The Complete Guide to A Levels in Malaysia
If you’re wondering what A Levels in Malaysia is like, this course guide will explain everything you need to know including what is A Levels and how to choose your A Levels subjects. That’s not all — we’re also revealing the best A Levels colleges in Malaysia to help you narrow down your search.
We want to help you understand all there is to know about this prestigious pre-university programme so that you can make an informed decision about your college education. Let’s get started!
#1. What is A Levels?
A Levels is a pre-university programme in Malaysia that’s based on the UK education system. You can think of it as the UK’s STPM. Also known as GCE Advanced Level, it prepares you for a university degree through in-depth study of several subjects.
The A Levels in Malaysia is administered by 2 examination boards — the Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) and Edexcel. Most colleges in Malaysia offer the A Levels from the Cambridge board.
A Levels is 100% exam-based, so you’re pretty much reliving your SPM days. But unlike SPM where students usually take 9 subjects, you only need to take a minimum of 2 – 3 subjects.
After studying A Levels, you’ll gain in-depth knowledge on your chosen subjects. The independent and logical thinking you were taught throughout your studies will help you present reasoned explanations in an intelligent manner, preparing you for a relatively easier university life.
a) A Levels requirements in Malaysia
A levels is equivalent to other pre-university programmes such as Australian Matriculation, Canadian Pre-University (CPU) and STPM. Similar to other pre-university courses, A Levels in Malaysia requires a minimum of 5Cs at SPM, O-Level or equivalent.
Certain A Levels subjects, such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Further Mathematics, have subject prerequisites that you need to fulfil. This means you need to have studied and achieved the minimum required grades for the relevant subjects at SPM level in order to take these subjects in A Levels.
b) How long is an A Levels course?
The A Levels duration in Malaysia is 15 – 24 months long, depending on when you start your studies.
c) A Levels fees in Malaysia
What’s the cheapest A Levels in Malaysia? A Levels fees in Malaysia can go from as cheap as RM16,000 to a more elevated fee of RM35,000, depending on the institution you decide to study at.
#2. How is A Levels Structured?
Are you wondering what is the difference between A and AS levels? Well, AS Level is actually a part of A Levels. In fact, A Levels consists of 2 parts:
- Advanced Subsidiary (or better known as AS Level), and
- A2 Level
AS Level is the first half of the programme and forms the foundation of A Levels. A2 Level is the second part of the syllabus, covering more complex topics in your chosen subjects. At the end of each level, you will typically take exams, with each level contributing 50% towards your final grade. In essence, 50% from AS exams and 50% from A2 exams. Remember, A Levels is 100% exam-based.
Your final results will be a grade of A* to E for each subject taken. The maximum score is 3A* for 3 subjects and 4A* for 4 subjects.
#3. What Subjects Should You Take for A Levels?
When it comes to choosing your A Levels subjects, you’ll be spoilt for choice as many colleges in Malaysia offer a variety of subjects to select from. However, some subjects open doors to more degrees and professions than others, so it is important that you choose the right ones.
Which A Levels Arts subjects or A Levels Science subjects you should choose depends on which degree you plan to study. If you’re not exactly sure what degree you want to study, here are some tips for picking the right combination of subjects.
a) How to choose your A Levels subjects?
As a guide, here are some tips on how to choose your A Levels subjects:
- Choose subjects that you will likely enjoy – When a particular topic interests you, it becomes less of a chore to study. Also, it’s always easier to excel at something when you enjoy doing it!
- Choose subjects that suit your strengths – Every subject is unique and involves a different skill set. Some subjects require creativity or essay writing, while others may challenge your analytical and critical thinking skills. To do well in this programme, play to your strengths!
- Choose subjects that relate to jobs you’re interested in – Take a personality quiz to help you decide which fields would suit you best.
If you already have an idea of the degree you would like to pursue after A Levels, this list of recommended and essential subjects will help you choose your subject combinations.
|Accounting, Business, Economics, Finance||Essential: Mathematics & Economics
Recommended: Business Studies, Accounting, Law, Psychology
|Actuarial Science||Essential: Mathematics
Recommended: Further Mathematics, Economics, Physics
|Biochemistry, Biomedical Science, Nutrition||Essential: Chemistry, Biology & Mathematics
|Computer Science||Essential: Mathematics
Recommended: Physics, Further Mathematics, Computing
|Engineering||Essential: Mathematics & Physics
Recommended: Chemistry, Further Mathematics
Recommended: Mathematics, Economics, Law, English Literature, Accounting
|Medicine, Dentistry & Pharmacy||Essential: Chemistry, Biology & Mathematics
Still spinning with all these options and unsure what subjects you should study? If you studied Science subjects in SPM and scored good grades, choose Mathematics and Chemistry, and either Biology or Physics. This will keep your options open and allow you to pursue a wide range of degrees upon successful completion of your A Levels.
b) How many A Levels subjects should you take?
Should you take 3 subjects or 4 subjects? We suggest you take 3 subjects instead of 4 subjects since it’s always better to focus and concentrate on fewer subjects and do well in them. In fact, most universities only require you to take 3 subjects.
