand the system and how Form 6 works. Let’s look at the statistics below to help you decide whether you should take Form 6 or not.

There were 58,355 students who took STPM in 2013 and in 2014 it dropped to 48,615 students. It is a drop of 16.69% (9,740 candidates) 48,615 candidates registered for the STPM examinations in 2014 but only 42,854 sat for it. Only 390 out of 48,615 STPM 2014 obtained a 4.0 CGPA. 57 candidates failed the exam.

The national CGPA was 2.62 but for non-bumis to get their courses of choice, you will need higher CGPA. Ten students scored 5As, and a total of 398 students scored 4As. To obtain scholarships from private universities or overseas, you need to score 4As or 5As, so based on this, you can calculate the chances of you scoring in the STPM and obtaining a scholarship.

27,342 (63.80%), passed in four subjects, 7,130 in three subjects, 3,563 in two subjects and 2,410 passed just one subject. Pass here includes D and E. You need at least 2 Cs to join a degree course in private universities.

The number of candidates achieving 4 Principals (C) in STPM 2014 is 60.14 per cent. You need at least 2 Principals to join a degree course in private universities.

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. Are you willing to take that risk?

Advantages of the STPM

With School Based Assessment, teaching and learning are integrated with assessment.

SBA humanises assessment making schooling a cooperative enterprise between teachers and students.

Through the new examination system, students will also have more opportunities to obtain better results. 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.

Disadvantages of the STPM

“My friend introduced me to EduSpiral because I was confused about my next step due to my unexpected results in STPM. EduSpiral provided me with great solutions to fit my career goals.”
Kuo Qiat, Marketing Graduate from UCSI University

Lower 6 used to be called the honeymoon year, but now, 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. There are 180,000 graduates each year and competition for jobs are high therefore the faster you graduate, the faster you get a job and start your savings.

English is very important to secure a job as well as getting a higher salary and faster promotions. This is reported in the Star and from research conducted by the Ministry of Higher Education in Malaysia.

The medium of instruction in IPTA is in BM and most of the Chinese there communicate in Mandarin. In 2011, 70,000 IPTA graduates were unemployed. Personally, I only recommend the STPM if students do not have the finances to study in private universities but with the PTPN Loan, studying in the private colleges or universities are more accessible. A lot students and parents want to save money by going for the STPM but do not realise that for some, in the end, they are wasting time and eventually have to spend more money.

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. Alternatively, you can choose an easier way through the 1-year Foundation offered at the Private Universities.

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.

Advantage Disadvantage
Free The toughest Pre-University course around
Modular system Take 1.5 years but if you include the 6 months taken to enter Form 6 and the 6 months waiting to enter Public university, it will be 2.5 years
If you fail, then you would have wasted 2.5 years
English language not emphasized so you do not gain the all important language and communication skills needed to succeed in the workforce
You do not get to choose the course you want to enter Public University

Modular System for the STPM

The new modular STPM format began in 2012, will combine two forms of assessments, and will be similar to the A levels format

I talked to EduSpiral on Facebook to find out which is the best place to study A-Levels to help me achieve my goals. I am glad I did. Gan Wei Cheng, 3A* in A-Levels at KDU College Penang and now JPA Scholarship at U. of Sydney for Pharmacy

I talked to EduSpiral on Facebook to find out which is the best place to study A-Levels to help me achieve my goals. I am glad I did.
Gan Wei Cheng, 3A* in A-Levels at KDU College Penang and now JPA Scholarship at U. of Sydney for Pharmacy

except that it will be in BM.

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.

Soft skill such as communication skills, teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, problem solving,information management and ethics are included in the new curriculum.

School-Based Assessment (SBA) for the STPM

The introduction of SBA in this system is in line with the aspiration of the Education Ministry to develop human capital who embrace intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and physical values in line with the National Educational Philosophy.

The SBA consists of project work, field study and practical work. The coursework question/task is prepared by the Council and will be conducted either over three terms or as determined by the individual subject requirements.


A centralised written examination is administered at the end of each term. Question types consist of multiple choice, structed and essay questions. Question papers are prepared and provided by the Council, and the marking of answer scripts will be carried out by Council-appointed examiners.

Matriculation Certificate by the Ministry of Education in Malaysia

Program Matrikulasi Malaysia) is a one-year pre-university preparatory programme offered by the Ministry of Education, Malaysia. Starting 2005, the selection process for the programme is done through a race-based quota system, where 90% of the places are reserved for bumiputeras students while the remaining 10% are open for non-bumiputeras.

Students must study at least six subjects over two semesters (one year). There is one intake a year, usually in March or April. All grades are internally assessed. The matriculation qualifications is accepted as the entry requirement for public as well as private universities in Malaysia.

There are a total of 17 learning institutions in Malaysia that offer the Matriculation Programme. They include ten matriculation colleges located in various states of Malaysia, two MARA colleges, and three technical matriculation colleges, that are managed by the Ministry of Education, Malaysia. In addition, there are two local universities that offer similar programme in their respective Centre of Foundation Studies (Pusat Asasi in Malay).

Prior to 2006, only one-year programmes are being conducted. Since then, four different programmes are offered. They are One Year Programme (PST, short for Program Satu Tahun in Malay), Two Year Programme (PDT, short for Program Dua Tahun in Malay), Technical Programme and Accounting Programme. Mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry and informatics science subjects are conducted in English. Other compulsory subjects are English, Dynamics Skills (Kemahiran Dinamika), Islamic/Moral Study and Information Technology. Students are also required to take up a co-curricular activity of their choice (sports/games, societies/clubs or marching band) during the programme.

The matriculation programme in Malaysia offers three streams – science, accountancy and technical streams and is conducted at matriculation colleges under the Ministry of Education.

One Year Programme (PST)

PST is a one-year, two-semester programme. Students from science, technical and accounting background can register for this programme. Particularly, for students from science background, there are three different modules to choose from. The subjects offered in the three modules are:[3]

Module I: Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Biology.(sem 1:dinamika)
Module II: Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Computer Science.(sem 1:dinamika)
Module III: Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology and Computer Science.(sem 1:kokurikulum)

Accounting Programme

This is a one-year, two-semester programme. The four subjects taught in the accounting module are Mathematics, Accounting, Business Study and Economy.

EduSpiral Consultant Services – Your Online Education Advisor

EduSpiral Consultant Services is a full-service educational counseling & planning firm that guides students from across Malaysia to help them choose the right course and university.

EduSpiral Consultant Services represents the best colleges and universities in Malaysia offering a wide range of choices for students to choose from. These colleges and universities offer value for money in the quality of education and excellent facilities that you get.

These universities and colleges are chosen by EduSpiral because they represent the best in their fields in Malaysia and affordable. EduSpiral provides in-depth information and counseling on their courses so that students are able to make the right choice.

If you are still not sure what to study, please contact us and we will send you a free EduSpiral Career Assessment FormEduSpiral Consultant Services has helped hundreds of students to choose the right course and enter into the university of choice. Please do contact us should you need any advise.

8 replies »

  1. Hello! I’m a 2015 spm candicates, I always want to be a scientist,but I do not know what course or pre university programme should I take. If it possible, I do want to futher my studies to other country,probably US or UK. Can you please recommend the best pre university programme that I should take,maybe the one that I can take overseas if possible..^_^…your help is muchly appreciated…thank u…

  2. Hi,I am from south Africa and possess a south African matriculation certification (grade 12 )my subject choice was English, math , biology , accounting and geography .I would like to pursue a science degree in Canada. I would like to do a Canadian diploma with English, Math,.biology ,chemistry and any other 5th subject. I do not have a foundation in chemistry but would like to add on this subject.Would it be possible to add on a subject and complete the candian diploma in 10months.

  3. I’m a SPM candidate of year 2014.I am interested in physics and maths(additional math too). I was thinking of doing civil engineering.I would like to know if it is a better choice to start of my journey with Cambridge GCE A-Level Programme or a foundation programme?Or there is any other better option? I would also like to know if it is better to start in January or March?Can we still use the forecast result to apply? Thank you 🙂

  4. I only got 4 credits for my SPM. but not interested to do diploma.. I want to do foundation/Pre-U and get to do my degree after that in India with my which college/university will be the best choice for me?? i need help..thx..

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