While its coursework component may influence you to think that Australian Matriculation is much easier compared to A-Level’s 100% exams, this programme is by no means a walk in the park.
This comprehensive guide will detail everything there is to know about Australian Matriculation, from course structure and subject combinations, all the way to the biggest misconception about this pre-university programme.
The Basics of SAM / AUSMAT
What It Is
South Australian Matriculation (SAM) or SACE International is a pre-university course that’s based on the Australian education system. You can pursue this programme right after SPM before a Degree at university.
AUSMAT, or sometimes known as WACE (short for Western Australian Certification of Education) is also a pre-university course that’s based on the Australian education system. Similar to South Australian Matriculation, you can pursue this after completing SPM.
SAM and AUSMAT are the same level of qualification as A-Level and STPM. Both courses have a combination of coursework and final exams, and lead to an Australian Year 12 qualification.
The main differences between the two are the assessment structure and the governing body:
- South Australian Matriculation (SAM), or SACE International
- Administered by the South Australian government, and
- You’ll be graded on 70% coursework and 30% examination
- Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT), or WACE
- Administered by the Western Australian government, and
- You’ll be graded on 50% coursework and 50% examination
Both programmes are 10 – 12 months long and require you to take 5 subjects. Students who take up this programme generally start their studies in January or March, and take their exams in November.
What Can You Expect From The Australian Education System?
The Australian education system emphasises on two important things:
- A holistic education
- Self-directed learning, with continuous assessment
SAM / AUSMAT is a good preparation for ANY degree and lifelong learning. It’s also a good opportunity for you to improve your command of the English language as well.
How Is SAM / AUSMAT Structured?
Both SAM / AUSMAT have a combination of school-based assessment / coursework, AND final exams.
- SAM (South Australian board): 70% coursework, 30% exams
- AUSMAT (Western Australian board): 50% coursework, 50% exams
Unlike SPM, expect to be kept on your toes with continuous assessment throughout the year! Gone are the days where you can slack off until your mid-terms or finals. You will find yourself extremely busy preparing for ongoing tests and doing lots of homework and assignments.
What Can You Expect For School-Based Assessments & Coursework?
Australian Matriculation’s coursework includes things like summative assignments, lab reports, tests, monthly quizzes etc. It will differ based on different subjects and fields.
Here are some examples:
- Sciences – Requires you to do lab (reports and practical) work
- Mathematics – There will be weekly quizzes and tests
- English as a Second Language (ESL) – Expect oral and speaking tests
- Economics – Think quizzes, tests and short essays
How Will You Be Graded?
Your final results will be a single score, called the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). It is derived from your best four subjects, plus 50% of your weakest subject.
ATAR shows your ranking relative to your peers, e.g. 99.0 ATAR score means that you performed better than 99% of your peers.
Why Should You Take SAM / AUSMAT?
If you are planning to head to Australia for your university degree, SAM / AUSMAT is the obvious choice. But if you’re not sure of your plans yet, here are some reasons why you should still consider studying SAM / AUSMAT.
(1) Both SAM & AUSMAT are recognised by many countries overseas
AUSMAT and SAM are widely accepted qualifications, with thousands of students successfully gaining entry into universities worldwide, not only in Australia and New Zealand, but also in the USA, UK, Canada and Singapore.
Many local private universities and institutions abroad accept SAM / AUSMAT, so as long as your results are good, you won’t have to worry about having an unrecognised qualification.
(2) SAM / AUSMAT keeps your options open
While Foundation programmes may limit you to certain degrees at certain universities, SAM & AUSMAT 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!
(3) Prefer continuous assessment instead of one major exam to determine your fate? This course is for you!
A-Level is famed for having only two exams to determine the fate of your entire college education. If the 100% exam system brings back nightmares from your SPM days, then Australian Matriculation is a good choice for you.
Every test and quiz will be taken into account, so you will feel a sense of progress as you accumulate marks towards your final grade.
(4) SAM / AUSMAT gives you good foundation in your chosen subjects
With 5 subjects, SAM / AUSMAT will help to build and equip you with good foundations in your chosen subjects. This is great for those who want to cover as many different subjects as possible without going too in-depth. In fact, you will also have the flexibility of choosing subjects from different streams, including both science and business.
Who is SAM / AUSMAT For?
You should consider taking SAM / AUSMAT if:
- You are interested in independent learning and can manage your time VERY wisely
- You prefer continuous assessment via class-based tests, research papers and assignments, with a balanced contribution from the final exams
- You enjoy the flexibility of choosing different subjects from different fields
- You are looking to study overseas (especially in Australia) or at local private universities
You should NOT take SAM / AUSMAT if:
- You’re a “last minute” kind of person and your study habits are inconsistent
- Mastering your learning material, and juggling assignments, quizzes and tests all at the same time is not your strength
- You plan to take a combination of subjects that you may be weak in
- You are planning to pursue a highly competitive degree (e.g. Medicine) where entry requirements are very high
Remember that the key to excelling in SAM / AUSMAT is to be VERY consistent in your studies throughout the entire year. Doing poorly on a quiz or two may not seem like much, but when you add it all up, you’ll realise that it does make a difference!