However, if you are planning to study abroad and aim to get into top tier universities (especially in the UK), there are times where it may be advantageous to take 4 subjects. This is because some top universities may demand 3A*s. Therefore, some students prefer to take 4 subjects as a “security measure”, just in case they score badly in one of the 3 subjects.
Also, in the case of Engineering, taking A Levels Further Maths may be beneficial to you (Further Maths is usually offered as a 4th subject only), since topics in the first year of Engineering Math would have already been covered in Further Maths.
#4. Why Study A Levels?
There are many pre-university programmes in Malaysia that you can choose from, but here are some of the top reasons why you should take A Levels.
a) A Levels is widely recognised by many top universities worldwide
A Levels is well-known as the gold standard of pre-university courses and is accepted by many top universities around the world. While it is generally the go-to programme if you wish to study in the UK, it is also accepted by many other countries, including Australia, USA, Canada and Singapore.
b) It keeps your options open
Foundation programmes may limit you to certain degrees at certain universities as the programme prepares you for advanced study in the field you’ve chosen. A Levels, on the other hand, allows you to pursue a wide range of degrees upon successful completion. This is especially great if you’re not sure what degree to study yet!
c) It gives you deep knowledge in your chosen subjects
Instead of having to juggle 5 or 6 subjects such as in other pre-university programmes, A Levels allows you to focus on only a few subjects and gain in-depth knowledge in your chosen subjects. This is great for those who are passionate about a few subjects and want to dive straight in.
d) There is a wide range of A Levels resources available
The internet is your oyster if you’re an A Levels student, as materials such as past year papers, marking schemes and revision questions are readily available everywhere. Your college will also supplement you with sufficient resources to ace your exam.
#5. Should You Take A Levels?
If you’re wondering whether you should study A Levels, here are some questions to think about:
- Are you academically-inclined with an analytical and inquisitive mind?
- Do you prefer 100% exam-based assessment?
- Are you looking to gain in-depth knowledge in a few subjects, as opposed to studying a wide variety of subjects?
- Are you looking to pursue competitive degrees (e.g. Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry)?
- Are you aiming to gain entry into top tier universities, especially in the UK?
If you answer yes to most of these questions; then, A Levels may be right for you.
Remember that A Levels is considered one of the more academically and intellectually challenging courses, due to its focus on analysis and application of knowledge.
As such, although most colleges require you to have at least 5Cs at SPM or equivalent. We usually recommend that you have at least 5Bs, with good grades in Maths and English.
#6. Frequently Asked Questions About A Levels
a) Is A Levels hard?
A Levels is generally viewed as a difficult course because it requires you to analyse and apply logical thinking when answering exam questions. You’ll also find that the learning material is more in-depth compared to other courses, such as Australian Matriculation.
However, the level of difficulty depends on which subjects you choose and your time management skills.
Remember how we emphasised the importance of choosing subjects you’re interested in and good at? This is crucial to your ability to do well in these subjects. On top of that, you also have to put in the hard work and time to understand your study material.
So if you choose the right subjects and study hard, you’ll find that A Levels is doable and not as difficult as people say!
b) Is STPM the same as A levels?
The Malaysian pre-university programme STPM is equivalent to various pre-university programmes, including A Levels. STPM is also widely recognised globally, especially in universities within the Commonwealth of Nations as well as in the US.
While STPM is just as challenging as A levels, it does have its differences. For example, A Levels is 100% exam-based while STPM final grades are based on school-based assessments (20–40% of final score) plus final exams (60–80% of final score).
#7. Best A Levels Colleges in Malaysia
A Levels is generally offered at private colleges and selected MARA colleges in Malaysia.
If you think A Levels suits you, then check out some of the best universities for A Levels in Malaysia. Alternatively, compare more universities for A Levels here.
Cambridge A Level
Campus: Subang Jaya, Selangor
Intakes: Jan, Apr & Aug
Estimated Fees: RM35,015 (Science), RM32,855 (Humanities)
Teaches independent and collaborative learning skills
Excellent track record with more than 3,000 students scoring 3As (2012 – 2018)
Total of 144 students receiving Top in the World awards (2012 – 2018)
View other colleges
Campus: Shah Alam, Selangor
Intakes: Jan, Mar, Jul & Sep
Estimated Fees: RM25,465 (Science & Humanities)
University placement services to study in top universities around the world
High performing standards with over 25 years of experience
Holistic and well-structured curriculum that prepares students for future challenges
Kolej Yayasan UEM
Campus: Lembah Beringin, Perak
Intakes: Jan & Jul
Estimated Fees: RM72,000 (Science & Humanities; includes lodging and meals)
Premier residential college that specialises in A-Level
A reputation for academic excellence with a high percentage of students scoring at least 3As
One of the few local colleges awarded the Cambridge International Fellowship status
#8. More Resources About A Levels
Eager to learn more about studying A Levels? Here are some useful articles about the pre-university programme that you may like: