What makes the Malaysian education system so special?

The emphasis on bilingual education? The consecutive abolishments of certain public examinations over the past two years?

Well, these two are certainly on the top of the list.  But nothing can beat this.

Instead of entering university/college directly, 18-year-olds can continue to attend public and private schools for an affordable pre-university programme, where they can choose from these two following options.

The first option is to take the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) that is offered by Chinese Independent High Schools.

The second option is to enrol as a Form Six student and sit for another popular pre-university public school-based examination, which is the Malaysian Higher School Certificate, commonly known as the Sijil Pelajaran Tinggi Malaysia (STPM).

In this article, we will be doing an in-depth analysis of the STPM examination in terms of its characteristics, subject selection, grading scale and also the education pathways that students can pursue after completing it.

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What You Should Know About The New STPM Examination System?

The first STPM took place nationwide in 1982 and since then, the examination has been administered by the Malaysian Examinations Council (MEC).

In 2012, the MEC decided to introduce some changes to the examination system. Here are 3 important changes that you should take note of if you're interested to do your Form Six studies.

a) A new modular system has replaced the terminal system 

Before 2012, the STPM examination is only conducted once a year at the very end of the 18 months of Form Six studies. Now, the modular system splits the whole course of Form Six studies into three semesters.

This way, the students will sit for the STPM exams each semester (80%) and be graded for their registered subjects per semester. Students will also undergo school-based assessments which will contribute 20% to their final CGPA.

semester stpm exam
Form 6 students will now sit for a semester-based STPM exam.
Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

b) Changes in overall syllabus and format for certain subjects 

Granted that there are 3 semesters throughout the Form 6 studies, students will only need to learn selected topics for each semester and be tested on those topics at the end of the semester.

In terms of changed formats, two Mathematics subjects were previously known as Mathematics T (Pure Mathematics) and Mathematics S (Applied Mathematics) before 2012.

These subjects have since been revamped into Mathematics T (Technical) and Mathematics M (Management) for the Science stream and Art stream students respectively.

Mathematic T will focus on themes like:

  1. Allegra and Geometry (Semester 1)
  2. Calculus (Semester 2)
  3. Statistics (Semester 3)

Mathematic M will focus on themes like:

  1. Algebra and Calculus (Semester 1)
  2. Statistics  (Semester 2)
  3. Financial and Decision Mathematics (Semester 3)

c) Students can repeat their semester exams and apply to universities with the best grade 

This is perhaps the greatest news for Form 6 students who are taking STPM under the new modular system!

As of 2022, students can resit for individual subjects for their previous semesters (Semester 1 and Semester 2) during their Semester 3 examinations if their initial grades are below their expectations.

Important note: Starting from 2014, students are not allowed to resit for their Semester 3 papers.

Only the higher grade of your subjects between your first paper and resit paper will be indicated on your final STPM certificate.

Take a look at this IGCSE guide.

What Are The Subjects Offered For STPM?

Every Form Six candidate can register for a minimum of 4 subjects and a maximum of 5 subjects for each semester.

The subject combination is subject to their chosen streams and subjects selection that is chosen by their respective schools. The compulsory subject that all students have to take is Pengajian Am [Code 960]. 

All subjects are taught and tested in Malay unless stated.

The list of subjects that you can study under STPM is shown in these main categories:

Science and Mathematics

  • 950 Mathematics (M)  [Billingual]
  • 954 Mathematics (T)  [Billingual]
  • 958 Information And Communications Technology [Billingual]
  • 960 Physics [Billingual]
  • 962 Chemistry [Billingual]
  • 964 Biology [Billingual]

Languages and Literature

  • 910 Bahasa Melayu
  • 911 Bahasa Cina [Chinese]
  • 912 Bahasa Tamil [Tamil]
  • 913 Bahasa Arab  [Arabic]
  • 920 Literature in English [English]
  • 922 Kesusasteraan Melayu Komunikatif

Arts and Health

  • 966 Sains Sukan
  • 970 Seni Visual

Social Sciences and Religion

  • 930 Syariah
  • 931 Usuluddin
  • 932 Tahfiz Al-Quran
  • 940 Sejarah
  • 942 Geografi
  • 944 Ekonomi
  • 946 Pengajian Perniagaan
  • 948 Perakaunan

Interested to know more about vocational studies in Malaysia? Read this article on SVM.

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What Is The Grading System Of STPM?

Refer to the table below to look at how the latest STPM is graded. You can refer to your subject manual from the MPM website to look at the breakdown of percentages for each subject for each semester.

