What to Study After SPM? After-SPM Guide

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The journey up until SPM itself is daunting, but what comes after can be often even more confusing and difficult for many students. In order to get entry into a Bachelor’s Degree, students are required to have a Year 12 qualification. 

Since SPM is only equivalent to a Year 10/11 qualification, you are required to complete a pre-university program or Year 12 program, to fill the gap between SPM and getting a degree.

However, choosing the right program from the various different pre-university programs can be exhaustive without the much needed research.

We are here to help you get started with your research, with a detailed list of the most common pre-university programs offered in Malaysia that you could consider as a route to your Bachelor’s Degree. 

1. Foundation Courses/ Programs

A foundation program is a study course, originated from the UK, designed to fill the gap between SPM and the level needed to gain entry into a bachelor’s degree program at a university. Foundation programs typically take one year to complete. It is a quicker pathway to a Bachelor’s Degree than other pre-university programs such as A-levels and Diploma. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is that, in a foundation program you will be studying subjects that are specific to your interested course. Hence, a foundation program might be the right choice for you if you have an idea about the career you want to pursue. 

It can be quite difficult to switch between courses if you opt for a more specialized foundation course such as IT, Business or Architecture.  However, for students who want to keep their career choices more open, there are also broad foundation courses such as science or arts that usually take upto one year to complete. 

The assessment style of foundation programs are a mix of quizzes, assignments, and continual assessments on top of final exams. 

One of the setbacks of a foundation program is that other colleges may not recognize the foundation program if you decide to continue your degree overseas. So having a clear plan of where you want to study and which course you prefer is crucial. 

For more information regarding foundation programs, please contact Excel Education

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2. A-Levels

Advanced Level Qualifications (A-Levels) is a pre-university program that follows the UK education system. These are subject based qualifications that can lead you to either university, training or work. A-levels can be completed within 1.5 to 2 years. A-levels are completely assessed based on a series of examinations. 

A-levels are now accepted globally as an eligible qualification to enter numerous universities, within and outside of the UK. In A-levels, students usually study three to four subjects of their choice. In Malaysia there are two represented examination boards, University of Cambridge International Examinations and Edexcel Limited. Even though the two examination boards have different assessment styles, both are recognized equally worldwide. 

A-level is often a good choice for students who want to keep their study options open. When choosing A-Level subjects consider subjects you are likely to be good at, since having an ability in it will make the experience easier. Also, if you have a specific career you want to pursue you might want to look into the subjects needed for the course of your interest in order to meet the entry requirements. If you are planning to go into university after A-Levels, keep in mind that universities require specific A-levels or a combination of A-levels (usually 3 subjects).

In short, you should consider A-levels if you want more flexible study options, if you’re up for a challenging syllabus, and you are interested in continuing your studies overseas. 

For more information regarding A-level subjects and colleges offering A-levels, please contact Excel Education

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3. Australian Matriculation

Australian Matriculation, is a globally recognized pre-university program offered in different institutions around the world. There are two types of Australian Matriculation in Malaysia, South Australian Matriculation (SAM) or SACE International and AUSMAT, also known as, Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE). 

Australian Matriculation is recognized in almost all universities of Australia, and most universities in Malaysia and other parts of the world as well. All three of these programs are graded by a balanced combination of coursework and external examination. However, they do vary in terms of structure, syllabus, and coursework to examination grading percentage. Students are usually required to take 5 subjects of their choice for successful completion of the program.

Upon completion, students are awarded an Australian Tertiary Education (ATAR) rank, based on the students’ results. ATAR score is one of the entry requirements to be eligible for application into certain universities. 

Australian Matriculation is highly recommended for students looking to continue their studies in an overseas university or a private university in Malaysia. 

For more inquiries regarding Australian Matriculation, contact Excel Education

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4. American Degree Program (ADTP/ADP)

American Degree Transfer Program is a program that allows students to pursue the first part of their degree in a private university in Malaysia, and the final part in an American University. Students typically either spend the first one or two years in Malaysia and the other two in America. 

Another program, much like ADTP, is American Degree Program (ADP),  where  you complete your degree locally without transferring to a university in the United States. With this program you have the same academic experience of an American university without having to deal with the expensive tuition fees. Upon completion of the program you will be awarded the Degree Certificate of an American intuition. 

ADTP and ADP are usually 3- 4 year programs that you can directly enter after SPM. They are typically 70% coursework and 30% final exam and provide you with a flexible and broad based curriculum.

American Degree Programs are all about flexibility as it allows you the option to change your major during the first two years, giving you extra flexibility in choosing majors. In addition to this, you are able to take fewer or more subjects per semester to complete your degree at your own pace. You also get a broad range of subjects to choose from. 

If you prefer a program with fewer exams and more exciting assignments, projects and presentations American Degree Programs are the right choice for you. This is also a good option for students who want to study abroad, but have difficulty affording their whole course of study as an international student.  

With more flexibility, however comes more responsibility. Hence, before choosing your subjects it is very important for you to do your research. 

You can contact Excel Education for more assistance in choosing your ADTP course.

5. Canadian Pre-University Program

As the name suggests, Canadian Pre-University Program is a Canadian based pre-university program offered to students who have finished O-levels  as a pathway to their bachelor’s degree. It shares the same level of qualification as STPM. 

The Canadian pre-university programs offered in Malaysian private university and colleges, International Canadian Pre-U (ICPU) and Canadian International Matriculation Programme (CIMP), all lead to Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), which is recognized by universities in Canada, United States and selected universities in the UK and other countries as well. 

Your course will usually be 12-15 months long and you will be taking 5 subjects and an English course which will be divided across semesters. 

Similar to ADP, Canadadian Pre-U also comprises 70% coursework and 30% external examinations. Therefore, it is a good choice for students looking for a more interactive form of learning, with your assessment and grading spread out throughout the course of study. 

You are also required to take up a minimum 10 hours of community service in order to complete this program. Hence, it is also a good choice for students who want extra curricular activities to be a bigger part of your study and prepare for your studies overseas. 

For more information regarding Canadian Pre-University Programs, contact Excel Education.


STPM is a qualification equal to GCE A-levels in the UK. It is a Year 12 for students who wish to experience school life a bit longer after completing SPM. STPM can usually be completed within 18 months and takes a holistic approach to learning with an emphasis on critical thinking, communication skills and leadership. 

STPM is widely accepted across the most reputable universities in the world. In STPM, students are offered to choose from a range of 23 subjects, including a compulsory General Paper. This program consists of two types of assessment, 20-40% school based assessment and a 60-80% final examination. 

Please note that before entering a public university students are also required to take Malaysian University English Test (MUET). 

STPM has always been a great option for ambitious students who are cost-conscious but want to enter into competitive degrees at university.  It is also a good option for students who want to keep their study options open. 

For more information regarding STPM, contact Excel Education..

7. Malaysian Matriculation

Malaysian Matriculation, also known as Malaysian Matriculation or Matrikulasi is a pre-university program that serves to fill the gap between SPM and Bachelor’s Degree programs at local universities. Malaysian Matriculation can be completed within 1-2 years. Even though Malaysian Matriculation is widely recognized within local universities, it is also accepted in some universities in New Zealand and the UK. 

The study choices are however very limited, where you get to choose from only two streams of study, namely, Science and Accounting. 

This is a very cost-effective option for students planning to enter local public universities. For Successful completion of this program you are required to complete 2-4 semesters. Local Matriculation offers students to choose from 4 streams, namely, Science, Accounting, Professional Accounting and Engineering. In each stream a wide variety of subjects are offered, running from medicine to IT.  The grading is based on 10-20% classroom assignments, 10% mid semester exams, and 70-80% final examinations. 

This is a preferred route to tertiary education among Malaysians as it is extremely cost-effective to pursue a degree with a local university. In addition to local universities, it is also accepted in some foreign universities in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the UK. This pre-university program is also a great option for students who want to keep their study options open.

For more information regarding Local Matriculation, contact Excel Education

8. Diploma

Diploma is one level below an undergraduate degree and can be considered equivalent to the first year of a degree. In a diploma program, there will be high emphasis on industry specific skills to prepare you for the working world. After the completion of a diploma you can either get entry into the second year of a related degree or join the workforce early. 

Diploma usually takes 24-36 months for successful completion. The courses offered in a Diploma are very specific and it is very important for you to have decided on what you want to do in the future. A diploma comprises a combination of coursework and final examinations. Most universities also require students to undertake an internship in the final year, for you to get first hand industry experience. 

Diploma is a preferred option among students who have a set plan for their future, and want to enter the workforce early. It is also a preferred pathway for students who are looking for a route with lower entry requirements. Malaysian students will also be able to apply for a PTPN loan with a Diploma, unlike most other pre-university programs such as A-level, Australian Matriculation, and most Foundation courses. 

For more information regarding Diploma courses, contact Excel Education.

Recommended Articles to Read

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About The Author

Mariyam Naufa
I like to keep it simple. 
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