STPM (Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia) (Form 6)
Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) was previously known as the Higher School Certificate (HSC). It is largely considered equivalent to the GCE A level qualification in the UK and is accepted for entry into most reputable bachelor’s degree programmes in universities all over the world.
All students who have passed the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) are eligible to sit for the STPM, and will be automatically assigned a place in a government secondary school after the release of the SPM results.
Most students take STPM after attending two years of Form 6 (Lower 6 and Upper 6) at a government or private secondary school. You can also register to take STPM as a private candidate – ie study on your own without attending classes and sit for the examinations at a designated test center that you will be assigned when you register. (Note that as a private candidate, you can only take STPM a minimum of two years after passing SPM ie at the same time as your peers taking Form 6 so there is no speed advantage to taking STPM as a private candidate.)
There are 23 subjects that an STPM candidate can choose from, including the compulsory General Paper (Pengajian Am), with each subject consisting of two to four separate papers. All of the papers taken contribute to the final score.
For more information, visit the Malaysian Examinations Council's website.
List of STPM subjects (candidates can take a maximum of five subjects)
- General Paper (Pengajian Am) (compulsory)
- Bahasa Malaysia
- Arabic (plus additional 15-minute oral test)
- English literature
- Malay literature
- Syariah (offered in Malay only)
- Usuluddin (offered in Malay only)
- Business studies
- Sports science
- Visual art
- Mathematics S (cannot be taken with mathematics T)
- Mathematics T (cannot be taken with mathematics S)
- Further mathematics T (must be taken with mathematics T).
STPM is an open-list examination. This means that candidates can take any combination of subjects that they are interested in, as long as the subjects are offered by their school or institution. Most government schools have specific streams geared towards arts or science; you can transfer to a different stream from what you start or are assigned to, but it is better to do so early on in the course. You can ask your school administration about the procedure.
Apart from the subjects listed under the STPM syllabus, students will be required to sit for the Malaysian University English Test (MUET), a prerequisite to enter public universities.
MUET is an English proficiency test that is recognised by public universities in Malaysia and Singapore. It is an examination set and run by the Malaysian Examinations Council, which is the body that oversees the STPM examination, and consists of four components:
MUET scores are graded in 6 bands, with Band 6 being the highest and Band 1 being the lowest:
- Band 6 - Very good user (Aggregated score: 260-300)
- Band 5 - Good user (Aggregated score: 220-259)
- Band 4 - Competent user (Aggregated score: 180-219)
- Band 3 - Modest user (Aggregated score: 140-179)
- Band 2- Limited user (Aggregated score: 101-139)
- Band 1- Extremely limited user (Below 100).
Some courses, including engineering, medicine and law, require a minimum band of 5 or 6 in MUET as part of the entry requirements.
Starting in 2012, MUET will be held three times a year, in March, July and November.
Form 6 is right for you if...
- you intend to save on costly tuition fees but want a globally recognised pre-u qualification
- you prefer to be assessed only once through final examinations at the end of the second year in Form 6.
This article first appeared in doctorjob's CoursesNOW! Pre-University 2011.