Should I choose to Study Form 6 or other Pre-University Course in Malaysia?
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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 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 to study. The other way 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. A better choice, if you have the finances is to go for the Foundation course at top private universities in Malaysia. The Foundation course is 1 year which will save you time compared to the STPM and when you continue on to the degree course, you get to choose what you want to study.
Students with high distinctions have the advantage of scholarships for Foundation Programmes at the private universities. Since the Foundation programme is much easier than the STPM, you would probably get a high score in the Foundation programme and get a scholarship for the Degree course. However, if you choose the STPM which is extremely tough, although you may pass but you may not get 3As or 4As in STPM to apply for scholarships at Private Universities in Malaysia.
After SPM, one of the choices that students have is to take Form 6 and eventually the STPM examination. Most students choose the STPM because of financial difficulties which is a valid reason. However, if your parents can afford or if they can sacrifice, it is better to go for the Foundation programme at private universities in Malaysia. In the article below, we will discuss in detail the advantages and disadvantages of taking the STPM and why you should take the Foundation programme.
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Taking Form 6 STPM vs Foundation Course at Private University in Malaysia
Advantages of the STPM
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 (www.mpm.edu.my), 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.
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
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
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.
When you pay for the A-Levels, you get good lecturers who will guide you to score so that you can apply for more scholarships. A-Level graduates from HELP University, UCSI University, KDU University College Utropolis Glenmarie, KDU University College Penang and First City University College have obtained scholarships into top ranking universities worldwide.
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, you would have finished it at the same time you would have taken to complete Form 6. Furthermore, even if you do well in the STPM, you may not get the course of your choice at the Public University.
If you plan to study Medicine, Pharmacy or Law, you can go into the A-Levels while for the other courses, you can choose an easier way through the 1-year Foundation offered at the Private Universities or the Pre-University programmes offered at the Private Colleges.
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.
Another disadvantage for the STPM is when you want to choose the course for your university studies in IPTA. Although you can list down your preferences but the government chooses which course for you to study. Sometimes it is totally unrelated and the university that they have selected for you could be very far in a rural area. Popular courses such as medicine, pharmacy, engineering and others would need very high scores in order to be selected.
|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|
|Cheaper university education at Public Universities if you get the course you want||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|
Should I study Form Six?
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.
STPM Education System
Duration of Form 6 studies
In the new system, the duration of form six studies is similar to the previous system which is based on one-and-a half years of form six studies comprising the lower and upper six form.
The allocation of teaching periods remains the same: eight periods per week for each subject (one period = 40 minutes).
Subjects for STPM
There are two streams, which are the Arts Stream and the Science Stream.
900 General Studies
- 910 Malay Language
- 911 Chinese Language
- 912 Tamil Language
- 913 Arabic Languange
- 920 Literature in English
- 922 Communicative Malay Literature
- 930 Syariah
- 931 Usuluddin
- 940 History
- 942 Geography
- 944 Economics
- 946 Business Studies
- 948 Accounting
- 950 Mathematics (M)
- 954 Mathematics (T)
- 956 Further Mathematics
- 958 Information and Communications Technology
- 960 Physics
- 962 Chemistry
- 964 Biology
- 966 Sports Science
- 970 Visual Arts
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 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.
STPM Grading System
The grading system in the new STPM assessment system is similar to that of the previous STPM system. The score (question paper level) acquired by students for each term will be aggregated to determine the overall subject grade.
There is no prerequisite minimum pass grade in each term for students to qualify to continue their studies in the following term.
STPM uses a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) system. There are 11 grades, which are A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+ and D, with F as the failing grade. The grade points for each of these grades are between 4.0 and 1.0, A being 4.0 and D- being 1.0.
The F grade gives a grade point of 0. From year 2012 onwards, CGPA point for each subject is known as Subject Grade Point (SGP) meanwhile the overall CGPA point for all subjects will be known as “Overall Subject Grade Point”.
In accordance with the implementation of modular system in STPM from year 2012 onwards, MEC will implement a new assessment system for each STPM subjects.
Cumulative and subject GPA at 2.0 and above is considered a pass with credit or principal pass.
GPA below 2.0 is considered a sub-fail, and a 0 is considered a fail. Admissions to local public universities requires at least a CGPA of 2.0 and above.
|Paper Grade||Subject Grade||SGP*||Status|
*Subject Grade Point (SGP)
Entry Requirements into Form 6 in Malaysia
Murid-murid dari sekolah kerajaan yang layak ditawarkan masuk ke Tingkatan Enam Bawah 2013 hendaklah memenuhi tiga-
tiga syarat berikut:
1. Memperoleh kepujian bagi mata pelajaran Bahasa Melayu dalam peperiksaan SPM 2012.
KUMPULAN MATA PELAJARAN
I Bahasa Melayu
II Bahasa Inggeris
III Kesusasteraan Melayu / Kesusasteraan Inggeris
V Geografi / Pendidikan Seni Visual
VI Pendidikan Islam / Pendidikan Moral
VII Matematik / Matematik Tambahan
VIII Sains / Sains Tambahan / Applied Science
IX Salah Satu Mata Pelajaran Teknik/Vokasional/Mata Pelajaran Vokasional (MPV)
X Tasawwur Islam/Pendidikan Al Quran Dan Al Sunnah/Syariah Islamiah
XI Bahasa Arab Tinggi / Bahasa Arab (Komunikasi) / Bahasa Cina / Bahasa Tamil
XII Sains Pertanian / Perdagangan / Prinsip Perakaunan / Ekonomi Asas / Ekonomi
Rumah Tangga / Pengetahuan Sains Sukan
Calon-calon yang memperolehi jumlah mata gred 9 hingga 12 unit bagi TIGA mata pelajaran terbaik daripada TIGA kumpulan yang berlainan seperti tercatat dalam 2(A), layak ditawarkan ke Tingkatan Enam Bawah dengan syarat terdapat kekosongan tempat di sekolah berkenaan.
- (B) Untuk kemasukan ke jurusan SAINS, calon mesti memperoleh sekurang- kurangnya TIGA kepujian dengan jumlah mata gred yang tidak melebihi 14 unit. Tiap-tiap satunya hendaklah dalam kumpulan yang berlainan dari kumpulan-kumpulan berikut:
KUMPULAN MATA PELAJARAN
I Matematik / Matematik Tambahan
Calon-calon yang memperolehi jumlah mata gred 15 hingga 18 unit bagi TIGA mata pelajaran terbaik daripada TIGA kumpulan yang berlainan seperti tercatat dalam 2(B), layak ditawarkan ke Tingkatan Enam Bawah dengan syarat terdapat kekosongan tempat di sekolah berkenaan.
So how should you go about choosing the best course that fits you?
Step 1: Look at your Interests, Skills & Personality
This requires the individual to develop a certain degree of self-awareness. This require you to ask:
- What kind of person am I?
- What do I like?
- What are my hobbies?
- What is my personality?
This process of self-assessment consists of using several instruments in order to uncover your interests, personality type, work related values and skills. It is looking at these things in combination that can help you figure out what courses will be good matches for you, and you could learn something that will surprise you. The greater the overlap between an individual’s interests, aptitudes and personal characteristics and those required by the area of study, the greater the degree of satisfaction when engaged in that area of study. This process will help you decide which course best fits you. If you find the right course at the right college you will be inspired to succeed.
Match what you have come to know about yourself (self-assessment) to a course. During this phase of the career planning process you will decide which course is the best fit for you based on what you now know about yourself and the courses you have researched. This will entail looking at the jigsaw pieces of your life to date and putting them together. Considering your interests, hobbies, skills, aptitudes and achievements, both academic and personal, and identifying certain personality traits combined with appropriate course exploration will hold the key to successful course choice.
Step 2: Look at your Actual Results
Your results in SPM, UEC, or O-Levels will act as a guide in what you are actually good at. For example, if you are good in Physics & Add Maths, then you can consider engineering courses. If you fail in any of these subjects and want to study engineering, then you are being unrealistic.
Step 3: Research the courses and offer at top colleges or universities
Make a list of courses to explore that are of interest to you and then research each course. The internet, college prospectuses, family and friends are your best sources of information and support. Someone who is already studying the course can give you great insight from a student’s perspective.
It is important to attend college open days or other career events and make every effort to speak to lecturers, tutors or admissions staff in the colleges you are interested in, as they will facilitate your decision-making.
Many students drop out or change course, so something is going wrong with students initial decisions. A lot of heartache can be avoided if you take the time to look at the college websites to find out not just which subjects you will be studying on your course but also to find out the content of the individual modules of each subject.
In this way you will know exactly what lies ahead of you. Discovering that you have made the wrong choice can be upsetting, and expensive.
Check out the duration of the course, accreditation, and additional costs such as accommodation, books, travel etc.
Step 4: Talk to the Right People
If your car needs to be repaired, you would ask advise from a mechanic and not from a Doctor. So, when asking about your future career, ask from people who are experienced and knowledgeable. Many Malaysians tend to listen to their parents and relatives without checking the facts to see if it is true. An uncle would tell them to study a certain course and the student would just go for it without doing any research or consideration to see if it fits them.
EduSpiral Consultant Services has more than 15 years experience in helping students choose the right course based on facts and evidence. Students who are still confused and need advise can contact us for a free consultation at 01111408838.
Consider Studying the Foundation Course at Private Universities 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 or STPM. Foundation programmes are generally easier than external Pre-University courses. If you do not plan on going overseas for your degree programme, then it is better to go for the Foundation programme at a top private university in Malaysia.
You will get the chance to study a variety of subject areas in the Foundation Programme. This will not only give you an idea of what subject you may like to progress on to, but also to develop the valuable learning skills necessary for pursue a degree. A Foundation Programme in Malaysia can be 2 semesters with 6 months each semester or 3 semesters with 4 months each semester.
Many top private universities in Malaysia, have developed their own internal university foundation programmes. These Foundation courses are accredited by the Malaysia Qualification Agency (MQA) and recognised by the respective foreign partner universities. Unlike the external qualifications which focus on more general Science and Art-based subjects, the internal qualifications provide specialisation in precise areas of study such as the fields of business, computer & IT, and engineering, and hence, cater to the specific needs of different students.