SPM and IGCSE are two of the most popular examinations for secondary students to take before they proceed to the tertiary education level. As a parent or a student, it might be difficult to choose which examination is the best to go to.
In this article, we will explain all the things you need to know about IGCSE vs SPM. Hopefully, at the end of the day, it will help you to decide which examination to choose. So, let’s take a look at what is SPM and IGCSE are all about.
What Is SPM?
Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia or generally known as SPM is a national examination for Malaysian students. Students in the last year of secondary school will have to sit for Malaysia SPM before they can further their studies at the tertiary education level.
What Is IGCSE?
IGCSE stands for International General Certificate for Secondary Education. IGCSE Malaysia is Cambridge certified. The exam is taken by students between 14 to 16 or 15 to 17 years old on their end of secondary education level.
The number of students who took the IGCSE examination increases from 3000 candidates in the year 2012 to whooping 8800 candidates in 2018. It has been said that IGCSE is getting more attention in recent years by local Malaysian students.
Basically, both SPM and IGCSE have equivalent qualifications but there is a number of distinction between the two. So, what are the difference between SPM and IGCSE?
The Subjects For SPM And IGCSE
For SPM, you can take up to 12 subjects for the examination. However, there are compulsory SPM subjects that you need to take to which are:
- Malay language
- Islamic Studies (for Muslim students)
- Moral education (for non-Muslim students)
- Science (compulsory for students who are in Commerce, Literature and Arts stream only)
In fact, in order to actually receive an SPM certificate, you have to pass 2 subjects - compulsory in Malay and History.
On the other hand, there are more than 70 IGCSE subjects you can choose from. You will have more flexibility to select subjects for the examinations when it comes to IGCSE. Here are some of the subjects offered in the IGCSE examinations:
- IGCSE English
- IGCSE Malay
- Art & Design
- Computer Science
- Information & Communication Technology
- Mathematics Additional
- Travel & Tourism
There are no compulsory subjects that you need to take to sit for IGCSE. Therefore, you can choose any subjects based on your interests and those that you are confident to score. However, you are advised to take up a minimum of 5 subjects and a maximum of 14 subjects.
IGCSE syllabus is considered quite broad compared to the SPM syllabus. The SPM on the other hand is more difficult but the threshold marks to pass the exam could be literally low.
Both programs test students in various ways such as coursework and final examinations. The final examinations for each paper usually come in the different assessments such as:
Reading test usually consists of multiple-choice questions, information matching, sentence completion and summary completion. The reading test assesses your comprehension skill.
In the writing test, you will be evaluated based on your writing skill for example writing for SPM in English and Malay language. Writing an essay SPM or IGCSE is pretty intimidating. You need to get familiar with different writing formats such as informal letter, email and newspaper report format SPM and IGCSE.
Listening And Speaking Test
In the listening test, you will have to listen to English audio and answer questions based on the audio. Meanwhile, in a speaking test, you will have to come up with a conversation fluently with your examiner or present a topic confidently on your own.
Duration Of SPM And IGCSE Program
Looking at the duration of both the SPM and IGCSE programs, there is no doubt that IGCSE has the advantage for students to finish their secondary education level faster.
Fast learning students can sit for the IGCSE examination earlier and finish school as early as 16 years old.
Meanwhile, for SPM, students have to finish 11 years of schooling to be able to sit for the examination. SPM students usually will attend the examination at the age of 17.
SPM And IGCSE Examination
SPM examination is held once per year, usually in November. It usually lasts around 3 weeks. There are SPM papers scheduled in June for any students who wish to resit for the Malay language, History and Mathematics paper.
IGCSE examination is held twice per year - June and November. Although the current global situation somehow affects learning sessions around the world, most of the schools wish to hold the exam during the same period as previous years. Therefore, the IGCSE 2021 timetable will take place as usual.
SPM And IGCSE Grading System
SPM and IGCSE have their own grading system. Both results will determine whether the student qualifies to enrol into tertiary education level including matriculation, foundation, diploma or any other certificates program.
For SPM, the grades are assigned in a range from A+ (the highest grade) to G (‘G’ stands for Gagal that means ‘Fail’ in Malay). The full grades are recorded as A+, A, A-, B+, B, C+, D, E and G.
There is two grading system used in the IGCSE report results. They are A*-G grading and 9-1 grading.
The ‘U’ grade denotes the performance which is below the standard of the lowest grade. ‘U’ stands for Ungraded. The table below shows the full grades of both grading systems.
Do note that 9-1 is the new grading system. However, the A*-G grading scale is still being used and will not be disadvantaged for universities acceptance.
To be accepted an enrolment into a university, you need to get a minimum grade of C for your Malay language and History in the SPM examination. The same goes for IGCSE. You need to obtain at least a C in your subjects but you are not tied to any passing compulsory subjects.
Institution That Recognises SPM And IGCSE Certificate
SPM is set and examined by the Malaysian Examinations boards (Lembaga Peperiksaan Malaysia). Although it is locally set by the Malaysian government, it is still recognised by all universities all around the world.
If you score well in your SPM result, you will be able to choose just about any tertiary education path available in and outside of Malaysia. You are also able to opt for local public or private universities.
On the other hand, IGCSE is offered by two examination boards which are Pearson Edexcel and Cambridge. Cambridge IGCSE is also recognised by reputable universities and companies all around the world.
You can opt for local public universities after IGCSE but the procedure is quite difficult. Doing the IGCSE is the best setting if you plan for local private universities or overseas universities.
However, your acceptance into tertiary education level is still depending on the result of your examination. If you perform great in your examination, you will be able to enrol in just about any institution. Contradictory, with the lower result, you will have limited options to do so.
The Cost To Sit For SPM And IGCSE Exam
There is no doubt that SPM cost much lesser than IGCSE. For students in government schools, you do not have to pay your school fee. Your SPM examinations are considered free.
Even you register as a private candidate, the cost for the SPM examinations are still low. Each paper does not exceed more than RM25. The most expensive expenses might be textbooks and revision books.
On the other hand, IGCSE examinations could cost you around RM20 000 up to RM100 000 per year depending on how many papers you take, the school you go and the textbooks you use. However, there are a few better options you can go for.
Alternatively, you can go to private learning centres or hire tutors for home-schooling. These two alternatives especially hiring tutors would cost you much cheaper compared to attending private schools.
You can find tutors for any subject easily on online tutoring websites such as Superprof. Superprof is a reputable tutoring website that offers more than 16 million private teachers for over 100 subjects available.
So if you are looking for tutors for IGCSE subjects, Superprof is the best place to look for them. Best of all, the tutors available to hire at Superprof are professionals and have years of experience in helping students with their examinations.
Searching for tutors on the Superprof website is easy. By using the website’s search engine, all you have to do is to choose your subjects, enter your location and click on the “Find a tutor’ button.
You will see a list of available tutors for the subjects within the area you choose. Go through the list and click on the tutors’ profiles to see what they can offer. Once you are ready to hire your tutor, just click on the ‘Book a lesson’ to consult with them.
Now you have learned all about SPM vs IGCSE in this article. It is time for you to choose whether IGCSE or SPM option is the best option for your future undertaking and what comes after them. Good luck and all the best.
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