A-Level vs AUSMAT: Which Pre-University Course Should You Take?

Both A-Level and the Australian Matriculation programme are popular pre-university courses, but which should you choose? Check out our comparison here.

Updated 21 Apr 2020

A-Level vs AUSMAT: Which Course Should You Take? - Feature-Image

Choosing a suitable pre-university course can be a dilemma, especially with so many options available.

While programmes such as A-Level and the Australian Matriculation (SACE International / AUSMAT) are popular among students, how do you go about choosing the right one?

If you’re having trouble deciding between the two, don’t worry — we’re breaking down the differences between both courses to help you make a decision.


The Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) is also known as AUSMAT while the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) International is also known as SACE International or South Australian Matriculation (SAM).

#1. Duration of study

A level vs ausmat - 1 Duration of study

A-Level: Takes 15-24 months to complete, depending on your intake. Some colleges also offer a 12-month express route.

SACE International / AUSMAT: Takes 10-12 months to complete, depending on your intake. If you join a later intake (e.g. July), you’ll take 18 months to complete your course.

What you should consider:

If you’re in a hurry to start your degree, SACE International / AUSMAT can provide you with a faster route compared to A-Level. Depending on your intake, the Australian Matriculation can help you be ahead of your A-Level peers by 5 months to a year.

Bottom Line: If you want a headstart on your degree, opt for SACE International / AUSMAT. If you want more time to master your studies or are in no rush to move on to your degree, go for A-Level instead.

#2. Depth of study

A level vs ausmat - 2 Depth of study

A-Level: Allows you to take 3-5 subjects and offers in-depth learning in the study area of your choice.

SACE International / AUSMAT: You will be required to take 5 subjects.

What you should consider:

You may only be required to take a minimum of 3 subjects in A-Level, but that doesn’t mean the course is easy. A-Level allows you to focus and gain in-depth knowledge in your chosen subjects, while the exams are also challenging as it is not merely about regurgitating memorised facts. This programme is also ideal if you’re hoping to pursue a competitive undergraduate course, such as medicine.

However, if you prefer more flexibility and want to explore a wider range of topics, SACE International / AUSMAT might suit you as you will be taking 5 subjects. In addition, depending on your college, you may have the flexibility of choosing subjects from different streams, including both science and business.

Bottom Line: If you prefer gaining in-depth knowledge in your chosen subjects, pick A-Level. If you prefer breadth over depth, and are not looking to enrol in a competitive undergraduate programme, pick SACE International / AUSMAT.

Apply for university with EduAdvisor

Secure scholarships and more when you apply to any of our 100+ partner universities.

Start now

#3. Academic assessments

A level vs ausmat - 3 Academic assessments

A-Level: 100% exam-based which is split into 2 parts – AS Level and A2 Level. Each part contributes 50% to your overall A-Level grade.

SACE International / AUSMAT: You will be graded based on a combination of coursework and exams, with the ratio being 70%:30% coursework to exams for SACE International and 50%:50% for AUSMAT.

What you should consider:

With A-Level, you’re pretty much reliving your SPM days with 100% exam-based assessments. You’ll also need to have an analytical and inquisitive mind to help you succeed as A-Level can be academically challenging.

However, if you prefer continuous assessments via a combination of coursework and exams and can study consistently, SACE International / AUSMAT might be ideal for you as marks for every test and quiz will be accumulated towards your final grade.


Interested to know more about the similarities and differences between AUSMAT and SACE International? Check out this article here.

Bottom Line: If you prefer not to have your results tied down to a single exam, opt for SACE International / AUSMAT. However, if your strength lies in exams, consider A-Level instead.

#4. The cost

A level vs ausmat - 4 The cost

A-Level: Depending on the institution, costs may range anywhere between RM16,000 and RM45,000.

SACE International / AUSMAT: Depending on the institution, costs may range between RM14,000 and RM35,000.

What you should consider:

A-Level is generally slightly more expensive than SACE International / AUSMAT, but bear in mind that you are also paying for a 1.5 to 2 year-course that’s based on a renowned programme from the UK.

On the other hand, while SACE International / AUSMAT may be cheaper, the duration is considerably shorter, so you'll be paying a moderate fee for a faster transition to a degree programme.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a more affordable option with a quicker path to your degree studies, SACE International / AUSMAT might be a good choice for you.

#5. Programme recognition

A level vs ausmat - 5 Programme recognition

A-Level: One of the most widely recognised pre-university programme by universities worldwide, especially if you want to study in the UK.

SACE International / AUSMAT: Also widely recognised worldwide and is ideal if you are planning to further your studies in Australia.

What you should consider:

While both courses are widely recognised, the programme you should select largely depends on where you decide to pursue your undergraduate degree. For example, if you’re looking to enrol in a top-tier university in the UK, you might want to take A-Level.

If you are planning to head to Australia, SACE International / AUSMAT would be an ideal choice. Many local private universities and institutions abroad also accept SACE International / AUSMAT, so long as your results are good.

Bottom Line: If you want to study in the UK, you might want to take A-Level. If you plan to study in Australia, SACE International / AUSMAT is probably a better choice.

Remember that not all pre-university courses are built the same, so neither is better than the other. You’ll have to consider factors such as your interests, budget and capabilities before deciding. After all, you will be making a decision that will affect your future, so consider your options thoroughly.

Curious to know what other pre-university courses you can choose from? Find out here.

Find scholarships, discover programmes and connect with Malaysia's top institutions at the EduAdvisor Virtual Education Fair — happening this 27 May – 5 June 2024! Click here to register.

Speak to an advisor

We offer free advice, course recommendation and application service.

Name *
Mobile *
Email *
Nationality *
Field of Study

    Already have an account? Login

    Natasha Sin

    Natasha Sin

    I went outside once. That was before Netflix.