Which is the Best Pre-University (Pre-U) Course in Malaysia to Study After SPM or O-Levels

How to Pick the Best Pre-University Programme in Malaysia to Study

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Most great things begin with a plan. Your future career and university 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. With so many Pre-University (Pre-U) Programmes in Malaysia, it can be confusing to choose the right one that fits you.

A lot of the universities and colleges advertise frequently making many claims, and even after attending the education fairs, that can leave you more confused after listening to their counselors. There are also many agents and online education advisor websites claiming that they can help you but you need to be careful as most of them are inexperienced and tend to push you to certain universities only.

Choosing the best Pre-University Programme in Malaysia that fits you will take time and effort. You should carefully think about what are the options available to you. Look at your results, interests and budget. If you are not sure which Pre-University course to study, do ask a knowledgeable and experienced counselor and always make decisions based on evidence and facts. The decisions that you make now, can change your life forever. Based on my vast experience in the education industry, I have made up a list of the most popular Pre-University Programmes in Malaysia for you to consider.

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The Best Guide on Choosing the Best Pre-University (Pre-U) Programme in Malaysia to Study after SPM or O-Levels

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

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 academic goals.

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.

 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 Pre-University (Pre-U) Programme will cost from RM10,000 to RM50,000 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. To study overseas for degree will cost from RM150,000 to RM200,000 a year including cost of living. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. When you will get the results? You must also find out when you will get your results in order to meet the application deadline for your university of choice.

Top Criteria to Consider When Choosing the Best Pre-University (Pre-U) Programme in Malaysia

I wasn’t sure which university to study at and found EduSpiral online. He provided good advise & helped me with my application. I love my university life now.
Hanson, Foundation in Science (Engineering) at UCSI University
  • Is the Pre-University (Pre-U) course popular at that college or university? Quality/reputation/ranking of the private college in Malaysia
  • Which are the awarding bodies? Are the certificates recognised for enter at all universities overseas?
  • Are the courses recognised and approved by the Ministry of Education Malaysia and the relevant external bodies?
  • Are the courses accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Audit (MQA)?
  • Subjects offered in the Pre-University (Pre-U) Programme. Do they help you to achieve your undergraduate academic goals. Does the subject combinations allow you to enter your university and degree of choice.
  • Which are the subjects that you must take in order to enter the degree of your choice.
  • Is the class size small so that you have personal attention from the lecturer? If the fees are very cheap and the class size is big, then you may not have the attention that you need from the lecturer to guide you to do well in the Pre-University (Pre-U) Programme.
  • Do they have enough students to start a class?
  •  How many students do they have studying that Pre-University (Pre-U) Programme at that university?
  •  What is the duration of the Pre-University (Pre-U) Programme?
  • When do you get your results so that you can meet the application deadline for the overseas university?
  • Does the college or university have a dedicated department to assist students for the overseas university and scholarship applications?
  • Does the college have regular visits from overseas universities so that you can expose yourself to the various universities and ask questions?
  •  Quality of lecturers. What are their qualifications? How many years of experience in teaching?
  • Faculty contact/classes taught by full-time qualified & experienced faculty
  •  Ask your friends who have studied there for their opinion. Ask your friends who are currently studying there as well.
  • Entry requirements
  • How much money do I have to pay for the course and cost of living? Ask your parents. Note that you will need to have enough to pay the tuition fees as well as your cost of living. (tuition, hostel, food, transportation, etc.)
  • How much are the tuition fees? Does it include the external exam fees and other fees?
  • How much is on-campus accommodation?
  • How much is off-campus accommodation? Note that it might be cheaper to find off campus accommodation on your own with friends. Is the accommodations near eateries, banks, entertainment, public transportation, etc.?
  • What is the student culture at the university? (English-speaking environment, ambitious, serious about studies, lifestyle or party university, etc) The language spoken mostly at the college by the students may also matter if you don’t know Mandarin or BM or English. If most of the students speak Mandarin at that university then it will not help you to improve your English. Having a good command of the English language helps you to get good jobs and promotions.
  • What are the Extra-curricular activities available? (Student organisations, clubs, sports, etc.)
  • Public vs. Private (STPM is tougher and choice of course & university is determined by the government)

Common Factors in Choosing the Best College or University for the Pre-University Programme in Malaysia

First, EduSpiral took me around to a few universities and advised me on which course that would suit me. Finally, after deciding, EduSpiral met up with me and my Dad to help me to register.
Jia Jin, Foundation in Design at Taylor’s University

Here’s a list of common criteria in choosing a top private university in Malaysia for the Pre-University (Pre-U) Programme:

  • What type of university do I like? (Large, medium, small, city, suburbs, or outer city) Some people like small universities where you get a community feel while others like large university campuses where they get to meet lots of people.
  • The size of the university also matters to some people as some prefer a small and friendly university environment where you know everyone’s names. Some may prefer a medium sized university where there are more students to interact with and more facilities to use like a bigger library, student centre, computer labs etc.
  • In large universities you might feel lost but there will be more facilities like a football field, gym, swimming pool, basketball courts, etc. You just need to understand your personality and then choose the type of university that fits you.
  • If you are a sports person, you might want to find one with a football field, basketball courts, gym or swimming pool.
  • Safety at the university campus and community.
  • Know yourself, if you like city life, don’t choose a university far away from the city even though the facilities are great. However, if you have a discipline problem in having too much fun, studying away from the city may be a good choice
  • What are the facilities and resources offered at the university? – engineering labs, computer labs, computers, science labs, sports facilities, student centre, job placement centre, etc. Note – You should expect to get what you pay for.
  • If you like sports, you may not want to choose a university without a basketball court or gym.
  • Is it near public transportation? This is important if you do not have transportation.


Duration of the Pre-University Programmes in Malaysia

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Hui Lan, Mass Communication at KDU University College

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

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John Lai Wai Hong, Graduated in Mass Communication from KDU University 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 programme. It is choosing the right Pre-U programme that fits you and your future goals. We have come up with a list of the Top Ten best Pre-University programmes to study in Malaysia,

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

  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. Matriculation Certificate, Ministry of Education Malaysia
  10. Canadian International Matriculation Programme (CIMP)

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

Summary of the Best Pre-University Programmes in Malaysia

Top Foundation Programmes in Malaysia

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. 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 in Malaysia.

Duration 12 months
Number of subjects 12-15. Varies depending on the programme and university (usually combination of compulsory, elective & MPU subjects)
Recognition & Accreditation Malaysia Qualification Agency (MQA)
Assessment 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. 
Price RM8,000 – RM25,000
  • Tailored specifically towards the degree course offered by the university
  • Shorter duration compared to the STPM and A-Level programmes
  • Generally, cheaper than most Pre-University (Pre-U) programmes
  • Most students find it easier compared to other Pre-University programmes
  • English-speaking environment which would help you to improve your language skills (depends on which university you choose)
  • The course is taught and marked by Malaysians who would understand the language skills of Malaysian students. Therefore, students who are weak in the English language should choose the Foundation and take the opportunity to improve their language skills during the Foundation programme.
  • Depending on which Foundation, it may be difficult to change courses if you decide to pursue a different field
  • May not be accepted by other private universities for your undergraduate degree
  • May not be accepted into universities overseas


The Best A-Level Programmes in Malaysia

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Gi Hang, A-Levels at Taylor’s College

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. I would recommend the A-Levels for those intending to pursue medicine, dentistry, law or pharmacy or who are planning to go overseas. The A-Levels 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.

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.


Country of origin United Kingdom (UK)
Duration 12 – 18 months
Number of subjects 2- 4. Students may choose the following subjects:

  • Mathematics
  • Further Mathematics
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Business
  • Economics
  • English Literature
  • Law
  • Accounting
Assessment 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.
Awarding Body
  • University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) or
  • Edexcel International Advanced Levels (Modular structure)
Price RM20,000 – RM40,000
  • 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
  • Higher cost compared to most Pre-University (Pre-U) programmes
  • Longer duration than most Pre-University programmes
  • The A-Levels is rigorous and requires students who have strong academic results in SPM or O-Levels to do well in it
  • Subjects are general therefore students who have taken it may not be sure of what they want to study at degree level
  • If your command of the English language is weak then you may find this course very challenging

Australia Matriculation Programmes 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

There are 2 different Australian Matriculation programmes in Malaysia which are the:

  • South Australian Matriculation (SAM) or SACE International
  • Western Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT)

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.

Country of origin Australia
Duration 7 – 18 months
Number of subjects 5 subjects (including English)
  • 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
Awarding Body South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE)
Price RM21,000 – RM40,000
  • 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
  • Very high entry requirements for competitive programmes like Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, etc.
  • Students must do well consistently in all assessment types to obtain a high final grade
  • Self-directed learning may not be suitable for everyone
  • The March intake for AUSMAT is short and too intensive. Many students do not do well in it

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.

Country of origin Canada
Duration 12 – 15 months
Number of subjects 6 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 70% coursework (e.g. tests, research papers, assignments) and 30% final exam
Awarding Body Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD)
Cost Between RM13,000 – RM35,000

  • 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
  • Public speaking and debate may not be suitable everyone (requirement for CPU)
  • Very high entry requirements for competitive programmes like Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, etc.
  • Students must do well consistently in all assessment types to obtain a high final grade


American Degree Transfer Programme (ADTP)

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 after SPM or O-Levels is

  • Year 1 (Freshman) – ADTP in Malaysia
  • Year 2 (Sophomore) – ADTP in Malaysia
  • Year 3 (Junior) – University in the USA
  • Year 4 (Senior) – University in the USA

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.

Country of origin USA
Duration 24 months in Malaysia. 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.
Number of subjects 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.
Assessment 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.
Grading System 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.
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.
  • 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 must transfer to the USA for the final part of the studies. If you complete the ADTP and decide not to go to the USA, it is not accepted for entry at any university in Malaysia.
  • Students who prefer exam-based programmes will find the ADTP challenging.

Diploma Course at Private Universities in Malaysia

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.

Duration 24 – 30 months
Number of subjects 25-35 subjects (May include internship)
Assessment 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.

Recognition  Accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA)
Cost RM15,000 to RM50,000
  • 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.
  • You cannot change to a different course for degree level
  • You may lose some credits when transferring to a different university


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.

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. If you can afford, choose an easier way through the 1-year Foundation offered at top reputable Private Universities in Malaysia.

Country of origin Malaysia
Duration 18 months (+6 months if you intend to apply to public universities)
Number of subjects Between 4 – 5 (including General Paper)
  • 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.
Grading Final results will be a single score, the Overall Subject Grade Point. Grades are given from A to F for each subject taken, which corresponds to a grade point. The Overall Subject Grade Point is the average of the top four subjects with the maximum score of 4.0.
Cost Less than RM1,000
  • 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.
  • The STPM can be very challenging for students who are weak academically or who do not prepare themselves well
  • Longer duration compared to most Pre-University courses in Malaysia
  • 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.

Malaysian Matriculation Programme (Matrikulasi) and Asasi IPTA

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.

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.

Country of origin Malaysia
Duration 12 months (Program Satu Tahun) – 24 months (Program Dua Tahun)
Number of subjects Students must study at least six subjects over two semesters (one year). There is one intake a year, usually in March or April. The matriculation programme in Malaysia offers three streams – science, accountancy and technical streams
Assessment Combination of classroom assignments and examinations
Grading System Your GPA is determined from the grade values associated with the grades that you obtain for each subject every semester. All grades are internally assessed.
Cost RM600
  • Extremely affordable
  • Good prospects to gain admission into public universities
  • Wide range of subjects to choose from
  • Recognised for entry into universities in Commonwealth countries
  • Has limitations, such as ‘Program Dua Tahun’ only open for bumiputras
  • Fewer options of degree courses as the subjects are divided into ‘streams’

Comparison Chart of the 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


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