If you have just completed your secondary school education and are preparing for university studies, you may want to start thinking about a pre-university programme. Pre-university programmes prepare students for entry into university. Here are some popular options you can consider.


General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (GCE A Level)

The A Level is a popular option due to its wide recognition by universities locally and abroad. Students spend 12 to 24 months studying a combination of three or four subjects. Examination boards available in Malaysia are Cambridge and Edexcel. The A Level is a suitable choice if you prefer 100% based assessments and want to keep your options open. This is also a popular option for students intending to study in the UK.

American Degree Programme (ADP)

The equivalent of the 12th grade in American high schools, the ADP is a popular choice among students who want to study in American universities. Assessment consists of 70% coursework comprising quizzes, assignments, and tests, and 30% final examinations. Compared to other pre-university courses, the ADP places greater emphasis on class participation. One of the distinctive features of the ADP is its flexibility in allowing students to switch majors after two years. This is great for those who want to study a broad range of subjects before deciding on a major.

Australian Matriculation

The two primary Australian-based programmes in Malaysia are the SACE International (formerly known as the South Australian Matriculation) and the Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT). Both courses require students to study five subjects within a duration of up to 12 months. Assessment is based on coursework (70% for the SACE International, and 50% for the AUSMAT), and final exams. The Australian matriculation is a good choice if you prefer continuous assessment throughout your course.

Canadian Pre-University Programmes

Students can choose between the Canadian Pre-University (CPU) and the Canadian International Matriculation Programme (CIMP). Students are required to take six subjects including English, in addition to the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT). The course duration is typically between 12 and 15 months. Students are also expected to complete at least 10 hours of community service in order to graduate.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP)

The two-year programme leading to the IB diploma is accepted by over 100 countries worldwide. Students are required to take six subjects across six broad categories: Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics and the Arts. Additionally, students must complete three core component courses with Theory of Knowledge as one of them. Grading will be done internally (by your lecturers) and externally (by IB examiners). The IB is an excellent choice if you wish to develop critical thinking skills and is prepared for a challenging programme.

Factors to consider

The most important consideration would be what you plan to do at university. If you prefer competitive and academically-focused courses, you may want to consider exambased pre-university programmes over those involving coursework. Other considerations include the country in which you wish to pursue your university studies. Different countries have different learning approaches and standards of measuring achievement so choose a suitable course that provides you direct entry. In order to do well in your pre-university course and at university, you also need to consider your interests and the type of learner you are. Gather as much information as possible and make a list of the criteria that would be important to you. Once you have shortlisted the top three institutions offering the chosen pre-university programme of your choice, contact the colleges and universities directly or visit them during their open days.