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Which Pre-U Course Should You Choose?

Published by Afterschool.my on Mar 16, 2018, 08:37 am

So many options, so little time!

So, you've finished with SPM. Secondary school is over and done with. You have a rough idea about what course of study you want to pursue... but how do you get there?

A Pre-University programme is a preparatory course for students who have completed their SPM. It acts as a 'bridge' between secondary school and university, providing you with proper knowledge and learning skills so that you'll be able to cope with the challenges of an undergraduate course.

There are a number of different Pre-U programmes available to you. We're here to help you narrow down your options, so you can stop stressing and make the right decision!


Foundation programme

Duration11 - 18 months
Number of subjectsVaries depending on the programme and institution (usually combination of compulsory and elective subjects)
GradesVaries depending on the programme and institution
CourseworkVaries depending on the programme and institution (usually a combination of coursework e.g. research papers, assignments, and exams)
PriceRM15,000 - RM30,000
Pros
  • Tailored specifically towards the degree course offered by the university
  • Shorter duration compared to most Pre-U courses
  • Cheaper than most Pre-U courses
Cons
  • May be difficult to switch courses if you decide to pursue a different field
  • May not be recognised if you decide to go to a different university for your undergraduate degree

Is it right for you?

If you already have a clear idea on what you would like to study at the undergraduate level, then the foundation programme is perfect for you. Often considered a 'fast track' option, the foundation programme is tailored specifically to the course you wish to pursue in your desired institution, making it that much simpler to move to the next stage of higher education.


A-Levels

Country of originUnited Kingdom
Duration15 - 18 months
Number of subjectsMinimum 3, maximum 4
Coursework100% exam based (AS Level and A2 Level)
GradesGrades are given from A* to E for each subject taken with a maximum score of A*A*A* for 3 subjects, and A*A*A*A* for 4 subjects.
PriceRM20,000 - RM40,000
Pros
  • Commonly considered the 'Gold Standard' of Pre-U programmes and is globally accepted (UK, US, Singapore, Australia etc.)
  • More than 40 subjects to select from
  • Subjects taken are usually related in some way, thus allowing you to learn them in detail and focus on areas that you are interested in
Cons
  • Higher cost compared to most Pre-U programmes
  • Longer duration than most Pre-U programmes
  • Not recognised in some public universities

Is it right for you?

If you're looking for a globally recognised pre-university qualification, are very academically-inclined and prefer exam-oriented assessment rather than coursework or assignments, then A-Levels is the right choice for you.


Australian Matriculation (SACE/AUSMAT)

Country of originAustralia
Duration11 months
Number of subjects5 subjects (including English)
Coursework
  • SACE: 70% coursework (e.g. tests, research papers, assignments) and 30% exams
  • AUSMAT: 50% coursework (e.g. tests, research papers, assignments) and 50% exams
GradesFinal results will be a single score, the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). Derived from your best four subjects plus 10% of your weakest subject.
PriceRM21,000 - RM34,000
Pros
  • Recognised by various countries overseas
  • Shorter duration compared to most Pre-U courses
  • Allows to pursue a wide range of degrees upon completion
  • Continuous assessment helps to accumulate marks towards your final grade, instead of depending on a particular exam or coursework
Cons
  • Requires extremely high final grades to continue on to highly competitive degrees e.g. Medicine
  • Must be consistent in all assessment types to achieve an excellent final grade
  • Self-directed learning may not be suitable for everyone

Is it right for you?

If you prefer continuous assessment throughout the year by way of in-class tests, research papers, assignments, and exams, then AUSMAT/SACE is the one for you. Globally recognised and a quicker route than most other Pre-U programmes, AUSMAT/SACE is one of the most popular choices for Pre-U.


Canadian Pre-University (CPU)

Country of originCanada
Duration12 - 15 months
Number of subjects6
Coursework70% coursework (e.g. tests, research papers, assignments) and 30% final exam
GradesFinal exam will be an average percentage across all 6 subjects taken, with the maximum score of 100%.
PriceBetween RM13,000 ndash; RM35,000
Pros
  • Flexibility to choose from a wide range of subjects
  • Focuses on interactive learning as opposed to only academic
  • Progressive accumulation of marks towards your final grade instead of depending on one final exam or coursework
Cons
  • Public speaking and debate may not be suitable everyone (requirement for CPU)

Is it right for you?

