2 Mar 2018

Your Ultimate Guide to Pre-University Programmes in Malaysia

Done with SPM and confused about your tertiary education options? If you need guidance on what to study, find out how EduAdvisor can help put your future in motion here.

As you scout high and low for your next course of action after SPM, you might be met with a barrage of pre-university options that will likely leave you spoilt for choice, but very confused.

In this article, we’ve listed out all the courses you can take immediately after SPM, along with what they are and why you should (or shouldn’t) take them. Here we go!

#1. A-Level

What is it:

A 15 to 24-month long programme based on the United Kingdom (UK) education system. This globally recognised qualification is 100% exam-based. You can take 3-4 subjects which you can choose according to your area of interest.

You should study this if:

  • You are academically inclined as you are only assessed through final exams
  • You want to study at top universities overseas as it is recognised by many institutions worldwide
  • You are uncertain what degree to study in the future as it keeps your options open

You shouldn’t study this if:

  • You prefer being assessed through a blend of coursework and exams
  • You are looking to pursue a course that requires hands-on skills (e.g. culinary arts, hospitality and tourism, etc.)
  • You’re looking to fund your pre-university studies via PTPTN (only MQA-approved diploma and degree programmes are eligible)

#2. Australian Matriculation

What is it:

A year-long course based on the Australian education system. Your final grade (ATAR) is assessed based on your coursework, tests and final exams.

You should study this if:

  • You prefer continuous assessments rather than a single do-or-die final exam
  • Enjoy a holistic learning approach as you can choose 5 subjects from different streams
  • You are keen to study overseas as a wide range of international institutions recognise it

You shouldn’t study this if:

  • You have trouble managing your time wisely as you will have to juggle tests, presentations, lab reports and exams
  • You have a high tendency to procrastinate as you will be continuously assessed throughout the year
  • You are planning to pursue a highly competitive degree (e.g. medicine) that has very high entry requirements

#3. American Degree Program (ADP)

What is it:

A 4-year degree programme you can pursue immediately after SPM. It is based on the American education system and is often used as a pathway to transfer into an American or Canadian institution of your choice.

You should study this if:

  • You are keen to study at an American university
  • You are not sure what you want to study as you can switch your major halfway into the course
  • You enjoy a wholesome learning experience as you will be continuously assessed through coursework, presentations and final exams throughout the semester

You shouldn’t study this if:

  • You are more academically inclined and prefer exam-based assessments
  • You do not enjoy public speaking
  • You are unsure about studying overseas

#4. Canadian Pre-University (CPU)

What is it:

A 12 to 15-month long programme based on the Canadian education system, largely assessed through a unique combination of coursework, exams and community service.

You should study this if:

  • You are interested to pursue your studies overseas as it is a widely recognised qualification
  • You have a wide range of interests as you can pursue your passions through unique subject offerings, such as creative writing and drama
  • You enjoy an interactive learning experience as you will be largely assessed through projects and presentations

You shouldn’t study this if:

  • You prefer exam-based assessments
  • You do not enjoy public speaking
  • You cannot juggle coursework, projects and exams

#5. Diploma

What is it:

A 2 to 3-year programme that can be used to fast track into Year 2 of a degree programme or straight into the workforce. It is made up of coursework, exams and usually involves an internship period for you to gain industry-related experience.

You should study this if:

  • You are pursuing a field that requires hands-on skills (e.g. early childhood education, automotive technology, graphic design, etc.)
  • You are keen to enter the workforce soon
  • You require financial aid as it is one of the few pre-degree courses eligible for PTPTN
  • You have a minimum of 3-4 credits in SPM

You shouldn’t study this if:

  • You are not sure what you want to do
  • You want to pursue academically challenging degrees (e.g. medicine)
  • You are looking to enter top universities abroad

#6. International Baccalaureate (IB)

What is it:

A 2-year pre-university programme that requires you to take 6 subjects across a variety of disciplines in addition to writing research papers and fulfilling your sports, arts and community service components.

You should study this if:

  • You are an all-rounder and enjoy studying subjects across a variety of fields
  • You can manage your time well between exams, writing research papers and extra-curricular activities
  • You are prepared to pursue an academically challenging and demanding course

You shouldn’t study this if:

  • You prefer a 100% exam-based assessment
  • You prefer to focus on a few subjects specifically related to your area of interest
  • You want the fastest and easiest pathway to a degree

#7. Foundation

What is it:

A year-long programme that focuses on subjects related to the field of your choice (e.g. Foundation in Arts, Foundation in Business, Foundation in Science). The course is administered by the university itself in preparation for a degree programme in a similar field.

You should study this if:

  • You have decided what field you want to pursue in your degree
  • You want the fastest route to enter a degree programme
  • You want a head start on the course you wish to pursue at a degree level

You shouldn’t study this if:

  • You are not sure what degree you want to do
  • You are looking to switch universities for your degree as not all universities will accept your foundation qualification from another institution
  • You plan to pursue your studies abroad or apply for a government or company scholarship

#8. Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM)

What is it:

A Malaysian pre-university programme administered by the Malaysian Examinations Council (MEC). It is assessed based on projects, practical work and final exams where the results are moderated and endorsed by a representative from the Cambridge Assessment from the UK.

You should study this if:

  • You want an affordable programme (it costs less than RM1,000 for the entire course)
  • You need more time to decide on your degree options
  • You want to enrol in a public university

You shouldn’t study this if:

  • You are not academically inclined
  • You want to pursue a course that requires practical skills
  • You are looking for the fastest route to enter a degree programme

#9. Matrikulasi

What is it:

A Malaysian pre-university programme typically for students interested in studying at public universities. This 1-2 year long programme is divided into science, accounting and technical streams (depending on your stream during SPM) where you will be assessed on coursework, exams and participation in co-curricular activities.

You should study this if:

  • You are looking for an affordable course as it is highly subsidised by the government and comes with an allowance each semester
  • You want to apply to a public university
  • You want a wide variety of options for your degree programme

You shouldn’t study this if:

  • You want to apply to study abroad as it is only recognised by a select number of universities overseas
  • You want to pursue a course that requires practical skills and hands-on experience

#10. Certificate

What is it:

A Certificate is a course that is a level below a diploma and is generally taken by students who were unable to obtain 3 credits for SPM that’s required for entry into a diploma.

You should study this if:

  • You didn’t do well in SPM and received only 1-2 credits
  • You know the course you want to do
  • You are keen to pursue an industry that requires hands-on skills

You shouldn’t study this if:

  • You have at least 3 credits for SPM, as you can directly pursue a diploma

There you have it! We hope these bite-sized points will help you make an informed decision about your higher education. All the best!

Still don’t know which programme is right for you? Let our pre-university course recommender help you decide!

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