Although most colleges require you to have at least 5 credits (1 credit is a C or above) at SPM, we usually recommend you to have at least 5Bs, with good grades in Math and English.
What Subjects Should You Choose For SAM / AUSMAT?
Most colleges in Malaysia offer a wide range of subjects that will enable you to get into various fields, including Business, Finance, Law, Accounting, Engineering and Science.
It will be up to you (gasp, responsibility!) to choose which combination of subjects you plan to study in order to move forward with your degree.
This is a VERY important stepping stone to ensure that you qualify and meet the entry requirements of the programme you plan to pursue as part of your tertiary education.
Scenario 1 – You have a solid plan and career in mind
For example: If you are planning to take Chemical Engineering, you should aim to take the compulsory/required subjects needed to continue your Chemical Engineering degree, i.e. Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Specialist Mathematics and English.
Here is a rough guide of recommended subjects by degrees.
*Note that English or English as a Second Language (ESL) is compulsory at most colleges.
|Accounting, Business, Economics, Finance||Essential: Mathematics & Economics
Recommended: Accounting, Law, Psychology, Business Management
|Actuarial Science||Essential: Mathematics & Specialist Mathematics
Recommended: Chemistry, Physics, Accounting, Economics
|Biochemistry, Biomedical Science, Nutrition||Essential: Chemistry, Biology & Mathematics
Recommended: Physics, Psychology, Nutrition
|Computer Science||Essential: Mathematics
Recommended: Physics, Specialist Mathematics, Economics
|Engineering||Essential: Mathematics & Physics
Recommended: Chemistry, Specialist Mathematics, Economics
Recommended: Mathematics, Economics, Law, Accounting
|Medicine, Dentistry & Pharmacy||Essential: Chemistry, Biology & Mathematics
Recommended: Physics, Psychology
Scenario 2 – You have no idea what you’re doing on this planet
If you’re one of those who have no clue what you want to do yet (don’t worry, tonnes of students go through the same self-questioning what-is-my-purpose-in-life phase), you can ask yourself which field you’re most interested in – Arts, Science or Business.
Once you’ve decided on that, choose a combination of subjects that will best maximise your chances of getting into any field that you’re most interested in.
For example: You are torn between taking an Accounting or a Marketing degree. Luckily for you, both programmes fall under the Business field! All you have to do to maximise your chances of getting into either programmes, by taking Math and general Business subjects such as Accounting & Economics.
The Biggest Misconception About SAM / AUSMAT
1 Year or Less? SAM / AUSMAT Must be Easy!
It may sound like a good and short route to starting your degree. However, juggling 5 subjects whilst undergoing continuous assessment is no easy task!
To achieve high ATAR scores, you need to be VERY consistent in your performance.
Failing to score a good mark in one test out of five could jeopardise the overall ATAR score. It may not seem like much in the beginning (especially if one test only held 2% – 5% weightage), but when you add it up altogether, you’ll realise that the impact is not so small.
You could aim to score 30% for the final examination, but it might not have enough weight to bring the overall ATAR up.
Here are some practical tips for you to ensure you excel at SAM / AUSMAT:
- Take your BEST subjects and work consistently and carefully in order to perform well
- Ensure that you hand in all your assignments on time and do your homework
- Juggling 5 subjects simultaneously can be confusing, especially with all the weekly tests, quizzes and assignments. Make sure you get the dates right and prepare for them in advance.
- If you are planning to aim for a scholarship, we recommend that you do your best and try to aim for an ATAR of 95 and above
It is not that difficult once you know what to expect. Your lecturers will help guide you all the way, so don’t be afraid to ask any questions!
Where Can You Study SAM / AUSMAT?
If you want to study an Australian Matriculation programme, these courses are mainly offered at private colleges in Malaysia.
Here are the most popular colleges for SAM or AUSMAT in Malaysia.
Campus: Subang Jaya, Selangor
Intakes: Jan, Mar, & Aug
Estimated Fees: RM27,210 (Science), RM26,450 (Humanities)
A pioneer of the Australian Matriculation programme
Over 2,400 graduates have achieved ATAR 80 and above (2011- 2017)
Emphasises both practical experience and book-learning
View other colleges
Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT)
Campus: Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur
Intakes: Jan & Aug
Estimated Fees: RM18,950 (Science), RM17,350 (Humanities)
Scholarships: Up to 100% tuition fee waiver
Generous scholarships, including 100% tuition fee waiver
92.2% passes & 22.3% students scoring ATAR 90+ (2014)
Strong university placements abroad
South Australian Matriculation (SAM)
Campus: Shah Alam, Selangor
Intakes: Jan, May & Jul
Estimated Fees: RM22,365 (Science & Humanities)
A holistic and well-structured curriculum integrating academic & soft skills
Over 28 years of firm collaboration with the SACE Board of South Australia
Qualified teaching staff with over 30 years of experience in preparing students