If you like more subject options in your pre-university programme and prefer hands-on learning, then Canadian Pre-U is for you. Like Australian Matriculation, continuous assessment throughout the year helps to accumulate your marks towards your final grade instead of focusing on only one final exam or coursework.


American Degree Program (ADP)

Country of originUS
Duration48 months (direct route to undergraduate degree)
Number of subjectsBetween 2 - 6
Coursework70% overall assessment (tests, assignments, presentations, extra and co-curricular activities) and 30% final exams
GradesFinal results will be a single score, the Grade Point Average (GPA) on a 0.0 to 4.0 scale. The highest grade is an A, which equals 4.0 The final result is the CGPA (cumulative grade point average) which is also on a 0.0 to 4.0 scale, and is your GPA obtained from all subjects taken.
PriceRM30,000 - RM60,000
Pros
  • Direct route to undergraduate degree
  • Extremely flexible; students can switch majors within 2 years of study and decide how many subjects to take each semester
  • Focuses on interactive learning as opposed to only academic
Cons
  • Can be expensive
  • Longer duration is due to pursuing your degree immediately after SPM
  • Not recognised in some public universities

Is it right for you?

Unlike other Pre-U programmes, what makes ADP unique is that it's a direct entry into your university level course. By joining the programme, you're technically already pursuing your degree. ADP also has a credit-transfer option, which allows you to transfer to a university overseas (typically in the US) after studying in Malaysia first.


STPM

Country of originMalaysia
Duration18 months (+6 months if you intend to apply to public universities)
Number of subjectsBetween 4 - 5 (including General Studies)
Coursework
  • School-based assessment (project paper, field work and practical; weightage of 20 - 40% of the final score)
  • Centralised examination (weightage of 60 - 80% of the final score)
GradesFinal results will be a single score, the Overall Subject Grade Point. Grades are given from A to F for each subject taken, which corresponds to a grade point. The Overall Subject Grade Point is the average of the top four subjects with the maximum score of 4.0.
PriceLess than RM1,000
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Recognised globally
  • Students can repeat the written exam at the end of each term for better results
Cons
  • Can be very challenging
  • Longer duration compared to most Pre-U courses
  • Heavy weightage of exam-based assessment may not be suitable for everyone

Is it right for you?

If you want an affordable, yet still globally recognised qualification, then STPM is the pre-university programme for you. Offered by many government schools in Malaysia and considered the equivalent to A-Levels, STPM is more academically-inclined.


Malaysian Matriculation Programme (Matrikulasi) and Asasi IPTA

Country of originMalaysia
Duration12 months (Program Satu Tahun) - 24 months (Program Dua Tahun)
Number of subjects3 streams (Science, Accounting or Technical); total of 8 subjects
CourseworkCombination of classroom assignments and examinations
GradesYour GPA is determined from the grade values associated with the grades that you obtain for each subject every semester.
PriceRM600
Pros
  • Extremely affordable
  • Good prospects to gain admission into public universities
  • Wide range of subjects to choose from
Cons
  • Recognised mainly by Commonwealth countries only
  • Has limitations, such as 'Program Dua Tahun' only open for bumiputras
  • Fewer options of degree courses as the subjects are divided into 'streams'

Is it right for you?

If you plan to go to a public university in Malaysia to further your studies and already have a clear idea on what you want to study, then the Matrikulasi or Asasi programme is for you. Matrikulasi and Asasi programmes are also considered 'fast track' routes into public universities when compared to STPM.


Diploma

Duration24 - 36 months
Number of subjectsVaries depending on programme and institution
CourseworkVaries depending on programme and institution
GradesVaries depending on programme and institution, typically involving CGPA
PriceVaries depending on programme and institution
Pros
  • Not technically a pre-university programme; it is only one level below undergraduate degree, therefore upon graduation, you are qualified for work
  • Low minimum requirements
Cons
  • Longer duration compared to other pre-university programmes
  • Can be expensive

Is it right for you?

If you already have a clear idea on what field you would like to pursue and are sure of the institution you wish to go to, then a diploma is right for you. Further, a diploma holder is more likely to find more scholarship grants compared to other pre-university programmes.

When it comes down to it, choosing a pre-university programme depends on your subject interests just as much as your SPM results. There are programmes that allow you room to breathe while you prepare for your undergraduate programme, and there are also options that help you save time and takes you right where you want to go.

Whichever you choose, just remember to take a deep breath and consider all options before applying!

Click here to know What To Do After Getting SPM Results?.

Click on the Complete UPU guide to get a complete guide on how to apply for universities or polytechnics,

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