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STUDY GUIDE: HOW TO CHOOSE A PRE-UNIVERSITY PROGRAMME?

If you wish to pursue a bachelor's degree and have completed your SPM or IGCSE requirements, you will probably need a pre-university qualification in order to enrol in a university or institution. In order to prepare you for the challenges as an undergraduate student, it serves as a "bridge" between secondary school and university, equipping you with the necessary knowledge and learning skills.

Malaysia provides a wide range of pre-university programmes for you to further your education, but it might be difficult to find the perfect pre-university programme for you because there are so many factors to consider. Edu Experts is here to help you narrow down your options so you can stop worrying and make the best decision possible.

#1 DISCOVER YOUR LEARNING STYLE

Do you prefer exam-based learning or a combination of examinations, assignments, and course work? What is your preferred method of learning? If you prefer exam-based learning with an emphasis on academics over coursework or group-based assessments, an exam-based programme such as A-Level is for you. This may be tough because you will be spending a lot of time buried in books, but if you're the type of person who performs better on tests, this may be for you. What about assessment-based? Assessment-based learning allows students to complete their tests with less restriction and more freedom. While assessment-based programmes have an advantage in attracting students, managing time and priorities becomes a key issue as students must balance coursework and year-end exams simultaneously.

#2 DECIDE WHAT DO YOU WANT TO STUDY FOR DEGREE

As previously mentioned, pre-university programmes serve as a foundation for your degree studies. There is no need to take the Foundation in Science if you know you intend to study business. One of the few tips that you can consider is you can choose a subject that interests you. For example, if you enjoy studying Physics, you may opt for Foundation in Engineering. Obviously, whatever you choose will involve some hard work and stress, but if you can choose a subject that you enjoy at least a little bit, you'll get a lot more out of your degree than if you choose one that you find boring or unappealing. 

#3 CHOOSE A DESTINATION TO PURSUE YOUR DEGREE STUDIES

Do you want to further your studies in Malaysia or abroad? If you intend to study abroad, enrol in the external pre-university programme and select your destination country. For example, if you want to continue your studies in Canada, the Canadian Pre-University programme is the ideal option. If you intend to continue your studies in Malaysia, you may enrol in a foundation course provided by any Malaysian university.

#4 COMPARE YOUR OPTIONS

Don't worry if you're struggling to narrow down your pre-university choices – there are plenty of things you can consider to make choosing easier. 

(a) A-LEVEL

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.

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You should consider this if:
  • You are academically oriented because you are solely evaluated through final exams.

  • You desire to study at top universities abroad because it is recognised by many institutions worldwide.

  • You are unsure about what degree to pursue in the future because it keeps your options open.

You should not consider this if:
  • You prefer to be evaluated using a combination of coursework and examinations.

  • You want to take a course that demands hands-on experience (e.g. culinary arts, hospitality and tourism, etc.).

  • You want to use PTPTN to pay your pre-university courses (only MQA-approved diploma and degree programmes are eligible).

(b) AUSTRALIAN MATRICULATION PROGRAMME

A one-year programme modelled after the Australian school system. Your overall grade (ATAR) is determined by the coursework, tests, and final exams you complete.

You should consider this if:
  • You prefer ongoing tests and projects over a final exam.

  • You enjoy a holistic learning approach by selecting 5 subjects from several streams.

  • You want to study abroad as most international institutions recognise it.

You should not consider this if:
  • You struggle with time management since you will have to juggle test, presentations and exams at once.

  • You have a high tendency to put things off.

(c) CANADIAN PRE-UNIVERSITY PROGRAMME

A 12- to 15-month curriculum based on the Canadian educational system that is primarily evaluated through a unique mix of coursework, tests, and volunteer activities.

You should consider this if:
  • You are eager to continue your education abroad, particularly in Canada.

  • You are interested in a variety of interesting subjects, including drama and creative writing.

  • You prefer an interactive learning experience.

You should not consider this if:
  • You prefer exam-based assessments.

  • You do not enjoy interactive in-class activities.

  • You cannot juggle studies, projects and exams.

(d) DIPLOMA


A 2 to 3 - year study programme that can be applied to advance to Year 2 of a degree programme or directly into the workforce. It consists of coursework, tests, and an internship period where you will gain industry-related experience.

You should consider this if:
  • You wish to work in a field that demands hands-on experience, for example, early childhood education, automotive technology, or graphic design.

  • You are eager to begin working soon.

  • You have at least 3-4 SPM credits.

You should not consider this if:
  • You are unsure about what field you want to pursue in your degree.

  • You want to pursue degrees that will challenge you academically like dentistry or medicine.

  • You want to study at a top university in another country.

(e) INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE

A two-year pre-university programme that demands you to take six subjects from a wide range of subjects, as well as to write research papers and complete your sports, arts, and community service requirements.

You should consider this if:
  • You are an all-arounder who enjoys learning subjects from a range of disciplines.

  • You can manage your schedule effectively between tests, research papers, and extracurricular activities.

  • You are prepared to pursue an academically hard and demanding course.

You should not consider this if:
  • You prefer an entirely exam-based evaluation.

  • You prefer to concentrate on a few topics that are directly relevant to your field of interest.

  • You want the quickest and simplest path to a degree.

(f) FOUNDATION

A one-year programme that focuses on areas relating to your chosen field such as Foundation in Arts, Foundation in Business, and Foundation in Science. The university offers the course in preparation for a degree programme in a related discipline.

You should consider this if:
  • You have picked what field you want to study for your degree.

  • You want to get into a degree programme as soon as possible.

  • You want to get a jump start on the degree programme you want to pursue.

You should not consider this if:
  • You are unsure about what degree you want to pursue.

  • You intend to change field or institutions for your degree because not all institutions will recognise your foundation qualification.

  • You cannot juggle studies, projects and exams

(g) SIJIL TINGGI PERSEKOLAHAN MALAYSIA (STPM)

A Malaysian pre-university programme administered by the Malaysian Examinations Council (MEC). It is graded on the grounds of projects, practical work, and final exams, with the results mediated and validated by a Cambridge Assessment representative from the United Kingdom.

You should consider this if:
  • You wish to attend a public university.

  • You want a low-cost programme (it costs less than RM1,000 for the entire course).

  • You require additional time to consider your degree possibilities.

You should not consider this if:
  • You prefer to concentrate on a few topics that are directly relevant to your field of interest.

  • You wish to take a course that demands hands-on experience.

  • You're looking for the quickest way to get into a degree programme.

(h) MATRICULATION

A Malaysian pre-university programme for students who wish to enrol at public universities. This 1-2 year programme is separated into science, accounting, and technical streams, depending on your SPM track. You will be evaluated on coursework, tests, and involvement in co-curricular activities.

You should consider 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 should not consider 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.

#5 ASK EDU EXPERTS FOR HELP

We acknowledge that selecting a pre-university programme can be a time-consuming process, which is why we would gladly assist! Our experienced education consultants have detailed understanding of our tertiary education; so you can simply contact us with any questions.