GradeScore (Marks)CGPARemarks
A80-1004.00Full Pass
A-73-793.67Full Pass
B60-663.00Full Pass
B-53-592.67Full Pass
C+47-522.33Full Pass
C40-462.00Full Pass
C-37-391.67Partial Pass
D+33-361.33Partial Pass
D30-321.00Partial Pass
F0-290Fail

Discover the latest updates on PBD assessments in Malaysia.

Who Should Sit For The STPM Examinations?

Maybe you are currently waiting for your SPM examination results and pondering if you should register as a Form Six student to continue your tertiary studies.

Here are 3 key questions to ask yourself before you decide.

a) Do you want to apply directly to local public universities?

STPM is one of the core pre-university programmes that allows its graduates to have direct admission to local public universities apart from the local matriculation programme.

b) Do you want a comprehensive internationally recognized pre-university programme?

The STPM syllabus and results are recognized by universities around the world.  Furthermore, the grading process of the latest modular system is thoroughly monitored by a representative from Cambridge Assessment to uphold the overall quality and standards.

c) Do you want to have a cost-effective tertiary study before enrolling on a degree?

If you are a registered Form Six student at a public school, you don't have to pay a single cent to sit for the STPM exams each semester. You'll only need to pay RM50 to resit per subject.

You don't have to worry about pricey tuition fees at all!

How To Be Eligible For Form Six Studies And Take The STPM In Malaysia?

You don't have to go through a complex procedure to be a Form Six student. If you are not offered to study for a local matriculation programme, you will automatically be offered to study Form Six after completing your secondary school studies.

a) Make sure you achieve these minimum academic requirements for your SPM 

It's super important to pass your SPM! By that we mean you need to get credit for your SPM Malay Language paper and get a pass for your Sejarah (History) paper. Without these two pre-requisites, you are not eligible to even get a complete SPM certificate to pursue your studies at other local higher learning institutions.

Form 6 stpm
Your SPM results matter when it comes to securing a Form 6 offer.
Source: Xframe

To secure a better chance of successfully enrolling as a Form 6 student, it's best to make sure you secure at least 3 credits (Cs) in your overall SPM result.

There's no shortcut to success. The key is to start preparing now. Make sure you fully understand what is taught and master all the answering techniques for the subjects.  You can also hire a private tutor to provide you with personalised lessons and guidance when it comes to some of your weaker subjects.

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Just follow these 3 simple steps on the Superprof Malaysia homepage to kickstart your learning experience.

  • Step 1: SEARCH

Browse the tutors' profiles freely and see if their listed information matches your criteria. You can learn more about their teaching methodology, teaching experience, hourly rate, and preferred teaching mode before deciding.

  • Step 2: CONTACT

Once you are satisfied with the tutor's profile, you can get in touch with the tutor. The tutor will reply to you within their listed response time (most of them are within 24 hours).

  • Step 3: ORGANISE

It's the last step, hurray! You can directly communicate with your tutor on the arrangements of your lessons and discuss further payment details, class frequencies and many more. You're now on your way to your first lesson!

b) Check if you are offered to study Form 6 through the Ministry of Education's website 

Pay attention to the announcements that are uploaded by the Ministry of Education to check if you are offered a place to do your Form 6 studies. If you are offered, you will be asked to print out the offer letter which contains details of the school that you should enrol.

c) Register for STPM each semester with guided instructions from your form teacher 

As a Form 6 student, you will need to register for your STPM via the Malaysian Examination Council website. Remember to check your particulars ( full name and IC) and registered subjects before the final click.

What Is The Education Pathway For Students After Completing STPM?

The 18 months of your Form Six life have passed and you have now received your final CGPA of your STPM results! Congratulations! With an STPM certificate, you can practically study anywhere!

study degree stpm
Your STPM certificate can take you to any universities.
Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash
  • Local public universities

You can apply to all the 20 public universities under the UPU online application that will be opened on their official website before September.

  • Local private higher learning institutions 

As soon your results ie released, you can start applying for private universities and colleges according to their open intakes. For basic degrees, their STPM entry requirement is at least CGPA 2.00. Do take note that other programmes and universities may have different entry requirements.

  • Overseas higher learning institutions 

STPM is internationally recognized by all Commonwealth countries and other Asian countries because its qualification is equivalent to A-Level. If you intend to do a degree overseas, it's best to take the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) as proof of your English proficiency.

To enhance your foreign language skill, you might want to learn more about the UPBA in Malaysia.

We hope this article will help you to decide if STPM is for you. All the best in your future endeavours!

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An avid reader and writer, Joycelyn loves the art of communication and is passionate about all kinds of media.